Sunday, June 17, 2012

Why poets should whine about their books and small presses when necessary.

Someone I know in the SoCal poetry community (he's been kind to me professionally on a few occasions, though we've had disagreements) mentioned on Facebook that he's tired of poets "whining" about their books--re how many or few they sell and difficulties with publishers. As for me, the state of book sales is a topic I avoid bringing up on this blog. I've been through DIY self-publishing, being published by small presses (both by selection and paying for it) and paying to have an e-book professionally published and distributed. [ In terms of the last option, I'm happy to have actually sold e-books on Amazon Kindle and Xlibris, though more often (in the case of the former) I've had to depend on occasional free days to get people to sample.] And I'm aware that books and e-books need to be nurtured over a long period of time in terms of publicity, promotion and placement in regular-and-virtual stores. But perhaps it's time to abandon the ethos of "we're a small community and it's bad for you and the community to complain about anything.". Authors may not want to call out certain small presses or the people specifically involved with poetry volumes, but it's far better for the community if poets speak up about issues involving books and book sales. In the current environment, DIY books or chapbooks aren't being done in the amount they were, say, a dozen years ago. So most poets desiring to be Published, Recognized, Accepted and--just maybe--have their work survive posthumously should be concerned and assertive in making sure the fruits of their craft and labor find the audience the poets envision.


  1. What confused me a bit is the assertion that sales equals quality, and we know that can't possibly be true for poetry, because if it was then Jewel Kilcher would be considered the greatest poet in the last 10 years.

  2. I don't believe sales equal quality either. The context for my post had to do with poets in the SoCal region trying to at least get onto the playing field of having their books available with a fighting chance for finding an audience--whether it's large or small. Whatever one thinks of Jewel's book, it did inadvertently birth a book-length satire/critique/response from Beau Sia.