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How to build your reputation as a poet and begin earning from your poetry.
by Jennifer Kathleen Phillips

There are many things that you can do to build your reputation as a poet in order to receive an income from your work. There is a great bit of wisdom in the bible. It says that “without a vision the people perish”. Without a goal you can easily be blown around by the wind of whatever is happening at the time. You can be ruled by circumstance instead of soaring above them to claim the prize of the path you are taking, so decide on a goal and work towards achieving it. Write down specific steps to achieving your goal and tick them off as you do them or edit the list as needed.
       To begin with you need to commit yourself to the task of making poetry. This may sound obvious but it is not always as easy as it appears. Doing a little often is better than waiting for the time when you have time, which tends to be never. You may have to plan this. Set aside time, write it in your dairy and do all that is needed to secure this time for writing. You may need to turn your phone off. You may need to pay someone to look after your children or business for a few hours or a day. You may need to plan your holidays to ensure that you do make poetry. Try planning a poetry retreat. Do a search online and see if there are any that you would like to join or organise your own.
       Perseverance is needed in order to achieve most goals and practice will improve your skill. If your poems don’t seem to be improving then find a poet who can help you or a suitable workshop. Join a local poetry group or start your own one. There are many ways that you can study poetry as well. Find some poetry that is similar to yours to see what others are doing. Talk with other successful poets. The people you mix with can positively or negatively influence how you see yourself. As the saying goes, you cannot change your family but you can choose to spend time with people who motivate you on your chosen path.
Meeting with other poets is one way of “getting your name out there”, even if you find that they are not your type or not that motivating. Don’t “hide your light under a bushel” as the bible saying goes. Search online for other poets and for local groups.
       Think about why people should hear, see or buy your poetry. Ask yourself why your poetry is valuable and worth someone’s while to buy it. If you don’t value it, why should anyone else? Make poems that you can be proud of.
       Once you have even a small portfolio of work that you are reasonable happy with, you need others to see it or hear you reading or performing it. Keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities. You may find opportunities to do a poetry reading in conjunction with the opening of an art exhibition or at a market place or even on the street as a busker. You might like to let your friends know that you are available to do a poetry reading at their next party. Visit a restaurant or pub, hospital or Retirement home and let them know that you are available to do a poetry reading. Make a list of possibilities and more ideas will come to you as your brain continues to work unconsciously for you. Search your local community for places where you can display your work or do a poetry reading. If people see your name or your work in a range of places they begin to value your work more and think of you as poet, even a well known one.
       I have a business card so that people are able to contact me later or view my work online. You need to get a business card and a website to show your poems. There are many free websites hosts available and a lot of free help is also available. Building a web presence is important. You can do this by joining other online poetry communities and getting links back to your site. Ask someone who belongs to some to share their experience and links with you to the sites that they have found useful.
       As soon as you have enough poems, put them into a book. You may like to apply for a grant to fund the book and the book launch. Self publishing is easy these days. There are many helpful websites on this topic. You can even try creating a photo book with your photos and poems in it through one of the outlets that print photos. There are many online opportunities for having your book printed or you can do it yourself from your home computer. Most home printers will take up to about 200gsm paper, so you can even design and print your own cover. You might start by purchasing a light patterned card for your cover and some computer paper for the pages. You can print your book title and name onto 200gsm marbled card and this is quite sufficient for the cover, or you can get it professionally designed and printed. You will need to get an ISBN number for your book. Each country has a different group agency that is coordinated by the International ISBN Agency in London. The Australian ISBN Agency assigns ISBNs in Australia exclusively for example. Do an online search to find out where you can purchase your ISBN number. If you print the book yourself, you may want to set the paper layout to horizontal and use two columns. Put one poem in each column. You will need a contents page and a page for your book details including the date of publication, the name of the publisher, which is you and the ISBN number. Do some research about what should go on this page and where in the book it should be. When you have printed the book you can staple it together or take it to a book binder or a printer to have it bound. In many countries it is required that a copy or two of all new books be sent to the national library, so find out about what happens in your country.
       Book launches are a great way of promoting your work. You will need to write a small biography and make sure you have your contact details so that people can contact you later if they like your work. Put this on your flyer or postcard and email to people and hand it out around the place as well. This flyer should look professional. Keep one or two with you to give to people you meet in your day. Make appointments with your local papers to let them know about your book. Send them an invitation. Generously advertise your event. The more you advertise, the more people will start to think of you and your poetry even if they do not attend the launch. Take photos of your book launch to display on your website or to send to your local paper. Make sure you ask your guests for permission to show the photo on your website. Even if only a few people turn up, be positive about the event. Others are more likely to come to another of your events if they hear a positive report. Find someone to do a review and send it into your local paper.
       Keep a record of your poetry and your events. Be diligent in your record keeping. Keep a list of publication dates of poems so that you can add this as the copyright date.
There are many other ways that you can build your reputation as poet. Set aside some time to build a list of them. As you seriously think about it, ideas will come into your mind. Here are a few that came into my mind:

• Try donating one of your books to a local charity such as a Lions event or IWD Breakfast for their fundraising. They will give you a lot of free advertising.

• Competitions are another promotional tool. Even if you do not win the main prize, you are getting your poetry out there. There are many competitions online that you can search out and enter.

• Send your poetry to a newspaper or magazine for publication.

• You may want to look for an agent to promote your work, but be careful about what you sign.

• Read and write reviews and articles about poetry and other poets. There are websites that will freely publish your article and increase your “goggle rating” by allowing you to link back to your website.

• Check out the “Who's Who” list in your country and get your own name in it once you have published your book.

• Pay for media exposure.

• Contact radio and TV and ask if they would like to do an interview or have you share your poetry.

• Plan an event and Market your work.

       Finally, keep a journal so that you can write your memoirs in years to come when your memory is not as good as it was.

© J. K. Phillips     Disclaimer
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