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

Conduit—2x

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

MacGuffin—3x
via email attachment or Submittable
(prefers no sim but will take)
 snail mail

Measure—2x
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

Rattle—4x

Redactions—2x—by email–all year

Rhino—1x—April 1-July 31

River Styx—3x—May 1 thru Feb 1

Rosebud—3x
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

Turnrow—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.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Terrapin Books: Upcoming Open Reading Period


Terrapin Books will open for submissions of full-length poetry manuscripts on January 24 and will remain open thru February 29, 2020. We look forward to reading many fine submissions.
Our Guidelines are as follows:
Submit a manuscript of approximately 40-55 poems for a book of approximately 90-110 pages (count includes poems, front and back matter, blank pages, and section pages).

Include contact information on title page (we do not read anonymous submissions). Use one inch margins all around.

Do not use all caps for poem titles.

Include Table of Contents.

Include page numbers.

Include Acknowledgments Page that lists journals and poem titles. Format as a list indicating which poems appeared in which journal. Do not format in paragraph form. Please note that we allow a maximum of 6 poems from a previously published chapbook(s). Regardless of the number of chapbooks, it’s no more than a total of 6 chapbook poems. Poems previously published in a chapbook should be indicated as such on the Acknowledgments page. Include title of poem and title of chapbook.

In cover letter area include a brief bio and a 4-6 sentence description of your manuscript—in your own words. Do not send a blurb.

We recommend that 25-50% of the poems have been previously published. More is fine.

Simultaneous submission is acceptable but please withdraw your manuscript immediately if it's accepted elsewhere.

We strongly suggest that you peruse at least one book from Terrapin Books before submitting. We suggest that you do this with any press before you submit.

*********************************************************

Terrapin Books is committed to publishing outstanding books of poetry by outstanding poets. We intend to fully support our poets. We will 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.

Our books are 6 x 9, paperback, color cover, printed spine.

We are committed to publishing accepted titles within approximately 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 author, and a royalty payment.

Please note that we are unable to accept submissions from outside the US.

All submissions must be made thru our Submittable page.

Our guidelines and link to Submittable may also be found on our website.

We are happy to respond to questions, but please read our FAQs before asking as your answer may be found there.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Yes, Virginia


Each Christmas I like to revisit the following essay from the The Sun. My grandmother read it to me many years ago. I've always remembered it. If you don't already know this piece, I hope you'll enjoy it. I also hope you'll have a Merry Christmas if that's what you're celebrating. And I hope you'll have a wonderful New Year. Thank you for being a Blogalicious reader.

Eight-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of New York's The Sun, and the quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial on September 21, 1897. The work of veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church has since become history's most reprinted newspaper editorial, appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages in books, movies, and other editorials, and on posters and stamps.


Here's Virginia's letter:

"DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
"Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
"Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.'
"Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?

"VIRGINIA O'HANLON.
"115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET."


Here's the reply:

VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

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