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DIY Poetry Publishing Cooperative

May 27, 2006

Kate Greenstreet asks, Matthew Thorburn answers

What advice do you wish someone had given you before your book came out? What was the best advice you got?

Probably the most helpful thing, in a way, was that the folks at New Issues told me very clearly what they could and couldn't do for me, in terms of promotion. They could (and did) advertise a lot in Poets & Writers and The Writer's Chronicle and places like that, and they sent out a slew of review copies, but they didn't have the people power to set up readings (aside from at the AWP Conference, which unfortunately I couldn't attend). I think most poetry publishers don't. So I knew well in advance that it'd be up to me to do that kind of legwork.

The good advice I didn't exactly get, but soon figured out, is that in most cases you really do have to sell poetry books face to face, one at a time--at readings or school visits or book fairs or wherever you can. So the advice I would give is to get out there, to the degree that you are able to and comfortable doing so, and do readings and go to these other events. Something else New Issues is great about (and a lot of other publishers probably are too) is letting their authors buy copies of their books at half price to sell at readings. Clearly no one is getting rich here, but I found this helps a lot with make-ends-meet money for the logistical expenses of whatever kind of readings you're able to do.

Read the rest here.

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