These new poets haven’t graduated from Masters in Fine Arts programs yet they are tremendously popular online, can attract a dedicated audience of 150 people or more at readings at bookstores such as Barnes & Noble, and in some cases they are selling hundreds of thousands of books.
How do they do it?
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Today’s Young Poets Understand the Value of Social Media
Take Tyler Knott Gregson as an example. On Twitter, he follows just 1,159 users but has 38,600 followers.
On Instgram, he follows 263 users and has a following of 268,000 dedicated fans. His Facebook page has been whopping 75,817 likes.
He’s not the only wildly successful poet thanks to social media.
Robert Drake has 1.3 million Instagram followers and so far has sold a combined 160,000 copies of his print poetry books.
New York Times claims that while their poetry may be reaching hundreds of thousands of readers and attracting the attention of agents, editors and publishers, their work is unlikely to impress literary critics and purists.
I say, who cares?
These poets – poets! – are reaching the public with their words and making a living with their writing. As you know, it’s no small feat to be able to quit your day job and support yourself entirely on your writing.
In fact, books by poets like Gregson and Drake are among the top 10 current top-selling poetry books in the United States.
The Role of Social Media for Today’s Writers
These poets are savvy about social media and know how to make their verses literally go viral.Authors take note: Instapoets are reaching a wide audience @CaballoFrancesClick To Tweet
In addition to Drake’s 1.3 million followers on Instagram, he has a readership that has scooped up 160,000 copies of his self-published poetry books.
And as the New York Times noted, this resurgence in poetry is happening at a time when mainstream poetry has been steadily falling in popularity.These poets know how to make their poems go viral via @CaballoFrancesClick To Tweet
Visual Social Media Adds to Popularity of #Instapoets
Perhaps the importance of images in social media has contributed to their success. Gregson seems to have an endless supply of text-based quotes on Instagram. Here are a couple of his examples:
The above Instagram posts received thousands of likes and hundreds of comments, not to mention shares. In fact, when a sister of Kim Kardashian shared a poem by another popular Instagram poet, Lang Leav, that post received 419,000 likes.
Lang Leav, who lives in New Zealand, has been on Tumblr since 2012. She now has 1 million followers — in just three years. Here’s a copy of two of her her Tumblr posts.
If you are an Indie Poet, you might want to check out Button Poetry. According to the About Page, this organization is:
committed to developing a coherent and effective system of production, distribution, promotion and fundraising for performance poetry.
The organization especially wants to promote a diversity of voices. Button seems like the perfect venue for Indie poets.
You will get a great flavor for the organization when you check out Button’s YouTube channel especially the reading by Sarah Kay.These poets are making a living with their writing via @CaballoFrancesClick To Tweet
If you’re a poet, and you’re wondering what you need to do to reach your audience, follow these steps:
- Join Instagram and learn how to use it. Post, at least, two text images with your poetry daily. Check out these posts to get start: Should Authors Be on Instagram? Absolutely! and Instagram Tips for Every Author
- Sign up for Tumblr. Add your blog posts, poetry and images. Remember to keep it simple, don’t be afraid to show your true personality, join conversations with readers and other poets, and above all, be visual. Post daily.
- Sign up for or step up your presence on Twitter. Send five tweets daily, tweet your poetry, engage with readers, and use the hashtags #poetry, #poem, and #haiku. Refer to your Instagram posts on Twitter with the hashtag #Instapoet. Check out these posts to learn more: Grow Your Twitter Tribe with These Tips, 10 Things Authors Should Never Do on Twitter, and Advanced Twitter Tips for Authors.
- Some poets, such as Gregson, find Facebook helpful. Add visually appealing text-based posts, like the ones shown above, at least twice a day. In addition, notify your following of upcoming readings and signings. Check out these posts to learn more: Learn How to Create Shareable Facebook Content and Do Authors Really Need a Facebook Page?
What If You’re Not Strictly a Poet?
Are you wondering how the same fame that these poets have achieved could possibly apply to your career?
I’m sure you’ve written a couple of poems in your life; I know that I have. So why not put them on Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook? Who knows what might happen?
Wouldn’t you like to achieve some of the success that Laev, Drake and Gregson have attained? And – here’s one more question for you to ponder – wouldn’t you like to be in Gregson’s position? He’s now expanding into calendars, note cards, and a children’s book.
All I can say is, wow!
Discover the ideal times to post on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter and more with the Social Media Cheat Sheet. Download for Free now!
About the Author of this Blog: Frances Caballo is an author, podcaster and social media strategist and manager for writers. She’s a regular speaker at the San Francisco Writers Conference and a contributing writer at TheBookDesigner.com. She’s written several books including Social Media Just for Writers, Avoid Social Media Time Suck, and Twitter Just for Writers, which is available for free here on her website. Her focus is on helping authors surmount the barriers that keep them from flourishing online, building their platform, finding new readers, and selling more books. Her clients include authors of every genre and writer conferences. Not sure how you’re doing online? Ask Frances to prepare a social media audit for you.