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Publishing Experiences

There are various ways to publish in print and the internet has provided even more options with sites like WoL, WordPress, Blogspot, online journals etc.

What are your own personal experiences of the route to publication and how fulfilling have you found that journey and final outcome?

Can posting on WoL or WordPress be considered as publication?

Where do you feel your 'published' work sits amongst the sheer volume of words let loose around the world every second of every day?

Hobby poet or serious wordsmith?
Sun, 9 Apr 2017 09:52 am
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Pass me the can opener Colin.... This requires some thought!
Sun, 9 Apr 2017 07:13 pm
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this is a cracker. i will have a go but graham is right, its a thinker alright.

i began writing haiku and tanka about a year or so before i posted anything on WOL. I got published quite extensively in both The Haiku Journal and The Tanka Journal. At the time i thought this was quite an achievement, and still do. I then started writing longer stuff and posted it on WOL, waiting for feedback before submitting it anywhere. After a few months of this i began an almost daily routine of submitting poems everywhere I could, from places I'd never dream of getting published (POETRY, New Welsh Review, Rialto) to tiny american presses where I thought i'd stand a good chance. During the first year, I had 41 poems published, about a quarter in print and three quarters in online journals (i dont class WOL as publication, I think of it more as a personal blog).
I then became quite weary of submitting, i think i got downhearted due to my lack of action for a couple of months, and decided to stop altogether last year. I havent submitted since.
I published a chapbook on my own (through amazon which sold a few copies and got to number one in a chapbook chart (still not entirely sure how but i took it).
I then started sending off my first collection and got accepted to an american press called snowleopard, who were (it later turned out), probably not worth it. However, they paid for an illustrator and my book is now finally out at the end of the month and has a publisher behind it, so I would say it has been a positive experience.
I find journals to be so subjective that i dont bother anymore.
i wouldnt say my poetry is any better or worse than a lot of the stuff floating around in the bigger publications, like most things nowadays a good network will ensure the bigger presses look harder at your script.
i consider myself a serious wordsmith. two years ago i suffered a nervous breakdown due to work and had to stop (i was a chef). i was diagnosed with something called dyspraxia which essentially meant i couldnt work, alongside the usual anxiety, depression combo they hurl at anyone with issues. not being able to work, i took it upon myself to try and make a living/something out of poetry. so far ive made fuck all, lost three years of my life, alienated my family and been sick on stage.
so its going well.
hope you can rearrange this dross into something resembling an answer.
Mon, 10 Apr 2017 01:24 am
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I have had a few poems published in bespoke journals and as a result was approached a couple of times to provide words to accompany some exhibits in a gallery display.
The Journals paid £50 per poem, the rest were free.

I assume that by posting on WOL and again on my personal blog page on Blogspot that the work there is unacceptable for competition entry.

I'm afraid I take a very dim view of competition entries although I can see why some poets enter for them.

My personal aim is to self-publish one day a collection of what I consider to be my best 100 pieces of work. Merely for posterity, for my family (who largely do not know I write poetry) and just to achieve something in print.

As to what quality level one's work achieves, surely this is in the eye of the beholder.

Gladly I come from a time when if you worked hard, your efforts were recognised and commended.

Sadly nowadays a lot of the time people blow their own trumpets too much I feel and hype themselves up, lured on by the idea of celebrity.

I suppose self-publishing is seen by many as a less than prestigious way of achieving publication but my view is that one should put one's money where one's mouth is. If anything transpires as a result, so be it!

Here's the can opener back Colin.
Tue, 11 Apr 2017 02:01 pm
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cheers both, all good points - will come back in on this at some point - hoping someone else will pick up the can opener Graham.
Tue, 11 Apr 2017 02:20 pm
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Hi Col,

Personally I am happy with just my blog on the blogspot platform. I fired that up in summer 2009. It now has a small but loyal following, and that is good enough for me; it's actually quite humbling.

I have been published in a couple of magazines and so on, but that is only because the publishers of those journals discovered my blog and they approached me.

I'm not looking to be published in the traditional sense; totally happy with my blog, and sharing the odd (sometimes very odd) poem here on WoL.

Wed, 12 Apr 2017 02:46 am
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I so admire honesty.
Wed, 12 Apr 2017 11:53 am
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thank you all for sharing your experiences.

