|It took more than 17 years and 10,000 crappy poems to finally assemble the 21 poems in ENTER.|
Work on craft
It all begins with the craft, and I've been filling up composition notebooks with crappy poems for more than 17 years now. I'm fairly certain I've written more than 10,000 poems in that span. Out of that spectacular wave of failed verse emerged the 21 poems that comprise ENTER.
Build an audience
The writing comes first, but a poet (or any writer) can start building an audience on Day 2. In high school, I'd fill composition notebooks with my poetry and pass the books around to my friends asking for them to indicate which ones they liked best. I used their input to help me figure out what appealed to my target audience. In college, I signed up for creative writing courses, which are heavy on the workshopping, and I read at a few open mics (shy as I am). Post-college, I was flung into speaking and then jumped at the chance to blog about poetry at Poetic Asides. If it weren't for the audience I'd already built, I probably would not have had the courage to attempt releasing ENTER. So while the writing is important, so is having a readership to share it with.
Make unique experience
I've known for a long time what I like and don't like in poetry collections--just the presentation of them. And for poetry chapbooks, I really like the old fashioned foldover variety without too much in the way of flowery design elements. Actually, my wife Tammy was lucky enough to have two very good chapbooks published through Rose of Sharon Press and Verve Bath Press. Anyway, I wanted something simple and personal to share with my readers. That's what I think ENTER is.
Two words: Limited Edition
It's hard to sell out if there is no finish line. I didn't know what to expect when I set my limited edition at 101 copies. Now that I've sold out before finishing the first month, I'm wondering if I set the bar too low, but I may have picked the perfect number. After all, there are now 101 copies of ENTER that are perfectly personal and unique. I can get more ambitious next time around.
The official release date was April 1, which I chose because I had two writing events lined up for early April: the Blue Ridge Writers Conference and the Austin International Poetry Festival. However, I didn't wait until April 1 to start building excitement about the project. I made my first announcement on December 15, followed by an update on December 21. On January 6, I began accepting payments for pre-orders. I think I had nearly half the copies claimed by April 1.
And those are the main reasons I think the collection went as fast as it did. In future posts about the collection, I hope to cover kind of the back-end process and lessons learned. In the meantime, read this super sweet review of ENTER from Maureen Doallas.
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It's too late to get a copy of my poetry collection, but it's not too late to check out some of my favorite collections by other poets: