Monday, February 15, 2016

Self-Publishing in the Digi-Democratic Age



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When most of us poor poets think of publishing our work, we start to feel a sense of hopelessness. Then, when despair begins to set in, we begin to dismiss our fears of vanity and begin to take steps to pay our audience, well--we can't even do that directly. We pull out our credit cards and, with tears in our eyes, put together our volume and send it to a publisher who offers to put together a volume for a fee. We pay to publish a dozen or two books and then we pay for marketing the books or we slog around selling.

The only thing that keeps us trying to publish in this environment is our faint hope that we will get a pleasant note that some editor or other likes our work enough to publlish it in their magazine or e-zine. Beyond that we know nothing. It's all our hope and vanity that drives us to seek the recognition of editors and publishers who have the ultimate approval decision to make.

This is the digi-democratic era, fellow poets. There is no ceiling and no demigods guarding the gateway. We need nothing to be read very widely except our own wills. Without being immodest, I can say that my poetry blog has seen over 25,000 readers over the last six years, from all over the world (I know that because the blog stats tell me). My visual arts blog has had over 30,000 visits over that length of time, more than a visit a day. That is as many eyes as most poetry publications and art galleries. My poetry videos average between 250 and 350 views. One of them has surpassed 1500 views. That's not a lot by YouTube standards but it's not bad for poetry and photos. The people that visit my sites take the time to read some of my poetry and examine and respond to some of my pictures rather than sweeping over the gallery floor with a wine glass.

The key to notariety in the digi-democracy is not the pleasant note from an editor. It is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). You get on a number of web sites. You establish a brand. You put in some links to your home. Then wait. Art has always been a selling and a kind of begging. I don't know why we do it, but we do. The new democratic order has given new life to the marketplace.

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