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To Market Or Not To Market

I am on my third book of poems with a small press, which means I have had to learn how to hoof it real good to get my book out there. Except that I don't want to.

Recently, I read on a writer's FB post that they did not want to market their work or themselves any longer, that they were going to take a break from doing readings and other means of calling attention to oneself for the sake of reaching an audience for their work.

I definitely was interested in this premise of NOT putting myself out there to get people to notice my book.

But as a poet whose books are primarily with small presses, I have been conditioned to tap dance for shiny silver dollars or get no sup tonight. Don't misunderstand, I admire small independent presses for their passionate and staunch advocacy of work by writers long underrepresented and shut out by big mainstream publishing houses. I am a co-editor at one press that has been doing this good work since 1966, and proud to keep doing it for as long as I can. But lo these seven years after Book One came out and two years of I cannot help but notice the disparity of experience I am having in both roles: as an editor I see how much work we have to do to market new books; as a poet, I see how much work I have to do to market my book vs. the poets who have books out or coming out with any of the Big Five.

Somewhere along the way, I picked up this compulsoin to put myself out there, to go after some sort of infamy as if it were good for me. Did I pick up this nasty tick to cast about like some marionnette whose strings are being controlled by some inexplicable urge to market onself because that is what I am seeing modeled for me?

I want to return to the vital idea of my work connecting with others for the real hope of it giving value to people who might be in the same boat as I am. And that's when the little voice in my head asks, "But how can that happen if you don't get the word out?" A real chicken or egg conundrum.


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