Friday, June 4, 2021

The Strategic Poet: Book Update

The new craft book is moving right along. I now have all the content gathered: Thirteen Craft Talks, 36 Model Poems with 36 Prompts, 13 Commentaries, 39 Bonus Prompts, and 72 Sample Poems (written to the prompts). Permissions are done and bios are almost done. Contents is underway.

Still to be done is the Introduction. Then the dreaded Index. Then the editing and proofreading. Then the monumentally huge formatting job. Then more proofreading. Etc!

In case you're curious, here are the section headings:

I. Descriptive Details

II. Diction

III. Imagery

IV. Sound Devices

V. Repetition

VI. Figurative Language: Simile

VII. Figurative Language: Metaphor

VIII. Figurative Language: Personification

IX. Figurative Language: Hyperbole

X. Figurative Language: Apostrophe

XI. Syntax

XII. Sonnet

XIII. Odd Forms

In my last blog post, I listed all the poets who contributed Craft Talks, Model Poems, Commentaries, and Bonus Prompts. Since then I put out a Call for Submissions for the Sample Poems. The poems poured in, and I'm happy to say that all 72 spots filled quickly. Here's the list of poets whose sample poems will appear in the book:

Tiel Aisha Ansari
KB Ballentine

Nina Bennett
Libby Bernardin
Nancy Susanna Breen

Ronda Piszk Broatch
Jayne Brown

Luanne Castle

Robin Rosen Chang

Robin Chapman

Kersten Christianson
Patricia Clark
Cathryn Colman

Gail Comorat
Geraldine Connolly

Jane Mary Curran

Jessica de Koninck

Maureen Doallas
Lynn Domina
Robert Fillman
Ann Fisher-Wirth
Emily Franklin

Deborah Gerrish
Holiday Goldfarb
Lucy Griffith
Penny Harter
Lisa Hase-Jackson
Shayla Hawkins

Andrea Hollander
Karen Paul Holmes
Jenny Hubbard
Christen Noel Kauffman
Tina Kelley

Adele Kenny

Jemshed Khan

Athena Kildegaard
Kim Klugh
Lynne Knight

Marcia LeBeau
Diane LeBlanc
Denise Low
Charlotte Mandel
Joan Mazza

Maren Mitchell

Erin Murphy

Dion O’Reilly

Jenna Rindo
Janet Ruth

Jennifer Saunders

Linda Simone

Kate Sontag

Betsy Thorne
Denise Utt
Lisken Van Pelt Dus
Kory Wells
Bruce Whitacre
Scott Wiggerman
Shannon K. Winston
Elizabeth Wolf

Michael T. Young

Yvonne Zipter

Friday, April 30, 2021

New Book Coming Soon: The Strategic Poet

Not the real cover!

I am up to my neck working on a new craft book, The Strategic Poet. This one will be similar to my previous craft books—The Crafty Poet, The Crafty Poet II, and The Practicing Poet—as the emphasis will be on gaining mastery of the elements of poetry. Like the earlier books, it will be aimed at practicing poets who already know the basics and want to move beyond them. But this book will also include some unique features. Instead of Craft Tips, there will be Craft Talks. These will be sharply focused on a particular craft strategy. I solicited these from poets I love and am thrilled with the lineup. 

Again there will be model poems, each followed by an analysis of the poem's craft elements and then a prompt based on those elements. A new feature of this book will be Commentaries in each section. Each commentary will be written by a poet on some specific aspect of craft in his/her model poem. This book, like the earlier ones, will include Bonus Prompts, but they will be done by poets other than me—and there will be more of them, a total of 39. These I solicited from poets who are both outstanding poets and teachers. While the earlier books each had 10 sections, this one will have 13, a baker's dozen. A total of 87 accomplished poets will contribute the model poems, craft talks, commentaries, and bonus prompts.

Finally, each of the 36 prompts that follow the model poems will be followed by 2 sample poems. These sample poems will be written to the prompts (at least as a starting point) and submitted for consideration.

