The Ultimate Guide for All Poets Looking to Promote Their Poetry CollectionI am a writer and a bestselling poet. However, writing is only part of my passion. The other part is creating an effective brand that adds value to the society. I make videos, engage in public speaking and offer one-on-one consultation. Building an author brand is more than just writing.
Today, I want to focus on how can you monetize your writing of poetry online? This is part 5 of an 8-part series on book promotion and marketing.
Older posts (2000+ words long and detailed)
How To Market A Poetry Collection
Let’s begin, shall we?
I am going to outline what I’ve gone through to promote my debut full-length collection of poetry, “Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems”, published by The Naked Soul Press. Professional and amateur poets can monetize their poetry both online and offline. And if writing is your bread and butter, you should. You have to.
Very few poets ever live off the proceeds from their work. Most poets, even the most widely published, hold other jobs (such as teaching, lecturing, speaking) to pay the bills. That said, it is still a great idea to market your poetry book.
Marketing your poetry can help give your poetry recognition and appreciation from the wider public. In addition, for most poets, any money earned from the sales of books is appreciated even if it doesn’t pay all the bills. It certainly helps.
I am going to outline 22 steps that I have used to effectively build a brand around The Naked Soul. These steps (when combined together) have helped me monetize my writing and grow my author platform exponentially.
Everything You Need to Know on How to Monetize and Promote Your Poetry
1. Create a high traffic blog
Your goal is to cast as wide a net as possible. Your blog is your brand’s first impression. Direct traffic from everywhere (Twitter, Quora, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) to your blog.
On your blog, build a relationship with your reader by enegaing with them in the comments, asking questions, offering help and free eBooks that your readers wants and need.
Blogs are great for sharing your love of poetry, and they’re great for sharing your stories. I have even created a dedicated page on my website for my quotes and poems.
Guide your blog traffic to your book’s page on Amazon or sell directly from your website/blog.
2. Turn your poetry into eBooks, Books, Audio
Once you publish your work, immediately create an eBook. Or, if you have published your poetry collection as an eBook, turn it into Print as well. Once you have both eBook and Printed version of your book, start work on creating an audio book.
Before you begin though, test your audio (your own voice or someone you hire) on YouTube.
You can do so much here. You can use royalty-free music to go in the background. You can use images and short video-clips. You can do one poem per video or several. Experiment and test what resonates with your audience.
But, at the end of it all — you must have your book in all formats possible: audio, print, eBook.
3. Submit Poems to Both Print & Online Magazines
You can start with simply googling the magazines that matches with your genre and style of writing. Send them your poetry. This is a challenging work but doing it correctly will get you published in a reputable source and that in turn will help you with your book (and author bio) as well.
Plus, this simply adds a lot of credibility ad instant trust to your name.
Online Poetry Magazines
Research and find all online poetry magazines in your genre and published your poems for fee or free. If it is a free magazine, make sure you are getting valuable links back to your blog and other social media sites. Sometimes, poetry magazines may want to interview you and if you get such opportunities, jump on it. All these press will later help you with your next book.
4. Use Social Media
Post poetry on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, everywhere possible. Your goal here again is to gain exposure. The goal of social media is not to sell your book. Selling occurs when you have earned the likeness and trust of your audience.
Social followings and signals affect trust and your author image. So, focus on building your brand the right way from day one.
For example, once you have a new book coming out, you can announce about your upcoming book to your social fans. Once your book is available, you can guide the traffic to Amazon or your website. Make connections to other poets and poetry lovers on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Google+, Goodreads, etc.
When you read a poem that touches you or a short piece that moves you, try to find that writer on social media and send a friend request. It is in your best interest to know what good poets are doing, when they’re getting published, and how they promote their work.
Social media has become a great vehicle for poets to express themselves and become discovered by poetry lovers. A serious poets should use social media to find people who like good poetry. This is where you begin your platform building journey.
