I know you (like me) think the covering letter is important with a poetry submission. Supposing someone had no confidence at all about writing one of these—could you give them any simple advice about what to include and how long it ought to be?
I think the covering letter is a basic test of being a nice, polite person. It doesn’t have to be very long at all – just 3-4 sentences. It just has to demonstrate that the person has read the brief and knows how to write an email and interact with a fellow human being. If I accept a poet’s work for an anthology, I’ll begin quite a lengthy correspondence with them as we work towards producing the book, so I need to know that the poet is courteous and takes care when reading important information. What I’d say to poets is: if you have an impressive publication history, then by all means mention a few of them, but don’t worry if you've never been published anywhere before: this does not rule you out!
Have you made any mistakes that you’ve learned from – the sort of mistakes you wouldn’t mind sharing?
I’ve been playing around with print runs all year, trying to work out the best number. I’ve concluded that I probably started too high (with 500 copies of The Flower and the Plough) and that there’s a good reason why most people start with 200 copies. I’m still hopeful that I’ll eventually get such large numbers of pre-orders that my initial print run will have to be huge, but for the moment 200 copies is usually enough to last the first couple of months. The great thing about digital printing is that I can always print more within a few days.