I had an emotional crash for a moment this past week after finally realizing that I was back home and not having the types of conversations I had with other poets, teachers, and students. A comedown is a good sign that what you did and accomplished was worth doing and it’s bad at the same time because you don’t know when you’ll get to do that again.
I’m working on figuring out how to have more of these conversations in the future. Since I have come back, I’ve been refocused on trying to get more people to purchase the chapbooks that my reading series (There Will Be Words) publishes. The secondary objective of There Will Be Words is to pay writers for their time, which is unusual for a reading series. The chapbooks are the way to pay the writers for their time (after we meet cost). In the four months that we’ve done it, I’ve paid out writers once (and none of the runs have sold out). There are two things that may contribute to why we aren’t selling the runs out.
- Pricing: The books are currently sold for $8. The production cost per book is about $1.93-$2.00. Out of a run of 33, we have to sell about 8-9 copies before cost is officially met. After cost is met, then the writers currently get $1 for each copy sold. The good news is that we have met cost every single month (so far). The bad news is that we haven’t sold enough to pay writers for their time (they receive a contributor copy at least of the book). I’m going to lower the pricing to $5 starting in April and see where that goes. What that means though is we have to sell more in order to make cost and the writers will make less ($10). If we are treading water still after doing this for a year, we will probably do only two chapbooks a year to celebrate the best of There Will Be Words show.
- Promotion by the contributing writers: I can only do so much as a producer. I promote the best that I can the show but also writers must be willing to promote themselves to get people to come and buy the chapbooks (or their own work if they brought chapbooks or books of their own). There is nothing I can do when contributing writers are not willing to push their own work and/or the chapbooks we produce on their behalf. The success of any reading series, regardless of what is produced physically, requires producer and contributor to promote and get the word out.
I have two readings to announce regarding The Bones of Us.
More Florida dates to come. This is just the beginning. Come out if you are in Melbourne, FL or want to hear some poetry (PG) on a Saturday afternoon in Downtown Orlando.
An excerpt of my long prose poem, A Ballet of Growth, is over at Luciferous. You can check that out here.
Word Riot was nice enough to give The Bones of Us a mention here.
Finally, if you are or near Brooklyn, NY from April 12-26, check out The Tower, produced by AntiMatter Collective. This play is written by the illustrator of The Bones of Us, Adam Scott Mazer. What can’t this man do?