Dear Author Enabler,
I recently released
Judas Times Seven, a story of greed, betrayal and jealousy set in the modern workplace where office politics and political correctness trump reason. I have distributed calling cards and bookmarks describing it, but as yet I don’t know if it has sold even one copy. This is a book I am very passionate about, but the problem is that everyone seems to want so much money for promotion efforts. I am seeking out ideas on how to promote the book that are free or nearly so.
Brian Beecher
Villa Park, Illinois

Your best bet is to market your book online via Twitter, Facebook, your own website or blog and by participating in online forums. Your blog needs to be regularly updated, interesting and not focused solely on promoting your book. Visit other people’s sites and writing forums and comment on blogs (if you have something to say). Join in—you never know where it might lead you.

Seek out speaking engagements, however humble. Enter fiction contests—if you win or attain runner-up status it can bring some much-wanted attention and credibility. And be prepared to give copies of your book to authors, bloggers, critics and book club members—in short, anyone who will help you create word-of-mouth buzz.

Dear Author Enabler,
I am an aspiring poet. I currently go to Western Michigan University and want to publish my poetry collection. Do you know any publishers who can help me?
Joseph Nikolas Erobha
Marcellus, Michigan

I don’t think you are at the book-publishing stage. Most poets develop their careers by submitting their work to literary journals and by engaging with the wider literary community. Check out the world of poetry journals and magazines. Get a sense of the different styles and trends. A good resource is Poet’s Market, with listings of publishers and descriptions of their area of focus, contact information and submission guidelines. Poets & Writers magazine offers information and guidance for creative writers of all kinds. There are also several first-book contests that offer publication of a first book of poetry, such as the Walt Whitman Award and the Honickman First Book Prize.

Become a part of the poetry world. Attend readings and workshops, support other poets and join literary groups. Once your poems have been published and you have gained a measure of recognition, approach a university or small publisher known for publishing poetry.

This month’s questions remind me how important it is to be a part of a literary community. No matter how good your writing, it must be supported by others to be appreciated. The world is not likely to beat a path to our doors—we must go out to the world if we want our writing to be recognized.

Supporting other writers by attending literary events is a great way to get involved. Writers’ conferences offer opportunities to meet agents, editors and other writers. In San Francisco where I live, events like Litquake, Quiet Lightning, the San Francisco Writers Conference, writing workshops and author readings could keep me busy day and night, and sometimes do.

Make contact with your local literary community—one person, one group, one event at a time. Before you know it, you will have discovered a whole new world.

Sam Barry is an author, musician and former marketing manager for a publishing company. Email him at with your questions about writing and publishing.

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