Diary of an amateur poetry-publisher, part two

doubtistThe Kickstarter project has gone well. A month in, under 24 hours to go, and we’re comfortably above the funding threshold, so even if a couple of people have last-minute doubts and pull out we should be fine.

I’ll probably use the surplus to fund a single colour page within the book – a needless extravagance that ought to prevent the awkward prospect of profit raising its ugly head, and should therefore befit the project, I think.

On Saturday night at 11:59pm (if I’m still awake) I’ll take a moment to appreciate the modest achievement of having written a bunch of poems, edited them together and – one way or another – having convinced a few people (some of whom I’ve never met; a few of whom I’ve never even heard of) that those poems are worth paying for.

So what next? Well, I’ll be emailing the forty-odd funders via Kickstarter who have made the publication possible, letting them know the next steps. Which are essentially:

  1. Buy ISBNs.
  2. Finalize the last few design decisions with Zef
  3. Print and publish the book.
  4. Post the book to people who have paid for it, along with any other “rewards” I promised.

That sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it?

It’s all the extra (optional) stuff like trying to get press coverage – online or print – that ought to provide distraction, entertainment, and blog-fodder in coming months. Obviously there’s nothing newsworthy about the book, and nobody knows or cares who I am, so getting anybody to review it will probably prove impossible; nevertheless, one can but try.

As far as practical advice for would-be publishers – which is sort of supposed to be the point of this blog – I can’t really say why my Kickstarter project has succeeded. I assume they don’t all succeed, and I know that the majority of my pledges have come from friends and family – so perhaps you need, erm, some friends, some family, and some way of alerting the aforementioned to your project’s existence?

Certainly the target of £600 was pretty modest – even when compared with other poetry projects I’ve seen on the platform. It doesn’t cover the entirety of the capital needed to make the book happen. (I already have about £500 in the bank from my savings.) But I arrived at the figure rather roughly based on the number of books I wanted to print (currently planned as 200), guessing that I could realistically shift about a quarter of that in a year without any press coverage or sales initiatives (like live readings, events, tours, that sort of thing). Just by spamming people on Facebook and Twitter about the project’s existence. I might try subtler or more creative means of promotion at a later stage. Especially if I have 150 copies taking up space in my study come 2015…

The videos might have helped. They might even have hindered! Who knows? But I’ve enjoyed recording them so far, and forcing myself to learn the poems by heart for the recordings. I’m definitely going to continue with them until I’ve reached the 33rd poem and the end of the collection. I’ve reached another one of those difficult poems though, which is ten stanzas long and has almost no recognizable rhythm or rhyme scheme to help me memorize it. Argh, etc.

I imagine if I’d bothered to establish myself as a live performer that would have done just as well for me as – probably better than – the YouTube videos. But circumstances (like me living in the middle of nowhere, being lazy, and having relatively little free time – especially in the evenings) have dictated that alternative methods were preferred; so thank goodness for the internet, and my shed.

I won’t rule out live performances in future, but I’d need to put in some serious practice. I haven’t done such a thing since I rather reluctantly played the role of Second Officer in a 6th-form production of Twelfth Night.

Back to the poetry-publishing. It’ll take a few weeks for the Kickstarter funds to reach my account, so by halfway through May I should be ready to complete the process. This will be the difficult part, as it will involve admin.

The next blog should have some insights into dealing with printers and ISBN distributors and whatever other avenues one must traverse on the road to taking up a bit of space in the British Library’s landfill site in Swindon.

Onward to glory, and immortality,

A S H Velky.

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