Poetry Pamphlet Reviews & Features

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You say you came to publishing pamphlets through self-publishing. Did self-publication teach you anything you would now avoid at all costs? Learning through mistakes? Do tell.

I’ve always been wary of self-publishing, but having a reasonable track record of publications and competition successes, I felt long enough in the tooth to go for it this time. I don’t regret it and certainly enjoyed being able to make my own design choices, not to mention relief at the lack of external editorial input and interference (although going solo sharpens your own internal editor’s wits). The downside is that promoting oneself is often not something that comes easily. By comparison it’s great to be able to promote others whose work you believe in.

Often small publishers aren’t able to offer much in the way of reading opportunities themselves and indeed some of us have to rely on the poets for the majority of sales, so there is an argument in favour of self-publishing if you’ve got a reasonable network of fellow poets and prospects of some readings. Without this it’s pointless, of course.

With my first pamphlet I sent out about 70 copies free. The response was very positive but I was distrustful of friends responding to a gift, so with my second pamphlet I decided to only sell. I underestimated and sold out. Something that I hadn’t accounted for, and this applies to all the pamphlets, is the number of copies I would need to cover the obligation to Legal Deposit Libraries (for using an ISBN), submissions to awards, submissions to the Poetry Book Society, review copies etc. The result has been the need to reprint some pamphlets sooner than I’d anticipated.