Getting Your First, or Second, Poetry Book Published? There’s a Panel For That!


This Sunday, March 1st at 11 a.m. I will be on the panel From Zero to One: First Books and What We Wish We’d Known along with three other women poets, as well as the founder and director of Perugia Press. The Berkshire Festival of Women Writers takes place throughout the month of March, culminating in a book expo (see my Events page). If you find yourself writing toward a first book, have a rough first book in hand, or have already thrown yourself into the fray of book contests and open reading periods, this panel may be for you! I thought I’d give you a sneak peek at the panel’s format and some topics we’re planning to cover.

We’ll begin the panel with bio. introductions after which each panelist will give a seven minute summary of her experience getting her first book (and subsequent books)  into publication or, in Susan Kan’s (Perugia Press) case, the experience of ushering first books of poetry into the world. We’ll then open up for questions from the audience and try to touch on the following:

What went well with publishing your first (or second) book, and why? 

What would you do differently next time – why and how?

What advice do you give or would you give to writers interested in publishing their first books?

What are a couple of areas you feel especially strongly about, either in the “it went well” or “I’d do it differently” categories?

Any big surprises in the submission, publishing, PR process?

What are/were your strengths in the publication process?

What were your weaknesses?

How about your publisher: what did they do well?

What were the things (or, “are the things”) that made you afraid / reluctant about the publication process?

What did you do to overcome (if you did) the things from the previous question?

If you have a second book: how was the process for that book different to the first book or the same?

This will be an honest discussion about the highs and lows, the triumphs and disappointments of publishing that first book from four practicing poets and a publisher, bringing a variety of viewpoints to the topic.

I’ll tell you that one of the ‘surprises’ of the publishing process for me was that I missed submitting to contests. Once my books had found homes and I was out of the contest and open reading period submission grind, I missed the spike of optimism and hope that comes once the manilla envelope has been mailed, the PDF uploaded to Submittable. This really was a BIG surprise because that process had also left me dispirited and hopeless at times. I’ve since heard other poets express excitement when the whole submission process ramps up again as they begin sending out new manuscripts. Poets! We’re strange animals. Come join the herd on March 1st and share our particular kind of geekery. Bring your questions. See you there!

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