Getting the word out, redux

Kelli Russell Agodon posted about friends promoting each other’s books–instead of sending mail out about their own.


If I feel a little too brash saying “Please buy my book,” I am delighted to recommend someone else’s.

Starting with PLUME, by Kathleen Flenniken. This is my favorite new poetry book of 2012–a book I think everyone should read. It’s our history, it’s government, it’s the nuclear age and all the risks and consequences involved, written by someone who grew up in its middle. But not just any someone. Such a skilled poet, Kathleen Flenniken leads you through the placid streets, lets you meet the people who live there, and detonates the past. (I especially love the redactions.)

Don’t take my word for it. Read PLUME.

Update: Here’s an interview of Kathleen Flenniken by John W. Marshall.

I’d wanted to post a list–my 10 favorite books for the year (new or not so new). But I’m so far behind on my reading (not to mention all things holidays).

Another good resolution for next year: Keep a list and keep reading more.

P.S. I said I’d post once about Into the Rumored Spring and no other marketing, shameless self-promotion, what-have you. But the other day I picked up a copy of  my earlier book, Weathered Steps from Rose Alley Press. It’s a decade old now–it almost feels like it was written by someone else (!). Here are some tastes:

It wasn’t the oil, green as a river,
sheaves of wheat recalling
late afternoon gold,

nor the dusk-colored grapes,
the wine with its stain
of forgetting, swallowing light.


We come to the apothecary
of lost intentions,
look for rhumb lines, azimuths to guide us,
a thesaurus of plain destinations.

To market, to market, and a story

Into the Rumored Spring book coverIt’s the dreaded M word. We want to get our poems out into the world, to find our audience, to help our publishers sell books. But marketing…

Maybe it makes you cringe. (It makes me cringe.)

It’s hard to avoid feeling like you’re smarmy or annoying. A horn-tooting pest.

This past summer, as a friend was marketing his book, I realized that his emails and posts weren’t pestering at all. I was excited for him and inspired by his efforts to promote his book. I was in his corner, so it was good to hear about what he was doing, where he was reading. The M word was a good thing.

I’ve heard from a few people that Into the Rumored Spring has inspired them or comforted them. I count inspiration and comfort in the Good Things column–so maybe talking about it is also a good thing.

The Copyblogger writers encourage (exhort?) people to tell a story. I’ve told this book’s story at readings, but I don’t think I’ve told it here.

This is true.

It was 2007, and I knew three women who were fighting breast cancer (that number would climb).

They’re all doing well right now–a great blessing–but at that time, it was scary. Scariest for them, for their families, but scary for all of us who care about them.

People rallied, created sign-ups for rides and dinners, clearing the proverbial plates and filling the real ones so these women could focus on getting better.

But one of my friends didn’t need anything–no cooking–and I wanted to do something to help.

I sent Luna bars, and then I wrote a poem.

And another poem, and another…

I gave my friend that first set of poems for her birthday. But more poems were waiting. And I thought how nice it would be to give her a whole book, a real book.

Then I thought, how nice it would be for the book to also give back–to an organization that helps people who are fighting cancer. That felt really important.

Enter Ravenna Press, which published Into the Rumored Spring. I was able to give my friend’s book to her.

And I’m donating author proceeds to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. When you buy a copy, a part of it goes to help people.

So here’s the deal: I’m not going to send out a bunch of emails or post on Facebook a bunch of times–although I might post once.

I am going to ask that if you’ve read the book and enjoyed the poems, please consider sharing them with someone who might also find comfort in them. And thank you for reading it! If you haven’t had a chance to read the book, for any reason, please consider giving it a try.

You can read a sample poem (click View excerpt). Or here’s another bit to get you started:

He brings her news.
He brings her daughters home.

He brings her soup at night
or teriyaki.

He brings her morning.
This is marriage.

You can order Into the Rumored Spring directly from Ravenna Press (yes, I’m adding lots of links), or you can find it at any of the stores listed, or I can send it to you, or if you’re in Redmond, you can stop by my office.

This is also a good moment for me to pitch all independent presses and bookstores. Support your indies.

And what are your thoughts, strategies, hesitations around marketing? How do you help your publisher get your work out into the world?