Is it insanity that drives people to creativity or creativity that drives people to craziness?
Widely considered second only to Shakespeare, Lord Byron lived in his Cambridge dorm room with a pet bear that he tried (unsuccessfully) to enroll for a fellowship. The poet was “mad, bad and dangerous” according to one of his lovers.
While we may not agree with Edgar Allen Poe that “madness is the loftiest intelligence” – we certainly can’t dispute the fact that creativity comes from conflict somewhere in our minds. An ability to “suspend disbelief”, and disruptive thoughts not constrained by rules lead to originality of ideas.
While reveling in your mind’s freedom, how can you make money from this uninhibited processing of thoughts?
Let us examine poetry writing as a career.
Getting your poetry chapbook published is the first step to a career in poetry. While a slim volume may not generate a ton of cash; having your own book accepted by a publishing house adds to your stature as an author and poet. If you want to bypass the traditional pathways, you can also self publish your book on lulu.com. A published book would stand you in good stead when you are ready to plunge into more effective ways of making money from your poetry.
So what are these “more effective” ways through which poets make a living today?
Teaching poetry is certainly the most reliable source of income for a poet. A language or literature teacher’s cushy job lets you enjoy your passion to the fullest. Universities or schools will even pay you to publish your poems since having a published author brings prestige to their name – and increases student enrollments bringing in more cash for everyone.
Greeting card companies will pay to publish your poems as well. Getting hired as a songwriter is another lucrative career option for you if you have gained enough popularity – or notoriety – like those girls in the provocatively named band “Pussy Riot”.
You can even start your own blog offering to write poems for people for money. Many people like to commission a poem to mark an important event – weddings, gravestones and lover’s notes are just some of the many examples. A poem can turn the mundane into something special.
An easier way to get started is through the internet. Today, online media brings the customers to the poets laptops. Publishing poems on hubpages.com can bring you some good money through their automatic advertising scheme. How much you earn depends on the number of poems you write and how much you advertise them on your social media networks. About 20 to 30 poems on hubpages.com can bring you regular pocket-money for a nice brunch every Sunday. triond.com is another place to have your poems published easily, and also make some money in the process. Watch this YouTube video on some realistic advice on how to make money from poetry online: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TiJWVrhXu1w
Remember, publishing a book (or online) is just one step. Getting people to know about your poetry is the next important step.
Advertise, advertise, and advertise. Make repeated Facebook posts. Post small extracts from your book on Facebook and request your friends to share these posts. Every friend of yours has many other friends in his or her network. Ask them to ask their friends to share your posts. Get out of your comfort zone and start tweeting – tweet about what inspires you every day.
Join LinkedIn and Facebook groups (of writers and editors), and ask them to talk about your work – in return you can offer to post about their work in your network. To avoid competition, approach writers of genres other than your own for such ‘partnerships’.
Create a blog in blogger and start interactive communities. How can you turn your blog into an interactive community? Post a topic and invite people to write a short poem on it. Post each person’s poem and invite others to comment on it. Make sure you update your blog regularly, post new ideas.
Write poems about current events and put links to these poems in comments of major online publications – NY Times, New Yorker, Washington Post, your hometown newspapers and others. Make a list of publishers, visit their blogs periodically and comment on their posts. Make a YouTube video of your interview. You can ask a friend to be a host and interview you with his iPhone camera.
Remember never to give away your poems for free. By doing so you diminish the value of your works. However you can post extracts in social media to give a glimpse of your creativity.
There are many ways of making money as a poet. If you are truly love what you do, you skills will flower with time and people would come to love the passion, which flows from your pen.
To give you an insider view of the world of poets, we invited a much admired and respected poet and author – Sharique Jamal – to share his thoughts with us. Sharique’s poems have received wide critical acclaim and he has won many awards and recognition for his works – poetry as well as social service.