A few years ago, all the advice available for novice poets pointed to getting yourself published in print magazines, building up a CV and approaching a publisher with a book-length collection. Nowadays, with so many small press magazines folding (whether through postage costs, lack of subscribers or withdrawal of Arts Council funding), more and more poets are turning to ezines as a way of promoting their work, and many are self publishing pamplets at local events and (if brave) sending work for review. But what are the chances of a new or up-and-coming poet making it in a ‘scene’? Here’s my tongue-in-cheek take on scenesters:
How would I boil down the options? Considering that the ultimate aim of a poet is to have their work read (hey, let’s be honest, who makes a profit at this work anyway?), here’s my idea:
1. Poems in print magazines – read by circulation 100* (approximately in a print run, according to the Writers and Artists Yearbook 2013).
2. Poems in ezines – read by anywhere between 1 – hundreds? Thousands? I suppose it depends on how many people have a phone/ internet/ other technology, not to mention who know about the magazine in the first place.
3. Poetry pamphlet/ chapbook/ book by a small press – since you will have to do the promotion pretty much yourself, probably the same as number 4.
4. Self published pamphlet/ chapbook/ ebook etc – depends on how much energy you have. Ready to read, smile and sell? Go get ’em!
Conclusion – publishing single poems or small batches in small press print magazines and in ezines is a great way to get your writing out there – Carillon, Mistress Quickly’s Bed, Decanto and Sarasvati are a few great print mags to check out if you’re in the Southbank Poetry Library (Inclement too, but unfortunately this zine will close from summer 2014). But as for publishing a chapbook? So long as you have the editing skills and the time to go through your own work (or have a partner to do so for you), why not go it alone? Any monetary rewards will be yours, not to mention the satisfaction of seeing your work exactly as you want it. With chapbook editors tightening their belts (not like in the picture above, lol) sometimes a poet has to make a decision – keeping their artistic integrity intact or going with a market that is playing it safe to survive the economic depression. My final thought? I’d rather have more wrinkles than inches (see photo above!).
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