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Friday, October 16, 2009

book contests: the remix

deborah ager posts some questions to consider as you get ready to submit (submit, i tell you!) to contests.

Do I want the press to do most of the promotion for me? Am I comfortable seeking out readings and engaging in promotional activities, or do I view promo work as “bad”?

i do not expect the press to do much publicity-wise. most presses don't have the staff or the resources to aggressively push their authors. i know i will have to work hard to push my first book. and i'm fine with that. in fact, i'm looking forward to it. i've been observing how other writers promote their books, and i've learned a lot. when my first book comes out, i'm going to knock on a lot of doors.

How important is a big-name press to me? Do I need the name of a big press to get a teaching job?

big-name presses are important to me. see my previous post. sigh.

must we talk about teaching gigs? i'm not on the market right now, but i will be the moment my ms gets picked up. i'm a curriculum vitae, hear me roar!

i know many writers who've been published by "small" presses who've landed tenure-track positions, so i know a big-name press is not a requirement for employment.

so no: i don't need a big-name press to get a teaching job.

Will the press send my book out to contests, which would help increase readership and notice? If yes, which ones?

i know some presses actively send out their books to post-publication contests; some presses have to be poked and prodded to lift a finger. i will make sure my press knows which contests i want my book sent to, and if they don't have the time/ staff to send it out, then i will send it out myself.

which ones? the good ones! ha.

If entering a contest, is the judge known to be fair or to pick his/her students?

i believe that a judge should never pick a former student. never! marvin bell is judging the whitman this year, so i'm not sending. and someone just told me that alberto rios is judging the donald hall prize next year, so there's another contest i can't enter. aren't you sick of my holier-than-thou attitude?

Would I buy and enjoy books from the press offering the contest?

yes. i'm sending to five contests this fall. i buy and enjoy the books put out by these five presses.

Do I like the book design of the press in question? What role do I want to play in cover selection?

yep. i do like the book designs of the presses i'm sending to. that's one of the big reasons i'm sending to them.

i would like to have a vote when it comes to cover selection. some presses want imput; others don't. i've heard that the presses i'm sending to do give their authors a voice when it comes to cover selection.

Are the books from the press bought by libraries? You may want these additional sales or to have a more permanent “home” for your poetry book in an academic or public library.

i would like for my book to find a home in libraries. who wouldn't? but i really don't know what criteria libraries use to purchase poetry books. i've seen titles from well-known presses and smaller presses on the shelves of my local library. i'm guessing reviews in library journal, publisher's weekly, and kirkus reviews play a big part in getting the attention of library book buyers.

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