Sufi Stories

Celebrating innovation, creation and entrepreneurship

How To Make A Living From Poetry: Conversations with Sharique Jamal

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 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 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 can bring you regular pocket-money for a nice brunch every Sunday. 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:

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.

Shannon: Tell us a bit about your books – Voices from Soul. How did you decide to write the poems, how long it took you to write the collection of poems. What are you working on now?

Sharique: Though I am a Sr. Director on a non profit org for more than a decade, writing took precedence only after reading. Maybe as long as I remember, from the moment I could reach the shelves and decipher words into the fantasy world of creativity, it became a passion with me.

Earlier I used to write for school journal, then local dailies and finally, with advent of Net, for both online and print media…globally as Criterion, Reflections, Letizen and many more.

I always pen, what comes to me naturally, for I have never framed word, just for the sake of writing and that is my truth or purging of soul thoughts.

It took me around four months, to complete my poetry trilogy.
I have five more collated books, with authors from all over but presently I am working on a short story as well as a semi autobiography, of the paradox of the values imbibed in me and growing up to a world which runs after transient goals. It is also about losing and memories, of the ones I lost, whom one takes for granted.

Shannon: Tell us a bit about the process of getting your book out. How did you choose your publisher? What are some of the challenges you had to face.

Sharique: I had been writing for number of online poetry groups, one of them being “Poets with Voices Strong”. There I found the admin, Brian Wrixon, who inspired me to get my works published through him, as he was an established publisher, based in Toronto, Canada.

There was no looking back and he did full justice to getting my books available online, with minimum costing.

Challenge for any writer or for that matter, in any performing art, is to relate to the reader and reach out to the maximum number. That I did by using a simple form of writing but not diluting the message of profound thoughts.

One can never know how it would be received, and that I had to work upon. One needs hell of a patience, for it takes quite a while, to get a niche in the market,so to say.

Shannon: Please share some tips for new writers esp from the business side of things. Based on your experience what can new writers do to make writing a profitable venture.

Sharique: Advice for new writers, never emulate anyone, read a lot before penning and most importantly, have a backup marketing plan, that would do justice to the effort put in.

For ultimately it is a commodity, but to put it in other words, have a discerning mind to balance your message and also keeping in mind, the readers point of view and what they would relate to easily. Its a tough thing but if ones life starts with a comma and ends with a period, as mine, then to fuel that passion, a strong marketing plan has to be kept in mind.

And look up other writings, which have caught the fancy of readers… never to ape but to gauge the present global shelf life of readers.

Lastly I wish to add, that all my writings stemmed from the adversity and destiny I faced, hence my pen shall keep going, as long as the voice within keeps speaking the silent thoughts.

My mother, who left me, I dedicate each of my work to, my little angel Sanya, who made me see things with the clarity that innocence has and many silent inspirations, from all over..Brian Wrixon, Carolyn Tucker, Jane Lynahan and so many more wise souls.

My adage for living and doing all that I love… carpe diem, seize the moment, remember only deeds matter and nothing else, for future is just a hope… do what you have to, now, in the moment.

To view and acquire Sharique’s books visit blurb:

Voice of the Soul – Yearnings, by Sharique Jamal

Voice of the Soul – Realisations, by Sharique Jamal

Voice of the Soul – Whispers, by Sharique Jamal