Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Failure to Launch (Party)

On the 19th, I was set to have my book's virtual launch party on YouTube. I researched the key ingredients to a great event, created cute graphics, promoted it on social media, and made sure my Internet could handle the platform. I've had my channel for years and thought I tried to stream there before...

... but apparently not. I needed to verify my account. Okay. My husband frantically punched in the code while I laid out copies and swag on the table in front of me and tried not to cry as OBS Studio refused to let me go live. Then, we learned YouTube has a waiting period (24 hours) before streaming is enabled. And it was fifteen minutes after my start time.

I mentally panicked. I'm used to Twitch as a streaming service but not YouTube. I had my husband create a Twitch channel for my launch, told everyone about the change of plans, and went live ten minutes later. I knew few people would see the pivot. I knew I shot myself in the foot. I knew I didn't really have options.

The live ran smooth, and I gave it everything I had. I was approximately halfway into it before someone talked; he was the only person who did, but my statistics claimed six people stopped by (though one was a bot). It was a better turnout than I thought, but there weren't enough people to do a Q&A session or proper giveaways. 

Twitch has a stream archive feature where replays are stored for a week and creators have the choice to upload them elsewhere. I decided to do the giveaways in my YouTube comments after I uploaded the replay there, only to learn the archive option isn't on by default. I was too upset to check before starting stream. So, no archive. No opportunity for giveaways. I almost broke down entirely but laughed instead.

Now, I'm faced with a decision: Do I try for another launch party next month, or do I just hold a giveaway on my blog/YouTube? I'm not sure. I feel as though no one will bother attending a relaunch, especially in December. My in-person event will be in January, so the holidays won't be as pressing. 

And I have no idea what to do with the Twitch channel. Do any of you even want to watch me gab about random things once a month? 

Thursday, October 26, 2023

The Complicated Emotions of Publishing

My debut poetry collection comes out a week from tomorrow. It's a day I never thought I'd see. It's a day my mom and older brother won't see; I ugly-cried when I received the acceptance because I couldn't share the news with them. I felt scooped out like a melon... open, wounded, and bare to the world.

I'm so grateful I ended up with the press I did. My book received extensive editing (thanks, Alex) and no changes were ever forced on me. The cover is my concept with my talented publisher's execution (appreciated, Emily). It's the book I wanted it to be.

Around the sixth time reading my manuscript, I began to hate each poem. I saw them as flawed, shambling creatures waiting to grip me with the teeth of cliche or shred me with claws coated in grammatical errors. I still think I missed something obvious.

Early reviews are trickling in due to NetGalley and my press' efforts. Each kind word and positive rating only strengthens the surreality. It doesn't feel like people are talking about my work. To me, my book is still on the island of my hard drive with the cursor blinking in secret smugness: I'm the only other thing seeing your words. 😉

I hope my book finds those who need it. My publisher told me two days ago that the collection has sold approximately 15 copies so far. Will one of those go to someone who will relate to it and feel less alone? Will it make someone evaluate a belief they hold? Will a metaphor inspire someone else to begin writing again? I hope so. I hope it changes someone (regardless of how minutely) for the better.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Poet Laureate Project

One of my unattainable dreams is to be a poet laureate. Being an ambassador of poetry sounds incredibly cool, and it's made even better when I can choose how I spend my time as said ambassador. If I could do anything with poetry, I know what it would be. 

Even before the pandemic, I always pictured an expansive, online project connecting poets. The site would be completely accessible to disabled folks. It would operate fully on even the oldest internet-enabled device or slowest connection as to let people from any economic class take part. Navigation would be easy for those not as used to technology.

The website would offer free workshops, readings, forums, and other ways to connect. Partnering with nursing homes and Community Resource Centers  across the country, poets who have no access or funds would be given the opportunity to secure a device for their participation. Poetry lovers would have the chance to attend various events or find new favorite poets. Translations for live events would also be implemented (whenever possible).

Poetry is a communal, cultural belonging... but we don't treat it as such. We parcel it out to those able to pursue higher education, live in a big enough city to attend events, or pay for workshop fees. It should be about connection, and life, for anyone who wants to join.

"Poetry is eternal graffiti written in the heart of everyone." — Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Let's Talk Pubby.co

This book doesn't seem to exist on Amazon. Truthful company already.

My publisher pays for NetGalley. I didn't expect it, but I'm glad she does. Reviews are important for authors. They spread the word about how other readers (hopefully who like the genre) feel about the book. If less than 2% of readers review, and there are fewer people who read poetry, it's going to be uphill both ways to find readers who want to take their time with my words.

Though NetGalley is the most well-known of the review sites, others (like Booksprout and BookSirens) exist. And then there's Pubby.

Facebook, the delightful spy, showed me a video ad of a book on Amazon that proclaimed "Authors are getting 200+ reviews for their books using our tool." Huh. Interesting. The background was of a memoir with a 4.5 star rating out of 208 reviews. Pretty damn impressive, assuming Pubby is responsible for most of those reviews. There's a ten-day trial... enough time to get at least one review before committing.
I started to read the comments. A few people got several reviews in the first month and were thrilled. People were posting their own books and asking other commenters to buy and review them. And then the warnings trickled along.

