Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Blog Request: What Are Other Ways Besides Contests to Publish Your Poetry Collection? An interview with Jeannine Hall Gailey

This is a home in Seattle where the owner, an elderly woman refused to sell no matter how much they offered her (and I love that the big business had to build around her).  But it reminded me of a micropress or small press exist in a world of giant publishers.  Love them for their beauty and balloons...

I asked Jeannine Hall Gailey about micropresses as another way to be published besides contests.  

Her generous response is below.  If you are looking to be published, I definitely recommend reading my interview with Jeannine below...

JHG:   Thanks for asking! A lot of this information will be covered in more depth in the 2012 Poet's Market article on "When To Go Small: Targeting Micropresses and Small Presses" that I just turned in. 

I'm a big proponent of small presses because I believe this is the way that most poets, realistically, will be "discovered" - not through some big, expensive contest, but with some small press that happens to dig exactly the kind of poetry that that poet writes. 

It's more democratic, and I believe in giving back to these people who toil away for the love of literature. 

If you want to be published, you need to be aware of what's going on in the publishing world, and that there's a movement towards more diversity, more small/micropresses, more poets starting up their own presses doing one or two books a year. You need to be buying books from all kinds of publishers, not just from Norton or the big guys.  

(Note:  Bolded by Kelli because I think it's a hugely important point.) 

Now, to the questions...

KRA:   Tell me what the difference between a small press and a micropress.  Is there any?

JHG: Well, a micropress is a very small small press - I think there's an entry on Wikipedia I saw that defined "micropresses" as only having one or two people working for them, and only producing one or two books a year. But there are many small poetry presses that have two or three people working on them, and produce two or three books a year. I'd say Rebecca Livingston's No Tell Books is a micropress, and maybe Adam Deutsch's Cooper Dillon Books, but Kitsune Books might be considered a small press, because it's a slightly bigger operation. Still, there are no hard and fast rules.

KRA:  Your next book will be published by a micropress. Tell us a little about the press, your book and how the partnership between you came about.

JHG:   My first book, Becoming the Villainess, was published by a small press, Steel Toe Books, run by Tom Hunley, and my second book, She Returns to the Floating World, will be published (in July!) by Kistune Books, another wonderful small press, edited by Anne Petty and Lynn Holschuh. They do fiction and poetry, as well as pop-cultural criticism, and put out a handful of books a year. I know they're putting out at least one other book of poetry next year, by poet Helen Ruggieri.

I actually found them while I was researching another article for Poet's Market on speculative poetry (that article was in the 2010 edition, I believe.) I loved their name (since one of the main persona characters in my second book is a kitsune, which means fox-woman in Japanese.) And I did my research - I read a book or two that they had put out, followed them on Facebook and Twitter. It was actually their twitter feed than convinced me they were the right press for me - they would tweet about anime they liked, or J-pop, or teas...I mean, the editors and I had a lot of things in common. I had a really good feeling when I sent in my query, and a few weeks later, I had the good news!

KRA:   Are micropresses only for poetry? 

JHG:  Micropresses aren't only for poetry. Another press I covered for my Poet's Market 2012 article, Small Desk Press, does poetry, but also hybrid forms like short-short fiction collections. So fiction writers ought to think about this as well - it's a great opportunity for something a little edgy and strange to find a home with people who actually care about the books.

KRA:  What the pros and cons to a micropress that you haven't mentioned?

JHG:  I think the pros of working with a small press or micropress are that you will probably have a closer relationship with your editor(s,) the editors will think of you as more than just bottom-line business like a big publisher might, and they probably care quite a bit about what they put out, so they will invest in time helping make your book the best it can be. The downsides are probably all about volume; big presses might have more pull, more distribution, and more money for ads. Not neccessarily. In the world of poetry, let's face it, most publishers aren't getting out new poetry books into every Barnes and Nobles no matter who they are. And very few presses can afford to send poets on reading tours, that type of thing.

KRA:  How does one go about finding a micropress that fits their writing?

JHG:  The best way to find a micropress that fits your manuscript is to read widely and do your homework. Go to small press fairs, local arts festivals, fill up your tote at the AWP bookstore with small press works from places you haven't seen before. If you go to a reading and love a book, find out who's behind the book. Go on Facebook and twitter, look up their web sites and blogs, and read up on the people you want to read your work.

KRA:  Where can people find out more about your and your projects?

JHG:  Me and my projects? Well, they can keep track of me at my website,, and my blog, I'm also on Facebook and twitter (twitter handle is @webbish6) and I try to keep folks up to date through those channels. My second book is due out in July, the book should be available from Amazon, directly from Kitsune Books, and from fine smaller bookstores who don't mind placing an order. My first book, Becoming the Villainess, is available from Amazon and directly from Steel Toe Books (and same deal - if you can get your little bookstore to place an order for it, Tom keeps books in print, for which I am thankful.) I am thankful every time someone buys a book directly from the press - that's the best way to keep these wonderful little gems in business, is to buy as many books from them as you can afford.

KRA:  Thanks, Jeannine!  Great info for anyone who wants to publish a book and avoid poetry contests.  I so appreciate your time!


FOLLOW UP:  Sandra Beasley posted an incredible follow-up to this about what it's like working with a larger press and that some of the "perks" we think a larger press might have, may not necessarily be there.  Read her blog post here.


  1. Great informative post.

    I do have a question/comment. Depending on where you live (for instance, where I live...) the small press fairs and art festivals are practically non-existent. This leaves many aspiring poets to rely solely on internet resources like Duotrope and more traditional small presses. Any recommendations for that sort of thing? I have found Duotrope sorely lacking and have found most small and micro presses by hunting through the blog rolls of poets' blogs.

  2. This is for you and Barry:

    First, thank you for this. My first full length book is coming out of Foothills Publishing, as did two of my three chapbooks. Sometimes it is a matter of building a relationship.

    In my entire two year 'serious' submission run for my first book, I only sent it out to two contests. I sent it to over thirty presses. I have only just begun to send my second manuscript out, and so far I have only tried two contests (of the eight places I have sent it to so far). I will probably end up sending it to more contests, but I want to max out the % b=to about 50%.

    My secret is reading poet bio's in anthologies and journals. I read them and research the presses mentioned. I also have a lot of writer friends on FB, and that means a lot of micro presses have pages, which means I can see if any are a good fit.

    I live out in the sticks (120 miles from a Wal-Mart) and I rely upon the Internet to find my presses and places to submit, but by using bio's, blogs, and FB, I have a never ending source of presses to research.

  3. Dear Barry,
    Poet's Market also lists a ton of small publishers. If you find one that interests you, order a copy of one of their books! Order copies of books from poet-bloggers you like, too - that's a great way to sample the work of someone you like AND find out about a great new small press!

  4. So lovely to see a post on this subject.

    My debut collection, "Neruda's Memoirs and Other Poems", is forthcoming from T.S. Poetry Press in Ossining, N.Y. The book will be available on Amazon and via the publisher. My word for the entire experience: wonderful. I had an excellent editor from whom I learned a lot and I've worked closely with the head of the press who is herself a marvelous poet. I could not have asked for more care in crafting my first book, and I'm delighted and excited about its publication.

  5. Great interview and the info is invaluable. I'll be sharing it around. I'm a huge proponent of micro and indie presses - all of my books (poetry and fiction) have been published by them.


Always love to hear from you...and the anonymous option is open for those feeling shy.

Related Posts with Thumbnails