I’ve written the book. Now where are all my readers? – A post on poetry promotion 

Most people, I’d imagine, who write poetry want someone else to read it. 

When it comes to individual poems the process is fairly straightforward, if at times frustrating. You research a suitable publication, or editor, then send them stuff.  

After this, the waiting. Waiting. Waiting, followed eventually by dancing, or raging, depending on the outcome. 

Alternatives may include doing readings; in person, or online, sharing work with a poetry group – perhaps a local stanza – or publishing on social media – your own blog, or Twitter, Facebook etc. 

I even see sometimes a man outside Tate Modern with an old Remington typewriter offering to write people poems for money (queues are not long). 

What do you do, though, if you have a collection coming out? 

Unless you choose to lock your work in a chest, or keep it hidden in a diary, you need to find ways to tell potential readers and buyers about it. 

Even if you’re on a major imprint, replete with marketing staff to help promote it, as poet, you’re going to have to do some extra work. If you have an imminent book coming with a small indy, you will definitely have to get involved in its promotion. 

This part of the publishing process, I’ve found daunting and uncomfortable. I get huge pleasure from writing poems, reworking them, editing, cutting, revising. I’ve also found shaping a group of them into a collection satisfying and rewarding. Selling the things? (Cue, cold, sinking feeling in the stomach). Not so much.  

But it has to be done. 

Do a search online and you’ll soon find dozens of links to sites and blogs offering up advice on how to promote your poetry book. I didn’t attempt to read them all, but the ones I did look at tended to have similar things to say. All offer variations of 8, 5, 10 Ways! Great Ways! or Creative ways! to market your book. 

Often these posts appear to contain more questions than answers – ‘Can you be a guest on a podcast or blog?’ ‘Could you join a Facebook poetry group?’ ‘Have you tried adding an RSS Feed to your blog?’  I dunno. Maybe. 

Here, rather than suggest killer techniques, sure-fire approaches, or thrusting copies into the hands of unsuspecting passers-by, I’ll share what I’m doing, along with Matthew M C Smith of Black Bough Poetry. 

One of the key things we decided, was not to do everything all at once. 

We felt that simply embarking on a concentrated burst of frenzied activity, in the week before publication, then sitting back and waiting for the sales to roll in, probably wouldn’t be the best strategy. 

We decided that a steady drip, drip of information, news and updates is the better way to go. 
We’ll also continue with that approach following publication. 

Hopefully this will maintain interest and momentum over time, rather than concentrating all efforts in the days before and after publication. 

Over the last few months, we’ve used the resources we have between us to start getting the word out there. Matthew, as the creative force behind Black Bough’s Top Tweet Tuesday, has developed a dedicated following and carved out a popular, regular space to share poetry. He’s been tweeting photos, teasers, extracts and enthusiastic commentary on the progress of my book. 

I’ve been writing a series of blog posts – including this one – about the process of putting the collection together, which have been shared as they’ve come out. So far, I’ve covered my approach to form, finding inspiration and assembling a collection. Previously I’ve written about finding inspiration in the apparently everyday – on Mono.

Each of these posts has helped build up a sense of momentum. 

Matthew has also approached several established poets and writers for testimonials. Knowing that people you admire are reading, or have read your book, I’ll admit to finding this a thrill. 

Next, I’ll be writing some guest blogs for a variety of poetry sites, doing some interviews, attending readings and events. We’ll also try to get a few reviews. 

I’ll shortly be approaching my local indy bookshop(s) to see if they’ll stock a copy or two. 

A couple of my friends are even arranging a night out in a room above a pub for various other friends and colleagues, where the entry fee is a copy of my book.

If anyone reading this is interested in conducting an interview, writing a review, or hosting a guest blog, please get in touch. You can email me via the address on this site, or contact via social media – @richlyevocative or @blackboughpoems on twitter. Black Bough is also on Facebook and Instagram. 

In the meantime, for a taster of my writing, there’s a published elsewhere tab on this blog’s header, with links to my poems that have been published elsewhere. You can also read my Silver Branch feature on Blackbough at https://www.blackboughpoetry.com/matt-gilbert-september-2022

The book will be out early next month. Look out for title and cover announcements from Black Bough soon. 

Right, I’m off to the Tate… 

3 thoughts on “I’ve written the book. Now where are all my readers? – A post on poetry promotion 

  1. How’s the promotion going? It seems diametrically opposed to the process of writing poetry. I couldn’t nerve myself to do any of the ‘in person’ stuff even if it was a possibility. I admire anyone who stands up and has a go.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jane. Thanks for following. The promotion is going OK I think. Not that ‘likes’ translate directly into readers.

      I agree, it’s a very different practice from the writing that comes first. I do sometimes wrestle with thoughts like: ‘surely people are bored of this/me now?’ – but then, I must remember to think that if I don’t push the book, why would anyone else?


      • Promotion is inevitable if you want to sell copies. There’s just so much available. If it was just a question of trawling through the Amazon sections it would be hard enough, but with the algorithms they use, you’ll only see what Amazon wants you to see. Good luck with the slog 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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