Nevertheless, it isn't necessarily an impossible sale. Suppose there were a plan that could allow your tiny publication (let's call it "The Fleshlight Press") to produce the most successful verse tome of our time: "The Fleshlight Poetry Anthology, Volume 1". Would that interest you?
We begin by examining what works. Many literary magazines conduct writing contests combining entry and subscription fees. For example, a subscription to BOMB or Rattle qualifies you for a significant cash prize if they select your poetry over everyone else's. This "Contest Marketing" is moderately successful but suffers from a significant limitation: it involves only poetry producers, not poetry consumers. (There may also be legal considerations in jurisdictions where the need to purchase something in order to win a prize constitutes a lottery, which would require licensing.) By catering to the [over]production side rather than the [as yet nonexistent] demand side, Contest Marketing typically results in a lot of subscribers who see no need to read the underlying publication.
Poetry Out Loud Performance Contest encourages the public's participation as aspirants (teenagers in their case) compete to see who can best perform poems that the organizers have selected.
Suppose you were to combine these two concepts. Start by raising some cash for a prize fund (and judges' fees?). The good news is that you won't have to pay these monies out until well after publication.
Now suppose you create an anthology of poems that, unlike many of the modern ones in Poetry Out Loud, have significant performance value (roughly: excellent mnemonics combined with drama and/or humor). You'll need to tell the authors of your plans before they agree to participate. Some silly ones may object to having their poem performed by thousands of people all over the world.
|Earl the Squirrel's Rule #32|
Your biggest challenge will be getting the word out. You'll need to use every tack possible: social media, writers' organizations, the university presses (including student newspapers), blogs, online forums, 'zines, email, etc,
From the potential participant's point of view this is a free shot at some cash.
"No entry fee? No purchase necessary? Just stand in front of a webcam, recite a poem, post it and send out an email? What have I got to lose? I'm in!"
|Earl the Squirrel's Rule #19|
Nota bene: your local writers' group may be of great assistance in this endeavor.