It's that feeling you get when you write something you are most proud of that finally gets recognized. It could be a resume that gets the job or a recipe recognized by the Food Network. Often, though, poets keep their masterpieces to themselves. The fear of exposure hides some of the best works hidden in journals deep inside dresser drawers.
Listen up — poetry does not sell itself. As with any business, you have to market yourself. Poets.org recommends you start small and work your way up. Publish in literary magazines and journals to gain recognition from editors and agents. Enter writing contests, take creative writing classes and read, read, read.
How does a writer market their poetry?
Publish Professional Work
Never send copy with errors. Be sure your work has been edited once and edited again by a professional. You can then find a publishing company that has been there, done that. Check their credentials and be sure they are legit; anyone could say they are professional. Surround yourself with positive idealists and avoid cynics at every turn.
To submit a submission yourself, consult annual sourcebooks, like Poet's Market, that will provide you with publisher descriptions, contact information and submission guidelines. Another great resource, according to Poets.org, is Poets & Writers magazine.
Create a Website
Creating a website is key in building your online author ranking. Readers and press will have a chance to look at your work as you entice readers to your exclusive content.
First step, claim your domain name. This will be your website address. If your name is Mark Twain, you might want to see if www.marktwain.com is available. If not, work from there. There is a minimal fee to buy a domain name (under $10). Then, get monthly web hosting — this can come from the same company you bought your domain (try godaddy.com) — and build your website. Wordpress is a popular website building resource.
Print tangible items to send with your submissions and pass out at local or national writer gatherings. Print a business card for less and create unique print collateral that will have staying power; maybe a bookmark with your contact information and favorite quote. Something as simple as a business card will show your style, personality and a desire to be successful.
Promote via Social Media
Get involved in social media. It's the modern day word-of-mouth and people of all ages are crowdsourcing for reviews and information. If you don't have a professional Facebook or Twitter page, make one. Get friends and professionals to "Like" and "Follow" you. Join in the conversation on poetry forums and keep your business campaign separate from your personal.
Is This Contest a Scam?
Unfortunately, there are numerous poetry contest scams. There are common warning signs:
- Is the publisher asking for money? There are only a few reasons a contest would require a fee. If it's a non-profit organization or a publicly supported arts organization, it might be something worth paying a fee. Otherwise, be wary and do your research.
- Does the publisher only list a P.O. Box? Hiding its whereabouts could be a sign this contest is a hoax to either steal your work or your money.
- Visit www.winningwriters.com/contests for a list of contests and agencies to avoid.
- Often, typing the publisher's name and scam in a search engine will yield the answer.