So you have published a chapbook or book of your poetry. Now what? Here are some ideas on how and where to sell your poetry books.Sell from your Web site. Set up a Web site and offer your book for sale there. Post some poems on the site, so that people can get a sample of your work. You can even do an online poetry reading by posting an audio download of you reading one or two poems from the book. Sign up with PayPal to take payments at your Web site.
Sell your book on Amazon.com. The Amazon Advantage program allows small presses and self-published authors to offer their books for sale right next to books from the large New York publishers. If you used one of the “self-publishing companies” they will get your book listed on Amazon. If not, sign up for Amazon Advantage.
Do poetry readings. This is perhaps the most effective way to sell your poetry. Go to local community organizations, book stores, libraries, churches, festivals and anywhere you can get a group of people together, and offer to do a reading of your poetry. Make autographed copies of your book available for purchase following the reading. The people who enjoyed your poems will want to take them home with them.
Approach local stores and other businesses about selling your book. Although it may be difficult to break into the big chain bookstores with your poetry, local independent stores may be more willing to sell your book. And don’t overlook other businesses. Does your poetry appeal to women? Ask the local salon or spa if they would carry your book. Talk to the coffee shop, gift shop, even the car wash, about selling books.
Offer your poetry book as a fundraiser for community organizations and schools. Is there a natural tie between your poetry and a group that might want to raise funds? If you poems are about family and parenting, perhaps the school could sell it to parents to raise money for classroom materials. Are you poems about your battle with cancer or another illness? The hospital or an association that raises money for research or treatment of the illness may want to sell it.
Whenever you sell your books through someone else, such as a store or community group, expect to give a discount of about 50%. That means you have to have a price high enough to cover your production costs and allow you to make a little money even when selling at steep discounts. Of course, the price has to be low enough that it is an attractive impulse buy.
Always keep an eye open for new places that should sell your books. Look for a win-win situation where both you and they benefit.
Copyright Cathy Stucker. Cathy Stucker is the author of many books, including The Mystery Shopper’s Manual.