Home » Advertising-Promotion-Marketing, Self-Publishing, Social Media » The Instagram Poet Outselling Homer Ten to One

The Instagram Poet Outselling Homer Ten to One

4 October 2017

From The Cut:

Walking the Manhattan blocks near NYU, the poet Rupi Kaur wears a loose cream-colored suit and an air of easy self-assurance. Her hands rest in her pockets, her kimono-shaped jacket hangs open over a cropped black turtleneck, and she comfortably strides her realm: the realm of college freshwomen who have recently been or may soon go through breakups. She looks like someone prepared to tell you convincingly that “you / are your own / soul mate,” to quote one of her poems in its entirety.

Most professional poets cannot expect to be approached by fans. But Milk and Honey, the 25-year-old Punjabi-Canadian’s first collection of poetry, is the best-selling adult book in the U.S. so far this year. According to BookScan totals taken near the end of September, the nearly 700,000 copies Kaur has sold put her ahead of runners-up like John Grisham, J.D. Vance, and Margaret Atwood by a margin of more than 100,000. (In 2016, Milk and Honey beat out the next-best-selling work of poetry — The Odyssey­ — by a factor of ten.) And because Kaur’s robust social-media following (1.6 million followers on Instagram, 154,000 on Twitter) has been the engine of her success, she is accustomed to direct contact with her public. So, when a young woman stops her on the way out of Think Coffee — “I love your work!” — Kaur greets her with a hug, poses for a selfie, then turns and calls back to her publicist. “She preordered the second book!”

. . . .

 Kaur’s father, as it happens, was a truck driver: The family came to Canada from India when she was 4, and moved around in pursuit of his work before settling in Toronto’s Brampton neighborhood for her adolescence. In classic immigrant-parent fashion, they encouraged her to study science. But she resisted, and although parental disapproval precluded her original goal of fashion school, when the time came for university, she applied to business programs. “Publishing a book was never really the intention,” she says. Still, she’d been putting her writing on blogs for years, and kept a Tumblr before switching over primarily to Instagram. She released Milk and Honey through Amazon’s CreateSpace platform in 2014, and it was rereleased the following year by the publisher Andrews McMeel. Best known for collections of comic strips like “Calvin and Hobbes,” Andrews McMeel has lately become home to a number of poets who first established themselves online, like Kaur and Lang Leav. Leav’s collection Love and Misadventure was a self-published hit before AMP picked it up in 2013; they’ve since released four more of her books. Khloe Kardashian once posted a Lang Leav poem on her estranged husband Lamar Odom’s birthday.

Link to the rest at The Cut and here’s a link to Rupi Kaur’s Instagram feed

Advertising-Promotion-Marketing, Self-Publishing, Social Media

8 Comments to “The Instagram Poet Outselling Homer Ten to One”

  1. “you / are your own / soul mate,”

    That’s a poem? It looks like one of those sayings you would see painted on a board and sold at a summer art fair.

    • This brings to mind one of the illustrious five-word poems of the erudite if little-known Chinese poet Hu Dae Fook: Go away! / Leave me alone!

  2. “(In 2016, Milk and Honey beat out the next-best-selling work of poetry — The Odyssey­ — by a factor of ten.)”

    Well, in 2016 a ‘few’ people didn’t need a second copy of The Odyssey­. 😉

    As silly numbers play as that one that was outselling Harry Potter – for a week. Let’s look back in ten years and see if there was/is a long tail – or just a head.

  3. Okay, The Odyssey was released around 8C BCE, let’s come back in 2K years and see how her ranking is doing?

  4. Cheers for her! Who could have imagined a self-published poetry book becoming #1? I used to tell people interested in self-publishing that poetry had the least sales potential of all.

    • That is actually the only part that I find impressive about this: Poetry at all, self-published poetry included, outselling Grisham or Atwood or any contemporary bestsellers. By the reviews it appears people are actually reading it, too, so it’s not just a coffee table book.

      The comparison to Homer is cute and all, but let’s see if she has Grisham or Atwood’s staying power first. It’s quicker than waiting to see if she’ll be a Keats or a Tennyson, let alone the next Homer 🙂

    • A better title for this article: “Sports-writer tries reading poetry, doesn’t get it.”

      Still, thanks. It’s more interesting than the usual sniveling we get about self-publishers: “I’ve put in my time sucking up to the establishment, waiting for their permission to become a famous writer. Who does this woman think she is, doing it herself? How dare she!”

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.