Poetry books are notoriously difficult to sell and promote. I know, I’ve tried.
Quite a few years back I was a member of a really top notch poetry writing group in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. They met in the library in the centre of the town and after two hours of writing and a stimulating ‘readaround’ they would adjourn to the local pub right next to the library called ‘The Albert‘.
Now The Albert was a fantastic pub, it probably still is, although to be honest I haven’t had a swift half there for years, but the one major plus point about it was that it had a tiny back room in which the poets would gather and have a jar or two and share their poetry, each poet in turn getting up and ‘performing’ something they’d written recently. A sort of ”unofficial’ performance.
The group called itself ‘The Albert Poets‘ and also had a regular Thursday night slot, once a month I think, when the stand up reading became a formal event with poets from far and wide coming to share their work, the performers on the night being restricted to just four, I believe…..so it was a difficult gig to get, you either had to be very good or very entertaining. I can’t think why or how, but I was invited to read out some of my ‘stuff’ at one evening. It was an experience I will never forget. It was fantastic. I absolutely loved it.
So, to cut a long story quite short, performing and sharing work like this was amazing, stimulating and above all else gave you instant feedback as to how good or bad your ‘stuff’ actually was. I hesitate to call it ‘poetry’, mine certainly wasn’t, it was just mildly entertaining, and slightly humorous ‘stuff’.
This was in the very early days of ‘self-publishing‘ when only a handful of authors actually dared to have books of their poetry printed. They were usually the ‘big boys and girls’…the ‘proper poets’ who knew they would eventually sell all their books as they were genuinely big time poets. Simon Armitage is a name that springs to mind.
Right….let’s get to the point. These days having self-published books of your own is far easier and cheaper than ever, so there are thousands of writers out there with poetry books, which of course makes it harder to stand out from the crowd, or to find yourself a market for your books.
However, I’ve been having a long hard think about how we can adapt our ‘stuff’ for the present day…and it’s a topic I shall be touching on in the next few days….”Alternative Ways To Present and Promote Your Poetry‘. I hope you’ll stop by to read about it.