- When was the last time you shared someone else’s status update/tweet/blog link on social media?
- When was the last time you shared a link to your blog?
- When did you last review or mention another writer’s book?
- When was yours reviewed and who by? Have you ever reviewed a book by your reviewer?
- When you had a poem published, did you help promote the magazine that published it or did you state you had a poem published without mentioning the magazine or linking to it?
- When an editor sends you proofs of an accepted poem, do you only correct typos, spelling/grammar errors or do you see it as an opportunity to re-write your poem?
- At open mic slots, do you keep within your allotted time or regularly overrun?
- If invited to an event, do you turn up on time or do you have a reputation for always being late or frequently not turning up at all?
- At a workshop, do you stay silent when other attendees are discussing and giving feedback on poems brought to/written at the workshop or do you join in?
- When your poem is being discussed, do you expect unconditional praise or listen to the feedback with the aim of taking it away and assessing it later?
- When you blog about the workshop, do you do a diary-style ‘I went to this workshop’ entry or do you share lessons or techniques learnt at the workshop?
- When submitting poems to magazines, do you assume a standard submission format will do or do you check the guidelines given by the magazine?
- Was your last post/status update about you or someone else?
We all slip up sometimes: the odd, unintended simultaneous submission, too tired to double-check guidelines after a long day, public transport failures meant we were running late and we irritably said something out of turn or reacted without thinking through the consequences. But only sometimes.
When you start out as a poet, it may feel as if you don’t have much to give. You want advice from other poets, feel you need all the feedback you can get, want the practice from open mic slots, feel you need to know how to get established.
But you are not a gawping drain of need. Behaving like one may get you immediate attention, but that will soon fade and isn’t a viable long term strategy.
You can give by listening and watching other poets, read work by others, share news and blog posts, help promote the magazines you want to be published in, promote the readings you want to be invited to take part in, even write reviews (two sentences on a bookseller’s site is better than silence).
Poet A getting an acceptance was not the reason for your rejection.
Poet B got the last open mic slot by patiently waiting their turn instead of trying to queue jump.
Poet C gets plenty of shares for her blog post because it wasn’t about her, but shared useful, practical information.
Poet D always gets an audience because she puts everyone at ease and makes them feel welcome.
Poet E got a mountain of incisive workshop comments because she took the time to feedback on everyone else’s poems.
Poet F got her book reviewed because she asked the reviewer before sending the book, instead of sending an unsolicited free copy and demanding a review in return.
Social media is for sharing, what did you share today?