On average, self-published authors sell 250 copies of their book over a lifetime. Young Maine author Emily Curtis of Pittsfield has sold 14,000 in just over a year.

Last June, Curtis, a recent graduate of Foxcroft Academy, 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,’” Curtis 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.”

“Her work got me through a bad relationship and gave me the courage to end the toxic abuse,” shares Becki, one of her hundreds of 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 by her writing.”

Becki is just one of dozens of people who have shared what Curtis’ writing means to them.

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 Curtis, 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, Curtis 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. While Curtis continues to write about love, loss and empowerment, some elements of “Velvet Goodbyes” will seem different from “in the absence of the sun” to her readers.

“’Velvet Goodbyes’ is about 60 pages longer than ‘in the absence of the sun,’” she explains. Her debut collection was a pocket-sized 100 pages. While the collection saw a lot of success, the majority of negative reviews for it mentioned the collection’s brevity. In addition to lengthening her second collection, Curtis also developed her style.

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 Curtis. “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.”

“Velvet Goodbyes” is available online and in book stores.

This fall, Curtis is attending Emerson College in Boston, where she will major in marketing communications. 

Emily Curtis

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