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Black Butterfly: How Poet Robert M. Drake Used Instagram to Create an Unlikely Bestseller

One of the most delightful surprises I’ve had at IngramSpark throughout 2015 is to see a very unique book continue to rise on our bestseller list.  When I first discovered Black Butterfly by Robert M. Drake climbing the charts I quickly wanted to learn more about the book and author and was stunned to discover… [Read More]

One of the most delightful surprises I’ve had at IngramSpark throughout 2015 is to see a very unique book continue to rise on our bestseller list.  When I first discovered Black Butterfly by Robert M. Drake climbing the charts I quickly wanted to learn more about the book and author and was stunned to discover it is a book of poetry.  Drake, both an artist and poet, initially typed his poems on an old-fashioned typewriter.  He had the unique vision of taking pictures of the typed pages so that they could then be posted on the social media platform, Instagram.  It wasn’t long before scores of devoted followers were connecting to his words and images entirely through social media.

The Poet of Instagram

"Black Butterfly; an unlikely bestseller"by Robin Cutler for BookWorks.com

Robert M. Drake Instagram post of his poetry

Having never published a book before, he used the tool most familiar to him as a photographer to assemble his images into book format--Adobe’s Photoshop software.  While not the traditional tool used today to graphically style a book, it did work for him and he was able to create the PDFs required for print on demand (POD).  He uploaded his metadata and finished files into IngramSpark and the rest is history.   He has gone on to create multiple books in a short amount of time earning accolades and amazing reviews along with gaining the moniker “The Poet of Instagram.”  His star is rising while more and more booksellers find a shelf for his books, and fans continue to be touched by his work.

There are so many things I love about Robert and the Black Butterfly story, beyond his obvious talent and ability to truly become a first class publisher, which as we all know, is even more arduous than the hardship of writing.  Fundamentally, Robert thinks differently than many writers in that he is able to transform his poetic words into literal visions.  This is obviously a unique gift, but I am heartened that the job of putting words to paper is still such a magical process that it can turn a poet into a publisher.  I’m even more heartened that poetry still resonates with a reading public, and especially young readers.  It gives me great hope to see a new generation of readers being born, that are just as excited about writers as they are about pop icons.

Use Social Media in Inspired Ways to Connect with Your Audience

"Black Butterfly, an unlikely bestseller" byRobin Cutler for BookWorks.com

Black Butterfly & other books by Robert M. Drake photo

So this post is intended to inspire you to think beyond the usual way of doing things and the way you see yourself as a writer.  Try to imagine not just your book in its entirety but your actual words, sentences and paragraphs as graphic elements that can be set free into the world all on their own.  If you’re not yet using Instagram or YouTube to connect with an audience you might try giving it a whirl.  These two social media channels in particular are easy to use for branding yourself as writer and publisher.  If you feel comfortable, film yourself being interviewed talking about your book, but make it concise (no more than 3 minutes) and post it on YouTube.  And don’t just do it one time, but many times when you feel you have something interesting or new to say.  Remember to show your book in the video, tell the audience why you were compelled to write it, give the title, and tell viewers where they can purchase or sample it.  Try and have fun and always be authentic in the love you have of your own work.  Before long, I’ll be writing about your book and bragging about what an amazing publisher you’ve become.
Happy holidays everyone!


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