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Creating a Bestseller in Poetry

Last month, something amazing happened. Just when I had given up all hopes of leaving my mark in the writing world, a good friend of mine and fellow blogger, Rafaa Dalvi, reminded me that I already have a lot of poems written of which I can make a compilation and get it published.

An Idea can Change your Life

Although I did have a storage of around 200 poems in my current laptop, despite having lost my previous diaries, the idea needed more push than ever for I, being consumed with my stints in my new job, had only a slight interest and being read. So he did sell his idea to me in a way that I wouldn't need to do much for getting my work published - self-publishing via Kindle.

I recollected that every time I had my short stories or poetry traditionally published, the publishers required that we do a lot of social media promotion. Of course, it is necessary in today's times but some traditional publishing houses do not have good offline distribution, in which case all the sales come from online promotion only.

So, if I have to do all the promotion online anyway I might as well make my book available online only. If I am making my book available online only, I might as well make it available through a medium that is online only - E-books. 

The "Hard" Work Part

The Pen to Publish 2017 contest was also going on then (look for #pentopublish2017) and since it didn't require a lot of effort of writing request letters, finding a publisher, a book cover designer and what not, I decided to go for it.

So I compiled fifty of my poems related to grief and sadness and arranged them in a way I felt had a flow and titled it The Art of Grieving. Well, I think that's what I do best. People write mystery an crime novels and what nots; while I express grief. I allow people to momentarily delve deeper into their emotions and help them grieve. So, all I did was think of the most appropriate title, choose a book cover from the lot Amazon Kindle had provided and upload the file. The price I first decided was 64 INR, as low as I could see at that time. That was it - simple and easy steps to getting published.

Social-Media Promotion

The next hurdle was the major one - letting your readers know. It isn't a good feeling promoting your self-published work, mostly when you had always chosen the path of traditional publishing. I had always believed that if traditional publishers don't believe in your work, it is not worthy of getting published and hence, one shouldn't think of self-publishing. However, I realized over time that getting your work published doesn't always have much to do with quality. You get published because you want your work to be read. And if you want your work to be read why would you care who publishes it? All you would care for is that your work reaches the public - distribution is the key. If it reaches them well, it's up to them whether to read it or not. And when they read it, let them decide if they like it or not.

So there was I, with a self-published e-book in my hand, asking my Facebook friends to give it a try via one post about it being launched.

First Reactions

If you search for #EbookReactions on Twitter, you would realize that I wasn't very happy with the reactions at first. I got tons of messages from people congratulating me and saying they are proud of me. None of them even clicked on the link nor did they realize it's an e-book and not paperback. There were messages from people asking me for signed copies. -_-
The trace of hopes left in me were lost again. No one cares to read these days. And people can click on click-bait links but not the link for your e-book. I decide to rant on Twitter and sleep on it.

I lowered the price to 49 INR when I realized 64 wasn't a comfortable price point for the interested buyers. Also, I released the book on Amazon.com (https://www.amazon.com/Art-Grieving-Poetry-soul-ebook/dp/B0778WYVV2)but many had their apps and devices registered on Amazon.in, so I chose the default URL as the one available on the Indian domain - The Art of Grieving.

Many were still complaining about the price and honestly, it didn't make me very happy to see people hesitating to pay 49 INR.

Review Time

I get my first review from Rafaa Dalvi and it made me feel really grateful. I shared it on Facebook. Of course, I got one hate message from one of my extremely good friends saying that I love boasting. The idea was that if I share one review, others who have bought it would get the clue that they should post a review too and I'd very much like it. But when we are posting things on a public forum, we are bound to be misunderstood. I took it with a pinch of salt, a curt reply that they can block me if it's disturbing and let it go.

More reviews started pouring in. I shared a few more reviews and tracked the sales. All was good. One fine Saturday evening, I checked on the URL and my book was second as a bestseller on Amazon.

Harivansh Rai Bachhan's Madhushala had always been first. I didn't mind at all. I checked the same on Sunday morning and it was still there on rank #2. I realized I wasn't dreaming after all.



The Bestseller

I couldn't wait and shared the news hastily on Facebook. This was something I hadn't even expected. And it all happened too soon. As soon as I shared it, I tracked the sales and it had increased more than ever after my post appeared in public. Apparently, people like to go for proven things. Instead of the writer that they had been encouraging for years to go for publishing one solo book of hers, they would actually end up purchasing her book only when they see others have read it and liked it.

In no time, the book rose up to be #1 and I was the happiest person on earth. An Amazon Bestseller and that too for poetry was big; more so when poets like Rupi Kaur and Lang Leav had their e-books on the list. Rupi Kaur had two e-books on poetry released very recently. I was delighted to see it.

Since I was too hasty in sharing the news of being second bestseller that I couldn't share another post for being #1. Maybe when you publish your poetry book, you can avoid this mistake and have a little patience instead.

Anyway, long story short - I was extremely happy and that's what mattered. I was also very thankful to those who believed in my work and bought the e-book with all the complexities a Kindle app can bring for a non-user. I also felt guilty that probably my e-book wasn't good enough. This sinking feeling is probably common to all writers - when you're writing it, it's the greatest thing on earth; but once you have written it, it's a piece of work that could have been better.

I was helping one friend download the e-book when I realized that there is this prized crown on the head of my e-book - an amazing surprise that I had always wanted for my novel which I haven't written yet.


The After-Math

I was a happier person, disinterested in my earnings but encouraged by the feedback from my readers. There were personal messages from friends discussing some lines from some of the poems. It was an amazing feeling to find people not only reading my work but also delving deeper into the creation. 
I was motivated to being read again. After all, I knew I would always write (a diary, if not anything else). But what I didn't know was that there were readers to embrace my work, that I too had the potential to be a bestseller. Writing something creative always leaves you with a sense of belonging to your soul, being in touch with it and leaving something significant that would someday help another soul. So, if someone's reading it and feeling more human than ever, it's the icing on the cake. 

Let there be more icing and more cakes to eat.



Post-Script: Everytime I posted about the book on Facebook, there were more readers buying it. The bad thing is someone not interested in buying it might end up seeing each and every post of yours and say I am doing a lot of promotion. While someone who could be a potential buyer might not even get to see any of your promotional posts. Too bad we don't have much control on who sees your post and who doesn't. If I don't promote it's my loss. If I promote I feel a little embarrassment for being so boastful. Guess I might get my skin thicker to not think of how boastful I am being in promoting my work instead of sharing selfies of my "beauty". What say?


This post first appeared on Selling As For Sale By Owner Is Beneficial, please read the originial post: here

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Creating a Bestseller in Poetry

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