5 Unconventional Ways to Promote and Publish Your Writing
by Brent Ameneyro
In a world of audio books and Instagram poets, good old-fashioned printed books aren’t the only place your words should call home. I’m going to discuss how you can put your writing out into the world other than through journals, magazines, and books. If writing a book is your primary endeavor, these alternative methods of publishing your writing make for great artistic side hustles. They can act as a means of promoting your book, expressing yourself in a different medium, and broadening your audience. And, if nothing else, creating new things is fun, inspiring, and good for the art world in general.
Art exhibitions, murals, and all sorts of larger than life opportunities are waiting for your words to break the barrier between conventional writers and artists. Many cities now offer grants for murals and public works of art. Imagine your words in some ornate (or simple) design on the side of a building. Think of all the people walking by reading your words while on their lunch break or driving past on their way to work. In 2016 I had the opportunity to fill an entire room with my words in an immersive installation. It was part of a large temporary art exhibition that filled an entire apartment building. Thousands of people that came to see paintings and other art were exposed to my writing.
While on the topic of art and blending mediums, I want to bring up the wide world of ceramics. The earliest forms of writing were on stones and clay tablets. Why not bring it back? Carve your words into clay, fire them in a kiln, glaze them, fire them again, and repeat until you have a series of artistic works that would be worthy of a gallery show. You can rent a studio, or you can do what I did and take a class at a community college to gain access to the equipment and knowledge on the process. Picture this: you’re setting up your table for your first book signing and next to your stack of books and custom bookmarks are slabs of clay and coffee mugs with your words inscribed.
If you have a good reading voice, why not record it? And I’m not saying you have to go full Jim Morrison or Bob Dylan here, just work within your creative comfort zone. Whether you like jazz or hip-hop, there’s a place for literature in music. Maybe you have a friend that plays guitar or makes electronic music, this would be a good opportunity to collaborate with another artist. Writers have such limited opportunities for collaboration when confined to the page, and I find that collaboration improves creativity and increases networking opportunities. I’ve talked to a lot of writers on Twitter that are also musicians, and there seems to be a very positive response when someone can experience your art through different mediums.
There are countless video platforms out there like YouTube, Instagram, and Vimeo. Film yourself reading a chapter of your book, a short story, or a poem. This is a great way for someone to connect with you as an author. They can sample your work and feel your energy and passion. Alternatively, video can also be approached as another collaboration opportunity. I’ve seen this done two different ways: the writer works on a script or subtitles for the film or the filmmaker creates a trailer for the book. Book trailers are becoming increasingly popular as they can be an artistic way to grab a potential reader with a 60-90 second commercial-like clip highlighting some of the writing.
Hit the Streets
This last one is for the old-school, the brave, the ones who possess moxie in the truest sense of the word. It’s also for those writers that live in or near a big city with a lot of foot traffic. It’s no use setting up your typewriter on the corner of your quaint little farm town. Getting out there in-person can be difficult, and it can easily feel like you’re a street peddler. If you’re not into the idea of setting up a sign that reads “custom poems $5” and hoping someone stops to talk, that’s okay, there are other ways of doing this. You can organize a street reading with fellow writers in your city. Many cities now have art walks on second Saturdays or first Fridays, and many businesses look for ways to be involved. Get a cheap amplifier, a microphone, and an extension cord to setup your reading outside of a book store or a coffee shop. This will definitely be different than a traditional organized indoor reading. It will have a more guerilla/avant-garde vibe, and again, the idea is to attract people that aren’t already reading your work. Add a guitarist or percussionist in the background for another twist.
I have a hard time living within the walls of genre and medium. I think art is boundless. Genres exist to make things more manageable; it makes art easier to market if we categorize and subcategorize everything. Work within your field, sure, but don’t forget art is limitless. If you’re reading this you probably identify as a writer, but remember, writing is art, so you’re an artist above all else. Create without inhibition.
Brent Ameneyro is a poet, musician, and artist. His poetry has been featured in a large-scale art installation, on albums, and in independent publications. He studied creative writing while working on his AA at Folsom Lake College and BA at California State University Sacramento. He can be found online at BrentAmeneyro.com or on Twitter @BrentAmeneyro