Pamphlets are becoming increasingly popular, for several reasons
- As objects they can afford to be more innovative than books.
- Some of the traditional book publishers are fading away.
- More people nowadays make a career from teaching writing and need publications for their CV. It can take years to assemble enough poems for a book. Pamphlets can be produced more frequently.
- A pamphlet needn't be padded with fillers like so many books are.
- Some "poetry books" are little more than expensive pamphlets - books by Picador etc can cost 9 pounds and contain 39 pages.
- The book world is dominated by Heaney and co. Pamphlets inhabit an alternative world of prizes and outlets, where commercialism doesn't dominate.
- Prizes now exist for pamphlets. The PBS promote them too
- The WWW offers a way to sell pamphlets. Spineless pamphlets were never popular with bookshops.
Don't think of pamphlets as an easy option, a way to publish sub-standard poems. To take just one example, "Skylight" by Carole Bromley (Smith/Doorstep 2009) has 1st prize winners from the Bridport and Yorkshire Open competitions as well as many other acknowledgements. Increasingly, poets who've already published books with reputable publishers are entering pamphlet competitions.
So how can you get your pamphlet published? Options include
- Mentoring - Fairly recently some mentoring schemes have started up (supported by Arts Council England) that scout for talent, provide help for a period and then offer the chance of publication. Smiths Knoll used to seek candidates from people who submit to their magazine. Faber had a network of talent scouts. tall-lighthouse have their pilot project
- Competitions - Templar (deadline May - they also do quarterly Templar Portfolio Awards ), Flarestack (deadline March), Iota (Ishots, deadline November), Cinnamon Press, The Poetry Business (Smith/Doorstep, deadline March), Pighog (deadline January), Rialto (deadline November), and Prole (deadline 30th June) are amongst the organisations that run competitions.
- Publishers - There are some specialist pamphlet publishers. A few publishers print pamphlets as well as books.
What's clear from all this is that participating in the poetry scene and getting published in magazines helps significantly when you want a pamphlet published. In that respect, like many others, pamphlets are like books.
- Helena Nelson (Happenstance Press) in conversation with Lindsay Macgregor (DURA)
- Issue: An Economy of Talents by Paul Maddern for more about UK poetry pamphlets
- Carrie Etter's list of pamphlet publishers
- Should poetry pamphlets be themed? (Helena Nelson)
- What do pamphlet publishers look for (Helena Nelson)
- UK poetry-pamphlet competitions (Helena Nelson)
- Fiona Moore's article about selling her poetry pamphlet
- Roy Marshall's Putting a poetry pamphlet together
- Claire Trévien's The journey to a debut poetry collection
- Emma Lee's Reasons Poetry Manuscripts get Rejected