Why The Recession Won’t Kill Poetry (& Other Recent Media Appearances)

By Neal Comment

clipart-newsboy.jpgSenior editor Ron Hogan dropped by the Market My Words blog earlier this week to offer some advice on author self-promotion, warning that they shouldn’t get caught up in feeling like they have to blog or Twitter or get on the Facebook. It’s not about the tools: “It’s about having the passion to share your story with the rest of the world, and recognizing that you can’t just expect people to stumble onto your book, or count on somebody else to do the marketing for you… The important thing is that you’re there to be social, not just to wave your book in people’s faces and ask/tell them to buy it. Get people to like YOU, and then they’ll become curious about your book.”

Hogan also showed up at Farrar Straus Giroux‘s The Best Words in Their Best Order to discuss his plans for National Poetry Month at his literary website, Beatrice.com—and while he was there, he explained why the current economic turbulence in publishing isn’t likely to have any significant impact on poetry:

“Poetry is easily the most marginal facet of mainstream commercial publishing… At New York publishing companies, working on poetry collections is probably the purest labor of love the industry has to offer, and the advances, print runs and so forth are minimal compared to the most other types of books. And, sure, you could run the numbers and say, ‘Hey, look at all the money we’d save if we cut these books out,’ but taking poetry away from editors would be like—oh, like pulling all the water coolers out of the building. Whatever you’d save financially, it’s not worth the hit to your staff morale when you take away the projects that give them that sense of doing something culturally significant.”

Smaller indie presses, he continued are “acutely aware of just how economically marginal poetry is to what they do—and they don’t care. They publish poetry because they love it, and they’re going to keep publishing as long as they can afford to stay in business. (And though independent publishers may be at risk in this economic climate, publishing poetry isn’t what put them there.)”