Question from reader: I'm 15 years old and love writing. It's my true passion. I write free verses, modern poetry. I was just looking for a good publisher. Could you please assist me through this? I really want to bring out new poetry to the audience, because people seem to have forgotten poetry and go for Harry Potter or other fiction genres. I really know I can do this, and will try my best. I'm still writing and have around 20 free verses by now, obviously I'll continue.
John's Answer: For poetry, a book only sells if an author actually goes out and does a lot of readings. Most poets don't want to do that but, if you do, you can be successful as a published poet, although you might have to self-publish.
You can easily self-publish your book -- and much more quickly than any publisher -- by using a print-on-demand service. See http://www.bookmarket.com/ondemand.htm for a great list of such services. Among others, you can try Infinity Publishing, Iuniverse, or Lulu.com.
Aim to publish a book of poems that's about 60 to 80 pages long. Once you publish your book of poems, you can sell the books at your poetry readings. Start by checking out your local library author programs, local bookstores, and places around your city that do open poetry readings. Most cities have anywhere from 5 to 10 open poetry nights around the city hosted by various venues (coffee houses, bars, comedy clubs, etc.).
Also, check out my story about an author that is selling lots of books -- poetry and a first novel -- on the subways of New York: http://openhorizons.blogspot.com/2007/04/ selling-books-on-nyc-subway_29.html. As a 15-year-old, of course, you'd want at least one of your parents along if you were to ride the subways of New York every day.