Michael Lee Johnson lived ten years in Canada during the Vietnam era and is a dual citizen of the United States and Canada. Today he is a poet, freelance writer, amateur photographer, and small business owner in Itasca, Illinois. Mr. Johnson published in more than 1037 publications, his poems have appeared in 37 countries, he edits, publishes 10 different poetry sites. Michael Lee Johnson, Itasca, IL, nominated for 2 Pushcart Prize awards for poetry 2015/1 Best of the Net 2016/and 2 Best of the Net 2017. He also has 170 poetry videos on YouTube.
He is the editor-in-chief of the anthology, Moonlight Dreamers of Yellow Haze and editor-in-chief of a second poetry anthology, Dandelion in a Vase of Roses which is available on Amazon. Michael is also editor-in-chief of Warriors with Wings: the Best in Contemporary Poetry, a smaller anthology available now on Amazon.
How does one promote my work as a writer without spending money?
It is very difficult since no one likes sales or promotions in any area, especially poetry where only 8-14% of the public has a real interest to begin with. So many were turned off with elementary or high school with all the “classics” no one could understand or care about. Even with all the social media outlets, some are selling identification information, or restricting promotions on Facebook and others. They are more concerned with liability, limiting links, and using math formula’s to constrict public exposure of literary efforts. One learns to wiggle between the cracks, support others sites, limit links direct out of jealousy, on it goes. One must be a “warrior of the word” ever open to new exposures and cracks to get your word out such as publish on demand, support other poets of merit, LinkedIn, wide Google searches for small no-profit presses which most can’t find, but even then distribution volume is an issue.
How does one balance connecting with readers on a genuine level and promoting purchases and engagement?
This is simple help everyone with potential, put them under your wind (my wing) believe in them and carry them to the next level. You can’t have personal success without first helping others.
How does one get people to leave reviews of my published work?
I have work diligently. I started writing poetry in 1968, I’m now 70 years of age. I missed many years with life events and knowing poetry does not pay much if anything until you pass away. But as my life over years became more stable I reached out to others and showcased beginners I believed in several poetry anthologies. This was a “kick start” in confidence for many members on my varied social media sites, especially, Facebook. From here with love, and support loyalty to me grew my sites grew. Now with a huge following when I publish members and they purchase the books I ask for a reader review knowing how important it is. Since they know I have published them in good faith and talent, they know who their leader is. I am a warrior of the word.
Should one keep my writer self (that does promotion) and my personal self-separate?
How do you keep yourself inspired to write while also supporting your writing through promotion and administrative work?
There is a separation between my writer self-promoter and my private alone self, yet they join hip as an oxymoron. As a child I was introverted to the extreme, in college I was forced to take “Written and Oral Communication” class, I was terrified. Yet I did it, and did it well enough to surprise myself. The poet is an internal person feeding off his emotions and sometime his ruminations. So I became a social worker, and got out. I struggled with depression over what to do in my life and sales was the last thing I ever wanted to do. I ended up in sales where I was forced to come out as a social active human being. It has worked out well since I still like my quiet side, yet hate it when the phone rings too often. I have become a very active self-promoter (if you do not promote yourself who is going to?); yet retain all the dark sides and creative sides of my quiet times. The oxymoron of two sides of my life that love each other. I also have learned over time that helping others is one of the keys to my own success thus I have one Facebook Poetry Group with over 16,666 members many of which I have helped get published, some are now editors, and publishers themselves and they remember me as a starting block in their literary lives.
How do you find a balance between actually writing new work and supporting your previously published work?
With a great deal of difficulty. I run 10 poetry sites for others, 2 large Facebook Poetry groups for others, I have over 158 YouTube poetry videos of my own that take a huge amount of time. I am forever sending out new poems to small press and getting published. I also still run a part-time business for income to supplement my small social security check at 70 years of age. I forgot to mention I have published 2 huge poetry anthologies with group members, editors who often are poets and both have sold successfully, best poetry can do on Amazon.com and CreateSpace. I have published over 495 poems in 37 countries and I am always stressed for time. My plan is to eventually sort all poems into about 6 key themes and publish chapbooks of my poems based on themes and topics; then, bringing them all together on one huge book of completed work by Michael Lee Johnson. I’m hoping the chapbook idea will make it easier at the end to bring all my works together in one place, one volume up to that date…if I do not die first.