To Sell or Not to Sell

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A portion of this blog appeared previously, but given that new ‘venues’ for my work are now available, it seemed appropriate to see it here again:

There is nothing better, or WORSE, than marketing your own work.  I’ve downloaded the books, spoken to both Indie and traditionally published authors, scrolled through hundreds of blogs looking for tips… and in the end, I still have no idea what I’m doing.  And since I find many of the pushy salesmen types on Twitter to be insincere and annoying, I’m in a quandary.

How EXACTLY do I convince people to buy my work (at the price set by the publisher, no less!)?

I could and do mention the following:

* supporting my work benefits me directly (do you like me? are we friends? were you going to buy me a birthday present?)

* supporting my work benefits the small press that is taking the risk of publishing my chapbook (because let’s face it, no one is getting rich off of poetry and the relationship between press and poet is far more symbiotic than in mass-market publishing)

Beyond these two basic premises, I have a difficult time.  I wholeheartedly believe that my work is a contribution to the permanent body of poetry, a continuance in a very long tradition.  I also think there’s humor and honesty that many might enjoy, even those that wouldn’t normally ‘like’ poetry.  But I just can’t bring myself to constantly bring it up to people.

I was at an open mic last night and really enjoyed the camaraderie of the poets and audience.  I even read, not something I always opt to do.  But when it came time (even at that moment when it might have been socially acceptable to do so) I did NOT plug Sand River and other Places I’ve Been.

WHY NOT? It’s simple, really.  I didn’t want to destroy that fragile rapport by turning friendship into a commodity.

I suppose I’m going to sell far fewer books than I need to.

On that note–it’s available here.

Have an opinion on this? Run into a similar problem and have suggestions for solutions? Leave a comment below!

2 thoughts on “To Sell or Not to Sell

  1. H.B. Berlow says:

    You have to ask yourself why you write at all. Personal development. Artistic expression. Leaving something behind for your children. If it’s the latter, don’t leave them manuscripts. And if you’re lucky enough/blessed/fortunate to get published, don’t let it be a bunch of neatly put together books that have collected dust. Let it be the acknowledgement that people read your work. And enjoyed it. And admired and respected it. The only way to do that is to get it into their hands and get them to read it. Then people will know how good you are.
    If others in your group don’t share your vision or goal, that is not a problem nor is it a concern. They write for their reasons and you for yours. There have only been a few J.D. Salingers who write and then disappear into the framework of time. Today, we must show ourselves, sell ourselves, so that our work can have life. Don’t let your efforts go to waste.

  2. AprilinWichita says:

    These are certainly things to consider, but there is a longstanding tradition of self-effacement among poets, a false modesty (at times). So I have to work against both my own nature and the nature of ‘salesmen’ to really make this work for me.

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