Poetry Sales On the Rise

Have you ever attended a Poetry Slam?

In case you don’t know what a Poetry Slam is, it is a competition where poets read or recite their original works. The concept began in the early 1980s when American poet Marc Smith began experimenting with turning existing open microphone poetry readings into a competition.

In 1997, Poetry Slam, Inc. was founded to promote the creation and performance of poetry that engages communities and provides a platform for voices to be heard beyond social, cultural, political, and economic barriers. This nonprofit organization hosts a YouTube channel as well as live and online poetry events.

Poetry Slam, Inc., is a secular organization. However, some Christian poets and churches around the country host Christian Spoken Word Contests. One Facebook Page highlights Christian Spoken Word poetry and encourages anyone with a video performance to post on the Page to share with others.

Poetry sales are booming. Last year marked the best sales on record for poetry. There appears to be a new appetite for the works of living poets. Many poets are acquiring large audiences of online followers. In addition, poetry is becoming more popular through poetry slams and at live festivals. In fact, according to Nielson BookScan, poetry book sales have seen a 66% increase in the past five years.

With this rise in Poetry sales and interest in poetry, Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) has added a Poetry category to the Christian Indie Awards. Over the years, we have had a number of authors and publishers ask us about adding a Poetry category and we believe the time is ripe to do so.

For the 2019 Christian Indie Awards, four new categories have been added. These are:

  • Mystery and Suspense
  • Business / Finance
  • Self-Help
  • Poetry

In addition, the Bible Study / Theology category has been split into two separate categories, bringing the total categories for the Christian Indie Awards to 18 categories. You can view all 18 categories and their descriptions on the Christian Indie Awards website at https://www.christianaward.com/eligibility-guidelines/categories.

Nominations for the 2019 Christian Indie Awards are now open. If you are an Indie author or small publisher with a Christian book with a copyright of 2017 or 2018, you can nominate your book at https://www.christianaward.com/nominate-your-book.

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Photo courtesy of Katzenfee50.

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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