It was National Poet’s Day this week and in honor of that special literary holiday I thought it was appropriate to give poets some love, and talk about specific strategies for marketing poetry and improving your book discovery.
Because I think a lot of poets will concur with Graves when he said:
“To be a poet is a condition, not a profession.” — Robert Graves, in response to a questionnaire in Horizon, 1946.
And to put it mildly, it’s hard to make money at something that isn’t considered a profession.
That being said, authors around the world write in all sorts of genres without making tons of money right away, but what they do get in return, if they’re doing it right, is a dedicated fan base.
Marketing poetry the right way can get you that fan base!
But if you’ve written and published poetry, you already know how difficult marketing poetry books can be.
So here’s some advice on taking things to the next level:
Marketing poetry includes pushing for reviews
Yes, I realize reminding you to get reviews is much easier than actually getting the job done. But in my experience, those who publish poetry generally have very supportive and creative networks, both personally and professionally.
When it comes to marketing poetry books, utilizing your network is that much more crucial. Why? Because your potential buyer market of “other people” is much smaller than that of mass-market fiction and non-fiction.
A romance author could essentially do just fine if her friends and colleagues never read her books. But an author with a very targeted market, like poetry, can’t afford to let their network go to waste.
So if the first tip for marketing poetry books is getting reviews.
That means you need to get in the habit of emailing your networks, working your social media (personal and professional), doing giveaways for free copies to get books in hands. And send reminders. People are busy, but generally have good intentions. Be sure to remind them at regular intervals how much a single review can help your exposure on sites like Amazon.
Land guest post opportunities for your topic
I’ll admit, I’m no poetry buff, but what I do know is that when poetry is done well, it speaks to people on a very personal level.
You need to leverage those personal connections when marketing poetry books.
Figure out some engaging, thoughtful and relatable guest post ideas that compliment the type of poetry you write and topics you cover. And I don’t just mean come up with titles. I mean come up with titles and then bullet points that explain how your guest post will benefit readers, what they will get out of it, what questions it raises, etc.
Once you have those outlined, start pitching bloggers and websites that cater to the kinds of people you feel will resonate with your work. And offer to provide a customized guest post and include your suggestions with bullet points. (See my top guest blogging tips here.)
Remember, you’re in a very niche market. So marketing poetry books requires you go above and beyond to make it easy for people to say ‘yes’ to helping you promote your work.
Marketing poetry requires emotional tie-ins
Poetry is more niche, which presents its own marketing challenges, but why not turn that negative into a positive?
Poetry books naturally make a great gift, when the topic ties into the target market of course.
So while I’m not a huge proponent of display advertising for books in general, in print or online, I can get behind this strategy when it’s done in a very purposeful way.
My suggestion would be to determine which holidays or special occasions make sense for your type of poetry or topic. Remember, just like mass-market, marketing poetry books takes target-market precision.
Would your poetry make a great Mother’s Day gift, wedding present, alternative to self-help, be creative!
Once you have these figured out, plan to do some advertising on social or the blogs you’ve found during your guest blog research.
And then to compliment that outreach, discount your book during these times you’re really pushing your niche markets, because they’ll come looking for you – and if your book is priced as a deal – it’s that much simpler for them to click buy.
Update your Amazon presence
This is another element that’s crucial for marketing poetry books and mass-market books.
I always encourage authors, entrepreneurs in general, to have a website. If you don’t, put it on your to-do list, and definitely make sure your Amazon Author Central page is spectacular, including your bio.
The back end of Author Central has lots of areas for you to promote your work in different ways. For example, the From the Front Flap and From the Author are both areas where you can further explain your goals, your inspiration, outline exactly who will benefit from and enjoy your work.
Think of these different areas as separate sales pitches, be smart, use your keywords, and don’t waste these opportunities.
When it comes to keywords for marketing poetry books, remember, the reality is most people aren’t “into” poetry. I don’t want to mince words here. But that being said, it doesn’t mean they can’t get on board if it’s presented to them the right way.
So once your Amazon Author Central and product page is maximized, you’ll want to use the right keywords to get people there and soaking up what you have to say.
Keywords for poetry need to speak to they types of people searching for books on Amazon. What I mean is, if your poetry is very uplifting and designed to empower the reader, using the keyword “self-help for women” will likely draw in people who didn’t even know they’d like your book. You can broaden your reach with the right keywords.
If you need more help with Amazon, I’ve created a great video series to help you master it!
Social media is super important
Instagram is your friend. The Instagram community thrives on beautiful images, empowering messages, and doses of real life anecdotes.
Marketing poetry books on Instagram means marrying powerful and poignant phrases with eye-catching imagery (and trending hashtags) to create content people will relate to and want to share.
Twitter is also great for snippets of powerful and thought-provoking opinions and concepts – but the trick is keeping it current and timely.
So share excerpts of your work as they relate to what’s going on in the world (aka trending on Twitter) as a way to put yourself front and center with the potentially millions of people following what’s going on in the world.
If you’re looking for ideas, I publish a series of monthly observances every month to help get your creative juices flowing. And, a hint, National Poetry Month gives you a whole series of social media content!
Marketing poetry books can work for you
Yes, your job will be harder than it is for most authors. I would like to assume you knew that before you started.
But like I said previously, there are benefits to being in a niche market, as long as you know how to work those angles. If you’re marketing poetry books, it’s about quality over quantity, targeted versus broad, and tapping into your network.
What have your best successes been as a poet marketing your book? Share in the comments!