By: Morgan Rublee, FA English Teacher
On average, self-published authors sell 250 copies of their book over a lifetime. Emily Curtis has sold 14,000 in just over a year.
Last June, Emily released her debut poetry collection in the absence of the sun. What started as a class project transformed into a publishing success.
“I was completely surprised by the success of in the absence of the sun,” Emily reveals. “I felt like I had gotten lucky. I am so grateful for all those who have read my book and have reached out to me about it.”
And people have reached out.
“Her work got me through a bad relationship and gave me the courage to end the toxic abuse,” shares Becki, one of Emily’s 1.5K Instagram followers. “I had dropped out of school and was terrified of the person I was running from, but now I’m back in school and happier than ever because of the strength given to me my her writing.”
Becki is just one of dozens of people who have shared what Emily’s writing means to them.
“I’ve been reminded that, no matter what others may do, I am strong and I can face each day, even if I falter a bit. Her poetry helps me to keep moving forward,” says Katelyn, another of Emily’s Instagram followers.
With a solid 4 star rating on Amazon—with 57% of the ratings a 5–in the absence of the sun has exceeded Emily’s expectations. In the fall of 2017, in the midst of her senior year of high school, she decided to begin her second collection, Velvet Goodbyes.
“Writing Velvet Goodbyes was definitely harder,” shares Emily, who spent her senior year writing her ode to four years of high school. “I was putting so much pressure on myself to write something that would be even better than the first. With my first book, I was more lenient with what made the final cut because I wasn’t expecting a large amount of people to read it.”
This time around, Emily knew people would read her collection. With this in mind, she hoped to give them something different to read, while staying true to her style.
“The fact that her poetry is so relatable and really speaks about what happens behind the scenes of many peoples’ lives is so inspirational,” Instagram follower Julie remarks. While Emily continues to write about love, loss, and empowerment, some elements of Velvet Goodbyes will seem different than in the absence of the sun to her readers.
“One of the main differences between Velvet Goodbyes and in the absence of the sun is length,” Emily explains. “Velvet Goodbyes is about 60 pages longer than in the absence of the sun.” Emily’s debut collection was a pocket-sized 100 pages. While the collection saw a lot of success, the majority of negative reviews for in the absence of the sun mentioned the collection’s brevity. In addition to lengthening her second collection, Emily also developed her style.
“There are a lot more longer poems in Velvet Goodbyes, as well as poems with titles, whereas in the absence of the sun didn’t have any. I think my style has developed between the two. Velvet Goodbyes shows a lot more experimentation,” Emily says of her second collection.
While the title for in the absence of the sun is rather self-explanatory—she wrote the majority of her poems in the night—the title Velvet Goodbyes has a deeper meaning.
“I struggled for a long time trying to pick the title,” shares Emily. “And then one day, as I was sitting in class, I started to think about the town I was going to school in. I began thinking of senior year and applying to colleges and about how I would never see most of these people again. And then I thought of graduation day and saying goodbye. And that’s how it came about. The title can be taken more generally though, just saying goodbye to a chapter of your life as you move to the next. It is scary, but also exciting. And so I dedicated my title to it.”
“There are so many different poems that can go with so many different moods,” says Becki of Velvet Goodbyes. “It’s a well rounded collection I think everyone will love.”
This fall, Emily is attending Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts where she will major in Marketing Communications. You can follow her on Instagram as @poetryflowssofter.