Monday, June 25, 2018

PR for Poets

As a book blogger, I've participated in many online tours with Poetic Book Tours.  It's been a joy for me to read, think about, and write about poetry.  In the past, I've shied away from reading poetry, as I thought it would be too difficult to decipher.  Fortunately, modern poetry is a lot more accessible! Additionally, I've relished two collections of poetry by Jeannine Hall Gailey, The Robot Scientist's Daughter (2015) and Field Guide to the End of the World (2016), so I jumped at the chance to read this new guidebook, even though I'm not a poet who hopes to publish a book of poems, and then take on the daunting task of marketing it.



Published in 2018, PR for Poets: A Guidebook to Publicity and Marketing by poet Jeannine Hall Gailey is packed with information and tips that will help poets market their work.  Gone are the days of reclusive poets clad in somber clothing, who never socialize and wait passively for their work to be discovered.  In this new age there are numerous ways that poets can reach and connect with readers, and successfully promote their own work.  Although Gailey says that "poetry book promotion is a marathon, not a sprint", there's a wealth of valuable information in this book that will facilitate the process.

This guidebook is well-organized, and the chapter titles in the Table of Contents will help poets find and employ the information they seek quickly.  Discussion about using social media occurs throughout this book, and it even has its own chapter, Chapter 12: Social Media and Blogs.  I enjoyed reading Gailey "take" on social media platforms, and how to use them effectively.

"Participating in some variety of social media will allow you to connect with readers you might not reach in other ways.  It also allows you to connect with readers in other parts of the country and around the world, something that was previously impossible without travel."
~ Jeannine Hall Gailey, PR for Poets

Gailey herself has a charming blog, comprised of personal posts and photos.  Over the past several years, I've definitely noticed more authors on social media sites such as blogs and Facebook (I've become online friends with many), as well as on other platforms.  It almost seems like a necessity or requirement for authors today.  The world of books, including poetry books, has become more social, due to social media. (It feels kind of strange to call authors and others in the book world by their last names in my blog posts, as things are so much less formal now.)  Of course, you don't want to spend too much time online, but Gailey recommends using more than one social media platform to reach potential readers and generate interest in your book(s).  She provides useful information about the various social media outlets available, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Goodreads and LibraryThing, Instagram, Tumblr, and websites and blogs.

PR for Poets includes advice from poetry publishers, and from those who work in poetry marketing.  It features a couple of interviews with publishers, as well as a terrific, informative interview with poet and blogger Serena M. Agusto-Cox, the owner of Poetic Book Tours, an online virtual book tour marketing firm for authors of poetry, as well as some fiction and non-fiction.  Agusto-Cox says that "online book tours are less costly and time consuming for the authors--definite benefits for authors who also have full time work--online tours allow them to reach a wider audience, and through tailored packages, they can reach target groups".  She also says that  "poets can reach poetry readers--those who already read poetry--while at the same time, expose new readers to poetry".

One of the main points of the book is that poets should not be too shy about promoting their books, on social media and in other ways.  Gailey tells poets to celebrate the release of their books, in a lighthearted fashion, with readings and parties and swag.  After all the hard work, it's time to play, and share your work with others.  Work hard, play hard!  In other words, after all of the long, difficult, solitary hours of writing and editing, freely enjoy the social aspects of book marketing.  Gailey says to call your book launch a party, because it should be a festive and fun event for all.  The poet offers many other excellent suggestions as well, based on her own experiences, including giving away swag to readers, such as postcards and bookmarks.  It's a pleasure to get nice swag, and I received the postcards pictured below from her, along with her books; they are "keepers".


Chapters in PR for Poets are aptly titled, short and pithy, and full of helpful ideas, insights, and tips garnered over the years by Gailey.  Chapter 32: PR Calendar will help poets organize their calendars in regards to book launches (parties!).  The last chapter of the book, Chapter 33: Go and Do Some PR, provides a handy, concise summary of the ideas in the book, and additional resources are listed at the end of the book.  If I were a poet, I'd definitely follow the ideas in this thoughtful guidebook! 

PR for Poets is a wonderful book filled with a plethora of practical advice.  Having read Gailey's exquisite poetry, I'm not surprised at the amount of care she put into this book. Her attention to detail shows that she genuinely wants to help her readers, and she talks about her own experiences in an honest and appealing way.  This helpful and talented poet generously shares her knowledge and experience to help others promote their work.  PR for Poets is an essential guidebook for poets.  It was a pleasure to read.


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Many thanks to Serena from Poetic Book Tours for inviting me to participate in this tour, and for sending me a complimentary copy of this book.  For more reviews and guest posts, please visit the other stops on Poetic Book Tours' tour for PR for Poets.

