Counting Poetry Beans
I received a lovely, exciting, email from Jan Fortune, editor of Cinnamon Press trying to suss out, through one simple question, how much confidence I have in my salespersonship abilities and how much belief I have in my pamphlet and the purchasing desire of the poetry world's readers.
In a nutshell it's critical decision time! How many extra copies of my pamphlet, Dressing Up, would I like to request for my sales at readings?
I reflect back to my days doing Splinter Magazine where price economics meant we needed to get 3000 copies to allow our £2 cover price .... much as I love my pamphlet (and you will too!) I don't want to wind up with copies in my dad's garden shed, which is where the 2000 remaining Splinters now live!
I also remember my days at Department for Transport, working on local transport plans, and judging whether local authorities' targets were realistic yet still challenging ...
I find it quite curious how my music and motoring experience is now informing my poetry decisions. I hope I've found the sweet spot with 40 total copies. Readings to support the launch are yet to be finalised, but I've got 4 potential events lined up, which equates to 10 sales per reading ... I hope I'm not being unambitious! I know I'm not the kind of person who could sell ice cubes to the Inuit, but I would fancy my chances of flogging a bacon sandwich to a hungover dude before (s)he needs to sit down and give a passable impression of doing a day job.
Some poetry events I've been to over the last year have been free while others have had a small door charge. Sometimes the entry fee includes a copy, or a discount coupon against the purchase price, of whatever book is being launched... I don't personally like that approach, not least because I can't read said book in a hard copy format, but it's an intriguing idea! I wonder how that works out for couples and families though, since it can't be fair to require a couple to pay for two copies of the book when they would normally just pass it over to the other side of the bed and say, "OK, I'm finished. You can read it now." What do you think of this approach, either as an audience member or as the poet launching your book?
To me, 40 copies sold at 4 readings seems a suitably challenging target but also not an unrealistic aspiration. If I run out of copies Dressing Up will still be available through the Cinnamon Press website until the first print run runs out, which I guesstimate will take about 2 weeks ;)
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