What to Consider Before Self-Publishing Your Poetry
If you are a writer, you may have dabbled in poetry. Or perhaps you look at it from afar, confused and unamused.
I know as a writer, I have always been intrigued by the magic of poetry. By what makes poetry “good”, by what makes it “work”.
It wasn’t until I took a poetry class that I realized that vast amount of discipline and education that went into writing poetry.
I feel that we are all born poets. Those of us who have attended school are trained writers.
But the skill of translating poetry from your head to the page is a massive undertaking.
Poetry has been on my mind, and as a result I just watched this fantastic interview with Emma Watson and Rupi Kaur that is well worth a listen.
You may have seen Rupi’s books in Barnes & Noble, pre-pandemic. I was always struck by the simplicity and boldness of the cover of Milk & Honey, but I felt like I couldn’t pick it up.
Why? Because I am a writer not a poet. Codswallop.
So I just ordered my copy and I patiently await its arrival. (I felt this particular book called for a physical not a digital copy).
But back to business, the thing that struck me, (besides the period dialogue. Which was unbelievable and fantastic. How did I miss this?) was the fact that Rupi Kaur initially self-published Milk & Honey.
She did this by garnering a platform on Instagram by publishing her poetry there as an “instapoet”. Then she wrapped it all up in a book that she designed herself with zero budget and became a worldwide phenomenon.
Now, this isn’t a get rich quick scheme. She had quite a following on Instagram before publishing. She was going to readings, performing her work and being asked for a book before she ever wrote one.
But there is a hope and simplicity in her story.
Not only was all of her material originally published on Instagram, so she was able to ostensibly write the book while garnering a following, but she was also forming the market that would later invest in her book and career.
So that when it came to getting rejected by publisher after publisher, she had enough reason to believe that people wanted the book, so she self published it.
Similarly, Pierre Alex Jeanty is another self-published poet. He also garnered and audience by publishing his poetry on Twitter and then later self published his book.
The interesting thing, is that both poets have a certain brand that they stick to. Kaur writes about healing, feminism, violence, and love. (Which is a rather wide spread topically, but each subject inter links and overlaps quite wonderfully).
Jeanty also has a focused topic; he writes about the vulnerability of men, their soft side, which culminated in his debut “Unspoken Feelings of a Gentleman”.
Your flavor tends to attract the sort of reader who needs to hear what you have to say. But not unless you share it.
And even if you don’t think you have a specific flavor or tone, think about Kaur and how seemingly diverse her topic matter is. Take a deep look at your writing and identify how they overlap.
I know in my own writing, there is always an element of femininity and fantasy. Even though I write speculative historical fiction, high fantasy, and urban fantasy, they all overlap with similar messages.
The thing that I want to get across is that it is possible. And whether you are a poet, a short story writer, or a novelist, you could use the same tactics, to share your work, get it out there, test the waters, and actually share your writing with the world.
After all, you deserve to tell your story.