It’s still early days on the re-launch of The Spring Ghazals, but so far the response to the re-publication in terms of actual sales has been very slow. That being the case, I thought I’d approach the readership here with a few practical questions. These questions will, I hope, draw on your experience both as self-published authors & as folks who actually buy books of poetry.
My wife, Eberle, offered the opinion recently that “no one buys a book of poetry unless there’s a compelling reason to do so.” While I can think of times that I’ve bought a poetry book on an impulse, there’s probably some truth in this. & it probably becomes more true when we’re talking about the book published by an unknown author. After all, we all have budget limitations on entertainment purchases, & there are films & music & live theater, etc., all competing with books for the entertainment buck.
So any insight on the following questions—or any additional practical tips—would be much appreciated. Thanks!
- Do you think that $12.00 US is a reasonable price for an 80-page book of poetry?
- Would the option of purchasing a signed copy directly from the poet make you more apt to buy the book?
- Do you find that live events like readings add significantly to sales? (admittedly, where I live this is a marginal option, but I’m sure I could get something put together)
- Would background material about the poems (on a blog such as this for instance!) make you more likely to purchase a book?
- Would you be more likely to purchase the book if some or all of the content was also available for free online? In that case, you’d be paying not for the content per se, but for “the content in a convenient, highly readable form.” (to borrow a phrase from Dave Bonta of the excellent Via Negativa blog.)
That last question is a particular poser for me. Mr Bonta noted in a very helpful Twitter discussion that posting the poems in his collection Ode to Tools hasn’t hurt the books’ sales. On the other hand, I’ve had the experience of making content available for free & having virtually no sales: in its original incarnation, The Spring Ghazals was available as a pdf download, & as I’ve mentioned here, most of the poems have been posted (tho not in any sequential manner) on Robert Frost’s Banjo, where they were greeted with quite an enthusiastic response. Also, The Days of Wine & Roses continues to be available as a free pdf in addition to being available as a book for purchase, & at this point, practically all the poems in the collection have been posted sequentially on the dedicated blog of the same name. These things being the case, I’ve been reluctant to post poems from The Spring Ghazals, especially en masse—after all, while I think of gone into this publishing process aware that there’s a limited market for self-published poetry, I’d like the book to be in as many hands as possible & to at least recoup my modest investment.
So these are my questions—no doubt I haven’t thought of several that are at least as relevant! Any feedback would be greatly appreciated—thanks so much.