Model Poem Poets (each poem is followed by analysis of its craft elements and then a prompt based on those elements)
Melanie McCabe

Jesse Graves

Brad Aaron Modlin

Catherine Pierce

Craig van Rooyen

George Drew

Pamela Baggett

Sara Moore Wagner

Lynn McGee 

Kate Gaskin

Ada Limón

Lois Marie Harrod

George Bilgere

Camille Dungy

Robert Fillman

Sean Shearer

Dean Young

Frank X Walker

Matthew Olzmann

Tina Kelley

David O’Connell

Dara Elerath

Melanie Figg

Traci Brimhall

Nicole Callihan

Adam Tavel

James Scruton

Rob Shapiro

Jared Harél

Jessica Piazza

Beth Copeland

Elise Hempel

Carolyne Wright
Matthew Yeager

J.P. Grasser

Craft Talk Poets (each talk targets and deepens the section’s main craft strategy)
Ellen Bass

Todd Kaneko

Lauren Camp

Annie Finch

David Graham

Danusha Laméris

Jan Beatty

Meg Kearney

Peter Murphy

Dion O’Reilly

Marilyn L. Taylor

Diane Seuss

Tami Haaland  

Commentary Poets (each poet offers a focused commentary on a single craft element in his/her poem)
Jesse Graves
Craig van Rooyen
Sara Moore Wagner
Lois Marie Harrod
Camille Dungy
Sean Shearer
Tina Kelley
Dara Elerath
Melanie Figg
James Scruton
Jared Harél
Beth Copeland
J.P. Grasser

Bonus Prompt Poets (3 bonus prompts in each section focus on the section’s main craft strategy)
Lance Larsen
Caitlin Doyle
Adele Kenny
Michael T. Young
J.C. Todd
Cat Doty
Joy Gaines-Friedler
Kerrin McCadden
BJ Ward
Patricia Clark
Jennifer Franklin
Jeffrey Bean
Allison Joseph

Sample Poem Poets
The date of publication is currently unknown. The manuscript is progressing nicely, but there's still a lot of work to come in and I still have to issue a call for submissions for the sample poems and read the submissions and make selections. Then there will be a huge editing round, followed by a huge proofreading round or two or three. Credits are underway as are the bios, but they remain incomplete. Then there will be a cover to design. But I'm hoping to have this book out in the fall.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Behind the Scenes at Terrapin Books


I was recently invited to do a Q&A with someone who planned to do an article about small press publishers who specialize in poetry books. I don't know why but the article never came to fruition. Rather than waste my work, I've decided to post it here. I hope it might prove informative and useful.
1. How do you determine who to publish?
I run two open readings per year. From the submissions, I select 2-4 manuscripts for publication. I select the ones I like best. I like to get a range of styles and voices and a diversity of poets. But my main guide is the quality of the work. I also consider if the work fits the press. I don’t take experimental poetry or single form collections (i.e., it’s unlikely that I’d take a collection of all sonnets or all haiku or all ekphrastic poems). I ask that a good number of the poems have been previously published and I limit the number of poems previously published in chapbooks to six.

2. How many manuscripts do you receive yearly?
This is a question I like to avoid answering. If it’s a high number, some poets will feel discouraged from submitting. If it’s a low number, some poets will feel that the press is not sufficiently competitive. So I’ll just say that we get a good number of submissions and that number increases each reading period and the quality of the submissions gets better and better. I do not run any contests at Terrapin. I like to think that each of my poets is a winner.
3. Can you share details of a normal agreement? 
Terrapin offers publication within a year of acceptance, an annual royalty,  6” x 9” books with printed spine. I provide each poet with 15 complimentary review copies. Authors also get a 50% discount off list price if they choose to order additional copies to sell on their own. I require that my authors have a dedicated website and belong to Facebook. I expect the poets to actively seek readings and other opportunities to promote their work. I also stipulate that they not publish a new book with a different press within a year of publication of the Terrapin book.
When I was starting Terrapin Books, I contacted several other publishers of small presses. Several of them were kind enough to share their contracts with me. I then created my own contract which I describe as “standard and fair.”
4. What sort of royalties do authors normally get? 
I pay an annual royalty of 15% of net sales. To qualify for a royalty payment, a poet must sell a minimum of 15 books in a given year.
5. Why might an author choose to work with a press like yours versus a similar press?
I typically respond within a month of submission. If accepted, the book gets published within a year. My poets don’t grow old waiting for publication. I carefully edit each accepted manuscript and work closely with each poet. I try to accommodate requests and to keep the poets happy. I respond quickly to emails. Poets are invited to participate in the design of the cover, though final decisions are left to me. I like to think of the entire process as a collaborative one.
6. Can you talk a bit about how you market the work for your authors?
I promote on Twitter and Facebook. I provide each poet with a list of suggested promotion tips. I also provide them with a list of after-publication contests they can submit to. If I know about readings in their part of the country, I pass on that information. I keep a list of reviewers and reach out to them to try to get some reviews for each book. I keep a Terrapin website where each poet gets a book page and an entry in the bookstore.
7. What do they normally have to do in terms of marketing?
I ask poets to send out an email announcement when their book is available for pre-orders and again when the book is published. I ask the poets to include purchase links in that note. And I ask them to send the announcement to an extensive list of friends, relatives, and neighbors—in short, everyone they know. You never know who might buy a book. I also ask my poets to post links on their website to reviews and to include excerpts from those reviews. I ask them to do the same on Facebook and Twitter. I ask them to send out review copies to journals they’ve published in. I ask them to line up readings. I suggest that they throw themselves a launch party. Every new book deserves a party.
8. Are you open to working with new authors, or are you mostly looking for established authors?
I love working with new poets and am happy to have several debut collections. Of the four poets I selected from the last open reading period, three of them have debut collections with Terrapin. But I’m also happy to work with older poets who sometimes feel that they are overlooked by other presses. In fact, I’m happy to work with new and established poets. Again, the quality of the work is the primary consideration.
9. How many copies do you usually expect to sell per book?

