Friday, June 29, 2018

Review: PR For Poets by Jeannine Hall Gailey

Half of a red typewriter with off-white keys sits in the bottom right half of the page. Next to the typewriter, the author's name appears. On the top half of the page, it says "PR for Poets A Guidebook to Publicity and Marketing".  A red megaphone is on  the right-hand side of the subtitle. The background is pure white, all text is black.

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:

  1. Poetry collections have a longer life span for reviews and buzz than other genres.
  2. 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.
  3. A good book PR person can cost between $5,000 and $20,000.  Ouch.
  4. Be aware of your cover image's copyright before making swag.
  5. 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.
  6. On launch parties:  If you want 40 people there, invite 80.

Friday, June 22, 2018

What We Want in Submissions

Off with the blogger's hat and on with the editor's!  Today, we're giving you details about the kinds of things we love (and hate) in submissions.

Maybe send us something after you read this (and our guidelines).

What we love:
  1. Lists!  Do you have a list of favorite disabled protagonists?  Do you use apps that help you as a visually-impaired poet?
  2. Book reviews. (Books must be written by a disabled/neurodivergent person or have disabled/neurodivergent characters.)
  3. Interviews with disabled/neurodivergent writers, editors, artists, dancers, film makers, etc.  Interview subjects don't receive payment, but interviewers do.
  4. Tips for different aspects of writing/submitting/publishing/marketing as a disabled/neurodivergent person.  Do you have strategies for people with anxiety at a conference?  Is there a marketing plan for spoonies?
  5. Destruction of tropes and clichès.
  6. Alternative paths for success,
  7. News and happenings in disabled/neurodivergent literary culture, film, music, or art scenes.  Is there a new literary magazine for cripples? A book fair exclusively for autistic people?  A new album by a blind singer?
  8. Posts by multiply-marginalized writers.
  9. Anything that falls under the intersection of disability/neurodivergence and books, writing, promotion, art, etc.
Things we won't accept:  
  1. Bigotry.  Yes, that includes fatphobia.  
  2. Book reviews of your own books/friends' books.
  3. Posts about disability that have nothing to do with literature/writing or other arts.  (There are markets out there for those essays, but we aren't one of them.)
  4. Using your own website as a resource in your post without us clearing it.  (Having it in your biography is fine.)
  5. Posts by nondisabled and neurotypical people.
  6. References to heavy trauma without appropriate trigger warnings.
  7. Excessive ableist language (that the author has no claim to).

Friday, June 15, 2018

Updated Tabs (6/15/18)

Links of Interest (Added): 

Quiet Storm
These Pill Don't Come in My Skin Tone

Inclusive Mainstream Publications (Added):

The Journal

If anyone has more markets, please let me know!

Friday, June 8, 2018

Why "Mainstream" is Beneficial

If you were to start a press or a literary magazine, who would be the focus? Would your project cater to disabled/neurodivergent writers only? Would it be just autistic writers? Or, like me, would you consider a publication open to all writers?

While I firmly believe in the necessity of minority groups having spaces specifically for them, and the worth of such spaces, I think we often forget the impact of a "general interest" project started by marginalized people.

The benefits of a "Mainstream" endeavor:
  1. It signals to disabled/neurodivergent writers they're more likely to be read by accepting editors.
  2. It puts disabled/neurodivergent editors at the top immediately. No working for years, hoping ableism doesn't rob someone of their promotion.
  3. There is room for everyone. Exclusive spaces are important, but we also need to be inclusive... encompassing.
  4. The press might have a flavor or slant not often experienced by "normies" who are more likely to read it.
  5. Writers and editors are less likely to be pigeonholed or tied to certain expectations beyond quality.
  6. A wider pool of submissions for editors/publishers to choose from.
  7. People will spread the word (more often) on social media. A press with an open reading period for all writers gets more attention (and free promotion).
  8. An editor can change a literary magazine's mission or feel easier when there are less restrictions/expectations on it. Rebranding is difficult, but it's harder when a publication has a narrow focus.
  9. Built-in diversity. The literary community is inaccessible (and segregated) to so many minorities in so many ways. An inclusive, diverse project has integration at the beginning.
There are more perks, I'm sure, but these are the ones I think about.  
Are there drawbacks? Yes, but I feel the positives overwhelm them. What do you think?

Friday, June 1, 2018

5 Favorite Poems (Wordgathering Vol. 12, Iss. 1)

Wordgathering has another superb issue in their March 2018 release.  While there is a lot to enjoy, I thought I'd list (what I feel are) the best five poems.  Check out all the poems by clicking here.

In random order:

"The Master Mistake" - Yuan Changming
This piece guides the reader through quick, almost cyclical examples of errors to a conclusion that feels natural.  The three stanzas are word-rich but not bogged down.  The poet's decision to indent the final line was a nice touch.

In an older sense, Eva meant to eat an onion instead of 
The apple. Adam was created out of the wrong material
And each unique being is but an exception to the rule

"Big Spirit in Skin" - Mary McGinnis
The first stanza of this poem is a declaration that appears simple at first, but it spirals out as you read.  The line length in the stanza even echoes the statement of the opening, thinning out in the middle.  I took this piece to be about balance and wholeness, though the end stanza left me feeling a little forlorn.

where the membrane between window and rain
opens like a tidy zero: 
its geometry without

"The Skies in Love With You" - Neil Marcus
This surreal poem opens with a question.  The other lines (each line its own stanza) either expound the question or answer it with powerful, somewhat contradictory, imagery.  It feels like a love poem with bits of playfulness.

a tornado in my bowl of broth

with gravity that makes me fly

"Huntress" - René Harrison
A piece of yearning and metamorphosis, this poem has a hint of darkness and caution.  The end echoes the beginning, but the narrator clearly indicates you aren't where you began.  How does wanting change us?

Alone without desire, she turns her ear to hear you,
and whispers you into a stag…

"Our Bodies Cannot Contain Us" - Jeannine Hall Gailey
The hopeful fragility of our bodies is given life in this final selection.  It seems like a spiritual poem, but no afterlife is mentioned beyond what science tells us.  The piece manages to relay beauty amid the tenuousness of life sans sentimentality.

your blood your bone your hair
slip away unfinished, burn away
but leave no mark on the earth