Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Posted by Laurel Garver on Tuesday, October 04, 2011 35 comments
Today my special guest is Angela Felsted, a fellow crossover writer of fiction and poetry who blogs at My Poetry and Prose Place. Her poetry chapbook Cleave is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press in 2012. It is now available for preorder from the publisher, HERE.

Here is Angela's beautiful book trailer, which features music by Saint-Seans:



Today Angela is opening a window for us into the world of poetry publishing, and I'll be chiming in periodically. Take it away, Angela...

Ten things you ought to know about publishing poetry

1. Unless your name is Billy Collins, there’s little money in poetry. Most journals do not pay. Granted, there are some paying markets, but we’re talking about small sums.

LAUREL: Very true. And the markets that pay best are NOT poetry journals, but large-circulation magazines and trade journals. Prepare to wax poetic about tractors, the rosary, diaper rash or your last colonoscopy.

2. Competition in the poetry world is fierce. So fierce there’s an online journal called Redheaded Stepchild that publishes poems which have been rejected at least once. Think these poems suck? Think again. Go check out the great stuff that gets rejected every day at their site.

3. Most agents won’t rep poetry.

LAUREL: You generally don't need one for poetry. Academic and small presses still lead this publishing niche, and they handle queries directly from authors.

4. Poets who want their work published need to do their research. I always read what a journal publishes before submitting my stuff. Even then I often get it wrong.

LAUREL: If you're just starting out, Duotrope's Digest is a good place to find e-zines in which to break in.

5. Beware of vanity publishers. You know the kind, don’t you? The ones who offer free poetry contests, and then publish every poem regardless of quality, in a book they sell for big bucks, largely to the contributors.

LAUREL: Ouch. I fell in this trap once, when I was in high school. And yes, my parents bought the book for a princely $30, back when most paperbacks cost $4.95.

6. Purchase a copy of Poets Market. I sleep with mine under my pillow at night. It is my most intimate friend. :P

LAUREL: Keep in mind things can change in lag time between when Writer's Digest compiled the information and when the book was printed. It's always a good idea to check every market's website before submitting. Some journals publish by theme, and some open and close reading periods throughout the year. And small publications fold all the time.

7. It helps to join a poetry group. For one thing it makes you feel less alone, and for another it’s an invaluable tool for honing and improving your skills. Laurel would know, because she and I are in a group together, and there’s no way I can adequately express how much her feedback has helped me.

LAUREL: Aw, shucks, I'm blushing. Like fiction has genres, poetry has "schools"--ways of approaching content, form, tone. It can take time to find like-minded writers.

8. A chapbook is a book of poems 18-28 pages in length. There are several routes a person can take in order to get a chapbook published. The four most common ones are these: (1) enter a contest and win, (2) get in good with the editor of a journal that also publishes chapbooks, (3) self-publish, or (4) submit to a small press and cross your fingers.

That last one is what I did, with lots and lots of finger crossing. Okay, so maybe there was some prayer in there too, a few superstitious chants, a dance I performed with all my blinds closed. *sigh* I digress. I still had to pay a ten dollar reading fee. That’s the thing about entering contests and submitting to presses, it’s normal to pay some kind of reading fee. Sticking to a budget is key.

9. A poetry collection is a book of poems 48 pages or longer. And these are published in much the same way a chapbook is, except most people who publish collections have already published their work in journals and chapbooks and usually have some kind of following.

LAUREL: That's a helpful distinction. You can attempt a chapbook with only a few publications under your belt. Collections are for more established poets.

10. Poetry readings, open mic nights, and other such venues can be great for poets as well. I confess to being a rookie where this is concerned. But I’ll be dipping my toe into poetry reading on my youtube channel starting this Friday. So . . . anyone willing to watch my sad attempt at dramatic reading is welcome. Just, please, promise me one thing—that you won’t laugh.

LAUREL: It's been more than ten years since I've delved into my local poetry scene. I do know you have to search a bit to see where you fit. Some groups are very academic, some more avant-garde, some steeped in urban music traditions like rap.

Thank you, Laurel, for having me on your blog.
LAUREL: My pleasure. I'm excited to get a copy of Cleave in my hot little hands!

Willing to give poetry a second look? How about trying your hand at writing it?

35 comments:

  1. Two of my favorite poets in the same place! :o) Excellent advice, Angela and Laurel. As soon as I've written my review, Angela, I'll be posting it everywhere to help this little baby sell :o) XOXO

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  2. That is a beautiful, beautiful trailer. Thanks for sharing Angela and Laurel. I have dipped my fingers into the ocean of poetry but never felt confident enough to wade in and swim.

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  3. Thank you, Jessica. I need all the help I can get. And Bish, you're right, having confidence is a huge part of putting your poetry out there. I wrestle with my insecurities a lot of the time.

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  4. I'm fascinated by this process, even though I don't write poetry. I would like to read it more often, however :)

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  5. I bet poetry is a challenge to get published. Good for you, Angela!

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  6. Congratulations, Angela! I love the trailer. It's so touching and beautiful...

