Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Publishing your poems

Lots of people are talking about this first blog post by a poet who had a bad experience after winning a poetry contest (hat-tip Scavella, VLAW and countless others). Go read it now.

Now go take this are poetry contests killing your soul quiz ... how did you score? I scored a big fat zero, making my soul juicy!

Reb Livingston (for she is the Quizmaster) is on the button with her comments on the affair. I expect she won't be thanked for saying things like that, but then it's a dirty job and somebody has to change the Muse's daiper.

It isn't difficult to publish and promote your own poetry: hard work, yes, but with a bit of creative thought and low cunning it can be done. It won't happen, of course, until you realise that the only person who cares enough to promote your poetry is you (and maybe your friends and the occasional obsessive acolyte you may pick up along the way). For a more complete lowdown on promoting the book, check out this excellent and detailed essay by Quincy.

Then go and visit my self-published and proud-of-it poetry website: you know it makes sense.


  1. Yeah, I'm not too keen on the poetry contest thing either, I must admit. In the U.S. it seems the most common way for (non self-publishing) poets to get a debut collection - that's the impression I get. It's happening more and more in the UK too, which I think is a bad thing.

    It's not just the money (often quite a lot of money). I know of one contest which gets over 700 entries. Once the sifters have done their job, only about 20 get read by the judge - that means a hell of a lot of money thrown away by the majority of entrants (from memory, the entry fee is about £25). It seems wrong to pay so much and not be considered properly, but of course there's no way a judge (or the sifters really)would have time to give proper consideration to 700 manuscripts over the short time period when the competition is open. The system is farcical.

    Of course, there are good reasons for people to opt for either the self-publishing or the traditional publishing routes - depends on what you want.

    The bottom-line is: there is no level playing field in who gets published. There never was and there never will be, no matter what system is adopted. I'm going to send out my manuscript fairly soon, so these issues are on my mind at the moment in a more than theoretical sense.

  2. . . . most of the comments responding to Brown on her site are commiserating with her, and saluting her bravery in exposing this nonsense——

    but none are slamming his honor the Hoagland who bops in to these contests and does his ten minute stint as “judge” and then scoots off with another tick on his resume, another notch on his reputation, who doesn’t give a damn if it’s a scam, he doesn’t care if the process is fair and the press treats its poets properly, all he cares about is getting that boost to his ego . . .
    Hoagland is a Po-Biz whore who will obviously sell his ass out as a “judge” at every opportunity legitimate or ill- . . .

    if you’re going to condemn the presses, you must also damn the “judges” of these contests: they’re part of the scam . . . they don’t give a damn about what happens after they take their money and run . . . Hoagland is as much to blame here as Cider is.