I had one tiny piece published which the editor chopped around. At the time I wasn't too bothered (about the chopping) and it was a thrill to be chosen. Like Stu, I went through a phase of submitting to various journals and a few (free) competitions, mainly online, and all without success. I probably lost heart too quickly (my submissions were also probably not as good as I thought they were!) but judging from Stu's experience it takes a serious amount of time and commitment to get accepted and noticed. Add on the cost of travel to open mic events and it's easy to see how a poet's life can become a time and money pit.

that said, I haven't ruled out having another go at some point. By coincidence a link to this article popped up on my Facebook page this morning which some readers may find of use.


and how about self-publishing? Has anyone any experience or advice on that?
Thu, 13 Apr 2017 11:21 am
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I write stuff
I like it
I like it when you like it
but it doesn't bother me when you don't
I perform poetry
I self-publish books to sell at gigs
I spend money to self publish
each sale is cherished and goes back into the pot
no one takes a cut but me
and that is only when the outlay is recovered
each book makes a small profit
I am happy
I am not beholding
I do not need a publisher's 'recognition'
I back myself
It works for me :-)
I hope that helps
Fri, 14 Apr 2017 12:38 am
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Ian got in there before I did. 😃
A friend of mine has just put together his first chapbook. He did the layout and designed the cover himself, checked it and re-checked it, asked a couple of us for our thoughts and suggestions (not least because a fresh pair of eyes can pick up typos you don't notice when you've seen the work a million times), and took his time putting it together so he knew he was happy with it.

Then he found a local printers who were very supportive, and now he has a book which he can be really proud of.

As for sales... like Ian, I sell almost all of mine at gigs. My experience would be that once you've got past the thrill of seeing your words in print – if that's what lights your fire – you've got to get out there and put your poetry in front of an audience if you're not going to end up with a pile of books sitting in the corner of the room....
Fri, 14 Apr 2017 11:35 am
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As someone who once got wildly excited about being published in Harold Hiken`s all Liverpool poets book years ago, I`ve been dying to get into this. Apart from a fairly recent John Moors Uni book - nothing else whatsoever (so much for bloody fame!)

The problem (I think) is that the `musical` kind of poetry has been long ago taken over by the lyrics of popular music And that the public are so largely disenchanted by the `free` stuff which is now mainly on offer that they ignore it...(I think that this is true even about what most of us would regard as good free stuff)...For better or worse I think folk expect some sort of rhythmic `swing` to what they are prepared to regard as poetry.

Another problem is the lack of a respected centre where the words and forms (and the rhythmic connections between them) are discussed in any detail...The poet has no place where his work can be discussed. There is no where really for the poet to aim for.

There is much undoubted interest in poetry so the best bet is to keep blogging on here (It is called a poetry site) and hope that you actually impress someone who matters...
Who?...search me!

Mon, 17 Apr 2017 09:52 pm
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I'm still awaiting my first book to arrive from the printer - 500 copies - around 100 spoken for already - I ought to send him a 'hurry up' email but being a Brit...

I was always agin publication since once summat is on paper it is fixed - and I'm never satisfied with any of my stuff - those here have been subject to a spot of 'Herod versus the Innocents' subsequently prior to their going into me book - and from the rough proofs of that I see glaringly clunky bits that I hope will not spoil too much.

I paid a proofreader to give it all the once over - money well spent - advisable.

Other poets and writer chums needled me into publishing - not my cup of tea really - I checked out publishers' sites and was irked by their demands - only so many words, not unsolicited and so on - who the heck do these people think they are?

'Bloody wankers. Screw 'em', methought and took a coupla grand from my drawer and slapped them on a printer's desk - "Fill me up. Buttercup, and tell me if you need more dosh".

I'm giving my book away as a gift to any who might like it - it is anonymous - there is a linking email addy but that is pseudonymous as my actual surname is uncommon and I'm easily traceable - not paranoia just that I do a fair bit of internet dating and discretion etc with new contacts is the watchword.

So, I'll take a few copies of me book to dos and leave them on the side for folks to take if they want it.

I'll post my experiences in time when the dust has settled 😃

ps. emailed printer - the books will arrive on Thursday - let joy be unconfined :)
Tue, 18 Apr 2017 11:07 am
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It was about 2 years after starting to write poetry that John Togher, who runs Wigan WOL, said that some of my poems were good enough to be published. I laughed him out of the beer garden, then sent two away to be considered for the Best of Manchester Poets anthology. Was blown away when one of them was accepted. HUGE buzz. Then I started sending away poems to various places on and offline, that Cathy Bryant included on her 'Comps and Calls' monthly publishing shout out (worth looking up). Ended up with absolutely loads of publishing credits, much to my growing amazement (and pride, has to be said). Then, and only then, did I even begin to consider my own book. Didn't want to self-publish - I wanted a publisher's name on my book. I wanted their contacts, distribution, kudos, typesetting skills, for them to pay upfront for everything cos I'm skint, and a quality finished book. There are some decent self-published books, but way more godawful ones, that are shoved into your hands at every poetry night.

