Poetry is what makes every language beautiful in its own way. Choosing and arranging your words carefully to express your deepest feelings is truly an artform. Self-publishing your poetry book gives your art a permanent home — and a durable, attractive one at that. Izzard Ink helps many authors self-publish poetry books every year — what are you waiting for?
Do Poetry Books Sell?
Historically, poetry books are not the highest-selling genre. The reasons for this are many.
- Poems are not easy for the masses to understand. Reading any type of book has become less popular with the advent of the smartphone, sadly. If you’re aiming to appeal to a large group of people, you’ll want to choose a universal topic and write in a way that’s compelling and easy for everyone to comprehend. But that’s not how poetry works. If your goal is to make money selling books, you should probably write romance novels. True crime and self-help books are popular too, but if you aren’t a cop or a therapist, these genres might not be practical for you.
- Poems tend to be personal. For a poem to be truly great, it must come from the author’s heart. Trying to write about unrequited love when all your love has been requited will likely result in an inauthentic poem. Many poetry subjects are relatable and common: love, breakups, illness, mental illness, racism, changes, pain, disappointment, fear, etc. You may connect with others on these topics, but because poetry can be so esoteric, the meaning sometimes can get lost.
- Poetry books are short. Purchasing a book is a lot like purchasing any other product — you want the most you can get from your money. Consumer love thick paperbacks with compelling covers. One of the reasons that it’s hard to get rich selling children’s books — no matter how great or well-known you are — is because it’s hard to charge a lot for them because they are so short. At the same time, the illustrations are beautiful and can cost a lot to print.
Creating Your Poetry Book
If you are interested in self-publishing your poetry book, you may want to consider some ways to make it extra-special.
First, you will want to organize your poems. Will all the poems in your book be from a single time period or about one topic? If not, can you categorize them into a few topics that can serve as sections or chapters? It’s not critical that you do, but if you can, it might help. Some people only self-publish one book of poetry and include all their best poems from throughout their lives, and each has a different topic and is from a different time. Others, however, self-publish several poetry books.
When you’re considering the layout for your poetry book, you may want to include illustrations. Illustrations break up the gray of the poems, they add bulk to the book and they help convey the meaning of the words. It can be fun and exciting to work with an illustrator and watch them bring your innermost thoughts to life.
The same can be said of your book cover. An eye-catching book cover is a must for any book, but it can be especially important for a poetry book. The right art will make your book a piece of art in itself.
Who Will Read Your Book?
As we mentioned above, robust sales with a self-published poetry book are rare. So you may want to think about who will buy your book and what your sales strategy should be. Some common outlets are:
- Friends & Family
Your friends and family will be thrilled to own a copy of your self-published poetry book. If sales to them are sluggish, you can always include a copy as a gift for birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, etc.
- Classmates & Teachers
If you are still in school or a recent grad, you may sell some copies of your self-published poetry book to your teachers and classmates. You may even get a copy into the library, or onto a syllabus if the class is right. You may try to get the bookstore to stock some copies of your book as well — they would be a whole lot cheaper than textbooks!
- Co-workers & Colleagues
Depending on the industry you work in, you may be able to sell some self-published poetry books at work. Especially if you work in a small office where everyone knows you, your co-workers might be willing to buy your book. Or if you work at a large corporation in which there are a lot of meetings and conventions, this might be a good outlet for sales.
The Bottom Line on Self-Publishing a Poetry Book
While many famous poets never saw great success in their time — Emily Dickinson, Henry David Thoreau, Edgar Allen Poe, Sylvia Plath — it’s not impossible to achieve. Rupi Kaur, 29, an Indian-born Canadian poet, gained enormous fame with her first self-published book of poetry, Milk and Honey. Her poetry readings sell out, and she is in great demand for interviews. In 2019, the Harvard Crimson wrote about five other up-and-coming poets to watch.
Your best course of action is to go into self-publishing your poetry book with hope, but not expectations. And this is true of any self-publishing venture. The goal is to have a beautifully bound book of your amazing poems that will last forever. Keep it on your coffee table, your bookshelf or in your office. If some of the poems are about your spouse, include a dedication to them inside and give them a copy as a gift. Your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will treasure it.
To get a manuscript assessment of your poetry book, fill out Izzard Ink’s online form today.
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