Apr 142011
 

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Dr. Axelrod is pleased to offer A NEW BOOK IS AVAILABLE TO ASSIST YOU. Order it here for just $5 including shipping or read some main points in the essay below.

ALTERNATIVE PRESSES AND SELF-PUBLISHING 

by David B. Axelrod    

Self-publishing, or publication with a small press is the best America has to offer! There is no greater demonstration of our freedom or vitality as a nation than our chance to speak, write and best of all, publish our creations.  While self-publication sometimes connotes a “vanity” press and the term “small press” might sound, at best, diminutive, there is no stigma in either. 

There are some companies which, capitalizing on a beginner’s enthusiasm, offer to publish work–regardless of its quality–and usually over-charge in doing so. However, studies of the careers of many famous writers reveal that they did indeed pay to see their own work published at least at the start of their career. Indeed, small presses are tremendously diverse, often the only real opportunity for experimentation and certainly the only outlet for small market subjects and creations.

If you believe your work is worthy, why not consider self-publication? A first step, of course, would be to look for a local or suitable literary group to show your work. Through them, you can test your “market.” Workshops provide an opportunity to perfect your art. If art is “from the heart,” then revision and publication should be more” mindful.” We create for ourselves but we revise for other. Publication may be” vanity” to some but it is good to consider it a true act of sharing. Yes, we may be living out the adult equivalent of “Mommy, watch me!” That’s not so bad. Better still, however, we are engaging in the most sophisticated of our freedoms–perfecting and publishing our thoughts and creations.

That same literary group which meets near you as likely also publishes a small-circulation magazine, or maintains a web presence to showcase work. It may be in a position, or at least some individuals within the group may be adept enough, to publish books as well. While the internet has made so much and diverse material available, there is nothing like the feel of a printed book! The task of writing, revising, formatting and publishing one’s work can be a great pleasure.

Here are some pointers regarding the preparation and publication of your work:

To do the job right, bringing out a book takes some genuine effort. Of course it is worth it–a birthing of a sort. But the getting there is work requiring lots of attention to details beyond the poems themselves.
1. Regarding printing: anything up to forty pages may be produced as a chapbook. The term itself has been explained as coming from the Middle English for a “chep” [sic] or bargain book peddled by a chapmen. The virtue of such a book is that it can be stitched or stapled rather than perfect bound and the saving on binding makes the book cheap.

 2. Forty pages is no longer a chapbook. The girth of it makes a spine necessary and so it becomes a perfect-bound book. With desktop publishing and the new technologies for quality photocopying and desktop printing, it may no longer be necessary to make “plates” to print from. However, when laying out a book, it is usual to work with multiples or gatherings of 4 pages (2 pages on each side of a sheet of paper).  

3. One need not travel far to find a print shop and many more print houses on line offer estimates and expertise for printing the job. The closer the book can be, in format, to print-ready, the better for obtaining a good printing price. The layout, the “make-ready” tends to be where labor and thus extra costs are encountered.

4. That brings us to the second consideration: setting up the manuscript as a book. The closer the book is to ready to print when you arrive at the print shop the better. If you are, or someone you know is adept at desktop publishing, then the thing to do is pick a format that looks like a real book–don’t experiment with format–and follow it religiously.  Make your mantra: “It should look like a real book.” Layout is what makes it look other than “vanity.” If it doesn’t look like a big press did it, it looks awful.

Clearly, you’d want it to be perfect. By that I mean both that you should show it around, workshop it, let a respected friend/fellow poet comment (maybe a cover quote). Be sure the manuscript is absolutely without typos and the format is standard from poem to poem.