5. Email Newsletter
This is THE MOST IMPORTANT ACTION STEP in this entire list. Start a newsletter for your fans. Email is one of the most powerful tool for marketing. I have used email newsletters to announce book launch, announce when I am doing a free giveaway, and when I publish a new blog posts.
A great email list is your best shot on success as a new author. Your goal, above all else, should be to grow your email list. More people will buy your books from your email blasts than your posts on any social media platform.
6. Start a Podcast
I host The Naked Soul Talk Show (an internet radio talk show podcast) where I interview published poets and others in the literary world and provided writing, publishing and promotional advice specific to my listeners. Podcast is also great in terms of marketing since it is a less crowded medium compared to blog and other social media.
I also post my podcasts on my YouTube to find new audience. If I have a video recording of my interviews, it is a value add on YouTube because on Podcast you only listen to the talk. Podcasts also have the advantage of being monetized if you build a large enough audience. So, start a podcast. It is a must.
7. Poetry Readings and Slams
Poetry books will sell if you go out and do a lot of readings wherever anyone will listen. For example, you can do poetry readings at a local library or coffee shop. You can read your poetry on a street corner with a stack of books on your side. You can participate in a poetry slam. You can even organize your own poetry reading.
“The best way to market poetry is to do live readings. Absolutely the best way. Always has been. Likely always will be.” — John Kremer, Author of 1001 Ways to Market Your Book
You might check with your local bookstore or coffeehouse to see if they host readings or other poetry programming. Next, visit the National Poetry Map on www.poets.org, click on “poetry near you” to find poetry readings, conferences & literary festivals.
Browse the event listings and plan on attending. You can not only network with other poets but also learn more about poetry readings, popular and emerging poets in your region, and other events where you can share and promote your poetry.
You can find poetry slams (a poetry slam is a competition where poets read or recite original work) at www.poetryslam.com. You can join for $20 for basic membership and get information on all kinds of poetry slams.
8. Perform Book Reviews
Offer book review services with link back to your website and/or amazon page. You’ll also build connection with other authors and poets who in return can later turn out to be your ally during your next book launch.
One extra tip: When you write reviews, add your book in your signature. For example, I always end my (books, movies, products) reviews with, Salil Jha, bestselling author of Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems.
9. Book Editing
Offer book-editing services to other writers and poets. In addition to the benefit described above in #8, editing will also give you the opportunity to hone your craft of writing. Plus, your name would come in front of new readers through book’s acknowledgment page.
10. Participate in Literary Festivals
Plan on participating in multi-author panel discussions (search meetups in your local area), literary festivals, and other similar events. This is often neglected but this simple outreach and outgoingness can prove incredibly value to your writing journey.
11. Organize and Host Events at Local Libraries
This one takes some planning, prior work and networking. Your goal here is to organize and host some type of annual (or quarterly) event at your local library. You can give it some catchy name such as Writer’sJourney, WritingLife, A Good Writer Tells, etc.
The purpose and set up of the event can be also flexible and you have the complete freedom to design the event. For example, you can invite a few of the published authors from your area and have them answer questions posed by aspiring authors on writing, finding agents, publishing, self-publishing and book promotion.
You can offer poetry publishing workshops for aspiring writers and poets. You can expand the workshop by including fiction-writing, memoir-writing, poetry-publishing and book-publishing workshops as well.
12. Mentorship and Teaching
Offer to mentor high school or college students interested in a writing career. You can also lead and organize a monthly writing group/workshop at your local library. Combine this strategy with #11 above.
13. Get Interviewed by Local Newspapers
In this age of Internet and TV, newspapers still play their role. For example, the books are rated and charted on The New York Times list. Being featured in a newspaper is still a prestige and credibility issue.
Your goal is to approach all local weekly newspaper and try to publish with them or interviewed by them. Approach them several times if you are unsuccessful the first time. Once interviewed, use that interview as a PR when approaching the next one. Usually, the first one is the hardest and then it gets easier.
