I Self-Published A Poetry Book And Only Made A Few Hundred Dollars

The cover of my first poetry book.

Writing poetry about someone is an emotional rollercoaster

There were so many experiences that I had to relive, through my mother’s lenses as I wrote about her. Most of my poetry was written in Bluebell’s cafe in Auckland or the library that overlooked Takapuna beach. There were moments in the cafe where I would daze off in space and would be interrupted by the young ladies working there. When I told them I was writing the first poetry book they promised not to disturb me. Whenever they’d see my iced latte cup less than half full they’d signal with their hands if I needed more. After one week of writing, they had successfully converted me from using plastic iced latte cups to a reusable one… I don’t blame them — I was using an awful lot of plastic cups.

Writing the truth is difficult

My mother wasn’t aware I was writing a poetry book about her. She came to know after I had published it. I am my mother’s best friend. She has shared with me so, so, so many of her experiences, instances, stories. She has confided in me in her weakest moments and cannot successfully pass a day without calling me and telling me everything about her day.

Use an aspiring artist for the cover of your book

Kainat, the young lady who designed the cover of my book alongside the illustrations inside the book was found through Instagram. I reached out to her after scrolling her Instagram feed and knew that the girl had potential. She didn’t have thousands of followers and I reckon that many people equate followers with talent but I assure you that you should give someone a chance to perfect their art. Needless to say, she did an amazing job. Here’s her Instagram handle for anyone interested: @kainarts

Your first book should never be about money

It took me years to realize that when you do anything for money, the satisfaction is shortlived. When you do something because you truly enjoy it and are passionate about it, the rewards eventually follow. When I was writing my first book, I was doing it for myself. I wanted to prove to myself that I possessed the capability to write. That whenever I’d doubt my writing skills, I’d have a published book sitting on my shelf to remind me that I did it. Do it because you love it.

People who care about you will read your book

I’m not even talking about people who enjoy reading or care about writing. I’m talking about people who care about you. People who care about you — who value your talent and know that writing is meaningful to you will read your book. During the first week that my book was available on Amazon, I was nerve-wracked. I wasn’t sure if people would read it. I wanted my family and friends to read it. Some did and some did not. Girls I went to high school with read my book. Some of my closest family members read them. People I’ve never met read my book and reached out to me to show their appreciation. On the flip side, people who I had expected to be my true supporters didn’t even acknowledge my accomplishment. And I guess that’s one of the biggest lessons you learn through your triumphs and failures — the ones who support you and the ones that don’t.

Social media was my biggest marketing tool

The two platforms where I marketed my book were Instagram and Facebook. Those are the only two platforms I use on a daily basis. I shared a few poems on my Instagram page prior to the publication of my book. Weekly, I’d run ads on Instagram and Facebook showcasing some of my favourite poems from my book.

Writing is a learning experience

I’ve learned so much from writing my first poetry book. The things I can do with words, the impact it can leave on people is just wonderful. To construct poetry to have meaning and depth is an art. The more you write, the better you get.

Author of Victory // Follow me on Insta @zainabwrites

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