On Publishing & Selling Poetry

On Publishing & Selling Poetry

Of late, the book selling industry is seeing some shifts in where the growth is, and happily the growth has been in independent bookstores! Central Avenue is a proud supporter of Binc (a charitable organization that supports booksellers) and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many independent booksellers over the years. However, there have been just a small group that have come on board with the type of poetry that we publish. There’s one owner I met several years ago who emails me every season to find out the newest big titles. In his last email to me, he said he’s so glad he started listing it, as it’s really paid off for him.

You may know that the majority of the titles we release are in poetry, so for this trip, I really wanted to talk to IPG about the category and how they can hopefully convince more independents to try out a couple of titles. There’s several talking points:

– Even a below average selling poetry title sells about 100 copies a week and the better selling ones average about 1,000.

  • The category resonates with many young adults and teens with honest and accessible discussion and portrayal of trauma, race, grief, relationships, gender, feminism & sexuality.

– These customers like to browse shelves to discover new authors and buy in multiples while they’re in store.

– The authors’ massive presences on social media means books go viral quickly and result in immediate demand and sales lifts.

– Booksellers can validate those readers’ preferences by embracing the genre and listing current titles.

– They can recommend these titles to their other customers who might be looking for gift ideas for young people.

– They’re always returnable! Hey, if the category isn’t resonating with their customers, that’s okay — just return them back to us.

Poetry is definitely a niche category and the style of many of the books we publish can be polarizing. Trust me, we’ve gotten our fair share of bad reviews from trade journals claiming: “this isn’t poetry.” That said, those same books have gone on to sell in the tens of thousands and the genre continues to be a force with BookTok driving immense amounts of sales. This just tells me that it’s what people want to read! And for me, anything that gets people reading and sharing and healing is a wonderful thing – even if it doesn’t adhere to the rules one might have learned in their academic schooling.

If you’re a bookseller, librarian, or teacher and ever have any questions on the modern poetry category, I’d love to chat. I’m also attaching a talking sheet if you’d like something to show your local bookstore buyer or library.

As always, thanks for supporting small presses, indie booksellers, and new and upcoming authors such as ours.