Mon 12 Nov 2012
This is Part 2 of an intermittent FFC series on “Creating and Publishing a Fiction Chapbook.” Part 1 of the Chapbooks series was written by Bonnie ZoBell. “Creating a Fiction Chapbook“ appeared at FFC on September 10.
I’m going to tell you what I know from my own experience and what I’ve heard from other writers. However, I’m also going to rely largely on fiction chapbook editors themselves as I begin to interview them for this series. The first of these will appear on Thursday, November 22. Let me answer a few common questions.
How many stories in my chapbook should already be published?
Different opinions abound on the answer to this question. I’ve talked to a few writer friends lately who are afraid that not enough of their stories are published to start submitting their books. On the other hand, I’ve read submission policies for at least one chapbook outfit that wanted almost none of the stories to be published. Mine all were, but that meant there were some chapbook venues I couldn’t submit to. Some editors are more than happy to see all of the work published and will ask you to remove story links from your website that are going to appear in your book. One editor I interviewed for this series definitely does not want all your stories published because he feels it’s too easy for someone who follows your work to have already read everything you have. He thinks there should be surprises in the book that no one has yet seen. Stay tuned for the upcoming interviews to see how varied editor opinion is about this matter.
Where should I submit my chapbook for publication?
That’s the million dollar question because even though more presses are making chapbooks, still not a whole lot are. When I heard of a place, I’d go to the site, and three-quarters of the time they said they were completely overwhelmed with submissions right then, weren’t currently reading, and didn’t know when they would be. I had to keep looking and share information with friends who were circulating chapbooks at the same time. We compared notes about venues’ submission deadlines, their likes and dislikes, and newer markets as well as critiquing each others’ books.
Of course, one of the best possible scenarios would be to win a chapbook contest because of the publicity your book would get. However, you have to figure that everyone in the world is submitting to those contests, which makes your chances pretty low. Also, often they’re only reading once a year for these, and it may not be the time you want to submit.
Where can I find out about contests and presses publishing chapbooks?
Probably the best advice I got was from friends who had already published chapbooks and understood the process. Mainly, they knew the names of presses that produce chapbooks and had heard good and not-so-good things about them, which was helpful. That’s how I found Monkey Puzzle Press. Although I didn’t use anybody’s name when I submitted, the tip from a writer friend brought them to my attention. I did say I loved the person’s book, which I did, but not that she had suggested I send my manuscript to them.
Poets & Writers
This site has the most inclusive and easiest to use list of publishers of chapbooks I found. Go to Poets & Writers main page, here. Click on “Tools for Writers,” then “small presses,” then enter “chapbook” in the area on the right that says “search small presses.” You will be taken to a very long list of presses that publish chapbooks. If you click on these, you’ll get more information about the press as well as a link to the website.
This site, too, has quite a bit of information about where you can publish chapbooks. Got to New Pages main page here. Spend time looking through both “Contests” and “Publishers.” On both of these pages, using the “find” function on your computer, enter “chapbook,” and you will find the presses that publish them. Then you can click on the name of the press and be taken to its website.
You can put “chapbook” in your browser or “chapbook contest” to see what specific chapbooks come up and where the person published it.
Other Writers’ Bios
Read the bios of writers you admire who have chapbooks and see where they published.
Specific Ideas and Places to Send Your Chapbook
I tried to keep a page on my computer where I regularly jotted down ideas and places to send mine. Here are some of the ones I came up with. Please add to the list so I can learn more, too!
Stay tuned for Fiction Chapbook editor and publisher reviews.
Bonnie ZoBell’s fiction chapbook THE WHACK-JOB GIRLS is forthcoming with Monkey Puzzle Press in March 2013 and her short story collection WHAT HAPPENED HERE is forthcoming with Press 53 in spring 2014. She’s received an NEA, the Capricorn Novel Award, a PEN Syndicated Fiction Award, and a spot on Wigleaf’s Top 50. Her work has appeared in Night Train, The Greensboro Review, New Plains Review, PANK, Connotation Press, and elsewhere. She received an MFA from Columbia, currently teaches at San Diego Mesa College, and is Associate Editor of The Northville Review. More of her work can be found at www.bonniezobell.com.