    Great conversation. Once you remove the money making aim, poetry writing become much, much more enjoyable. :)

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  7. I feel much better now about the rejection letters I got for my poems. I think getting poetry published is very tricky - it's awesome you were able to do it. Well deserved too. :)

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  8. Great interview - I didn't know anything about poetry and now I do.

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  9. Thanks for sharing, Laurel and Angela, it was nice to get a look at the poetry publishing journey. Open mic nights sound like they'd be intriguing ... what a way to gauge your work, on that immediate audience reaction. Best wishes on Cleave, Angela!

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  10. Jessica: Aw, gee, thanks. We both appreciate the support.

    Bish: Everyone has to start somewhere. Even Olympic swimmers doggy paddled at first. :-)

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  11. Angela: thanks again for your post! And don't you find that the more you submit, the easier it is to see how "fit" comes into play? Not every journal is good for every poet and that's no reflection on your writing.

    Melissa: Poetry always needs more readers who simply love the language and enjoy it.

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  12. Alex: It can be tricky to research markets and find a fit--and quite time consuming too. Staying organized is really key.

    Jade: Isn't it lovely? I think some aspiring authors seek publication with unrealistic expectations, so Angela's notes on the financial aspect are helpful there.

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  13. Tonja: FIT is everything in poetry, so some rejections are more a matter of whether your work is a match to editor taste than a reflection of your skill and craft. Keep on submitting, keep on writing!

    Patti: It's a very different ballgame from fiction, but in many ways easier to get a toe in the door. Loads of e-zines are happy to work with new poets.

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  14. Joanne: open mic can be great or really, really strange. I've visited some venues where I'd never want to read, and others I never wanted to leave. Poetry can be cerebral, heart-wrenching, funky or downright scary.

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  15. Man, Laurel, you're good at fielding comments.

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  16. I had a couple of students enter those poetry contests once & THEN I realized what a trap they were. *sigh* Live and learn.

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  17. This was a great post. There was lost of stuff I didn't know about.

    And, um,I feel for #5 too in high school. But I still thought it was cool back then.

    PS: I changed my URL and username back to southpaw, but managed to mess up my feeds.

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  18. Great post. There’s a lot in there I didn’t know about.

    I fell for #5 when I was in high school too. I still thought is pretty cool and so did my parents.

    PS: I changed my URL and username back to southpaw, but managed to mess up my feeds.

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  19. How did I not know you had a book out? I love your poetry!

    Great tips and info here. Thanks!

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  20. Angela: The conversations are what makes blogging so rewarding, I think. :-)

    Jemi: There are legit poetry contests out there. I believe Poets & Writers magazine (http://www.pw.org/) is good about vetting them.

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  21. I haven't subbed poetry to non-medical journals in a long time, probably because the competition is so fierce!

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  22. GE: Helpful information, isn't it?

    Holly: There was something cool about having work in a big fat book as a teen--though I realized pretty quickly it was a scam along the same lines as those Who's Who directories (yep, fell for those too. NOW I know better).

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  23. Talli: Now you know how to get a copy! :-) It's sure to be wonderful. I love her work too.

    Lydia: I hope you'll give it a try. There are many e-zines that would love your stuff! Some are hungrier for material than others. Duotrope tracks accept/reject ratios, which is quite helpful!

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  26. Sorry about all the deleted posts. Apparently I can't spell today.

    Lydia, I love your stuff. If know one wants it, it's their loss.

    And Talli, I wish it were available in the UK, but I think they're only shipping it in the United States. If you want a copy, email me and I'll send you one when I get my copies.

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  27. You both worked really well at covering all the bases! I'm so excited for your chapbook Angela, especially now after I know more about it! Looking forward to seeing your open mic performance! Thanks to Laurel and Angela!

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  28. I've been following Angela for some time now. I feel like a child at Christmas each time I open her blog and discover another gift. That she has a new chapbook coming is the best news I've heard in a long time.

    I'm glad I found my way here! I like to write both poetry and prose, as well. Please consider me a new follower.

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  29. Your new chapbook looks terrific! Congratulations to you, Angela.

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  30. Angela: From a strictly numbers perspective, it was encouraging to see so many comments on this post! LOL. And thanks for the heads-up about non-US purchases.

    Empty Nester: Thanks for coming by and commenting! I'm planning a follow-up post on submitting pieces to lit mags.

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  31. Bryce: Thanks for the follow! It's wonderful how generously Angela shares her work on her site, and also uses the platform to feature other poets. Her chapbook is sure to be a gem.

    Beth: Thanks for the encouraging words!

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  32. ahh. I love poetry. I love the trailer for Cleave, and I love that you guys are persistently putting it out there. It's so gorgeous. That's probably the toughest writing field. Best to both of you~ :o) <3

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  33. great pointers! I love writing poetry and have a few published. Thanks for the help!


    ♥.•*¨Elizabeth¨*•.♥

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  34. great pointers! I love writing poetry and have a few published. Thanks for the help!


    ♥.•*¨Elizabeth¨*•.♥

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