Creativepreneurs: Yearning for Your Audience

(Part 2 of a 4 part series on working with creativepreneurs)


A challenge all creativepreneurs face boils down to putting creative output together with an audience. The product/consumer relationship really does pertain to poets, even if it seems less than romantic. Let me share a story of one poet I worked with to illustrate what I mean.

Over coffee, Alan shared with me the highs and lows of completing his first full length book of poetry, only to find he lacked a plan to distribute it. His entire focus was set on completing the book. Now finished, Alan knew not what to do with it. He took some of the poems to a few poetry readings, and the results were disheartening. He explained that his poems hung together and needed to be experienced together, as one body of work.

Pondering his dilemma, I felt there were two things we needed to accomplish. First, we needed to find a way to get the book published and then create a distribution plan to get it before interested readers. It was Alan’s second need that intrigued me the most, the desire to have the poems read to a live audience.

I read the poems before meeting with Alan, and I knew an unknown audience waited to enjoy them. The poems presented a tender and at times hilarious coming out story. That said, poetry readings are not known for drawing big crowds, and as a newcomer to the scene, it would be difficult to book Alan with any of the poetry venues that might even consider it. What to do? Finishing our coffee, I told Alan, research for potential publishers and setting up readings: I knew my tasks.

Creativepreneurs and the Crossroads

My strategy for Alan relied on embracing the value of the crossroads. Brian Clark writes, “When you boil it all down, finding the intersection between seemingly unrelated ideas is all about observation. You need to be constantly looking in order to find the connections.”

Convinced that trying to set up a poetry reading tour for Alan made little sense, I wondered where to find another path. At the time, Spalding Gray was enjoying sustained success on Broadway with his dramatic monologues. I began pondering a series of “what ifs?” that pushed the opportunity out of the bookstores and into the theater.

What if we built a dramatic reading in a black box theater instead of a traditional poetry reading? The risk inherent in that question opened up a path to success neither Alan nor I anticipated.


Alan performed a sold out run twice a night over 5 nights. Even better, the space cost nothing. We approached his college alma mater, and they offered us free use of studio theater space. We bought the largest drop cloth we could find for $25 and painted a backdrop for the performance. Programs and posters cost another $25.

Alan decided how he wanted to frame the opportunity. He demanded free admission. He also wanted to gift everyone in the audience with a signed copy of his book. We agreed to simply pass the hat for contributions.

Alan not only covered his expenses, both for the 500 copies of the book and my services. He also cleared an additional $100 each night that he invested in the further marketing of his book. And Alan found his audience.

Part 3: Creativepreneurs: Protecting a Safe Space

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