Poet Power! The Practical Poet's Complete Guide to Getting Published By Tom Williams Sentient Publications, 200 pages
Almost everyone I know writes poetry. Not always for publication, but poetry does seem to be the way almost all of us can express our most powerful feelings. But when I ask my poetry writing friends if they ever buy books of poetry, they almost all admit that very few, if any, poetry chapbooks grace their library shelves. That, in a nutshell, is the primary reason even excellent poets have a difficult time finding someone to publish their works.
Author Thomas A. Williams, in his new book Poet Power! The Practical Poet's Complete Guide to Getting Published, tackles this problem head-on. He pulls no punches when he describes the economics of poetry publishing. Books of verse do not sell well, he says, so publishers will only order a small print run. Because the print run is small, the cost per copy is high. And because the price of the book has to be set low, (poetry buyers won't pay more than $10.00 for a book of poems) the publisher almost always ends up losing rather than making money on poetry.
But after laying out the facts, Williams points out that there are publishers that do publish poetry. University presses, non-profit publishers or publishers receiving grant money to finance poetry projects are all potential markets for poets. The competition is fierce, but Poet Power! covers a variety of things a poet can do to greatly increase his or her chances of seeing their verse in print.
What struck me most while reading this book was the poet's role as a salesperson and marketer. Williams asserts that a publisher can't sell poetry. Only the poet can do that. The poet, then, cannot be an introvert. Readings, signings, workshops and so much more all become tools to help the poet sell. Even the unpublished poet must seek public visibility to increase his or her chances of getting published.
Williams covers all the bases for poets in this book, from getting poetry published in magazines, finding a book publisher or checking out subsidy publishing arrangements, to starting up your own poetry publishing company.
The Bottom Line -
While Poet Power!, in my opinion, has over-emphasized the self-publishing option, this book is still incredibly valuable to aspiring poets and will undoubtedly become the bible for anyone who wishes to see their verse in print. No other book on the market today covers the topic as clearly and completely.