(By Christina Anne Taylor of Middle Island Press)
Opportunities for poetry publishing are more promising than ever for poets who are interested in subsidy contracts or other methods of taking matters into their own hands, so to speak. This article is for those who are intimidated by the process.
Firstly, consider that poetry publishers are neither gods nor robots, but human-beings just like you. When a writer pays a publisher (micro-, subsidy, or otherwise) to put his/her words in print, the publisher is a service-provider, and the process requires a partnership of equality. Words cannot be delivered without publishers, and publishers can find another job without writers and readers, so there should be mutual respect in poetry publishing ventures. (If a publisher is busy enough to turn down work, then a respectful poet is going to get a lot further than an arrogant one, so show respect, and a respectable publisher will reciprocate and then some.)
There is also the matter of preparedness and presentation of manuscripts. Tying in with the issue of respect, manuscripts should not look like they were thrown together in fifteen minutes with some poems centered, some flushed, and varied fonts throughout. They should look neat and tidy – especially if it is your first time dealing with a particular publisher, or you will not be taken very seriously as a professional writer. Furthermore, cover images as well as biographies and all other constituents should be sent simultaneously, if possible, to avoid complicating matters that should be fairly simple.
Beyond politeness and presentation in the poetry publishing process, it is wise to respond promptly to inquiries or you just might find your project bumped as a less bumpy project sails to the finish line. Also, if you have special requests for your project, do take it upon yourself as much as possible to facilitate them without placing undo burden upon your publisher. Though you might be paying for proofreading, design, listing and so forth, you probably are not paying extra to watch your publisher jump through hoops – but back to the first point made, a little bit of respect goes a long way.
What you can expect, in turn, is that all promises made on a website that enticed you to a particular publisher in the first place are fulfilled. You can also expect ongoing support, enthusiasm in future poetry publishing contracts, and a partnership of mutual growth.
(Middle Island Press, one of the best poetry publishers on the Internet, has been publishing chapbooks since 2008.)