A lot of books, blogs, and classes focus on the promotion of fiction and nonfiction. Few of these, if any, even mention marketing as a poet. Sure, you can glean some things from books aimed at other writers, but I've always felt poetry needed its own thing. Now, it has one.
PR For Poets has a clean presentation. The font is bigger than most books not labelled "large print". There is double-spacing between paragraphs. The chapters are short and easy to digest if brain fog or a busy household keep you from focusing.
But, just because the chapters are short, doesn't mean they lack substance. Each chapter covers different aspects of promotion—from radio spots and blog tours, to swag and book launch parties. This book really covers a lot of ground, and has me thinking about changes I could make to my personal blog to make it more "on brand". There are even chapters that I consider "promotion adjacent" like what to think about before choosing a small press.
The author intersperses anecdotes and interviews with other poets and PR specialists (like Tim Green and Sandra Beasley) to clarify some points or give different perspectives. I found these sections enlightening and fresh.
Certain chapters (like the ones on swag and the elements of a PR kit) have accompanying graphics to serve as examples. The graphics are in black and white. Since they are small, the text on them wasn't always easy for me to read... but I got the general notion of what the author put on them.
At the end of most chapters, the author gives a few "Action Items" which are practical steps poets can take to further their platform/promotion efforts. The items are kept to only a few at a time, and always build on the information proceeding them. I feel these are a nice addition because they guide poets into... well... taking action. Readers won't need to ask themselves okay, now what?
Near the end of the book is a checklist for what poets should expect for marketing before, during, and after their collections launch to tie everything together. There are also helpful resources at the very end; they're useful, but I honestly hoped for a more robust roundup.
PR For Poets is mostly aimed at poets who have a full-length collection ready to hit the marketplace, or those who are thinking of submitting their collections for consideration. But, even if you're not there yet, this book provides a lot of useful information.
I definitely recommend this book to every poet out there!
Some Tidbits from the Book:
- Poetry collections have a longer life span for reviews and buzz than other genres.
- Selling 300 copies of a collection in five years is around normal. It's rare to break 1,000. Selling 10,000 copies is almost a magical rarity.
- A good book PR person can cost between $5,000 and $20,000. Ouch.
- Be aware of your cover image's copyright before making swag.
- A targeted review campaign yields a response of about 20%. So, there will be a lot of people not even replying when you send your review copies.
- On launch parties: If you want 40 people there, invite 80.