Confessions of a Small-Town Publisher

May 1997
by Moira Allen

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“Hello… Ah… I wanted to know… Ah… Do you publish poetry?”

Every so often, a poetry class is offered at one of the local colleges. I have yet to find out where, or whose class it is — but when I do, I think I’ll have a few words with the instructor. I always know when the class ends, however, because that’s when my phone starts ringing. The calls come in batches, four or five in a week, and then I don’t hear from our local poets for another few months.

The problem is, I don’t publish poetry. And I don’t have a clue as to who does publish poetry. The only reason these would-be-authors are calling me is that an instructor has told them the best way to get published is to look in the phone book under “publishers.” I know this because: (a) one of the students told me so, and (b) I am the only publisher in our small-town phone book.

Like I said, someday I’m going to have a word with this instructor…

Then there are the people who start by asking, “Could you tell me what you publish?” That’s a difficult question. I don’t really want to tell them, “I publish one book, and it was written by me, and if I even publish another, it will also be by me, and that’s it.” That makes the company sound a little smaller than I’d like. So I usually say something like “Well, we publish some self-help material,” thinking that if the person writes poetry, this should be sufficiently discouraging.

Would-be authors rarely give up so easily, however. “Oh? What kind of material?”…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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