Sunday, May 06, 2007

Survey Says . . . I'm Totally Wrong!

Yesterday's conference was interesting.

Apparently I was the only person in the room (world?) who doesn't consider posting a poem on a blog or personal website to be the equivalent of publishing in a magazine (either online or print).

If I printed 500 copies of a poem on a sheet of paper and handed them out to people on the street, is that poem published too?

No, of course not. That's not publishing, that's sharing.

Oh wait, are we talking paper or cardstock? Maybe that could be considered a broadside.

If I recorded a poem and posted the audio on my blog, I'm told that isn't considered publishing.

Just as if I read a poem at a reading in front of 100 people, that poem isn't considered published either.

Of course those above ways of sharing a poem may very well reach a much larger audience that publication in a number of magazines.

I understand things get blurry -- but this is poetry. Nobody, aside from the estates of a handful of long dead poets is making any money. Would the sharing of my own poem on my very own blog beforehand cost a future publisher of that same poem sales, circulation or traffic?

If you liked poems I've posted here in the past, would that make you more or less likely to check out my work in other venues? More or less likely to buy my book? If you happen to come across a poem in a magazine or a book that you read before in some form on my blog, do you throw the book down in disgust? Puke on your keyboard?

You know, I have a book coming out this fall. Like 80% of those poems have been previously published -- and around 70-80% of those are online. If you spent the time, you could read over half the poems in that upcoming book for FREE.

Or you could ask your library to order the book and read the entire thing for FREE. Or ask a bookstore to order it, never pick it up and wait for it to be shelved and then stand in the store and read it for FREE. Or tell your friend to buy it and borrow his copy. Or you could write me and say you're going to review it -- I'm such a sucker, I'd very likely send you a copy for FREE. Probably accompanied with some kiss ass note about how I hope you like it.

Or you could write me your hard luck story, about how you lost it all playing nickel slots and I'd send the PDF -- for FREE.

Cause in the end, I really just want you to read the poems. As much as I'm going to encourage you to BUY the book, to support the press publishing it, to support me -- if you're such a psychotic that you're willing to go to all lengths to acquire the opportunity to read those poems on your own terms -- YOU'RE GOING TO WIN!

Almost three years ago I wrote a poem called "That's Not Butter" and posted it to this blog. A few months later it was accepted for publication in MiPOesias and a few months after that it appeared in their Gabe Gudding issue. When it appeared in MiPO, I took the poem off my blog and replaced it with a link to the magazine -- cause it looked so much cooler there. A year after that it appeared in BAP. MiPO (rightfully) received the first publication credit in the anthology, not Cackling Jackal and not "first appeared in an e-mail to Shafer Hall" (the first place it truly saw print) or any other place the poem had been shared beforehand. Cause MiPO was the first outside (non-me) supporter/promoter of that poem.

Now when I'm publishing other poets' work in No Tell Motel, I don't want those poems to be already published in another magazine -- either online or print. I don't want to have the same work as another magazine. I guess that means in some way, I view other magazines as a competition of some sort. Well, not exactly competition, but I want No Tell to be different, unique that all other magazines. To this date I'm aware of two poems that No Tell unknowingly republished -- and I'm not happy about that -- especially one situation when I confronted the author and he outright lied and said he had no idea the first magazine printed his work (I would have been a lot more sympathetic to "I forgot" or "I screwed up"). The sneaky lying is what burns me most.

I bet you have no idea what two poems I'm speaking of. The poems are still up -- you could spend hours, days, weeks, Google researching -- you'd definitely discover at least one of the poems, maybe both. Are you going to bother to do that? Somehow I really doubt it. Somehow I doubt anyone other than me, the other editors involved, the poets and the three people I regularly bitch to have any idea what poems I'm talking about.

Poets' personal blogs and websites are not No Tell's competition. In fact, they're No Tell's biggest traffic referrers. Blogs and personal websites are the constant sources of new readers for the magazine. If a handful of No Tell readers are familiar with a certain poem via the author beforehand, why would that bother me? Shouldn't I be happy that particular poet is developing an audience? An audience that would be likely to transfer to my magazine (and other poets No Tell publishes).

Think of me like a girlfriend. I don't so much care what you do by yourself, it's when the other girls get in the mix that I start to get snippy and territorial. You say the others don't matter, it's me you really love -- but it's too late, I'm hurt and scrawling your e-mail on the stalls of rest stops.

I'm in the minority on this issue, I realize that. And when sending out my work, if it once appeared on my blog or someone's wedding program, I make a point in telling the editor beforehand. In the end, it's their magazine and they make the rules for their own roost and I always honor that. Clearly I'm not a purist either, I draw the line work that's appeared in other magazines, already selected by other editors. The way I see it is that as an editor I'm one extension that a poet can use to distribute her work. I have no interest in limiting that poet's ability to do so. We're talking poetry, remember, teeny tiny audience, nobody receiving any financial profit, viritually zero fame, prestige, "cultural capital", whatever.

Just be respectful of the work I do as an editor, let me be your "first" magazine publisher -- give me that one bragging right (cause that's the only payment I get doing this) -- and if that poem does succeed to "bigger and better" things, grant me that acknowledgment, always remember the little people (editors/publishers).


At 5:24 PM, Blogger DeadMule said...

Fantastic rant to which I merely reply, "Ditto!!"
Hlen Losse

At 5:29 PM, Blogger Peter said...

Well-put, Reb.
The times (and publishing) they are a-changin' aren't they?

At 6:42 PM, Blogger shann said...

