It’s seems like yesterday was December, me still reeling from the unexpected email from Finishing Line Press. Email subject: “Chapbook Acceptance—Braiding the Storm” and now here I am, five months later and I’m so grateful. For the beautiful cover art. For the time spent reading and writing blurbs. For people who are already buying copies, even though I just announced it today.
The truth is, I’ve known it was available since April 30th, the last day of National Poetry Month. I had finished writing 30 poems in one month and by chance I was browsing the FLP website and saw my name. There was my name, title, next to a little button marked “add to cart” that I tried of course, just to see if I could, in fact, add it to my cart. It worked (though I didn’t buy it). I have a book that people can buy and read. It turns out since my cover artist also designed the front and back cover, FLP decided to put it up early. My official preorder period begins May 29. So you can buy it now on pre-preorder. How ‘bout that?
I’ve been planning the marketing for BtS, so it caught me by surprise that it went up early. On May 1st, I planned to start a countdown to preorders, with a nifty little widget on my blog, building up buzz (or as much buzz as there can be for a little book of poems). I have an author profile on Goodreads and I planned to do a Giveaway (I still do) and I have an interview coming out that I’ve been putting off finishing until the book was available to buy. The interview isn’t ready, no giveaway yet. I didn’t want to send my email blast to the 500+ people mailing list I’ve assembled. I only plan to send two emails – one at the start of the preorders and one a week before it ends – just about five weeks apart, just enough time to not get marked as spam, but not too much time that people will have forgotten about the first email. I decided I wasn’t ready to announce my chapbook yet. I’m going to wait until I’m ready.
I’m sure it sounds like I’m thinking about this too much. I am. But part of me feels like I need to do this, not just for myself, but for other poets for which marketing doesn’t come naturally. I can help other people. They can learn from my experiences, like I have learned so much from other poet who have shared their experiences with me.
But now I think my hesitation has deeper roots. My recently created author profile page on Goodreads has no reviews. Soon it will though, and I have no control over what people say. There is a whole internet out there where people could say things about my chapbook, good and bad. Or worse. They could say nothing. I’m naked now. That's vulnerability is scary.
Because the truth is these poems are very personal. So personal that the poetry I've written for the last year has been mostly fictionalized stories written in the third person. I've only very (very) recently begun to use the "I" in my poems again. But BtS is more than my chapbook to me. It's a symbol of how fucking hard I've worked these past few years. How much I've wanted this life. No matter how hard it gets or how stressed out I am, I still can't believe I get to have poetry in my life everyday. So that's where I am right now. Grateful, yet vulnerable.