The ability to sell anything comes down to understanding your audience, which is easier when learning how to sell a poetry collection because your readers are deep and in their feelings—usually.
But that doesn’t mean you can slap a "hits the feels" sticker on your poetry book and sell it.
Between the crafting of your collection, the effectiveness of how you’ve published it, and your marketing plan, there’s a lot to consider. Thankfully, I’ve spent the last 4+ years teaching this to hundreds of authors.
So buckle up, and let’s sell some poetry books!
Your poetry collection is a product, and you’ll never consistently sell a bad product. If it’s poorly made or badly designed, it doesn’t matter how great the poetry actually is—though that’s important too.
But what makes for a good poetry collection?
Good poetry, duh: This is subjective, but the best poetry is raw, real, and based on vulnerability. I’ll leave the rest of the advice to the pros. Check out $ this blog post$ or $ this video$ .
It has an overall theme or focus: Not many poetry collections do well if they’re varied in theme. It’s a collection for a reason. Having a throughline that connects what the poetry is about helps your audience determine if it’s for them, which will sell more copies.
It’s formatted well: Formatting for poetry matters because there aren’t often a lot of words on each page. So creating a unique, interesting, or clean formatting depending on your style will help it sell. You can even include cute illustrations to help!
It has a cover that’s appropriate: Both for the title and content, your audience, and also one that’ll look pretty sitting on a desk, table, or bed because if your audience likes poetry, they’re also probably the aesthetic type.
It’s both that simple, but not that easy. Do your research into these elements, and pay for quality when it’s necessary.
How you publish impacts the momentum of selling copies of your poetry collection. If you have to rely solely on manual marketing to get your book seen, you’re fighting an uphill battle.
Work with the algorithm, especially if you’re self-publishing.
That means focusing on these areas when publishing:
The title: Using "poetry collection" after the title will help it show up when users search for it.
Your description: This is the "sales page" for your book. Write a good one to sell your poetry. What will intrigue readers? What is the tone and style of your work? Let those show.
Categories: You can choose 3 categories when publishing, and 10 if you contact Amazon to get more. Research what categories will best reach the intended audience of your poetry collection (not just the big ones you want to be in).
Keywords: Keep the type of poetry you write in mind as well as the themes and content. Make sure you’re using these keywords to help searchers see your listing.
Reviews: These are the catalyst for Amazon to show your book to people along with getting more sales. The higher your book is rated, the higher Amazon will push it up in your category listings and the more it’ll show it to other buyers in the "people also bought" section. Build a launch team and remind your audience to leave reviews!
This is where you’ll really learn how to sell a poetry collection. Marketing tends to seem more difficult than it is. The actual hardest part is just doing it.
These are some ideas for you to implement if you want to sell your books.
1. Videos with music and sample poems for Reels & TikTok
Create a video with a slow-moving video in the background, pair it with music that fits the tone of your poetry collection, and type a poem over top of it. You’d be surprised how much these simple videos get shared.
You can find free video footage to use from places like $ Videvo$ or by Googling "free stock videos".
If you like being on video or at least want to give it a try, just read one of your poems to the camera. It doesn't need to be anything fancy.
This woman is literally sitting in a dark room, just reading:
That’s it. That’s all. There are a ton of accounts with hundreds of thousands of followers doing this.
Pick a poem. Pick a song. Take a video of your page and put the song in the background like this one.
While Instagram images may be seen less than video reels, making a carousel is a great workaround since the algorithm pushes those more than single images.
Find some free stock photos like from $ Pexels$ or $ Unsplash$ and put a poem with text overtop either on your phone or by using $ Canva.$ Then upload multiple to a single post.
Because people share these style quotes and poems on their Instagram stories, you can share the word that way.
And share the process as a whole. Your audience will feel more bought-in to the end result when they’ve been hearing about its production. This will make them curious and want to buy your poetry collection when it’s done.
If you incorporate engaging content, like showing your audience cover ideas and asking them to vote on their favorite, "recruiting" some followers to read over some poems and give their opinion, etc., they will feel like they were a part of the process, making them much more invested in your books.
6. Create and run ads
Most authors are afraid of ads because they have no idea what works and no desire to waste money. But a good ad is as simple as one of your social posts that did well.
If you make one of the above and it gets a lot of likes, saves, shares, and comments, then just boost it! Put some money behind it and let it run. The fact that it’s already worked well shows you that it’s a good ad.
Now, keep in mind that when doing this, you’ll want to update your caption to include a call to action (CTA) to get a copy of the poetry book at your link. You may have to test and tweak until you find the right audience to show this to, but great ads can really go a long way.
BookTok has blown up. Authors who never sold many copies at all are now raking in a full-time income. But even if you don’t want to create your own TikToks, you can pay someone else to do it.
Research a BookToker in your genre and reach out about sponsoring a post. Make sure to ask for some of their stats and get a feel for what you can expect in book sales in order to verify spend and track your return on investment.
The truth of marketing is that you’re not selling the book itself, you’re selling what’s inside. It’s your job to make someone want more of it. Which means not just posting a picture of a book mockup, but sharing samples, stories of how you made it, and whatever will intrigue potential readers.
If you write good poetry and find your audience, eventually the book will sell itself.