Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Poetry Books Don't Sell, Harry E. Gilleland, Jr.

AUTHOR:  Harry E. Gilleland, Jr
BOOK TITLE: Poetry Books Don’t Sell!

1) Tell me a little about your book. 
This is my fourth published collection of my poetry.  The poetry in this book addresses a wide variety of subjects. It is written in various formats or styles, including forty-three rhyming storoems (story-poems), six acrostic poems, five political poems, and twenty-nine free-verse poems. Seven older poems (prize-winners and author’s favorites) are included as lagniappe. These ninety poems offer the reader hours upon hours of reading pleasure.

2) Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
I write part-time. I split my time between doing my own writing and acting as editor-in-chief at 4RV Publishing.  Plus my wife Linda and I are both retired; we do a lot of traveling and keeping busy with estate sales and other interests. I write whenever I have a poem that I want to write. I may go several weeks between writing poetry and then will write several poems in a few days.

3) When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I had a thirty-five-year career as a microbiologist in which I did a lot of scientific writing of research journal articles, grant applications, lecture notes, etc. In 2001 I tried my hand at writing poetry and immediately fell in love with creative writing. I knew then that I wanted to be a poet and author of prose novels after I retired.

4) What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
I want readers of both my poetry and my novels to be entertained and find their time was well spent reading my work. I want my poetry to make its readers think about a topic in a new way, become emotionally engaged in the poem, and laugh at my humorous pieces. I want my storoems and poems to linger in the reader’s mind after they have read it. I want my poetry to make an impression on the reader.

5) Why are you drawn to poetry?
Poetry allows the poet to be creative in so many ways. There is so much freedom in poetry both in what you say and how you choose to say it. Writing a storoem or poem that you are satisfied with is quite a challenge. Poetry can always be improved; so a poem is never truly finished. I keep learning and hopefully improving the more I write poetry.

6) Would you say poetry is easier or harder to write than fiction and why?
I find writing poetry easier than writing prose simply because a storoem or poem is shorter and usually deals with one narrow subject. I can write and polish a good piece of poetry in a matter of a few hours. I labor over writing prose, especially a novel-length piece. It is harder for me to stay motivated to write a prose novel because it involves months of effort.

7) What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?
The toughest part of being a writer is not having an audience for your work. You pour your sweat and blood into a book, and then no one buys it no matter how hard you market it. I entitled this poetry book “Poetry Books Don’t Sell!” for good reason. It is a truism in the publishing world that no one buys poetry books. You get past it by realizing it is truly not a reflection on your work’s quality. Thousands of poets are all in the same boat regarding sale of their books. It also helped me get past my poetry not selling by winning several cash prizes (one of $1,000) in poetry contests. This reassured me my poetry is of high quality.

8) Is there anything in your poetry based upon a real life event? If so, tell me about it.
Many of my storoems and poems are based on real life events. I write a lot of my poetry about things I read in the newspaper, magazines, or on-line or see on TV. Many of my Nature poems are inspired by actual events. I write political poems based on current politics. I write poetry about historical events, particularly wars. I get many of my ideas for writing poetry from observing real life. I bring all my life experiences and the collected wisdom I have gained through living to the writing of my poetry.

9) What about your poetry makes it special?
My poetry is special for several reasons. I often address difficult topics in many of my poems – genocide, abortion, politics, war, racism, hatred, death. I want my poetry to entertain the reader but also to make them think and be touched. (I also write about love, marriage, happiness, family, children, humorous topics, and other feel-good subjects. I won’t want your readers to think all my topics are heavy!) I also write in a format that I pioneered called a storoem or story-poem. Storoems tell more of a complete story using poetic techniques than do most poems you read.

10) What is your marketing plan?
Advertising my book(s) extensively on-line through both free and paid ads, entries on blogs – both my own and as a guest, notices on various social media sites like Facebook, getting reviews posted, participating in giveaways, and having as large an on-line presence as I can generate is a large part of my marketing. I send out press releases. I send review copies to try to get at least seven or eight reviews posted on-line at sites like Amazon. I try to get my local newspaper to include a notice about publication of my new book. I try to have several book signings at bookstores and libraries in the region. I donate several copies of my new book to the local library.  An author has to devote an immense amount of effort to marketing.

 With “Poetry Books Don’t Sell!” I tried something new to market the e-book.  I took advantage of the Amazon Kindle KDP program, whereby you make your e-book exclusive to Kindle for at least 90 days, during which time it will be part of the Kindle Owners' Lending Library where Amazon Prime members can "borrow” it for free and you will earn your share of a monthly fund when readers borrow your book from the library. In addition, you are able to promote your e-book as free for everyone to download up to 5 days during these 90 days. This is a way self-published authors can offer their e-book on Kindle for free. My new poetry e-book, "Poetry Books Don't Sell!" was offered to all Kindle users for free download for two days, during which it was downloaded 63 times, which caused the e-book's ranking to reach the # 3 spot on the Top 100 Free e-books for the American Poetry list and position # 24 on the Top 100 Free for the Fiction, Poetry list. This is an excellent means to gain attention for your new e-book.

11) Where can people learn more about you and your work?
I have a personal website called Gilleland Poetry ( ) that shows the covers of all my books with a link to more details for each. This website also has several hundred of my older storoems and poems posted there.

12) Any tips for new writers hoping to write poetry?
Study how to write poetry and learn how to use its various techniques effectively. You can learn by reading both books and on-line sources. Read other poets’ works and see what you like and don’t like about them. Read the famous successful poets and learn what they do well. Write some poetry and post it on-line at various poetry forums and writing sites that offer critiques. Be tough-skinned about the criticisms and try to learn from the critical remarks.  You must be willing to listen to criticism in order to improve as a poet. Join a writers critique/review group and have your poetry judged by the group. Always remain open to suggestions for improvement.  Always proofread your work and be absolutely certain it is grammatically correct with no typos or misspellings before you post it. Remember writing poetry is a learning process. It takes years to hone your craft. Always strive to learn more, and never think you no longer need to improve. Trust me. You are never too good to get better. With that said, enjoy being a poet. Let the creativity flow. Have fun!

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