So, I spent ages putting together a manuscript, adding in new poems if I thought they were good enough. I absolutely wanted a mix of my page and stage poems, not just one or the other. The publishing world, however, did want one or the other, and I wouldn't compromise. Had shedloads of rejections - "we can see what you're trying to do but it's not for us". Lots of chin-scratchy emails 😀 Lots of them didn't like the swearing either. Was just ready to give up, after nearly two years of hawking it round, when someone suggested I try Flapjack Press. Checked the site, it said 'no unsolicited manuscripts', so I fell back on my lifelong motto of "If you don't ask, you don't get. They can only ever say no" and sent it.

Waited. Waited some more. Heard nothing. After a month, I thought I'd be double-cheeky and sent it again, asking if they'd had a chance to read it yet. They answered immediately, were incredibly enthusiastic, had heard/read my stuff and loved it, and definitely wanted to work with me. My initial email had gone into their junk folder!

The editor was just amazing. I cannot speak too highly of him. We spent months teasing it into the most perfect shape it could be, with every single aspect considered. I'd already worked very hard on the order, as I wanted it to flow up and down and in and out of page and stage, even though I knew most people wouldn't read it in a linear fashion. For those who did, I wanted them to experience it in a certain way. We once spent 3 weeks on "Comma? Or a semi-colon?" and turned Jesus into an adjective. I LOVED it. I'm a massive pedant anyway so this was like seventh heaven for me.

We asked one of the country's top performance poets to write the foreword. I'd done several gigs with him in the past, and knew he liked my stuff. He wrote a BLINDING foreword. I nearly fell off my chair when I read it.

My publisher did me a fantastic deal, way better than any I've heard of, and I sell mostly at gigs, or after them online when people get in touch to get one. I've actually started making some money out of my poetry, which is a novelty. It's not why I started writing and it's not why I continue, but it is ace - I paid for half of our trip to Galway and Doolin with the money I made the first few months. I am beyond chuffed with my book. Think it's a thing of beauty.

Posting on WOL is sometimes seen as publication if you have a sniffy publisher. If in doubt, and you want to publish it, don't put it up on here.

Where do I feel my book sits? It's a document of certain times, it contains universal experiences that are relatable to the personal, and it looks bloody great with a photo taken by a talented photographer friend. If I saw it on a bookshelf, I would pick it up on the strength of its appearance alone.

Tue, 18 Apr 2017 02:18 pm
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I like being published in magazines. Never considered myself to be a performance poet; though I like performing. Had a few books out, which have been sold as far away as Jo'burg and Prague, so that's alright.

Never really thought of myself as writing for "the general public" as I suspect that concept is as fictional as "the man on the Clapham omnibus" and the "silent majority" so beloved of hack journalists. I write for the kind of people who like the kind of things I write. I don't feel right if I'm writing anything else.

I'd write if I could publish or if I couldn't.
Tue, 18 Apr 2017 10:33 pm
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See you Thursday, Laura - looking forward to hearing you.
As you know I'm anti the whole money thing - old hippy ways run deep. And no wanker's gonna tell me what to put in or leave out - I sorta shuffled in my performance pomes and my read off the page ones using a random number generator.
I agree re the bloody awful stuff people sell or hand out at poetry dos - god most of it is dire and you'll hear some on Thursday that would not make it onto a self respecting kindergarten wall.
Your struggle over a comma reminds me of Oscar Wilde (I think) who spent a whole morning deciding to remove a comma and the afternoon putting it back into a pome.
I made a desperate dash to the printer to put in a semi-colon in the acknowledgements and added another pome to make it 83 rather than the mundane 82.
I have never agreed to have any of my work published although I have heard that some of mine have been put in some website anthologies - I could kick up a stink but I can't be arsed 😃
Tue, 18 Apr 2017 10:39 pm
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thank you everyone for taking the time to add your publishing experiences to this discussion. Always good to see so many people getting involved and best of luck with future projects. Of course, the discussion remains open so if anyone has anything else to add then please feel free to do so.
Fri, 21 Apr 2017 08:18 am
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Well, I spent over 50 quid on postage this morning - the books will arrive in a few days. It's been a grand first day - travelling hither and yon on me bike giving books to people who've asked for them and drinking endless teas 😃
p.s. I have to say, WHAT A BUZZ :)
Fri, 21 Apr 2017 05:37 pm
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For me it doesn't matter whether be published or not... Just a sort of enjoyment and learning. They said not much money in writing lol!
Mon, 24 Apr 2017 01:15 pm
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It is early days since my book started doing the rounds -
some here will get a copy - however for me the pleasure of getting the stuff out ain't praise from those of the poetic persuasion (white man speak with forked tongue etc 😃 ) but rather the trickle of unsolicited reports via the contact addy on the back (the book is anonymous) this one made me fill up and for this comment alone the whole enterprise has been worthwhile:

""We have spent the evening reading the poems and genuinely loving them.
We have a shop in Beverley and we were going to pass it on but we love it so much we will keep it... the poems are just wonderful - funny, sad and inspirational.
I'm very shy myself so part of me sees why you haven't 'advertised' yourself but if I could write one thing as good as this I'd have my name in lights.
Poetry is something that either touches or doesn't - but these have worked for both of us. Thank you for giving us a really great day. It's our first day off for 10 weeks and we have had a lovely day wandering around Hull, eating and reading poetry together over a bottle of red. Life doesn't get much better.
Please do more!"

