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Moneymaking Poetry is an Oxymoron
by Dan Case
My comments on poetry and the lack of money one can
make selling it, produced a flood of emails.
I did make one mistake. I stated, "Check out any
no poetry." Well, I wasnt entirely correct. Bernadette Geyer
wrote, "Got good news for you, Dan! Billy Collins' book of poetry, Sailing
Alone Around the Room, is on the Washington Post hardcover bestsellers
list, despite the fact that it's called the Hardcover Fiction bestsellers list
Hopefully things aren't as bad as you think for public acceptance of poetry." I
checked the bestseller list myself. I could only find one book of poetry,
The Best-Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. A book of The
Best-Loved Grocery Lists of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis would make the bestseller
list. Im afraid, Bernadette, that things ARE as bad as I think.
There were a lot of people who agreed with me. Paul
Brucker wrote, "Dan: You're right to throw a cold splash of reality into the
face of the self-published poet who thinks she can strike it rich from peddling
her book. It's a raw deal to be a poet and expect to make money and recognition
from one's work. Not only is poetry considered effete by the masses, but there
are masses of poets competing for a sliver of bandwidth. Consider the literary
journals that state upfront that you've got, at best, a 2 percent chance of
getting your poems accepted (better if you're already part of the editor's
network). And among the poets are 25,000 folks who have graduated from
poetry MFA programs since the 1980s -- all clamoring for attention."
I also received this note:
You are SO RIGHT!!! I am a published author, acquire
books for a living and write poetry for the pure pleasure of it. I've self
published one book, Notes From A Chameleon and have sold to friends, at
book gatherings and events...but I have no illusions. I never even bothered with
a UPC code or ISBN...because it's not going to go in any bookstore anywhere on
this planet. Unless I suddenly become incredibly famous. And I'll put my money
on the lottery instead. It's a better gamble.
Ginnie Siena Bivona,
Republic of Texas Press
Okay, Okay! You poets out there
do not despair. It
IS possible to make a living writing poetry. You just have to find the right
niche. I said that I would like to hear from anyone out there who was contrary
to the norm, and I heard from one poet, James Scott, who has found a great niche
market for his poetry.
I'm writing to agree with Susan and her insulted
friend and disagree with you on poetry as a marketable book form.
My name is James Scott, and I travel the country as
The LOUD Poetry Guy, performing in schools, libraries, and festivals. Seven
years ago, I self-published LOUDER!!!, and in an industry where the
average children's book sells 5,000 copies lifetime, I have already sold over
8,000 copies, hardback, and 1,000 audiotapes. There are other folks, like Brod
Baggert out of Louisiana and Kalli Dakos out of the DC area, who also sell a
tolerable number of books as part of their livelihood.
The Ogden Nash's and others didn't come forth from a
stream spouting rhyme. There are many poets out here who are creating a market
for their individual books, and as a group they are having a huge and positive
impact on young writers and their views about poetry. One bit of national
publicity, and LOUDER!!! could easily sell 200,000 copies in a single fall
season. Then I would be one of the Ogden Nash's of the world!
James Scott,The LOUD Poetry Guy
Good luck James, its nice to know someone out there
is making money with poetry. As for this newsletter
youve probably heard the
last word on moneymaking poetry.
© Copyright 2002, Dan Case
Dan Case is the editor of Writing for DOLLARS! the free ezine for writers, featuring tips, tricks and ideas for selling what you write. You can receive a free ebook, 83 Ways To Make Money Writing when you subscribe. http://www.writingfordollars.com
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