How does a humor and gift book publisher become one of the country’s foremost poetry publishers? They follow the market. Andrews McMeel Publishing (AMP), based out of Kansas City, was first introduced to the world of poetry in 2013 when one of their current authors recommended AMP to upcoming poetess Lang Leav. Leav had already self-published her debut book Love & Misadventure and was receiving requests from Barnes & Noble for more copies, which convinced AMP to take her on. The book continued to sell and has reached around 150,000 copies sold.
Kirsty Melville, the president of AMP, was encouraged by the success of Leav’s first book and went on to publish her second, Lullabies, in 2014. In addition to Leav, AMP signed spoken-word poet Clementine von Radics, popular for her performances on YouTube, and published her book Mouthful of Forevers in 2015. Melville credits these experiences for providing her with insight into the niche market of poets that first gain popularity by publishing their work online:
“We saw that there was this generation of young women, mostly in that early-20s age group, who were responding to this form of expression.”
Personally, as a twenty-three year old woman I can agree with Melville’s statement because Lang Leav was the first contemporary poet I was introduced to by finding her work on Tumblr and Instagram, which has since lead me to the work of many similar authors. In fact, I own a copy of every book mentioned in this article. Social media allows these poets to establish a customer base post by post or video by video, so when they decide to publish a hardcopy of their work their fans are already eagerly waiting to buy them.
Rupi Kaur, the biggest fish in AMP’s line up, also gained notoriety through her spoken-word career and her social media following. AMP was encouraged to sign the poet after her tour of colleges across North America, where she was very well received. Her book, Milk and Honey, started off slow when it was released last fall, but at the beginning of this year it steadily picked up in sales and has now sold 450,000 copies. Plus, it is continuing to sell at a rate of around 30,000 copies per week!
Melville views the feelings behind these works as the motivation that encourages readers to keep coming back for more. Even though AMP is not necessarily a poetry publisher, Melville considers poetry as just another form of communication that carries similar meanings to the other works that her company has published. However, the success of AMP’s poetry books has motivated the company to continue pursuing their niche market. AMP plans to publish ten books of poetry this year, doubling the number that they have published in the last three years combined. As Melville says,
“I think as a publisher you go where your audience is. We will just follow where the audience goes.”
A valuable lesson that can be taken away from this article and a key to success for the industry as a whole.
To read the original article visit Publishers Weekly
Posted by Jordyn Snow