close but no cigar

my poem Alarm did ok in this contest. I only enter free contests because I don’t really think that its worth the money trying my luck with those (this one, for example…free and it had 1,500 people send in work! yikes!). and even the ones that cost money still have lots of applicants. i did send in for one contest this year though–the Rattle chapbook prize. it comes with a subscription to Rattle so I figure its a win-win (even when you don’t win). i wrote a chapbook that has nothing to do with my church lady poems. i’m not entirely sure i want to work towards publishing it, so i only sent to the one contest. if i find a chapbook publisher that i’m particularly interested in working with, then perhaps. but a large part of me wonders, what is the point? can i do readings? no. will it make money and provide for my family? decidedly no. do i need to publish to keep my job? absolutely no. will anyone even read it? so you see my line of thinking here (negative) (but accurate). if you are reading this and have thoughts on chapbooks, what are your thoughts? are they as negative as mine?

6 Comments

  1. My thoughts on chapbooks: they’re fun to see in print. No, probably not many people are going to read them. But they are a sort of personal treasure, better than a folder of poems on your PC. Chapbooks are out there for the writer herself, although places like Rattle try to convince the world otherwise.

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  2. I like reading chapbooks, sometimes more than so-called full-sized collections. Sometimes a complete cycle of poems doesn’t need to be more than 25 pages long. But I believe in finding out what size a collection wants to be first and then decided whether and where to publish it. That said, I also saw the terms of Rattle’s chapbook contest this year and said “Hell yeah!” and three days later I had a chapbook all ready to go. And now they’ve decided to send out a chapbook with every issue of the magazine, so TOTAL win-win as far as I’m concerned.

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      1. I asked Tim how they could afford to do it, and his answer boiled down to economies of scale. With so many subscribers, they have large print runs and a bulk mail permit, so it comes to a little over a dollar per contest entrant, I think he said. So from that perspective, it’s an ingenious way to grow their subscriber base.

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