A bottle o'vino, me book, and maybe an early nite? 😃
Tue, 25 Apr 2017 10:37 pm
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Hey Rick!

Just as I was about to leave for work, Mr Postie handed me your book!

I went back inside - curiosity got the better of me. Had to open to see straight away, like a crimbo prezee.

Lovely looking book, first of all, excellently set out; easy on the eye, typeset perfect. Paper even smells lovely!

Sometimes, I open a page at random when I buy/receive a new book, and the first poem I arrived at was My Pimlico Girl. I think I have read it here, but what a perfect start. I love that poem.

This book is definitely a keeper, and ha!, no I won't be passing it on to someone I don't like!! Please feel free to add me to your map, you know my location.

Is that you on the front cover? A rock star in the making..

I will get back to you again in a few weeks' time once I have had a chance to enjoy all that is in here.

Rick, I feel lucky to have received this. So thank you once again. It's magic...

Cheers muchly,

Wed, 26 Apr 2017 12:55 pm
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Rick, how wonderful for you! I'm glad you've shared.🎇
Wed, 26 Apr 2017 05:11 pm
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I'm glad you like the look of the book - I like the smell of it too.
Re 'Pimlico' I agonised over that pre printing - many slight changes etc - like everything I put up here it went through the wringer so it is as per WOL but not 😃.
Yup - that is me on cover - aged 11 or 12 (at Buckhurst Hill High School) with all the traumas ahead - if only I'd known 😃

Hope you enjoy


p.s. It's responses like yours, Suki, that make the cost, the sweat and teary sleepless nights so worthwhile.
I've messages from people who've never read a poetry book before who read it over two sittings - one who read it till 4 am.
This gives me a thrill - it's ace to give away freely summat so valuable to people.

This is my publishing experience and I love it :)
Wed, 26 Apr 2017 08:41 pm
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Being of the anarchisto bent I woke up a coupla days ago with a brainwave - I took 3 of my books - wrote a "This book is free take it home with you" label for each one and infiltrated them onto the shelves of a 'well known bookseller' that was on Friday - yesterday (Saturday) they had gone - either readers have them or Mr Water or Mr Stone had them removed ha ha 😃
Sun, 30 Apr 2017 04:55 pm
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Brilliant move. Into 'Poetry' under 'G'? Did you wear dark glasses? And a fedora? With a cane!

They do have CCTV these days you know, everywhere. And night watchmen to monitor them.
Mon, 1 May 2017 11:50 am
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since the book is anonymous I placed the copies on different shelves 😃 I took books as if to sit and read and added mine when I put each one back on the shelf 😃

now I'm giving me secrets away ha ha 😃
Mon, 1 May 2017 08:03 pm
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With behaviour like this I won't be surprised if we see you on Crimewatch:

"Have you seen this individual placing books of poetry in libraries. If so, do not approach him, just call the police immediately. Lock your doors too..

But remember, don't be scared. Britain is still a safe place, and this kind of crime is rare.

Next month we will give you an update on this poetry fiend. If you are a friend of his, do not protect him. think of the children.."

Still enjoying your poetry Rick, you bad man you!


Mon, 8 May 2017 11:23 pm
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Ed Mayhew

Blogs are useful for some work, but publishing work should be done if possible in the best form for the work.

I am publishing a book of poetry and having a launch party for it on 7 October 2017 (check it out: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/double-book-launch-margins-and-refined-tickets-38221816482). I held onto it for a long time and put a lot of work into it - and it's being published by a close friend who has just started a publishing arm for the arts charity he runs. This feels good to me, as approaching a mainstream publisher, while it would increase the audience, is not where I would position myself as a poet.

I have a blog as well, which I use to help me write new pieces. Blog work is quicker, and almost more for writing exercises and to get creative ideas down quickly. Ideally everything we write is slowly mulled over and developed over years until it reaches perfection. In reality, we need to prioritise certain projects and use the right form to give readers access to the work.

There's my two shiny coppers worth.
Tue, 26 Sep 2017 11:07 pm
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I would like to have my own publishing experience!
Thu, 5 Oct 2017 09:36 pm
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