(By Christina Anne Taylor of Middle Island Press)
So many poets wish to publish poetry in the form of chapbooks, and there are so many chapbook publishers that it can be head-spinning, but it need not be when you know what to look for. Some charge insane amounts, and some are so cheap that I assume it is cookie-cutter design on standard copy paper. If you love your words enough to give a few as gifts, then I don’t recommend the companies that proffer a lot of copies up front “for cheap.” If you love to spend money wisely, then I don’t recommend any company that charges over $250 (“upgrades” included). What I recommend is, of course, companies (such as Middle Island Press) that offer the best of both worlds: quality plus economy.
Quality can be seen immediately. It is a smooth cover with a unique image. It is in full-color. When you open the cover, the inside cover coordinates with the outside. There is an attractive title page, and everything is neatly aligned throughout. Internal Images are part of what makes it such a pretty package. The paper is thicker and much better quality, too (and the paper disparity between quality and “cheap” is immense). As a finishing touch, edges are trimmed and smooth, and the finished little book is small enough to be held in one hand with thumb and fingers wrapping around the sides.
Quality extends beyond the appearance of chapbooks, themselves, and into the land of Internet presentation. Chapbooks should be romanticized on publisher’s websites and elsewhere. If you pay to publish poetry, as most people do, reviews and interviews should be expected as well, if you choose a publisher with integrity (though it is widely said that business and emotions do not meld, it never hurts to find a publisher known for respect and understanding).
Quality plus economy is what poets who wish to publish poetry deserve to see: a low base price for a few copies, plus time and effort in crafting something unique and beautiful of each chapbook – something worthy of giving as holiday gifts. Of course, more chapbooks can be acquired as needed, but generally, a few up front is sufficient. It is wiser to pay for quality over quantity, or you just might find yourself tucking them into a trunk, too embarrassed to share them, because your words then look like poems on copy paper, dragged down by the weight of sheer dullness, rather than shining professionally in polished little books.
Be certain before you buy publishing services that you can trust in quality that you will be proud of, and that your best friend, your significant other, and your mother would be proud to display, and that your enemies wouldn’t dare display. It’s easy to publish poetry once you know who you can trust to deliver a pretty package at a price that beckons your intuition.