Promoting your poetry can feel uncomfortable, daunting or even impossible. With so many writers working to be seen or have their work published, it can feel like there isn’t room for you in today’s market. I’m here to tell you otherwise!
There are a number of strategic steps you can take to market yourself as a poet, have your voice heard, and put your name in print.
Networking is vital when marketing yourself as a poet. Although your talent as a writer is important to overall success, persistence and networking can help you gain exposure from various media outlets, such as radio, local newspaper write-ups, and spoken word poetry gigs. This may even lead to more demands for your work in print.
Not sure how to get started? Here are some networking suggestions:
- Join a local writer’s group. Getting together with others who share your passion for writing poetry is motivating, inspiring, and a great way to build connections. These groups might also offer workshops and public speaking opportunities, like open mic nights. If your community doesn’t have a writer’s group, why not start one yourself? Speak with the owners of your local bookstores or coffee houses and see if you can build some kind of partnership to use their space. Community is so important to the growth and development of writers and poets and a great way to expose your community to more diversity and art while also marketing yourself.
- Join your state poetry society. These groups often put out a monthly newsletter with publication and grant opportunities as well as information about which members are publishing and where. If you have a poem accepted, win an award, or schedule an appearance or reading, inform your newsletter editor to keep your name in the public eye.
- Maintain an author website. You are going to want to direct someone interested in your work to a specific place. Creating a website helps showcase who you are and acts as your portfolio, highlighting the various places you have been published or your projects that are in process. Add an email list for readers to subscribe to receive updates on your work, news of what’s to come, or access to new poems before anyone else to build your audience as well.
Instagram has become a hub for poets, largely due to its accessibility and the success of poets we all know and love like Rupi Kaur, Nayyirah Waheed, Nikita Gill, and Lang Leav. This is a great place to start marketing yourself as a poet.
Posting to Instagram will teach you how to build an audience and how to engage with that audience. It can also help you understand what your niche is. If you are hoping to publish a collection of poems someday, publishers will need to know how to market your work. For example, if you can say that your work is about grief or self-love or identity, you might be more likely to sell your collection. If self-publishing is on your radar, the audience you build through Instagram might be some of the first buyers of your book.
Create your personal brand, collaborate with other writers, define who you are as a poet, all while captivating an audience through this social media platform.
Publish Your Work in Literary Journals
Each time your byline or author bio appears in a literary magazine, your reputation as a writer and poet grow. Readers who see your poems in a literary journal might want to purchase your book or follow you on Instagram. Being published is also a great self-confidence boost. While you don’t need to be published to consider yourself a poet, this type of validation always feels good and can lead to more exposure and opportunities down the road.
Do Public Readings
While this might sound intimidating, spoken word events and public readings can really boost your reputation. Start slow with open mic nights which are typically hosted at bookstores or coffee shops. Open mics are very inclusive, supportive events, without pressure and with lots of positive reinforcement.
Once you’ve built your confidence, you might be able to find opportunities to read solo. Speak with the directors of open mic events or coffeehouse managers to let them know you are a poet and would be interested in doing a special reading. If you’ve published a book or chapbook, show the manager a copy. If you don’t have a book but your work has appeared in journals and magazines, inform them of these as well. You could even volunteer to prepare flyers and write a news release. You never know what connections you could make, what opportunities could follow, or who you will inspire with your poetry.