I aim for 500 but am happy with 300. Now that I can make the books available for pre-orders, I’m finding that the number of sales has gone up.
10. Is there anything else we should know about how you support your authors?
I give personalized service throughout the process. And I do not forget about my poets once their book has been published. Also I’ve recently started a new series, the Redux series. This series is limited to poets with a previous title with Terrapin, one that has done well. My original intention was to do one book only per poet, but a number of my poets asked for this new opportunity. I hope that means that they enjoyed working with me and are happy to be part of the Terrapin family of poets.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Terrapin Books Now Open for Submissions


I am happy to announce that my poetry press, Terrapin Books, is currently open for submissions of full-length poetry manuscripts. This submission period opened on January 24 and will close on February 28, 2021.

Be sure to read our Guidelines before submitting. Please note that we request both a bio and a descriptive statement with your submission. Be sure to include both. Most questions are answered in our FAQs, so be sure to read that page also.

Our Guidelines ask for a manuscript of approximately 40-55 poems for a book of approximately 90-110 pages (page count includes poems, front and back matter, and section pages). Please note that your book will be longer than your manuscript. If you have 40-55 poems, go ahead and submit. Let us worry about book length.

Here's some general information about the press:

We publish only poetry books, primarily single-author collections but also an occasional craft book or anthology. 

Terrapin Books is committed to publishing outstanding books of poetry by outstanding poets. We intend to fully support our poets. We will carefully edit your manuscript and work with you on revisions. We expect our poets to actively engage in promoting their books. We require our poets to maintain a dedicated website and to be a member of Facebook. We regard the publication of a book as a collaboration between publisher and poet.

Our books are 6 x 9, paperback, perfect bound, color cover, with printed spine (poet's name, title, press). Covers are either matte or glossy. 

We pride ourselves on the beauty of our covers. Please visit our Bookstore to see examples.

We are committed to publishing accepted titles within six months of acceptance. We do not maintain a long list of books-in-waiting.

We offer a standard contract, a generous number of author copies, a substantial discount on additional copies purchased by the author, and an annual royalty payment.

We welcome submissions from poets at any stage in their career. Some of our poets have a long publication history with multiple books. A few of our poets have two books out. And we are very proud to be the publisher of several debut collections.

We look forward to reading your work.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

The Turtle Moves Slowly But It Moves

It hardly seems possible that it was five years ago this month that I started Terrapin Books! And yet our Open Reading period #10 ended on August 31. There's cause for celebration. Each year the number of submissions increases and the quality of those submissions goes up. I accepted four outstanding manuscripts during the August reading period. I also accepted the first two titles for our new Redux Series for poets with a previous Terrapin title.

I wish I could take more manuscripts for publication, but I want to give careful attention to each poet and each book. That means carefully editing each manuscript and going through multiple back and forths during revision and proofreading. There is also a good deal of time that goes into cover design. I look forward to working with the four new Terrapin poets and the two returning poets.

