How To Make A Million Dollars With Your Poetry
a preliminary investigation by FRANK PARMA
People of the world! Do you ever look at at all the millionaires in the news, such as what's his name with the rap albums or the Triumph of the Shill guy and think, What do those swaggery wags have that I don't have (other than money)?? I don't know about the rest of you, but I freely confess I used to dream, even as a little barefoot boy among the slag heaps of my youth, of earning a cool million and spending it all on private brooks and obstacle courses for my friends. I hadn't settled on poetry yet because I didn't fully understand what poetry was and for this I blame the educational system. I tried to make money in several other ways, some more successful than others, until I finally settled on POETRY as the optimal path to my million-dollar future.
As a money-making venture, poetry has suffered from centuries of misconception. I believe this is due to the toll any serious poetry practice necessarily takes on the vital organs, not least of all the famous, and famously breakable, heart. It has long been claimed that to write anything at all is a spilling of blood, and to write poetry requires mandatory additional sacrifices of stomach lining, kidneys, uterine tissue, sputum, semen, and mucus membrane. All true! But while the PRACTICE of poetry is a vocation, heavily recommended against by doctors and carrying a large actuarial burden, the BUSINESS of poetry is as easy (and as healthful!) as licking Cool Whip off a spoon. Therefore IF YOU HAVE ALREADY COMMITTED to the hardships inherent to a life of poetry, why not exert .000001% of addition effort and TURN YOUR DREAMS INTO DOLLARS? In this bullet list I will explain a few of the ways that I and other poet-princes of the world have been raking in Harriet Tubmans (or local $20 equivalent) like crisp autumn leaves.
FULL DISCLOSURE, I HAVE NOT YET MADE a million dollars from the sale and distribution of Poetry, HOWEVER, I have made a good start and am more than pleased to share my wisdom with you, the people of the world.
What are some of the most common ways of making money through poetry? Let's look at a few of the best.
- Contests: If you need hard evidence that cash is flowing through the poetry community like a mighty river, what better than the multiplicity of contests offering ACTUAL MONEY in exchange for your poems? There are thousands if not billions of contests for the practicing poet available online and through such publications as Poets & Writers Magazine. Many contests charge a large or small fee, but Winning Writers maintains a list of of only the free ones.
HOT TIP: Be sure to send ONLY YOUR BEST poems to poetry contests. In the poetry world it is considered a grave insult to deliberately send "second string" poems to a contest. It's tantamount to renting a large flashing billboard that says [name of contest] IS A CHUMPMONKEY WITH NO TASTE, or perhaps simply LOL [name of contest]. There are now highly accurate tests available by which contest readers can tell you are holding back. As in poetry, so in poetry contest submissions: Don't hold back!
- Instagram: You may have already heard of several poets becoming famous through this "social" medium. While I have not investigated this phenomenon myself, my young friends tell me that Instagram poems are frequently written in cursive or another "intimate" font over an evocative photo, and posted to "the graham" as large images. They can then be printed out and taped to the reader's wall, or sent as "poetgrams" through the post. How the money comes into it is unclear, possibly through publishing deals brokered by your loyal fans. Instagram is a website on the World Wide Web. If you are unable to find it using your favorite search engine, ask your local coffee roastery for assistance.
- The Typewriter Poet In cities across the nation and abroad, Typewriter Poets are making dozens of dollars a day writing poems to order in public parks and squares. Unlike other methods, this one requires significant start-up costs unless you already own a cool-looking typewriter and lots of sunscreen. Practice writing poems to order before you venture out to avoid the embarrassment of being caught unprepared.
- Self-Publishing: "Indie" is the Word of the Moment in publishing right now, and who more independent than your own wild and precious self? There are more options for self-publishing now than ever before, including print on demand services that allow you to order only the books you need when you need them. Some of the WWWeb's many book retail sites now allow you to sell books directly through the site. Or talk to your local printing company! Once you have a tote bag full of beautiful books to sling over your shoulder, you will be ready for the next step, which will be discussed in a future article.
- Become a Guest Writer: As more and more people catch on to the ways they can Make Millions Writing Poetry, demand has soared for writing retreats and mentorships. Becoming an invited Guest Writer at such events as Bread Rolls, Key West Poem Fest, the Great Sewanee Songster Splash, or the Polysemous Palace of Embodied Poetics is an easy and fun way to enjoy a free vacation while lining your pockets with cash and your free tote bags with hotel bagels. To get started, find a writer's retreat near you and send a 40-75 page manuscript of your best poetry to their "more information" contact person. Be sure to state whether you are willing to take on mentoring duties in addition to lounging by the pool.
- Arts and Crafts: Did you know that many people who will not buy a poem in book form will buy SEVERAL if they can be hung on a wall? Interior decorating is a rich vein of money potential that has not yet been fully tapped. Experiment with forms and fonts! Subject matter is worth considering here. Much of the decorative poetry that "sells" is in the genre of affirmations and self-worthiness. What underrepresented moods could you represent for the home?
These are just a few of the MANY MANY ways POETRY can be converted into MONEY until you reach your goal of a Millionaire Poet Lifestyle.
If you have a suggestion from your own Millionaire Poet Journey, please don't hesitate to submit for a future essay, using the email address ghostchance [at] tutanota [dot] com. Let's share the wealth so we can share the Hennessey in days to come!