Thursday, October 28, 2010

What Works?

After a string of mostly “promotional posts,” I’m returning to an earlier thread on this blog—namely, the logistics of self-publishing. & this is a post that really requires audience participation.

I started this blog just a month ago, & The Spring Ghazals (book) has been available for about 3 weeks. There have been a number of positives in that time frame: the blog has had a very respectable number of page views & I’m gratified by the folks who’ve chosen to follow &/or subscribe. I’ve been touched by the efforts of poet Jessica Fox-Wilson to promote the book on her blog with both a review & an interview, as well as by the efforts of Kat Mortensen to get the word out thru her blogs (here & here). In addition, I appreciate that several folks on Twitter have gone out of their way to help me get the word out. Despite the efforts of these good folks—cyber friends one & al
l—the book has only sold a half dozen copies to date. This is a bit disappointing. My expectations are low (at least I thought they were low), but they are actually signficantly higher than this.

So I ask readers who have self-published: what “marketing strategies” (for lack of a better term) have worked for you? I know there are a few folks in the regular readership who have already self-published their writing, & I’m very open to suggestions. I am aware that readings are a good idea, & I’m working on that. There is zero poetry reading culture in my location, which is a very rural & conservative enclave—& in the west, rural means big distances between places. Given the realities of my location, I’m particularly interested in things I can do via the interwebs. I’d also be interested in knowing anything you tried that didn’t work so well.

This information won’t just be helpful for me—I know of at least two readers who are actively working on books that they’re going to self-publish; I’m sure the experience of others would be welcome to many.

Also: I’ve heard from a few folks about problems purchasing the book on Lulu, but only know the details in one case. Has anyone else had problems with this? If so, please let me know, with as many details as possible so I can follow-up with Lulu. You can contact me at

Thanks! I really do appreciate your support & your help!


  1. I plan to buy a copy! Just can't at this very moment.

    You should consider doing a book trailer for your book and posting it online. Also, since your book has an ISBN through Lulu, perhaps create a Goodreads account, set up your title and become a Goodreads author. That's a good way to promote yourself.

    Also, I couldn't find your book on Amazon. I thought Lulu had an Amazon connection. You should find out if you can get yours listed on there.

    There are lots of self-publishing resources but a lot of them are paid.

    B&N has a digital self-publishing service:
    So does Borders & BookBrewer:

    Publishers Weekly has started reviewing some select self published works.

    I would go to and search for "self publishing" there are lots of articles there.

    Good luck!

  2. Hi Raquel: Thanks--& I've never doubted your support--you've been great! Still it will be nice when I don't know the names of everyone who has bought the book! Otherwise, these are great suggestions. As far as Amazon goes(& B&N too)--there's lag time. Lulu says it should be available in 6-8 weeks from the publishing date, which would mean it should start shopwing up on Amazon (including international Amazon) & Barnes & Noble around the end of November--just in time for Xmas shoppers. I love your trailer & GoodReads suggestions, & will definitely look into the resources you linked to. You're really a pal, Raquel. Our cyber friendship means a good deal to me!

  3. My Mom published her learn-to-read series of books through Lulu. We expect that the sales will grow slowly over time. With a traditional publisher, they push early and hard, then drop you like a baked potato unless you are a runaway bestseller. As a self-published author, the publisher can never take your work out of print and hold it ransom from the public. I think that trade-off is worth it.

  4. Hi Lynn: Thanks for that encouraging perspective! & yes, I've seen enough poetry books by well-known poets go out-of-print, let alone by obscure ones, to know exactly what you mean by the ransom comment. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. I work for a book publisher who publishes numerous books which we do NOT drop like a hot potato. I think that generalization only applies to big publishers. Lots of small presses, like the one I work for, are champions for books.

  6. Hi Raquelle: Yes, but poetry publishers specifically do have a history of letting books by even well-known poets go out-of-print quite regularly. I'm sure the big publishing houses are the worst offenders! I was recently looking up some titles by Adrienne Rich, who is a major US poet over the latter half of 20th c/early 21st & I was shocked by how many of her titles are completely out-of-print, as well as by the fact that even more recent selected/collected poems don't represent some of her important work from the 60s-70s.

  7. Have you thought of a Facebook product page? They are free and pretty simple to assemble. They can help spread word via friend of a friend type associations. I plan on doing one for Blameless Mouth, pretty soon.

  8. Hi Jessica: That's a good suggestion. I'll look into this afternoon. Thanks!