Two different people have asked me variations of a question regarding creating/making a manuscript, but most pointedly a chapbook manuscript.
When I typed chapbook into my search engine, I had to go back through quite a few posts to narrow down some of the posts I’ve already done on the topic, but I want to point this discussion in a new direction, more towards the actual process of putting a chapbook together.
The oldest post I had specifically about chapbook construction was from February of 2008. In that post, and in several others, I note that I never even knew about chapbooks until I came back to writing in 2006. It didn’t take me long, however, to want to publish one of my own. If you want to read more about my history of putting together and sending out chapbooks I have a whole post from May of 2009 or in October of 2009 when I discussed the process in more detail now that I had a chapbook out and another one getting ready to come out. There are specific tips in that post.
For this post I’d like to ask you, the poet or fiction writer (there are fiction chapbooks), some questions.
- Like yesterday’s posts. Do you read chapbooks? If you don’t, why would you want one published? There are too many good ones out there to read (mine of course haha) and if you would like suggestions on publishers to get chapbooks from just let me know and I’ll post a bundle.
- Ok, so you are reading chapbooks and you love the format. Next thought is – is this something I want to just give away to my family and friends or do I attend readings and poetry events where it would be good to have something to sell and/or to showcase my work? If you are just looking to give one away to your friends you can actually make a chapbook on your computer pretty easily and have it printed somewhere like OfficeMax. If you want specific advise on that let me know. The rest of these tips are geared more towards you wanting something to sell and/or to serve as a mini-writing resume.
- The best way I have found to put together a chapbook is to go through you work and look for one of 2 things 1 – a theme 2 – poems already published. If you have a specific theme see if you have 15-30 poems. You just might have a chapbook. I caution, however, that if this is a topic you are still writing a lot on, you might want to wait and see if you have a full length collection in process. If you have quite a few poems published say around 10 is a good number for a chapbook then look to see if they, along with a few others, would work together as a chapbook.
- Another way to do this, would be to have a trusted reader go through your poems and to give you advise on what poems might work together in a mini-collection. I say trusted reader because I see far too many poetry sites online where all there is is praise like – you’re awesome – instead of any actual discussion of the poetry. Instead of awesome what about looking at whether or not the poem sets itself apart and SAYS something that takes your head off – to paraphrase the ever present Emily Dickinson.
- Biggest question of all – Why do you want to publish a chapbook? There is no perfect answer for this but would love to hear some of the debate from those who have published chapbooks (self and traditional) and those who are thinking about it.
Hope some of this can help. Always love getting questions for you guys. I’d also love to hear about what you guys are looking for with a chapbook. Where do you buy them? Etc
Hope everyone is having a good day. Is it time for the commercials that come in between the football plays?