Could I make money from my poetry? How many poets do?

I just finished the 30 Poems in November challenge which is run by the Center for New Americans in Western Massachusetts. It’s like a sponsored run, except the runners are poets and the running is writing poetry. About a hundred poets took part and each one ran a campaign to write a poem a day for the month of November and get as much sponsorship for this activity.

Maybe journals are not the best home for poetry

As poets, we often write our work and send it to journals which are only read by other poets. Maybe we need to think beyond that. I got more feedback for my poetry in this one month than I have received in all the years of my life combined. And is that not why we write? We have something to say and we want to be heard.

Having said that, I’m also thinking that journals are important because it’s great to be recognized by our peers, but we need to look beyond journals. There are worlds out there that present unseen possibilities.

30 poems in November

Wait a minute, did my poems just make money!?

$570. That’s more than most poets make in a lifetime from their poetry. I’m not being mean. This is a fact. Yes, this money didn’t come to me and went to a cause. Yes, many people don’t want to make money from their poetry, but how about those who do? How about those poets out there who would give anything to be rewarded financially for their gift so that they could have a better lifestyle, pay more bills, etc? I know, even saying that makes me want to laugh, because it’s so hard to make money from poetry. But what if there are ways we are not thinking about? What if I could write ‘poetry’ and ‘lifestyle’ in the same line and not get an urge to end the sentence with ‘LOL.’

If you went the traditional publishing route, in order to make $570 from selling an anthology you would need to sell 570 copies. I’m assuming here that you’re getting $1 per copy, which is not rare. If you self-published, all the money would come to you but then you’d need to first cover your expenses before you counted any of this as yours.

That thought is stuck in my head now; if I my poetry can make money for charity, how about I find ways of getting it to make money for me? For other poets?

I can produce more work than I previously thought

Producing a complete poem every day for thirty days straight seems like a very hard thing to do. And it is. But it’s possible. All of a sudden, I am thinking differently about what is possible and what I can do. All of a sudden, am wondering what my creative limits really are…

 

 

IMAGE: Michael Longmire

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