A broadside is a great way to introduce your poetry. Most broadsides are printed in the standard 8 1/2 by 11 size on a heavier card stock. The average broadside prints at about 100 copies.
Select a poem that works as an anthem (or even an anti-anthem). This poem has a strong opinion and shows your craft but is accessible to the average reader. Then choose an image associated with the poem. If you don’t want to border on ekphrasis, feel free to choose a simple design. In a word processor, embed the image or design as a background.
After you add the poem to the layout, decide on other style elements. For instance, you may want to place the title in block letters along the left hand side of the paper. Use the style elements to add your personality. Some poets hand sign each broadside.
After you’re finished with design, add your contact information in small print at the bottom of the page. Make sure you direct readers to your website and mention a recent entry in a print publication or book.
Finally, share your poems with others. You will be tempted to print 100 copies, but instead choose to print 10 to 25 in your first edition. You don’t want to get overwhelmed.
Leave the broadsides in places where people read publicly: libraries, cafes, delis, galleries, park benches, hairstylists, even doctor/dentist waiting rooms. Here’s the challenge, offer these broadsides to people who are not family, friends or coworkers. Spend a weekend sharing your work with strangers. Take along a spouse or friend if you need a bit of courage.
If you don’t have the time to record your own cd, or publish a chapbook, why not hand out a broadside at your next reading? Even if it’s a local open mic, it introduces you to an audience. If you do have a cd and book, try this:
“I know you may not be able to afford my book or cd, but please walk away with a free broadside. We’ve had such a wonderful time tonight that I don’t want money to get in the way. I’ll be handing out free broadsides and a bit of small chat afterwards. Stop by.”
You’re opening up yourself as an artist to extend the emotional connection you created in the poem’s presentation. Those who really enjoyed your poem will stop by to pick up the broadside. You’ve just expanded your readership!
A broadside is a poet’s literary equivalent to a musician’s album single. A broadside should get people interested in more of your writing. To go one step further, have a downloadable pdf, audio version and perhaps a video of reading or performance of that poem on your website. It’s an instant hook for the reader who wants to extend that relationship with your writing. The goal is to create unique relationships with readers who will want more. With one poem you can generate consistent a readership.