amongst books

amongst books

Sunday, May 29, 2016

All Hail Chapbookery

sung to the tune of the Mountain Goats The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton

I’ve been disheartened of late because for various reasons sending out book-length manuscripts to publishers has become nothing more than an exercise in masturbation without the happy ending. I don’t blame publishers. To publish books in Canada you need government funding. I just received a fucking survey from the Canada Council for the Arts on digital technology in the arts. That’s what these wankers are focusing on. I pointed out that if you don’t support the content creators & the publishers, you won’t have any thing to post on the stupid internet. So emerging publishers are not being given funding. Existing publishers are not being given funding. They can’t afford to take risks & publish umpteen spines by the same people, the ones with 20 books, 30 books…etc.

I had a beautiful & satisfying experience with Kiki, published by the wondrous Chaudiere Books in 2014. The book is gorgeously designed by Christine McNair, I received nothing but rave reviews & comments about it & when I read from it, everyone has a good time. Apparently it’s done pretty well from the point of view of sales, so I can’t complain at all about that experience.

But I have three/sorry two book-length manuscripts in the hands of publishers that are in theory still considering them/ignoring them. One has been in a Canadian publisher’s slush pile now for almost two years, another for an American contest that was recommended to me by a kind writer friend, only for a few months. Another book is supposed to be coming out this summer in a limited edition of 100 copies by an American publisher but the publisher is ignoring my e-mails, as publishers do, so that’s unlikely.

Meanwhile I have had the honour of having numerous chapbooks published both in print & digitally in Canada, the USA & the UK. I also publish chapbooks of others via AngelHousePress & our transgressive imprint, DevilHouse.

I love working with chapbook publishers. They make decisions quickly. They promote the hell out of the work & they don’t treat writers like a pile of shit because we want to get our work out there. They also aren’t timid about rejecting the work. We’re all in the same boat: we have limited time & limited funds, so when we choose to publish anything or when someone chooses to publish work of ours, it’s a big fucking deal.

So my plans from now on are to prioritize chapbook publishing for my work & every once in a while if I see a good fit for a book-length ms, I’ll send it, but I will have absolutely no expectations of publication anywhere. I will continue to envy amigos who have a bunch of books under their belts published by prestigious Canajun presses like Coach House, Anansi & whatnot, but that ain’t me, babe & it ain’t you either. We’re going to have to make our own world where the good stuff, the bad ass stuff, the gritty stuff, the impolite stuff gets published & disseminated in small runs or on line by people who aren’t having to jump thru the impossible hoops of the Canadian literary grant funding broken down machine.

Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.

Buy chapbooks, sell chapbooks, review chapbooks, make chapbooks. Start now. 

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