Sunday, October 3, 2010

Writing Poetry By Patrica Neely- Dorsey, Published Poet

I have been told many times, by people in the industry that a book of poetry is a very “hard sell" and is so often seen as the step-child .
I didn’t really know what they meant until I started running up against brick walls in getting reviewers to even consider reviewing the book. So many people told me that they had “no poetry” policies in reviewing books. That was very surprising to me. Of course, I didn’t take no for a final answer and some of those same people who said that they did not review poetry eventually gave in and I received some glowing reviews from them. On top of that, self-published authors are , in many cases, given so little respect. I have been told, again, by reviewing sources that they did not do self-published books. I have been told by some venues that they didn’t have self-published authors on the roster for giving a book presentation. Of course, again, I didn’t take no as a final answer. My motto is always: If you can’t get in through the front door, go in through the window. Needless to say, some minds were changed and some policies were broken.

I always emphasize what I call Patricia’s P-Attitudes..1) Positivity- be positive, believe in yourself and your book, 2)Persistence-Be relentless. Never take “NO” as a final answer. Keep knocking. If you can’t get in through the door, go in through the window. 3)Perseverance-Never give up 4) Patience. .Hold on. Hold tight. Sometimes, the answer or outcome that you seek might take a minute ( days, weeks or months) but keep the faith. It will come.

I have found , that the real work of this business is not in the writing of the book but in the marketing and promoting. I think that for most writers, the writing is not hard because it is doing what they love to do. How does that saying go... “Do what you love to do as a vocation and you will never work a day in your life”. With a poetry book, a writer has to be extra diligent in promoting. People generally do not just decide to go into a bookstore and buy a book of poetry. It's usually not on their list when they go to select reading material.

People love to hear poetry and, perhaps , enjoy reading it when they run across it in a favorite magazine, but for them to go into a store specifically to purchase a book of poetry is rare. As a writer of a poetry book, it would be your job to help create that desire for what you offer. Help the reader to see how what you offer will enhance their lives in some way , strike an emotional cord or be of value to them. You must be able to relay some strong message or messages that the reader can really relate to. Poetry is all about that emotional draw. It must touch the reader deeply in some way. Before they can be touched , they have to open that book! your job is to find the way to lead them to what you know will be a rewarding experience.

Make lots of contacts and connections with people who do what you do or aspire to do. Ask lots of questions.. Do lots of research on the business side of it all. Join writers and book groups on the social networking sites. Shadow an author that you admire. Take note of their work (ie: how they market and promote their their book, what venues and events they attend.) Join a local writer's group for support and resources. Most importantly, believe in what you do. believe in what you uniquely have to share with the world.

A writer’s work, especially published work is like his/her child. A writer has a very personal attachment to his/her “baby” and can sometimes be very sensitive about that “baby”. I think that most writers would love to stamp a little Handle With Care message on all of their books. But, you MUST learn how to not wear your heart on your sleeve.

You must develop a tough skin to be able to handle any harsh reviews of negative feedback. .Know that everyone will not necessarily like what you write or like your style of writing but someone will absolutely love it. Appreciate and nurture your own unique style and “gift”.

Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia-A Life in Poems
" a celebration of the south and things southern"
"Meet Mississippi Through Poetry, Prose and The Written Word"


  1. Loved this article. So much good advice and wisdom for not only writers, but anyone who puts their heart and soul into their work. Patricia, you're an inspiration to us all.

  2. I don't read poetry myself. I've never bought a book of poetry (except yours). Yet I found some beautiful messages in Reflections and enjoyed every page. I think all the analysis in high school killed most people's enthusiasm for poetry, but your words are a breath of fresh air.

  3. Until "Reflections" I have not enjoyed poetry in years. A lot seen today seems to be what I call "small rants". Your collection of poems is a rare gem yielding an easy read, homey and dear to the heart. What a pleasure to read about those things that I know but haven't thought about or given much credence to in a long time. "Reflections" sparks the memory, the feeling of kinship with fellow Southerners. GREAT BOOK!