The Hermit Poet

April 22, 2009

Ways You Can Help a First Book Poet

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 12:15 pm

I’ve been thinking it might be helpful to set down some of the ways that we can help out friends with first books.

Obviously the ideal thing would be to purchase a copy of the book for yourself (if possible from the poet directly or through their publisher or your local indie bookstore–as a last resort, get it online). But what then? What else can we do to help out?

Here’s a list of concrete things you can do:

  1. Read the book. While it’s great when people do buy the book, it’s even better when they read it. Poets love knowing that their book is being read.
  2. Request that your local bookstores stock the book. If you can’t find it on the shelf, let the store know that they should be carrying this book and tell them why.
  3. Ask your local library to order a copy of the book. Or, if you’re feeling generous, donate a copy to the library. They rarely turn down donations. You can even claim it as a tax deduction.
  4. Blog about the book. Tell people what you liked about it. What parts struck you. What things you were puzzled by. Sharing the reading experience helps others connect with you (makes for more interesting blog entries) and introduces the book to others.
  5. Write mini-reviews or comments on Amazon, Goodreads, Shelfari, and other online book community sites. Take a few minutes and tell others if you liked or didn’t like the book. Say something specific. Don’t forget to rate it. Small things add up and this can put the book on the radar for someone else.
  6. Write a book review for a literary journal or newspaper. While this certainly takes more time, a good review goes a long way. It also helps the author feel that the book is getting a thorough reading, that people are trying to understand what it was about or how it was working. It’s also a good way for you to get some publication credits and perhaps a foot in the door at a literary journal.
  7. Post a favorite quote from the book to your Facebook or MySpace page. A small thing again, but it helps make others aware of what you’re reading and why it might be important.
  8. Share poems from the book on occasions that seem fitting. I was pleasantly surprised to learn recently that one of my poems had been used in a sermon.
  9. Loan out or give copies of the book to family, friends, and acquaintances. Widen the circle of readers. It’ll give you something to talk about with your friends, perhaps open a new dialogue with someone you don’t know as well.
  10. Attend local book readings and bring your friends. When the poet/author is in your area, try to attend some of the readings. If possible, come with someone else – maybe even a group. You may be introducing people to poetry for the first time or you may be bringing like-minded literary folk, but in either case, not only will your presence be appreciated by the poet, the spillover affect of exposing more people to that poet’s work can be tremendously helpful in spreading the word. And who knows, they may also buy books!
  11. Send a note to the poet. It doesn’t have to be long or eloquent, it’s just good to know that people are reading the book. Especially people who aren’t blood-related to us.
  12. Recommend the book for classroom use. If you’re an instructor, use the book as one of the classroom texts. If you’re a student, use it for a paper or recommend it to the instructor.

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