Q: I’ve been writing poetry for a few years now and want to publish some of my work. A friend suggested I publish a “chapbook” of my poetry. What is a chapbook, and how is it different from a regular book? —Cindy N.
A chapbook is a small collection of poetry, generally no more than 40 pages, that often centers on a specific theme, such as exotic foods or wild animals or Justin Bieber. It’s typically saddle-stitched (like a pamphlet or magazine) and is a format well suited to smaller print-runs.
Poets publish chapbooks instead of full-length books of poetry for a number of reasons, but perhaps the most common is that chapbooks are relatively inexpensive to produce. In fact, many poets take the DIY approach and print their chapbooks themselves. (If you’re so inclined, Poets.org which offers up an excellent step-by-step set of instructions on its website at poets.org/view media.php/prmMID/21249.)
As difficult as it is to sell fiction to a publisher, it’s even harder to sell poetry. Producing a chapbook is an excellent way to give audiences a sampling of your writing and potentially sell your work for a nice little profit.
Plus, should your chapbook take off and sell at a healthy rate, it could serve as proof to publishers that there’s a market for you poetry. And that’s the best way to get their attention.
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