Monthly Archives: April 2013

How to Market a Poetry Book

Poor Poets

Very few poets ever live off the proceeds from their work. Most poets, even the most widely published, hold other jobs to pay the bills.  If you want money, don’t expect to make it from poetry.

Having said this, it is still a good idea to market your poetry book.   Marketing your poetry can help give your poetry recognition and appreciation from the wider public.  In addition, for most poets, any money earned from the sales of books is appreciated even if it doesn’t pay all the bills. Here are some tips on how to market your poetry book.

1. Readings

Poetry books will sell if you go out and do a lot of readings wherever anyone will listen. 

For example, you can do poetry readings at a local library or coffee shop. You can read your poetry on a street corner with a stack of books on your side.  You can participate in a poetry slam.

John Kremer, author of 1001 Ways to Market Your Book says, “The best way to market poetry is to do live readings. Absolutely the best way. Always has been. Likely always will be.”

You might check with your local bookstore or coffeehouse to see if they host readings or other poetry programming.

You can also visit the National Poetry Map on, click on the state you reside, scroll down to “Literary organizations & centers” and “Reading series, conferences, & literary festivals”. Browse the links and any event listings at the bottom of the page to find information about possible events.

You can find poetry slams (a poetry slam is a competition where poets read or recite original work) at  You can join for $20 and get information on all kinds of poetry slams.

You can organize your own poetry reading.   Here is a good article on how to organize your own poetry reading:

Some enterprising poets have been known to do quite well going to the subway station with a stack of poetry books and reading their poetry out load to the bustling crowd until all their books have sold.

2.  Online Podcasts and Video

On modern way to “read” your poetry is through the use of podcasts and videos.  Poets, nowadays, often take one of their favorite poems and set it to music and visual art in a short video and post it on various online video sites like

Check out these videos that are based on a poem:

  • The Dash has been viewed more than 30 million times via various websites and books by the author, Linda Ellis, have become very popular:
  • Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus has had more than 24 million views (note how he promotes his new book in the video):
  • Forgetfulness is an animated video with Billy Collins, former US Poet Laureate and one of America’s best-selling poets, reading his poem:
  • The Don’t Quit Poem has had more than 4 million views:
  • Taylor Mali on “What Teachers Make” has had over 4 million views.   Taylor Mail is one of the most well-known poets to have emerged from the poetry slam movement:

3.      Social Media

Social media has become a great vehicle for poets to express themselves and become discovered by poetry lovers.  Good poets should use social media to find people who like good poetry.

I recommend that all poetry book authors join Facebook.   Facebook is an ideal forum to share your poetry and to discover new poems.

If you aren’t already familiar with Facebook, please view my article Facebook for Authors – Part 1.  Once on Facebook, you should join one or more of the many groups on Facebook that discuss poetry.  If you don’t know how to find groups, please view this helpful video:   To expand your network of like minded people on Facebook, please see my article Facebook for Authors – Part II

In addition, I recommend that poets check out these (free) online communities where you can share your poetry:

4.       Reviews and Awards

Reviews and awards are what separate the recognized poets from the poets who will stay in obscurity. 

To get your poetry out there and get it the recognition it deserves, I recommend you enter as many poetry contests as you can afford and have time for.  Many of the online poet communities I mentioned above have poetry contests.  In addition, here is a list of poetry contests:

Book reviews will also help your marketing efforts.

A review of your new poetry book, or even a positive review of one of your poems, from an independent literary journal will help your reputation and your book sales.  Here is a list of journals that review poetry:

Customer reviews are also important.  No one is going to buy your poetry book off of Amazon if you don’t have any positive customer reviews posted on the site.   Ask your family, friends and colleagues to post reviews of your poetry book on Amazon and  If you have to, pay for reviews but get positive reviews for your poetry book on these major retail sites.

Self-Published Poets Hall of Fame


In honor of National Poetry Month, I thought I would publish this list of great poets who self published their books.   This is but a very small list, as thousands of famous poets have self-published.

American poet Walt Whitman self-published many editions of his collected poems, Leaves of Grass (first edition published on July 4, 1855). Leaves of Grass continues to sell thousands of copies each year — almost 120 years after his death!

T.S. Eliot, author of The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock and The Waste Land, paid for the publication of his first book.

British poet Alexander Pope, author of the satirical mock-epic poems The Rape of the Lock and The Dunciad, paid for the publication of his first book.

American poet and short story writer Edgar Allen Poe, author of the poem The Raven and short stories such as The Tell-Tale Heart and The Fall of the House of Usher, self-published some of his writings.

English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, author of Ode to the West Wind, To a Skylark, Adonais, and Prometheus Unbound, paid for the publication of his first book.

English poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, author of Sonnets from the Portuguese, paid for the publication of her first book.

American poet E. E. Cummings self-published No Thanks, a volume of poetry financed by his mother. On the half-title page, he listed the 13 publishers that had rejected the book, which became one of his classics.

Carl Sandburg self-published poems and essays with the financial assistance of his college professor. His work came to public notice when he began selling to Poetry magazine.

Oscar Wilde self-published a book of poetry in 1881.

If you are thinking about self-publishing your poetry, you’re in good company. If you want to add your name to this list of self-published poets, you should check out Bookstand Publishing’s affordable Paperback Book Publishing Packages.

How to Format Your Book for Self Publication

Here are the basics steps on formatting your manuscript in Microsoft Word for self publication.   These steps include including setting up the correct trim size, setting up the correct margins, formatting the text, and numbering the pages.

