The most important tip is to overcome your resistance to the very idea of marketing and selling your book of poems. Most poets and writers don’t love the branding, marketing, publicizing and selling part of book publishing! I get it. I’m one of those published authors who hates marketing and selling my own book, Growing Forward When You Can’t Go Back.
I’m not a poet, but even I resist the idea of marketing something as beautiful as a book of poems. Selling poetry books seems like it goes against a law of nature – like selling air, or shades of golden sunshine, or soft green grass.
But writers have to learn how to market and sell their poetry books! Otherwise how will readers enjoy the beauty, depth and insights in the poems? If you’re one of those poets who is reluctantly searching for tips on how to market and sell poetry books, you might want to read my Sample Marketing Plan for a Christian Nonfiction Self-Help Book. Not only did I do a ton of research, I also got input from my literary agent, editor, and book publisher.
The key is to find book marketing and sales tips that work for you as the poet. Consider your personality, lifestyle, hobbies, and even your daily routine. You might even use creative, unusual book marketing and sales strategies that align with your poems. For example, if your poetry is about gardening you might include a packet of seeds or a hoe with every book purchase. The best “marketing strategies” don’t feel or seem like marketing at all! And they sell lots of books 🙂
These five tips for marketing your book of poems are from published poet and freelance writer, Cherie Burbach. Her latest poetry book is Poiema: New and Selected Poems. I asked Cherie to share one of her favorite quotes about poetry, and she sent me this:
“Happiness is sharing a bowl of cherries and a book of poetry with a shade tree. He doesn’t eat much and doesn’t read much, but listens well and is a most gracious host.” ~ Astrid Alauda.
5 Ways to Market and Sell Your Poetry Book
A guest post from Cherie Burbach.
You’ve written a poetry book – congratulations! Now comes the hard part: getting people to buy it. While it’s true that poetry books don’t sell as much as other works overall, there is a market for them. You just need to reach the right audience.
1. Get book reviews for your poetry
Without reviews, people will be very leery to buy your book of poems. While it’s nice to get a glowing review from a friend, it’s even better to get a professionally written (honest) assessment. This is true even if the reviewer didn’t care for your poetry book. Professional reviewers can highlight your book’s strengths and give a realistic assessment of where it fell short. Ironically, this kind of honesty will actually motivate people to buy a book more than an artificial (“Awesome poetry book!!!”) review will.
Getting book reviews today is no easy task, but there are still plenty of places that provide them. If a book reviewer asks for money, don’t think you’re paying for a good review! Paying a book reviewer simply means they’re covering their time and cost. Don’t listen to the folks who say a non-paid review is the only one you should seek. With major media outlets pulling their book review sections, more and more freelance writers are offering to do book reviews. Some of them charge, and they may be worth the price. Check it out.
2. Go on a virtual poetry book tour
There are a couple ways to do a virtual blog or book tour: you could set it up yourself or hire a marketer. Virtual tours aren’t difficult to organize, but they do take a tremendous amount of time. If you’re a reluctant salesperson – or if you’re just learning how to market and sell your poetry book – you may want to consider hiring a book publicist to help you.
I wrote an ebook called Virtual Book Tours that offers a full description on how to publicize your books. You could also learn more by searching the internet for “virtual poetry book tours” or some variation (such as poetry blog tours or poetry book marketing tours). The cost of a poetry book tour usually ranges from $300 to $1,000 for a 15-20 stop tour. Remember that selling and marketing anything – especially a poetry book, which is a luxury item – costs money!
3. Write poetry-related guest posts and magazine articles
To attract new readers, figure out how your book of poems is different and unique. Write guest posts related to it. Some possibilities include:
- how you sold and published your poetry
- any artwork involved (especially if you designed the cover yourself)
- benefits of writing poetry (did it help heal you from pain? help you deal with a specific issue?)
- who the poetry honors (did you write it with someone – famous or not – in mind?)
- is the poetry related to a specific part of the globe (did you write about your hometown?)
Websites such as HARO, Twitter, Yahoo Shine, Divine Caroline, and American Chronicle are all good places to explore when you’re marketing and selling your book of poems.
Are you reluctant to approach a magazine or even a blog because you haven’t written a poetry book before? Read How to Write an Author Bio When You’ve Never Been Published.
4. Advertise your poetry book
Every business needs advertising! Your published poetry book is no different. Luckily, Adsense and Facebook are cost-effective ways to market and sell books, and can reach a variety of readers.
An important thing to consider before placing an ad to market your poetry is keywords. This is the number one most important thing when marketing your book online. Don’t use “poetry” or “poems” as your top keywords. Instead, focus on the specifics of your poetry book.
For my first poetry book (New and Selected Poems) I used these words: empowerment, faith, overcoming abuse, self-esteem, Christian poetry, inspirational poetry books, and poems with a female perspective. Being specific will help you reach readers who want to read your poems. It also takes you from having to learn how to market and sell your poetry book to simply finding kindred spirits.
Do you feel reluctant, overwhelmed, or even uneasy about selling and marketing your poems? Read The 8 Essential Traits of Every Poet’s Personality.
5. Set up an Amazon author page
If your book isn’t on Amazon yet, get it on there! It’s easy; nearly every publisher and writer, large and small, can do it. Since I publish my poetry books through Lightning Source, they take care of creating and updating my Amazon author page for me.
Even if your publisher sets up your author page on Amazon, you need to personalize it. Share your personality, interests, and even why you write poetry. Include an RSS feed for your blog, start discussion topics, post videos, and a bio. An Amazon author page a nice homepage that includes a listing of your books along with other information so readers can find out more about you.
For more book marketing and sales tips, read 6 Ways to Promote Your Book for Free.
Cherie Burbach is a poet author, blogger, crocheter, and geek. She has penned ten books and ebooks, such as Painting the Psalms. She has published over 500 articles on the subjects of health, sports, and lifestyle. She is the About.com Guide to Friendship, a sports blogger at Intentional Foul, and a Feature Writer with Suite101. For more info, visit her website.
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