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Poetry Publishing and Promotion Tips (Part One)

There’s not a lot of resources out there that get into detail about how to sustain yourself financially as a poet, so this Q&A post is an attempt at creating a resource. I'll briefly answer some questions I received on Instagram regarding poetry publishing and promotion tips. Please share with others you think may benefit. And if you appreciate this post, and my other artist resources, please consider becoming a monthly Patreon supporter, as I am also a freelance poet trying to make ends meet.

Q: How do I get plugged in to writing communities?

A: Do some research to find out which writing groups are available online and in your local area. Some virtual writing groups I recommend are Dominican Writers, Writers Club NY, Port Veritas Open Mic, and First Fridays Open Mic. But of course, if you have friends who are also writers/artists, ask them if they’d be down to meet on a regular basis to create art together. If you can afford it, you may also consider signing up for a writing class through Catapult, Literary Cleveland, or through independent writers such as myself, Lorraine Avila, or Mela Toca Tierra. It’s a great way to meet other writers and learn alongside them.

Q: Other than touring the college circuit, what other tours for poetry are there?

A: Touring bookstores to promote your recently published book. Before the pandemic, many writers did in-person events at bookstores across the U.S. But many poets paid their travel expenses out of pocket for this, which is wild to me because bookstores typically do not pay you much (if at all) to give readings and they also take a cut of your book sales. If you have recently published a book, now is a great time to reach out to bookstores who are offering virtual events, because you won’t have to pay for travel expenses. Do some research to find which bookstores in the U.S. and in your local area typically stock poetry and contact them directly with an event proposal. Before the pandemic, many poets also toured local poetry slams, since they do not take a cut of your book sales. At present, only some slams and open mics are still online, but it’s worth it to contact them about a feature!

Q: How do you feel about Amazon for selling books?

A: It is against my values to work with Amazon. I cannot ethically advise it. If you want to self-publish, there is no need to sell your book on Amazon or through any distributors other than yourself directly. You will waste time and money going that route, plus you will be supporting a billion-dollar corporation that abuses its workers.

I will add: There is no real way to be free of Amazon as a published writer, no matter which press you publish with. All presses work with a distributor, which is a middleman company that helps get your book into bookstores and libraries. The main client of all distributors is Amazon. So even if you do not work with Amazon directly, your press works with Amazon indirectly. If you decide to not use a distributor, you may as well self-publish, because it does not make financial sense to spend the money to print copies of a book you will not be able to sell.

Read the full post here.

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