November 29, 2013

The Relationship with Rhyme


Every poet must contemplate his or her relationship with rhyme.  Meter and rhyme are often identified as the elements that make a poem a poem.  I consider poetry to be a pattern language. The images, marks and appearance on the page are not random. The idea of pattern encompasses more than meter and rhyme.  Poems draw patterns with image, metaphor, myth, and music.  Within the term music, I want to recall the phrase "in time," in other words, being able to hold the beat or rhythm. Timing. Secondarily, poems can be both in time and out of time (referring to temporality) but their rhyme and meter are about timing.

November 21, 2013

Publishing Tips

The bookshelf
Do you want to see your book in the bookstore? It happens, but it takes a long time. Read on for some guidelines about seeing your work into print (or e-publication). 

Present a manuscript that looks professional: 

  • Proofread carefully, then have a friend proofread
  • One poem per page
  • Use standard margins
  • Use a standard, 12 point font. Avoid fancy font.
  • Table of Contents
  • Acknowledgments - add a page that acknowledges previous publications: what, where, when
  • Paginate

A cover letter should include the title of the work that you are submitting and a brief biographical statement. If you are sending a manuscript to a competition contest, or if it's part of a grant application, read the submission guidelines carefully. Some contests request that your name does not appear on the manuscript.

What are the standard sizes of manuscripts?  

  • A full poetry manuscript: 60-100 pages
  • Chapbook length: about 30 pages
  • Novella: 60 pages
  • Novel length: about 300 pages

How Do You Assemble a Manuscript?

This is a challenge, and the answer lies within the poems. Let the form rise out of the content. Art and poetry is an emotional investigation of a subject. Most poets discover the nature of this investigation during the project, perhaps at the completion of the project.  An image or concept might arise. This is the key to the overall organization of the manuscript.  Maybe you wouldn't call it a concept, but you would call it a question or an inquiry.  

It's helpful to develop sequences of poems that are related thematically or by form.  It's sensible to use these sequences of closely related poems to build a manuscript.  

Most presses like to see individual poems published in magazines.  I know some publishers would like about fifty percent of the poems previously placed in literary magazines.  Send out your work regularly. Most online and print literary magazines now have an online submission manager (like Submittable or Submishmash), and the editors of the magazines usually request a small batch of poems to review, 3-5 poems usually. 

The online submission managers are easy to use. You are asked to fill out text boxes online that include your name, address, and other contact information. It will guide you through uploading a file that contains the poems you want to be considered (saved in .docx, .doc, .rtf).  After you press the "Submit" button, a page will open confirming your submission and you'll also receive a confirmation e-mail. 

Read the submission guidelines on the literary magazine's website, and look for additional information. Some magazines develop themes and want to consider theme-related work. Others will request a certain number of poems.  All would greatly appreciate it if you become familiar with the publication (by subscribing or buying a copy). Most presses take 2 months or more to reply, and your reply will come via email.  The better you know the market, the more successful will be your efforts to place poems.  

Alternatives to print publicatiion: zines, broadsides, posters, poetry videos, e-publication

DIY Publishing:  (It helps to know people)

  • resource: Midwest Independent Publisher's Association
  • be wary of "preditors" -- do your research / avoid paying for unnecessary services

Establish an Editorial Process

  • Professional quality work: Hire proofreader(s)
  • Cover: cover image/ (hire a professional for professional results)
  • Text: Consider "standard practices" or consistent "styles" for title formats, margins use inDesign for best results

Turning the Manuscript into a Book 

There are many design decisions that must be made. You can hire somebody to do it for you (and it will be expensive). You can do it yourself if you are skilled.  These are things you will be thinking about:
  • The cover -- have a concept for visual images, title placement, font size & style back cover -- blurbs, isbn bar code, price, publisher
  • spine -- author, title, publisher
  • ISBN numbers /
  • LCN numbers/ Library of Congress / Copyright /
  • Style Choices (be consistent with font for titles and text)
  • Title Page: title/author/publisher/place of publication
  • Publisher Information / ISBN & LCN / Acknowledgments
  • Table of Contents
  • Poems (one poem per page, consistent margins, format, font style & size, titles)
  • Information about the author
  • Blurbs - ask other writers

Find a Printer and Distribution Network

  • offset press / digital and print on demand / e-books
  • read the National Writer's Union Print on Demand Report:
  • A popular website for DIY authors:

Plan to Do a Creative Marketing Campaign

Many writers are publishing their own books these days, and you will need to work hard to find your market and appeal to readers.
  • build your network
  • send advance copies to reviewers/ send to Publisher's Weekly 6-8 months in advance create a website
  • use social media: facebook / twitter / social bookmarking
  • plan a book launch / schedule readings / book signings
  • do promotion and outreach / book fairs / book award competitions
  • find creative marketing strategies/ niches and unique approaches