Tying Up Loose Ends on a Poetry Collection

After writing the poems, organizing the poems, submitting the poems, getting an acceptance, blowing the collection up, promoting the collection, and securing blurbs for the collection, the poet’s job surely must be done…right?

Not so fast. In my own case, I could start to see daylight in the publishing process, but there were so many loose ends that needed tied up if I wanted to feel like I’d put forth a good effort. Luckily, the supportive blurbs helped energize me toward the finish line.

Solving the World's Problems

Solving the World’s Problems

Acknowledgments

Since many of the poems in Solving the World’s Problems originally appeared in online and print publications, I included an acknowledgments page. This is a page that gives credit to previous publishers for choosing my work for publication.

Many of the editors and publishers of these publications make little or no money. In fact, I’d guess that many lose money while promoting poetry and other literary arts. So recognizing these previous publications achieves two objectives: props my poems up (by showing that someone besides my mom enjoys my work) and shines the light on people who are devoted to sharing poetry.

By the way, here’s a little submission trick: Read the acknowledgments pages of poets you admire to find new publications for submissions.

Author Bio

The author bio is not likely to help you sell extra books, but it is a good place to showcase what you’ve done and where your interests are. For instance, I have a few points I always try to touch in my bio:

  • My position as Senior Content Editor for the Writer’s Digest Writing Community. After all, editing books and writing is a big part of my life.
  • Being voted Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere. Any award or honor is a good thing to include, but what makes this so special to me is that it came down to a lot of people taking the time to vote for me. That’s really incredible.
  • My wife and kids. My family has nothing to do with marketing my poetry, but they play a huge role in my poetry writing.
  • URL. Either I’ll link to Twitter, my blog, or my website. For this book, it’s the latter, because that’s my permanent location online. If the Internet is still around in 10 years, my website will be too.
My brother Simon (left), me, and his chasing partner Juston Drake.

My brother Simon (left), me, and his chasing partner Juston.

Author Photo

I really wanted my storm chasing brother Simon to take my author photo. He’s spent years documenting tornadoes, hurricanes, and other weather phenomena. However, the timing really didn’t appear as if it was going to work.

The one thing about storm chasers, though, is that–like the weather–they are completely unpredictable. So I received an e-mail from my publisher asking for an author photo on the same day my brother called to say he was in the Texas panhandle headed for Florida to chase a tropical storm that he might follow up the east coast–so he might swing by along the way.

I asked the publisher to wait a few days to see if Simon might appear. After sleeping a few hours outside of Macon in his car with his chase partner, he did. For a couple hours, because his plans changed and he needed to get into position for some super cells in South Dakota by the next day (yes, this is normal). So we visited, and he took my author photo…

…which is inside the book but didn’t make the back cover, because the colors clashed. Tammy took the image on the back cover in a food court at the mall around the corner (on her cell phone, no less).

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Cover Image

One of the main reasons I chose Press 53 was because of the quality of their books. It’s superficial, but most books are judged by their covers if a reader has no other relationship with the author. So the cover image is important.

I was delighted to learn early on that my publisher Kevin involves the authors in the cover creation process. This is not how all publishers operate–so it was nice to know I had a voice in the decision. That said, Kevin and Christine found a wonderful image by Nicki Fitz-Gerald–the full image can be seen on this page.

What I love about the image is that it brings together many of the elements of my collection, which I think involves a troubled optimism. I could say more, but I think it’s best to let the art do the talking.

Note From Author

Separate of the acknowledgments page, I was given a page to thank other folks who’ve helped me through the years. There are so many that played a significant role in my development as a poet that it’s impossible to list them all. Many of them probably have no idea. So my note from the author highlights these people.

However, there are people not listed who played a key role in keeping me involved in submitting my work. An editor once mentioned that she loved my poetry and wondered how things were going with submitting–when I wasn’t submitting at all. This helped kick start some submissions. There was a college friend who asked if I still wrote, because he thought that’s what I was meant to do. You better believe that was a productive week. In both cases, I doubt the person involved thought much of the conversation–but it meant the world to me.

The writing has always come easy. There’s nothing to fear when I’m writing in a bubble. I’m indebted to so many for helping me feel confident enough to share my work with others. That’s where writing gets scary.

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Robert Lee Brewer

Robert Lee Brewer

Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and a grateful poet. He edits Writer’s Market, Poet’s Market, and the forthcoming inaugural edition of Guide to Self-Publishing. He also edits a free weekly newsletter, manages multiple blogs, writes a column for Writer’s Digest magazine, and other fun stuff. He curates the insta-poetry series for Virginia Quarterly Review and is excited about his debut full-length poetry collection, Solving the World’s Problems, from Press 53. Voted the 2010 Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere, Brewer speaks on writing and publishing topics and reads his poetry at events around the country. He’s married to the poet Tammy Foster Brewer, who helps him keep track of their five little poets (four boys and one princess). Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.

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2 thoughts on “Tying Up Loose Ends on a Poetry Collection

  1. IrisD

    Thank you for sharing this time-consuming process with us so we can benefit from your experiences.
    By the way, have you finished April PAD challenge special mentions?
    Thanks for all you do.
    Iris

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