I am completely with you-

it's so silly to fuss over so little- and I ALWAYS mention where a poem is published if it has been.

There is some competition (I can;t recall which) that says something to the effect that if this poem has ever appeared online in any form you can't submit it-

seems a bit draconian to me, if you mean email, private boards and the like-

oh well

At 9:29 PM, Blogger Steven D. Schroeder said...

So in the girlfriend metaphor, posting a poem on one's own blog could be masturbation, couldn't it? As someone who posts drafts on my blog, I like it.

I don't think you're in the minority here, though, no matter what the people in the conference may say. It's just part of the technophobic backlash against blogs and online journals and e-mail submissions and so on.

At 11:34 AM, Blogger Didi Menendez said...

Well I think you knew I would show up here with an opinion especially since I have been published on Notell and I am the publisher of your poem which was recognized on BAP. Regarding "When I Said Goodbye" published in Notell on December 25th, 2006, as you know I had mentioned that I too had that poem first up on my blog and I took it down when I sent it to you as a submission - so we are on the same page there regarding taking down poems from blogs once they have been accepted for publication in an online publication such as yours or mine.

I personally consider poems posted on blogs published. That is my perspective on what a blog is. Many publishers are using blogs now instead of web sites for their publications such as "can we have our ball back" and others. So a blog again is a publishing tool and site used for publications because they are easier and a lot less espensive than setting up an actual url. There are other factors involved too such as an rss feed built into them.

Which brings me to another aspect of both our publications and that is "print". We both have print products out there - Mine being mostly OCHO (MiPO's print companion) which you had a poem published in as well last year. For that print publication (OCHO), I was actually checking out the poems posted at the time on cafe' cafe' which is MiPOesias community blog. I since moved the community to facebook. In any event I was heavily seeking poems at the time from OCHO from there as well as from Ron Androla's Pressure Press and soliciting from past contributors. As it turns out a poem posted on cafe cafe's blog last year was picked up by me to be published in OCHO - MiPOesias Print companion. You can read the whole transcription here:

Since then it turns out we won a puchcart prize for it.

Excuse my typos. I am writing from work. Bad on me.

Thanks Reb -
Didi Menendez

At 5:03 PM, Blogger shanna said...

i think it depends on how you do it. some people publish their poems on their blogs as an act of publishing, in lieu of appearing in another venue.

but in the sense of poems being "previously published" and for that reason ineligible for publication in a mag, some editors should just relax. (i never asked anybody to take blogged poems down when they appeared in LIT, and in fact, often solicited poems from blogs.) the audiences/context are completely different, and on the blogs the poems are often in draft form anyway. so a blogged poem is still usually "new" to the mag's readers.

i think it's almost always the case that 50% or more of the poems in a collection (particularly a first book) have been previously published and may still be available in some form online. there's nothing at all in my experience in publishing to show that this inhibits sales--to the contrary. (cory d. of boing boing and many SF writers simultaneously releaes FREE e-book versions of their novels and say they have the stats to back up their contention that this BOOSTS sales, not depresses them, go figure.)

(all that being said, none of the poems in my 2nd book will have appeared (other than a few 24-hr. drafts on my blog) by the time it comes out. i haven't submitted them, on purpose. i wanted readers to encounter them as a group, rather than individually, even tho they are designed to work that way too.)

At 10:37 AM, Blogger Jessie Carty said...

this is a great discussion and Reb (can I call you by your first name?) I have to agree w/ you.

I have a new blog and I posted a few works in progress there during NaPoWriMo but I in no way consider that them being published. Because, for me, no one selected them for. My blog is essentially an online journal. So poems I write in my notebook are not published and I don't consider the ones on my blog published either.

Besides, the ones on my blog are rough drafts anyway.

I know you can self-publish and maybe that is a lot of what the publishing industry is trying to avoid because so many people are scared of online publishing, but I do feel blogs and "Publications", intentional collections online or otherwise are just two different animals.

ok, i'm babbling.

*tossing her two cents*

At 5:44 AM, Blogger Chicky Wang said...

Random two cents. I had a blog for about a month and was not aware of the whole poem on blog=published thing. Got a poem in somewhere, had it on blog at same time (for a day and to tell people it was coming out), got ass chewed out by publisher nastily, apologized profusely and removed it, never heard from said editor again. In other words, where's the handbook? THERE'S NO HANDBOOK.

At 3:35 PM, Blogger Glenn Ingersoll said...

On one of my blogs I version poems. I've been going thru 20-yr-old poetry notebooks and taking out poems I think have potential, I post the poem on the blog, make a few comments on it, then post revisions separately and comment on them. Even though, so far as I know, I have no readership for these, I imagine readers intrigued by the disappearing comma of version 3, the exploded cliche of version 8. At least one of these versioned poems has subsequently been published. The published version differs fairly slightly (but, to me, significantly) from the last version that appeared on the blog. I don't think of the versions as published. Each version exists and is accessible. Which is the poem?

At 6:03 PM, Blogger Pris said...

I've been reading this discussion on several blogs and I agree with you, Reb, about poems on blogs. I, too, take a poem off of my blog if accepted by a journal...or I should say that used to be my policy. I've seen enough journals come out now and say they won't TAKE a poem that's even bEEN on a blog. It's cowed me enough that if I put one up, I take it down before it can get to the search engines or else I don't post it at all.

My blog is for my enjoyment. If this policy becomes widespread, shall I blog about my underwear or my preference for okra over string beans??

A blog is NOT competition for a journal. Thanks for this post.


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