Poets create powerful word pictures to tug or inspire the soul. Poets dream of pointing people to God, capturing the smells of nature, or expressing the joys of love. Yet poets often fall short of inspiring others with their work because they fall short at marketing. Similar to other book genres, poetry does not sell itself.
Poetry has two primary audiences; those who enjoy it, and those who would enjoy it if they only knew they appreciated poetry. My experience is that the second group is larger than the first. That means there are untold numbers of people whose lives could be enriched if they had contact with inspirational writing.
Enter poetry promotion. Each poet serious about reaching readers must learn how to market. They must understand where readers are, and how they can connect with those readers. But marketing poetry does not have to be painful or canned. Because a large portion of target readers are new to poetry, the poet may even look at himself or herself like a Poetry Ambassador of sorts, introducing the art and craft of poetry.
If you’re a poet, try these 20 poetry marketing ideas. They can be used individually or in combination with each other.
1. Publish Professionally:
Publish with excellence, seeking help with editing, design, and marketing. No marketing plans will work optimally if you cut corners on the publishing process. Often, working with a company like WinePress is the safest, most efficient way to publish.
2. Plan Ahead:
Marketing starts with planning. Tie into a theme, or cause (breast cancer, grieving, etc.).
3. Create a Website:
Create a professional website for your poetry. Include a blog on your website so you can post new work regularly. A blog, when embedded as a page on your website, will help your website move up in the search engine rankings.
4. Optimize Your Website:
Consider paying for search engine optimization (SEO). This process increases your search engine ranking, allowing more people to find your website.
5. Provide Wallpapers:
Create visually attractive downloadable computer wallpapers available from your website. These can include a poem, a photo or visual element, and your website address.
6. Create Videos:
Create poetry videos to list on your website, or on popular video sites like YouTube or Vimeo. By combining music, images, and your poetry, you can create powerful and inspirational videos.
7. Buy the Poet’s Market:
Purchase a copy of the Poet’s Market, an annual book with hundreds of publishing opportunities specifically for poets, including poetry publications, contests, and more.
8. Enter a Contest:
Submit your poetry to contests. Winning draws attention to your work, your website, and your poetry book. Normally winners can include their biographies, and this can include your website address.
9. Run a contest:
Create a contest around your poetry. For instance, offer $500 to the best video submitted of somebody else reading your poetry in an interesting location. Post these videos on your website.
10. Attend Poetry Events:
Turn an average book singing into an event by scheduling times to read your poetry. Take it to the next level by coming in costume, or having a themed promotional item to give away. Coordinate multiple poets for an event, and take turns reading or reciting. Choose interesting locations, like a local bookstore or coffee shop.
11. Purchase Marketing Materials:
Create basic marketing materials, and always keep them on hand. These may include business cards, postcards, or bookmarks. Bookmarks are especially effective tools, since recipients tend to use them for long periods of time.
12. Create Broadsides:
Create poetry broadsides, unique poetry posters. These should have all or a portion of a poem, some visual element, and your website address.
13. Contact Libraries:
Donate a copy to your local library and surrounding libraries. Those same libraries, especially the ones you’ve donated books to, may be very open to setting up book signings/poetry events.
14. Create Greeting/E-cards:
Create your own printed or e-cards with your poetry. In the case of e-cards, allow people to send free e-cards with your poetry from your website.
15. Promote on Facebook:
Promote through Facebook and other social networking sites.
16. Promote with a Signature Line:
Most e-mail programs (like Outlook) or providers (like Gmail) allow you to set up email signature lines which appear on all emails. Include your website address, and a line of your poetry.
17. Promote Through Poetry Forums:
Join a poetry forum or poetry related website to share your work with other poets. Simply type in “poetry forum” into your favorite search engine. Each time you post, list your website address if appropriate.
18. Tie into Holidays:
Promote by tying into World Poetry Day, March 21, or National Poetry Month, April. If your book is tied to a cause (like overcoming cancer), then promote around relevant dates to that cause (World Cancer Day, February 4).
19. Hold Outreach Workshops:
Set up poetry writing workshops at schools, senior centers, community centers, hospitals, or prisons.
20. Sell Through Unusual Locations:
Sell your book, or place it on consignment, in unique locations like salons, boutiques, coffee shops, or gift stores. Bring a book end and pre-price your book. Mix it up between well known chains, and out of the way establishments.
A well-rounded poetry campaign may look like this:
You contract with a top publisher like WinePress Publishing to publish, thus insuring credibility, distribution, and marketing options. Knowing that marketing starts well before a book comes out, you start planning your efforts early. While the book is being produced you create a website, or have a company create one for you. During this time you also have marketing materials and broadsides created, and start scouting out poetry event locations so you’re ready when the book comes out. You network locally or on poetry forums to find other poets you can schedule events and readings with.
This is just one scenario, but does show how these marketing ideas can work together. Customize your own marketing plan, become a Poetry Ambassador, and inspire the world around you!
Your Marketing Ideas
I welcome any poetry promotion ideas you want to share for readers. Just leave a comment.