14. Approach Local Bookstores
Give a copy of your book to all the local bookstores in your area. If they like your book, they may stock and sell it on a commission basis. A lot of people who still shop for books in physical stores (and do not know have an Amazon account or interest in online book shopping) will be able to discover your work and will learn your name. This is again a great way to gain free Press.
15. Local coffee shops, dentist, beauty/barber, etc.
Similar to above step (#14), talk to local coffee shops to offer up book signing event. Talk to other places you visit regularly and have good relationships with to keep few copies of your book. At the least, this is free advertisement and branding for your book.
16. Speaking Events
There are always some big events happening and the event organizers are always on the lookout for speakers. Mostly, these events are paid and so you get paid for speaking. Search and apply to be a speaker at such events. Beyond the big events, there are local gatherings of poets at libraries, coffee shops, bookstores, retirement homes, and other locales. If you can’t find one, you can organize one (similar to #11 above).
17. Online Video (YouTube, etc.)
Poetry can be a powerful transformative tool if properly used with music. Music captures far more heart than simply words. Rhythmic words when put together with good music creates an unbeatable duo. On simple yet effective way to promote your poetry is through the use of videos on YouTube, Vimeo, Vines, etc.
To begin, you can take one of favorite poems and set it to music and matching pictures (or simply words) in a short video and post it on various online video sites such as YouTube. Test it out, the results may surprise you.
I used few of my poems when I made book trailers for my book launch. Check it out:
Forgetfulness (an animated video) by Billy Collins, former US Poet Laureate and one of America’s best-selling poets, reading his poem.
The Don’t Quit Poem has had more than 4 million views.
18. Online Poetry Communities
Share your poetry in free online poetry communities besides social media. Comment and build relationships with other poets (similar to other networking advice given above). The more exposure your gain, the more chances you’ll secure for your book’s success.
http://www.deepundergroundpoetry.com/ (Me on Deep Underground Poetry)
http://www.hellopoetry.com/ (Me on Hello Poetry)
http://www.poemhunter.com/ (Me on Poem Hunter)
19. Get Great Reviews for Your Book
If your budget allows, submit your book for Kirkus independent book review ($425). Here (as an example), you can read the excellent Kirkus review for my book.
There are also a lot of journals that review poetry. Here is a short list of many such journals.
Great 5 stars average reviews is what separate a successful, bestselling book from the crowd. Good reviews (specially from the reputable sources) also help your marketing efforts. Customer reviews are important. More the better. Your aim should be to get atleast 10 positive reviews for your book before you begin aggressive promotion. Ask your family, friends, and fans to post reviews of your poetry book on Amazon, Goodreads, and Barnes and Noble.
20. Enter Poetry Contests
Enter as many poetry contests as you can afford and have time for. Many of the online poetry communities (mentioned above in #18) have poetry contests as well. Moreover, here is a short list of poetry contests that you should participate into.
“Branding is a long-term endeavor that builds steam over time. All successful writers take many years and multiple books to create that overnight success moment. Writing career success is a process of connecting with one reader at a time.” – Salil Jha, Creator of The Naked Soul
21. Charity Dinner/Event
Organize a dinner party and read from your books and offer copies for sale with all profits being donated to the American Red Cross or any charity of your choice. This one is easy. You can experiment with just your family or friends or family and close friends at first. May be invite 20-50 people and plan group activities and games. Have dinner (you can use catering).
You can sell the event ticket for $20-$25 per person. As an up-sale, you can read from your book and have extra copies for sale. This is in a sense similar to hosting a book launch party.
22. Subway or Busy Market Corner
Like music students and street rappers, some poets have been known to do quite well going to the subway station or setting a booth at a busy market corner (with their books on display) with a stack of poetry books and reading their poetry out load to the bustling crowd until all their books have sold.
This is easier said than done. If you are not comfortable with reading your poetry in a busy public place, skip this step. No biggie. But, if you want to go all out — at least give this a shot, just for once. You will gain a lot of confidence.