Since starting Terrapin Books, I've published 24 single author collections:

Neil Carpathios, Confessions of a Captured Angel
Lynne Knight, The Persistence of Longing
Jessica de Koninck, Cutting Room
Christine Stewart-Nunez, Bluewords Greening
Patricia Clark, The Canopy
Carolyn Miller, Route 66 and Its Sorrows
Susanna Lang, Travel Notes from the River Styx
Hayden Saunier, How to Wear This Body
Michelle Menting, Leaves Surface Like Skin
Karen Paul Holmes, No Such Thing as Distance
Geraldine Connolly, Aileron
Michael T. Young, The Infinite Doctrine of Water
Lisa Bellamy, The Northway
Paige Riehl, Suspension
Gary J. Whitehead, Strange What Rises
Ann Fisher-Wirth, The Bones of Winter Birds
Sarah Wetzel, The Davids Inside David
David Graham, The Honey of Earth
Kory Wells, Sugar Fix
Dion O’Reilly, Ghost Dogs
Ann Keniston, Somatic
Yvonne Zipter, Kissing the Long Face of the Greyhound 
Heather Swan, A Kinship with Ash

In addition, the first title in our Redux series has just been published. This will be followed by the second title in February:
Patricia Clark, Self-Portrait with a Million Dollars 
Hayden Saunier, A Cartography of Home (forthcoming)

Terrapin expects to publish the four recently accepted manuscripts in 2021. Look for new books by the following poets:

Robin Rosen Chang
Meghan Sterling
Jeff Ewing
Diane LeBlanc

While our main focus is on single-author collections, we’ve also published three anthologies:
The Doll Collection, ed. Diane Lockward
The Book of Donuts, eds. Jason Lee Brown and Shanie Latham
A Constellation of Kisses, ed. Diane Lockward

And we've published three craft books:
The Crafty Poet: A Portable Workshop
The Crafty Poet II: A Portable Workshop
The Practicing Poet: Writing Beyond the Basics

A fourth craft book is underway but still very embryonic.

Terrapin looks forward to continuing to publish poetry books.We pride ourselves on the quality of our books and the beauty of their covers. We also pride ourselves on the collaborative relationship we try to build with each poet.

We hold two open reading periods each year. Our next open reading period will be January 24 - February 28, 2021. Guidelines are posted at the website. Perhaps you’ll join our list of poets?

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Summer Journals 2020

Get your mailbox ready to receive good news.

It's that time of year again. During the summer months, many of us have more time to write and submit, but quite a few journals close their doors to submissions for the summer. Do not despair. There are still many journals that do read during the summer and some that read only during the summer. This is a list of those journals, all print. I'm happy to add print journals to this list, but please do not send me online journals to add.

Journals come and go and guidelines and reading periods change, so be sure to check websites. I have updated this list within the last few days. But please let me know of any errors or changes you find.
I've added links for your convenience. I've also indicated the number of issues per year, the submission period dates, which journals accept simultaneous submissions, and which ones require snail mail submissions. Almost all of the journals have now switched to online submissions.

If no dates are given, the journal reads all year.

Good luck!

Asheville Poetry Review—3x—Jan. 15-July 15

Atlanta Review—2x—no June or Dec

Bat City Review—1x—July 1-Nov 1

Beloit Poetry Journal—2x—June 1-Aug 31

Black Warrior Review—2x—June 1-Sept 1

Briar Cliff Review—1x—all year

Cimarron Review—4x


Cream City Review—2x—Aug 1-Nov 1

The Florida Review—2x—Aug 1-May 31 (subscribers all year)