One month of Pubby is $30 but you can choose to pay annually for a discount. You have to review other books in order to earn enough "snaps" to get your own book reviewed which can be quite time-consuming as it's not one-to-one. A couple folks commented that Pubby can soak up so much of your life that it's a full-time job; even people who praise the company say it's a significant time investment. I'm not saying it doesn't exist elsewhere, but I've never heard of a reviews site charging you and then requiring you to do a bunch of work to get what you paid for.

The quality of reviews can take a hit in this system as some people can give you wonderful, thorough reviews while others speed read just to get their book read by others. Facebook commenters said reviewers would do things like say one character that died in the first chapter was the protagonist, make up entire plotlines, copy the description with nothing added as the review, have reviewers parrot things others have said that were inaccurate, and so on. Even though you aren't necessarily supposed to review the books of those who read yours, it happens and low-star retaliation has occurred more than once.
Since Pubby only has a review system for Amazon, those looking for coverage on other places (like Goodreads) aren't going to find it. The company claims Amazon won't take down reviews because writers aren't swapping them, but more than one client said they had all their reviews taken down because Amazon flagged them as being in a review ring. 
Personally, I think it's a great idea with terrible execution. The price is high for what it is—it can't promise quality reviews for that $30 a month or how many reviews you'll receive (no one at Pubby checks what people write). It doesn't have a long, credible history. Customer service is reportedly not great and credit card misuse has more than one (dis)honorable mention in their website complaints. I'm steering clear.

Thursday, August 3, 2023

The Unenviable Position of George R.R. Martin

Note: My poem "Waterway Sojourn" is in the new issue of ArLiJo. It will also be in my debut poetry collection Domestic Bodies published by Querencia Press.

I wouldn't want to be George R.R. Martin. The money is enticing. Perhaps the validation for years of effort would be swell. But I think the difficulty he is facing with his series is a nearly impossible predicament. 

He promised his fans he'd be done with the next book by the time the television show got to a certain point but didn't even finish the first draft. He constantly tells people how much he's progressing through the pages with people believing him less and less. Is he losing faith in himself, too?

The current novel isn't even the last; there is at least one more in the distant future! If he hasn't completed The Winds of Winter in 13 years, how will he finish the series? I hope everyone lives a full life, but he has more of his lifetime behind than ahead (he's 74).

Now that he knows what people think of a possible ending to his adventure, will he end everything differently? Watchers of the show panned the finale and, even if he didn't write the episode, it could be based on what he envisioned. Is he stuck because so many fans are clamoring for something he never planned?

Personally, I think he's pacing on the page... when he writes at all. It's a lot easier to keep changing things than to let a beast you can barely tame out into the world. Good thing silk sheets absorb the sweat of nights filled with the phantom ticking of keyboard clacks and the accusatory blinking of a cursor.

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Blurbs, Newsletter Snag, and Reviews

Note: This isn't the actual cover.


I reached out to one of my favorite poets a couple days ago, hoping he'd blurb my upcoming collection. I ended up fangirling and backpedaling in the initial message, but he said he'd be happy to blurb it! I'm terrified he'll hate my book. The unfavorable opinion of someone I admire might crush me (I'm feeling a bit frazzled over my debut).

Approaching people for things isn't easy. I don't want blurbs from people who consider me a friend or know me well because I want every word written about my collection to come without a perception of bias. So, I have to cold email and cross my fingers. A writer I know told me friends are supposed to blurb each other, but...

Newsletter Snag:

If you're going to start a newsletter, you need a physical address where you can be contacted put in the bottom of every edition by law. You aren't allowed to use a fake address. It doesn't matter if you are selling things or just putting out some Word Search Verse. I don't have a P.O. box and don't want strangers knowing where I live. I don't have a place of business where I receive correspondence.

A friend offered their P.O. box, but I don't want to use people like that. So, unless I magically find money for a virtual address or find another solution... no newsletter. I can still post word searches here if you want them.


My publisher anticipates giving out over 100 galleys to potential reviewers. Approximately one percent of people who read a book review it. Poetry is a tricky genre to get people excited about. 

I have a list of places I want to send copies of my book for a potential review. I wish I had more book bloggers or BookTok people to approach but will keep researching and using what I have. I can't afford to pay $50 or more for one review.


If you're a published author, what do you find most effective for promoting your books? How do you find reviewers? I look forward to your advice and ideas.

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Newsletter Arrives by July 30th...

 ... if I can figure it out. I'm quite technologically inept (even with YouTube tutorials). But I finally found a way to do what I've always wanted for my readers. 

Introducing Word Search Verse:

I love the idea of taking a relaxing activity like a word search and adding it to an art form meant to be digested slowly. The highlighted words in the poem are the ones found in the puzzle. The melding of concepts is meant to draw attention to the language (or just make poetry more fun). I might even have the solution at the bottom of the newsletter... in case. My thought is that people can write on a screenshot taken of the puzzle or print it out.

Yes, I'm also going to be creating a newsletter due to my book coming out, but I honestly wouldn't even consider one without a trick I saw from low-content indie authors on how to make the searches. I even wanted to make an entire poetry collection like this at one point in my life.


I figure I'll put out a monthly letter with Word Search Verse, updates on my life/writing, and maybe something like a favorite resource or a link to an awesome poem I came across online. Not sure if it will be super interesting, but I hope someone will like it. I shall endeavor to practice brevity.

As far as the newsletter service, I plan on using MailerLite because it seems the easiest for newbies while being reliable. I don't have my email address through my URL, so that might pose an issue... we'll see.

Do you have any tips or tricks for creating a newsletter? Please share!