By the Book

January. The coldest month of the year. Fortunately, there's no snow on the ground yet in my neck of the woods.

So I am part of the Poetry Blogging Network. My goal is to try to blog a few times a month. And I need to get more pictures in this space.


My book Rewilding was reviewed in the Washington Post! Can't tell you what a little review like that means to an indie book. Most of the poets I know are constantly hustling to get their book in front of readers. I am thankful for this tiny piece of recognition. Here's hoping the momentum builds into something more.

Not to be outdone, here's a lovely piece from Joey Phoenix at Creative Collective: “'When We Fly, We Find Our Fire.' – Reading January Gill O’Neil’s Rewilding"


Have you ever wondered what it costs to be a poet? This year, I am tracking my readings: earnings (or lack thereof), expenses, book sales, etc. in an Excel spreadsheet.

Now, I've always done a bit of that for tax purposes. But what does it really cost to travel to a reading, not receive any payment, and sell one or two books? I'm keeping the numbers and making comments about each activity. I really want to know how much the effort is worth in the life cycle of a poetry collection. Here are some questions I want to know in the first year of a book's publication:

1. Of the books I bring to readings, how many do I sell?
2. Will I peak in sales in my region, but decline towards year's end? How can I counteract that?
3. How many readings do I participate in annually? How many free readings?
4. If I cover travel and expenses, does that cancel out the stipend?

Put aside that poetry is an art, and it is a privilege to participate in this community. I'm looking at the numbers.

Will update you in a few months. April seems appropriate. 


Lissa Clouser said…
As a 'baby' poet still just wedging her foot in the door of this great community, I look forward to seeing your answers to those questions. I know those answers are flexible depending on so very many variables, but this is the sort of thing it seems other poets rarely discuss. I write because I love it, whether anything becomes of it or not, but as I would also like to make a 'career' out of it one day (no matter how tiny or unpaid that career may be) these are subjects I wish people talked about.

I wish you great luck and success in this new publication, and I look forward to your comments on the 'business' side of it as the year goes on!
Lesley Wheeler said…
One part of me: man, that's a scary endeavor. Another part of me: don't forget your TIME has value--add in those hours, too!

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