Why Poets Are Like Entrepreneurs
And, if we have a book, project, or event to promote, we’re often the content provider, editor, event promoter, host, marketer, social media expert, Web tech, agent, and venture capitalist, all rolled into one.
On the other hand, doing even one-third of this stuff leaves little time to write, much less work a day (or night) job and raise a family.
Why am I thinking about this today? I’m feeling rather blah and unfocused. Could be the head cold or the Sudafed that’s making me blasé. In any case, I’m in the process of re-evaluating what I should put my energies into during the summer while balancing a busy home life and work schedule. Heck, if I can eliminate one thing off of my to-do list before collapsing into bed, I’m a happy woman.
Here are some things we can take from entrepreneurs:
• Define your goals
• Have a plan
• Get feedback
• Reach out to your community
• Focus and be consistent
My goal with Underlife is a simple one: get a second print run, which means selling through the first. (At the beginning of May, Underlife had sold almost one-half of the first print run. Woo hoo!) But my goal as a poet has always been to constantly improve as a writer, and to use poetry (mine and others) as a way of creating community.
I don’t have a lot of money to spend or time to waste, so I am developing a manageable plan with realistic expectations. This blog, Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads are ways in which I reach a broad audience. I give as many local readings as possible, submit poems to journals and online publications, and write articles/give interviews for anyone who will read them. I do those things because they’re fun for me, not because I might sell more books. I don’t give away a ton of copies but try to get Underlife into as many hands as possible. This is not rocket science. In fact, most of us do these things already.
So many poetry collections are published every year, it’s hard to get anyone outside of family members to care. But that’s the beauty of being poet-preneurs: we have “gone rogue.” We understand what it means to try, fail, and fail again—and often. We don’t do this for the money because there is none (not at the start).
Every once in a while, my words connect with a reader. It's usually from a poem I didn’t think much of at the time, but somehow it has resonated with another person. I have made a connection. For me, that's a good as the first sale, the first deal, or the first dollar bill an entrepreneur earns from sweat equity.
If this isn't entrepreneurship, I don't know what is.