The Fourth River—1x—opens July 1—Dec 1

Grist—1x—May 15--Aug 15
snail mail
no sim

Hayden’s Ferry—2x—opens for submissions August 1

Hudson Review—4x—April 1-June 30 (all year if a subscriber)
snail mail
no sim

via email attachment or Submittable
(prefers no sim but will take)
 snail mail

metrical only

Michigan Quarterly Review—4x--August 1--Nov 30

Minnesota Review—2x—August 1–November 1

Missouri Review—4x--all year

The Mom Egg—1x—May 1—July 15

Naugatuck River Review—2x—July 1-Sept 1
for the winter issue

Nimrod—2x—Jan 1-Nov 30

Pinyon—2x--all year August 1—Dec 1

Pleiades—2x—June 1--July 1

Ploughshares—3x—June 1 to January 15

Poetry—11x--all year

The Raleigh Review—2x—opens July 1—Oct 1


Redactions—2x—by email–all year

Rhino—1x—April 1-July 31

River Styx—3x—May 1 thru Feb 1

via email

Salt Hill—2x—July 15—Sept 1
month of July
via email

Saw Palm—1x—opens July 1
must have a Florida connection

Southern Humanities Review—4x—Aug 24-Nov 1
snail mail or via their website

Sugar House Review—2x—opened May 31

Tahoma Literary Review—3x—now thru July 31

32 Poems—2x

snail mail

Washington Square Review—2x—Aug 1-Oct 15

Monday, April 27, 2020

Helping Your Manuscript Submission Make a Good First Impression

In the almost-five years since I started Terrapin Books, I’ve read a lot of submissions. I hold two open reading periods each year and have the same guidelines for both. I’ve made those guidelines as specific and clear as I can, but I keep finding the same errors in the submissions. So I thought it might be useful to share some of my thoughts on making your submission look good. These suggestions are based on my experiences at Terrapin.

First, it should go without saying that you need to read and follow the Guidelines. But it’s quite clear that some people really don’t bother reading the guidelines. Guidelines vary from press to press, so you must read them each time you submit. My press wants your identifying information on the manuscript, but some presses specify that you should not include it. Be sure you know what each press wants and then provide it. Include everything that the guidelines ask for. I ask for a 4-6 sentence description of what the manuscript is about. Each submission period I receive a number of submissions that omit this information. Don’t be that person.

Most guidelines ask for a cover letter. Yours should be written in first person, friendly but not overly familiar. Be sure you correctly name the press you’re submitting to. When I read a cover letter in which the writer says she’s happy to submit her manuscript to Red Hen Press, well, I get a bit of a laugh, but I think the writer would be happier not making that mistake. Make sure your letter is accurate and directed to the publisher you are submitting to. Be sure to spell the publisher’s name correctly. I wish I had a dollar for each time I’m addressed as Diane Lockwood instead of Lockward. I don’t hold that against anyone. There’s no penalty, but it does suggest that you’re careless when you get the publisher’s name wrong. Do not include your age. I’m amazed by how many poets include this information—and it’s always from an older poet who seems to be apologizing for having grown old or bragging about the advanced years. Just omit that detail. Let it be your little secret.

Most guidelines also ask for a bio. If you are adding the bio after the cover letter, it should be in third person. Keep it brief, maybe one healthy paragraph. Include titles of books you’ve previously published. Be sure to include the name of the press for each title. If you omit that information, you may give the impression that you don’t want to reveal who published your previous collections. (If you’ve published many books, include the most recent 2 or 3.) Include the names of 3-4 journals that have published your work. Do not include an extensive list. Select the best journals, the ones you’re most proud of. And please, I’m begging you, do not brag about or even mention how many publications you’ve had in journals. This kind of bragging is just unattractive and unnecessary. Please also be sure not to say that you have been “widely” or “extensively” published. Do not refer the publisher to your website for additional information. And most especially don’t tell the publisher that she can find your bio at your website. The publisher isn’t going to go in search of your bio. Provide it with your submission.

Regarding the manuscript itself, do not put a copyright symbol anywhere on your manuscript. This implies that you fear the publisher/editor might steal your work. Your manuscript is automatically copyrighted once your name is on it. Don’t offend the publisher! And don’t look like an amateur.

Do not include any decorative flourishes such as clipart or photos. Use one consistent font throughout the manuscript. Do not use a script font! Poem titles may be larger but poems should all be the same size font. Use black ink, no colors. The publisher isn’t interested in fancy formatting.

Put one space after a period. If you persist in inserting two spaces, you will make yourself look outdated. Since the invention of the computer, one space has been the convention. Two spaces is just wrong as well as outdated.

Once you have prepared your submission according to the publisher’s guidelines, check and double check. Then kiss your manuscript goodbye and wish it luck as you press that Submit button.

Terrapin Books will be open for submissions of full-length poetry collections from August 1 thru August 31. Please be sure to read the Guidelines (of course!) and the FAQs.

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