  • Be sure your book is in ONE electronic file.
  • Set up your page size. The Directions below are for MS Word 7 and 10
  • The most common and most economical trim sizes is 5.25 inches wide x 8.25 inches tall. To format to our other sizes, please change the “PAPER SIZE” per the following instructions. All other adjustments stay the same.
  • In MICROSOFT WORD, open a NEW Document and click on PAGE SETUP under PAGE LAYOUT.

Page Setup

  • Set your PAPER SIZE to Custom 5.25” x 8.25”.

Page Size

  • Set your MARGINS to Mirror Margins with the Inside Margins being .75″ and the outside margins being .5″. This creates space for the binding of the book. We recommend .7” for the top and bottom margins.


  • Format your PARAGRAPHS to FULL Justified and Single Spaced. Indent the first sentence of the paragraph using the SPECIAL box and FIRST LINE by 0.5” as shown below. No spaces between paragraphs.


  • You are now ready to put your book into this format. Close your existing book file. With the above described blank document open in Microsoft Word, go to the top Tool Bar; and the INSERT tab. Click OBJECT and then Text From File. Select your book and click INSERT. You have now put your book in the correct basic format.

Insert Text

  • If your book is in separate files, for example each chapter in its own file, you must INSERT Chapter One, then place the cursor at the END of Chapter One and INSERT Chapter Two, and so on, into the main book file.
  • Once the file has been inserted, view the page size on your as TWO PAGES. This will make the chapter location and the page numbering easier to visualize.

Two Page View

  • Body Text should be set to 10 to 12 point Times New Roman text font. Actually, you may use any font you want; however, it is best to use an easy-to-read font. Also, keep the font and the font size consistent for a professional-looking book.
  • Page Numbers should be positioned “Bottom of page (Footer)” On an even numbered page, the Page Number should be on the Outside Left. On an odd numbered page, the Page Number should be on the Outside Right.
  • To begin page numbering you must first insert a SECTION BREAK on the last page prior to where you want page ONE to begin. In most cases page one is also the first page of Chapter One.
  • You want page ONE and all other ODD-NUMBERED pages to be right-hand pages. Page ONE is always an ODD-NUMBERED and RIGHT-HAND page.  When working in Microsoft Word, this can be a bit confusing. A right-hand FACING page may appear on the left side of your screen when you are viewing the document as TWO PAGES. This will become clearer if you put page numbers on the OUTSIDE. Page ONE will then have the page number on the right side of the page, making it a right-hand page. If page ONE is a left-hand page, simply insert a PAGE BREAK before the SECTION BREAK. Remember, you are creating a book, so think as though you had the book lying open in front of you on the table.
  • Here is how to set the Page Numbers in MS Word 7 and 10:
    • Go to Insert
    • Go to PAGE NUMBER
    • Go to Bottom of Page
    • Choose a Left Hand Page Number for an Even Numbered Page (For example Plain Number 1)
    • Choose a Right Hand Page Number for an Odd Numbered Page (For example Plain Number 3)

    Page Numbers

  • Each chapter should begin on its own RIGHT-HAND page. This often requires adding a blank page at the end of a chapter in order to make the next chapter begin on a RIGHT-HAND page. If you choose not to adhere to the right-hand Chapter starts, however, that is acceptable to us.

For more information on formatting your manuscript for publication you can request a FREE copy of The Self Publishing Checklist published by Bookstand Publishing.  Registering will also give you access to our preformatted MS Word Templates that you can download to your computer.   To register, please go to and fill out your name and email address on our home page.

Online Relationships are Key to Marketing Your Self Published Book

Authors Building Key RelationshipsToday, more books are purchased online than through traditional bookstores. The key to making online book sales happen is to establish key relationships with websites, blogs, and social networking sites of special interest to your target market. Here are the steps to do this:

1.  Make A List of the Sites and Blogs of Most Interest to Your Potential Audience

I recommend that authors make a list of the top five targeted websites and top five targeted blogs or social networking sites that your most probable customer visits regularly. For each site, you should identify how that site might be able to help you. That is, you need to identify if the site does book reviews, allows article submissions, allows advertising, etc.

Please keep in mind that these need to be targeted websites, blogs or social networking sites.  The more targeted the better.  For example, if your book is on white water rafting, then you want sites and blogs that talk specifically about white water rafting NOT sites that talk about hobbies, boating, or vacations.  For purposes of this task, Amazon, Facebook and should NOT be on your list as these are not targeted or niche sites. 

Here are some resources that can help you find these targeted sites and blogs:


2. Take your list of top 5 websites and do the following:

        • Identify how each site makes use of outside content: This may include:
          • Book Reviews
          • Featuring excerpts from books
          • Interviews with experts
          • Blogs with content from outside websites
          • Ads sold on their website
          • Sponsorship of a list of recommended books
        • Offer them the type of content they like to feature.
        • Ask for link backs.
      • 3. Take your list of the top 5 blogs (or targeted social network sites) and do the following:
  • Identify what content the blog likes to feature (such as news items, videos, photos, etc.).
  • Offer them the type of content they like to feature.
  • If they allow comments or trackbacks, write and post meaningful responses on the blog or social network site. Always include your name, website address, and book title in your comment to establish your credibility.

As you develop relationships with these sites, you may want to consider developing joint ventures with them to your mutual benefit. For example, you could help them promote their own products or services, and they could help you sell your book. In this regard, you could create an e-mail campaign in which you provide valuable bonuses that complement your book and which target the same audience that would buy your book. The best bonuses are usually downloads such as ebooks, seminar transcripts, audios, free memberships, telecourses, and dollars-off coupons.