Hi Everyone. I’ve just joined and I have to say that this site has developed a nice community of like minded people. 

 

I want to throw something out there and get some advice from whomever reads this. 

 

I’ve never really been around anyone else that enjoys reading or writing poetry, it’s just something I’ve always done...like breathe I suppose. 

But last year I decided I wanted to share my work with others. I didn’t bother trying to get an agent or a publisher, I decided to self-publish. Which I am in the process of doing now. I’d say I’m about half way through the process, finalizing the interior design on the book. 

 

But anyway - my point is, it’s taken me this long to finally start doing research to work out how to market my book and reach my target audience (I know, I should’ve done this sooner), but the more I delve into this, the more I get an indication that self-published poetry is not respected..?! That’s it’s “only for those who weren’t good enough to get published”?

 

Has anyone else heard of this before or has experienced it? I think it’s outrageous. Regardless of how we get our work out there, we all have something magical to share. 

 

These preconceived notions need to be destroyed and I refuse to give up. Poetry cannot die and if self-publishing is the only way to keep it alive, then I plan to do everything I can to keep it going.

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You make some very good points Tim.

I totally agree that we don't need publishers to validate us.. and that trends are what drives the majority of publishing.. and names. I see it all the time. A form of industry nepotism. Yet, if you self-publish, you do have to fund the process yourself with no guarantee of any returns, (it's even more time-consuming to market your own book), so you could be up for a fair outlay upfront.

If you are 'chosen' you at least keep what little earnings you get. All $10.55 of it.

Anthony, Thanks for the response. 

Self-publishing is self-funding. Absolutely.

If you believe your work is good enough you should take the risk. It is really about risk and I don't think this should be an issue. If your poetry warrants success in terms of sales then the risk is like any business taking a product to market. This is what hundreds of thousands of small businesses do—they create a product and they attempt to sell it. Lawn mowing businesses, coffee shops, plumbers, they all have to take a risk and invest in their business and their products. Doesn't this make authors and poets sound precious because they want someone else to do the work and take the risk for them. Invest in your product and then try to sell it. Hundreds of thousands of people do it every year and a lot of them fail but they don't expect someone else to take the risk for them. 

Basically your poetry is a product. If it is good enough to sell in the market it will sell with a bit of effort from the author. (These sites help to create a forum for your work and thank you they help to market it).

We have given publishers the imprimatur to make the commercial decisions and then get disappointed that they don't run with our product. 

The reason publishers don't publish authors is because the risk of a return on an unknown author is too high. So why should any poet/author expect a publisher to take on the risk of publishing if they are unprepared to take on the risk themselves. Again we are too precious.

A solution is to start with a small print run and sell enough at a profit to fund the next print run. Modern digital printing means small print runs are possible. Don't be foolish enough to risk your house on a huge print run. Learn your lessons. Make your mistakes, Test your work.

Therefore, take control and take the risk. Plumbers do it, baristas do it, lawn mowers do it, why can't poets?

Thanks, Tim.

 

You make some very good points there. You're right, we are being precious. 

 

I'm glad to see that although there may be some out there that frown upon self-publishing, there are also others that embrace and promote it. 

 

Thank you everyone for your thoughts and advice. I feel inspired again and am casting whatever doubts I had aside.

Sara Teasdale financed her first book too!

Hi Rachael,

 

Another strategy may be to make around 50 of your books (you can glue or bind your own books together for a relatively low cost).  From there, you can then set up stalls at weekend markets in suburbs where you're confident they will appreciate the arts.  If you find you can consistently sell between 20 to 30 books at each market (probably trial it over four weeks), then self publishing your own books may be a good investment.  But remember, everytime you sell a book at a weekend market, be sure to encourage your customers to tell their friends if those customers enjoy reading your poetry.

 

One important note: Be sure to create a website with Paypal buy now buttons before experimenting with weekend markets, this way, you can direct customers and potential customers to your website.  Good luck

Thanks, Steve.

I never really considered the markets, but that's a great idea! Definitely on the cards!

 

Book launches are all a little 1975, don't you think? Is it better to have 50 books sold to someone who had it thrust under their nose along with a glass of buttery chardonnay, or 10 books to people who really sought out your work and may never have met you?

 

Personally I'd be happy with any book sales, but I get where youre coming from and would probably go with option two also.

Book launches still happen though. Often seen them advertised at book stores, writing sites etc.

Somebody mentioned markets. Don't they charge for stalls? How many would you have to sell to justify it? I'd be curious to hear from someone whose actually been through the process of self-publishing and listen to how much they spent etc and whether it was worth it.

Hi Rachael

 

I feel poets are better off publishing with a press because then they will have a community into which readers can place them. that community may be other poets with similar aesthetics, or other kinds of groups with similar interests. That way a poet can get an immediate following from those writers and readers already attached to that grouping.  This was my experience. My first book came out with Island Press which already had a reputation for publishing innovative poetry.  The tarhget audience was people with a taste for Island Press. So it's not that self-publishing is not respected. It is the lack of context into which the poet can be placed. I think another great way to contextualised your work is publish in selected journals and publications that have a distinct aesthetic.

Characteristically well put Adam. It's just like peer review in the sciences or history. Build up a name for yourself in respected journals and then and only then consider publishing - either under your own imprint as I do or with someone like Island Press or Vagabond. Like any craft it takes patience and application, which, at the risk of sounding like my nana, really do have their own rewards.

 

Hi Janet,

Re the last paragraph.. nice call..

 

Thanks for your honesty too on the reality of self-publishing. 300 is pretty good!

Nice site too.

 

Well plenty has been said about the self-publishing part of your question Rachael, and I don't know anything worth adding in that department.  But in regard to the community comment - I haven't been well connected with the sydney writing community until recently (more kudos to Adrian!).  However I have been part of an online writers group for several years and through that have had a great opportunity to share and have my work critiqued. 

 

For me that has been a huge confidence booster in terms of knowing whether my poetry is 'any good' (a highly subjective concept, I know).  I haven't had the energy/resources/plan to pursue publishing in any form as yet, but thanks to that contact with and support from others I'll feel confident when I do get to that point.  I would suggest the same for anyone starting out and wanting to be published - find a way to get your work read by like minded people and those who understand something of poetry in general.

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