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Do any of you have very creative ideas for books of poetry besides using mine for a nice little doorstep.... i laugh and i jest about this but seriously i have books full of songs and poems written and no idea what the next steps are...any insights or suggestions would be greatly appreciated

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Nate,

In 2009, I finished my MFA in Creative Writing (Poetry) and began the process of paring down my MFA thesis into a smaller chapbook which I submitted to several competitions.  After not winning any one of them and keeping the manuscript on hold for three months while a publisher "considered" it for publication, I finally decided that this traditional model was not for me.  I took my chapbook manuscript and published it in print format on Lulu.com (you can find it a www.lulu.com/jovialities, look for "Streetlight Sonata") and as a digital e-Book on Smashwords.com.  What is great about both of these outlets is that Smashwords is completely digital and Lulu is print on demand, so I don't have to maintain any inventory to ship when anyone orders.  The two services do that for me.  Therefore, no doorstop for my book.  After publishing my book on my own, I submitted it to a national self-published book award, where I won second place in the poetry division.

Have I sold tons of copies?  No.  I have, however, won a prize for my writing, which does increase my chances of getting creative writing teaching jobs and poetry reading possibilities.  Any book of poetry that sells 500 copies is a success.  At 1000 copies, it's an amazing success.

I would suggest that you find 24-36 pages of your best poetry, no more than one poem per page, although you can have individual poems that run more than one page.  Make sure that they hold together in some way - thematically, chronologically, as a story cycle of poems, etc.  Think of each poem in your collection as one more stanza in a longer poem that is the whole book.  Robert Frost once said that in a book of 30 poems, the 31st poem is the book of poems itself.  Once you have selected your collection of best poems, find a great cover photo.  I used a photo of my dad from 1945 or so that was the inspiration for one of the poems in my collection.  Give your collection a great title.  Publish an eBook using Smashwords and a print book using Lulu.  Market the heck out of it using your Facebook page, your Twitter account, your local poetry association, and any other means possible.  Just remember that poets seldom make money off of an individual book of poetry or even a lifetime body of poetry; most of them work as creative writing teachers.  Use your chapbook to get teaching engagements for workshops and seminars where you can sell copies of your book and make money reading from it and teaching others how to do what you do.

JRS

You have definitely given me some awesome fuel for removing them as doorstops...thank you so much for the sharing of great wisdom, it is appreciated. So to sum this up for my own benefit, what if i never win an award, do i still get to teach or is it limited by copies sold or....?

Nate,

I am actually working on something similar as to what you are describing.  I have developed a website, www.poeticrevival.com where I publish Christian poetry, right now most of it is mine.  That will change as I develop the site and add more authors. 

Here are few thoughts I have on how to market poetry....

Spoken word MP3 files, Poetry combined with photography or art to create calendars, framed prints, perhaps a coffeetable book.  Also, doing seminars on understanding poetry, and writing poetry.

The other things the could be awesome is working musicians to incorporate portions into songs (writing royalties).

Those are a few things that I am thinking of there are 4 poems on the website that have photo and poetry intertwined.

They are I danced, Collide, Revival Tide, and No Solace in Solitude

I help this helps

J.B. Farrell

You might also check with Deby Dearman from the Artists Arise group (featured this past week on 48days.net). She and her husband are song writers and she coaches people on how to profit from their art... including songs and I would assume poetry, as well.

Best of luck,

Erin

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