The pandemic has logistically and emotionally challenged the promotional activities of small press authors.
As a small press author, how can you take the leap of faith and adopt to the new normal? Let’s ask Keith Kopka.
Keith Kopka is the author of Count Four (University of Tampa Press, 2020), winner of the 2019 Tampa Review Prize. He is also the author of the critical text, Asking a Shadow to Dance: An Introduction to the Practice of Poetry. Kopka is a Senior Editor at Narrative Magazine, the Director of Operations for Writers Resist, and an assistant professor at Holy Family University in Philadelphia.
Like many authors, Keith Kopka too, experienced the inherent challenges of the pandemic: The economic reality lost him the promotional support he previously anticipated from the university press. The health guidelines made him abandon most of his best promotional plans, including book readings and events which are vital to promoting a small press poetry book.
His transition to the digital landscape had been a learning experience. Here are some useful tips he had picked up along the way.
- Not all content that you post online has to be about the book you’re promoting. Use social platforms to build relationships and connect with your existing communities.
- Discover your “story” or the angle you could use to curate your online persona. Then leverage it to promote your book to unique audiences. E.g. Kopka’s book is heavily focused on music. So he spent time promoting the book to music magazines, bloggers and musicians – people he wouldn’t necessarily be reaching if he had been traveling around the country giving poetry readings.
- Don’t be afraid to cold-email. Send a digital copy of your book to poets you admire and the people who have the power to influence your target audience. Send it without expecting anything in return.
- Stay organized to stay on top of the promotional opportunities presented to you. There are often extended timelines on a lot of promotional activities, so it is easy to let them fall to the back of your mind as you are faced with other more immediate parts of life.
In our current environment, promoting your book can be as challenging as writing it, if not more so, but there are ways to make this challenge a bit more palatable. Self-promotion is the hard truth of small press books, and it doesn’t come naturally to most of us.
However, one of the main ways to get started is to share journeys that help demystify where to begin, which will hopefully make the process a little less overwhelming.
Shafeeka Hafeez grew up escaping into a world of books where she discovered a love for writing and a fascination with trees. When she’s not taking up a new marketing skill, or typing out a blog post, you can find her Googling the best therapy for abandoned cats.