Poetry Book Project

For several years now, nearly every Friday I’ve posted a poem in this space; this has become the blog’s most popular department. And for the past several months each Thursday I’ve solicited your opinions on small groups of older poems, to help me improve them and figure out which are my best. Today I’m announcing the planned project that all this has been, to some extent, working toward.

Sometime in the next year and a half or so, I hope to self-publish a collection of my poetry. I’ll explain why self-publication in a moment, but first I’ll describe my motivation in some detail.

The thought that initially sparked this project came a year or so ago, if I recall correctly. I looked over the archive of poems I’ve posted here, counted them, counted the poems in some of the collections I had to hand, and thought, “This is enough to fill a book—or two, even!” (And the archive has only grown since then.)

I have a few motivations. The most obvious is the hope of some renumeration—this blog costs me nothing but time at the moment, but it doesn’t earn me anything pecuniary or tangible either, so a little income from my “content” would be most welcome.

Another motivation is to spread my work to a wider audience. Even though I tend not to think much of my own work (as I’ve remarked before, “I am my own worst critic”), experience has shown that there are a few readers with whom it resonates strongly. And there are probably more like them, “out there” somewhere, who would never find this blog. By publishing my work, I might “be found” by a slightly larger “fan base.” (And a book—tangible or electronic—gives those friends who are most enthusiastic about my poetry something better to “push”—which you are encouraged to do—than this rather unfocused blog.)

A third motivation is my desire for self-improvement. If I do this properly, the poetry will come out of the process better than it went in, and in addition I’ll gain valuable experience that I can use later (for another volume of verse or perhaps for the first installment of the Shine Cycle, whenever I get down to writing it …)

But why self-publishing? First, unless something has changed in the last seven years or so (since I last read Writer’s Market and Poet’s Market) other than the decreased stigma for self-publishers, it’d be difficult and unlikely at best to get my poems “traditionally” published. Especially since I’ve “published” them here already, thus “using up” the “first English language,” “first world,” etc., rights, but even if I hadn’t there doesn’t seem to be much market for poetry these days (particularly verse as traditional in both form and content as mine), so “traditional” publishers don’t publish much of it.

Second, because the market is (or is perceived to be) so small, and a publisher probably wouldn’t do much promotion, I strongly suspect it makes better economic sense for me to self-publish and arrange for everything myself, rather than just drawing occasional royalties from a traditional publisher I contracted with after a long and arduous search.

However, note that I would love to be proven wrong on those points. If you’re (with) a publisher and you’d like to buy the rights to a collection of my poetry, please, get in touch.

But unless that unlikely event comes to pass, over the next several months (perhaps the next year) I’ll be selecting, polishing, and organizing the poems the collection (with your help, I hope); finding (or perhaps creating—I’ll try my hand at POVRay again …) images for the cover and for interior illustrations; coining a title; and creating the source files necessary to create the finished book. If you’d like to help, please let me know (or for the first part, picking and revising the poems, just dive right in).

What do you think?

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