Poetry: A Difficult Genre to Sell

The other day I had a conversation with an author who was looking to produce an ebook of an existing print book. In an attempt to rejuvenate interest in her book and increase sale, she was thinking about introducing a digital version of the book.


This author’s questions for me revolved around marketing an ebook. She wanted to understand the differences in marketing an ebook versus a print book, so she could come up with a plan.

I told this author that marketing an ebook is very similar to marketing a print book. All the same elements are important in both types of book promotion campaigns. These include:

  • Distribution
  • Endorsements
  • Reviews
  • Connecting with readers
  • Conveying the need your book meets for readers
  • Repeated exposure

Selling any book is hard work. Whether you are promoting an ebook or a print book, just because you write and publish a book does not mean that it will sell. Authors must find their target market, connect with these readers in a way that engages and hooks their interest, and then, convince them to invest their time and money in the book.

As we talked, this author told me that her book was a book of poems. I really felt for this author because selling a self-published book is hard work. Selling poetry is even more difficult.

I do not have much experience with selling poetry books. Don’t get me wrong, there is an audience for poetry. After all, the United States has a national Poet Laureate, poetry is taught in schools, a poem is read at every presidential inauguration, and many bookstores do host a small poetry section.

However, poetry has a very niche audience. In mainstream publishing there’s a small market for poetry books. Even established poets don’t sell thousands of books – maybe not even hundreds. Christian poetry is even a smaller niche audience.

When I talk with authors of Christian poetry books, I usually refer them to an organization called Utmost Christian Writers. Utmost Christian Writers is based in Canada. However, they provide a valuable service to Christian poets. The group hosts an annual poetry contest, hosts reviews of poetry books on their website, and provides additional resources to Christian poets. If you write poetry, I encourage you to check this group out.

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