I'm also linking this post to Savvy Verse and Wit's PoeTRY Something New 2018.  I learned a great deal about this new-to-me topic, the marketing aspect of poetry, and how poets now need to actively market their work.

As always, thanks for reading!  Your comments are welcomed and appreciated.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Sass, Smarts and Stilettos

"We don't accept the ordinary. We dig in and do what we've always done. We get creative, and we transform it."
~ Sass, Smarts, and Stilettos, Gabriella Contestabile


Published in 2017, Sass, Smarts, and Stilettos: How Italian Women Make the Ordinary, Extraordinary by Gabriella Contestabile is a book that focuses on Italian women. The author was born in Italy, and raised in Ottawa and NYC. In 1953, when she was four years old, her family traveled on the Andrea Doria, "a floating museum of art, technology, and timeless Italian good taste" from the port of Genova to North America, because her father has been transferred from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Rome to the Italian embassy in Ottawa.  Three years later, the Andrea Doria sank after being hit by the SS Stockholm near Nantucket, and this floating museum of Italian art and history was lost forever. This loss contributed to the author's decision to live fully and to savor life's joyful but fleeting moments. In 1959, she emigrated with her family to New York, when her father was transferred from the Italian Embassy in Ottawa to the Italian Consulate in New York City, and begin a new life in Astoria, Queens.

Written in a warm and friendly manner, this book is a personal story that's quite entertaining and informative. Sass, Smarts, and Stilettos is filled with practical tips and wisdom. As the title promises, it discusses what makes Italians, and especially Italian women, extraordinary. There are many anecdotes and glorious details in this inspiring book that reveal the secrets of Italian women. The basic idea is that Italian women make the ordinary extraordinary due to their innate appreciation for beauty and their deep connection with art.  They use the passion, focus, and purpose that are part of their cultural identity.

Sass, Smarts, and Stilettos is a short, charming book that may well entice you to visit Italy.  (I haven't been to Italy yet, but coincidentally, one of my sister-in-laws traveled to Italy last month, and my son is going next month.) The cover by Katerina Miras is lovely.  There are thirty-two chapters in this book, plus a helpful Italian Glossary in the back.  Each chapter is titled and begins with a quotation (or two) that relates to the subject matter. Chapter titles describe the contents in a tempting and down-to-earth manner, and reveal the author's ideas and philosophy. These titles say a lot.  Here are some examples: Chapter Two - The Extraordinary in the Ordinary, Chapter Nine - Food, the Talisman of Happiness, Chapter Eleven - Joy in Simple Things,  Chapter Eighteen - Style is Ageless,  Chapter Twenty-Four - Your Life is Your Biggest Work of Art, Chapter Twenty-Nine - Secrets of an Italian Woman's Skin. They're fun to read (and may be read out of order, I think, especially during a second reading).  I should also mention a chapter that features numerous fashion, style tips, and some guide books, Chapter Twenty-Seven - She Who Spends More, Spends Less. The important idea of this chapter is to choose wisely. Choose homemade, healthy food, and well-made clothing and furnishings.  Compre meno, compra meglio--buy less, buy better.  This means buying less things, but buying the best things, and appreciating and taking care of them.  This is something that Italians are good at. Quality is of the utmost importance.

Mamma mia, did this book resonate with me!  This is how I was brought up, too, to appreciate quality, rather than quantity.  I'm part Italian so this makes sense. This book talks a lot about clothing.  My mother, who was half Italian, had a wonderful fashion sense. She was a sharp dresser, and her clothing was gorgeous.  When I was in high school, I used to borrow her beautiful work blouses and wear them with jeans (I wanted to look elegant but cool). Today, my work wardrobe is simple and (hopefully) classic. I bring various tailoring projects to the dry cleaning shop nearby, and have been pleased with the results. The food in this book will make you crave savory (or sweet) Italian food.  My Italian grandfather appreciated fine food and drink, and during my childhood he would bring my family freshly-baked, crusty bread, and special cheese from Italian markets in NYC (I've mentioned this before in a previous post). I still think about how delicious these treats were. This book brought back delightful memories, and I learned many things about Italy.

Sass, Smarts, and Stilettos is a beautiful memoir, a travel guide with style and substance, and a wonderful reference book, for all things Italiano, or perhaps Italiana, given the focus of this book. I enjoyed reading it very much.

Gabriella Contestabile

Connect with the Author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram ~ LinkedIn

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Many thanks to Laura from Italy Book Tours for inviting me to be a part of this tour and for sending me a copy of this book free of charge.  For more reviews of this book, giveaways, and other features, please visit Italy Book Tours' other stops for Sass, Smarts, and Stilettos.

Thanks for reading! Your comments are appreciated.

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