What now? Getting published?

Publishing a book?

The Skeptic’s Kaddish?

Many friends and family have suggested that I publish my Kaddish Journey as a book, and I do very much like the idea of touching other mourners, of providing others with some measure of support and guidance.

However, as I’ve said before, I think the idea is impractical because the series was written to be read online – full of hyperlinks, YouTube videos, color-coded text, etc. Essentially, I could, perhaps, write a book about writing the Skeptic’s Kaddish, but the Skeptic’s Kaddish itself is not a book. And… somehow, I feel unready or maybe even entirely unable to do that.

At least in part, I suppose, this has to do with not wanting to relive that experience, now that is is more than two years behind me. Also, it has to do with the Jewish’ness of the Skeptic’s Kaddish… or, to be more precise, it has to do with my Jewish’ness… The Skeptic’s Kaddish was my very personal way of honoring my dead father – it’s not something that I think would work for most Jews, let alone for gentiles.

Really, my ultimate point in the Skeptic’s Kaddish is that people should, each in our individual way(s), lean upon our ancestors’ and communities’ respective traditions to honor our departed loved ones. In so doing, we can process our losses, rather than leaving our feelings bottled up inside.

See? I just summarized my entire year of mourning in two sentences. I don’t need a book for that.

A book of poetry?

So… I guess I could write a book of poetry – apparently, that’s all the rage among WordPress writers. Compose book, promote book, sell book…. easy peasy.

But I’ve got at least three problems with that:

Technical skills

Never having formatted a book (or published one), there will definitely be a learning curve for me to surmount when I decided to publish a book.

However, this is the least of my concerns. I happen to be adept at formatting and editing – I do a lot of that for work, and I do a lot of that here at the Skeptic’s Kaddish. Sure, it’ll be a challenge – but it won’t be a major challenge… and there are plenty of resources to guide me through the process.

Insecurity

A somewhat greater concern for me is my insecurity. I would be lying if told you that it doesn’t get in my way. Now, this isn’t something unique to me by any stretch of the imagination – many burgeoning creators doubt themselves. Honestly, there’s not much for me to say about this, other than that I own it:

I am insecure – I admit it; and I can move past it.

Perfectionism

By perfectionism, I’m not speaking about the quality of my poetry, per se.

See, I enjoy both writing and reading my own poetry, and I’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback from other writers, which is has been incredibly heartening (thank you!).

The issue, rather, is that I have no interest in publishing a book that never sees the light of day. Let’s say I publish a book – how many people would buy it? 5? 50? 500? To be honest, it’s hard for me to imagine that 500 people would buy it – that seems like a stretch to me… but, for the sake of argument, let’s go with that number. That’s not especially successful.

The reality is that publishing a book with the intent to actually sell it requires a lot of promotion, with which I have no experience . The only people who know about my poetry are my friends, my family, and [some of] the WordPress poetry community. Those are the only people who would be interested in purchasing a book of my poems… and, honestly, people can find my poetry here – online at the Skeptic’s Kaddish. So what would the point of publishing be, exactly?


Conclusion: submit to poetry magazines

While I was busy cranking out poems for my 2021 #APoemADay challenge and responding to weekly d’Verse prompts, I had very little bandwidth do deal with other writing-related goals.

I’ve yet to submit any pieces for publication, but a lot of my fellow blogger-poets seem to be receiving warm welcomes at Spillwords.com… so perhaps I should start there. 🤷‍♂️

Should you have any advice in this arena, please let me know – I’m game to hear it!

68 thoughts on “What now? Getting published?”

  1. I think this is a worthwhile endeavor! It looks like you’ve already gotten advice around submissions and publishing considerations from others far more experienced.

    I’ll add one other thought: If considering publishing poetry outside the WordPress community, I think it would be worthwhile to get feedback from writers/poets/editors outside of WordPress as well. I think the WordPress poetry community is amazing for many reasons (inspirations, meeting incredibly talented writers/poets, encouragement, reading great work), and I’m happy I found it, however, I don’t think it’s the best forum for getting the writing critiques needed to revise and improve one’s poetry. I haven’t decided on my on my own goals for publication, but this is something I would do myself prior to publication.

  2. Gosh. It would be quite some volume should you choose to publish. As you say your writing at the moment is full of links etc and also comments and replies which makes it more interesting. And it’s available to everyone. I think you may want to do it later, perhaps when your child is older, but for now I would suggest you keep writing and exploring your style.
    I too have well meaning friends who say I should write a book. But I have no desire to write a novel- no ideas at all – but I enjoy writing in my haphazard way. Maybe one day my bits could be edited and sorted out thematically. But for now I am happy to be read and commented on. I feel that the blog gives me the opportunity to reach a slightly wider audience, and also the space to publish other bits of writing I may have done in the last sixty odd years!

  3. by all means spill your words David 😉 – I gather all those well-meaning voices your should publish don’t themselves have experience with publishing incl marketing a book? Personally, I would think all the obstacles you mention would be worth overcoming once you have a red thread, a theme underlying your posts – whatever it may be. Then you could think about marketing targeted, and all that. Best -,

  4. I can relate to your issues. I was looking online via friends’ blogs and might buy this book to boost my courage to publish my work: Firefly Magic: Heart Powered Marketing for Highly Sensitive Writers. If I do, I’ll let you know or maybe check it out yourself. Thanks for sharing! I really appreciate it.

  5. I’m with you in many respects. The biggest stumbling block for me is that many of the online publishers require that the poetry submitted NOT be published online in a blog. This makes it very difficult for me as I feel that much of my best work is already online. That restricts me to self publishing. I’m not so sure I want to go through the tedium to get things publication ready… so far.

  6. Let me begin with this, despite getting encouragement from the blogging community and my friends, I have come to the conclusion that everyone loves reading free poetry but no one likes to pay for it when all kinds of poems are available free online.

    Submit to various publications. Spillwords is a good place to start. They also publish poems already posted on your blog.

  7. That was quite an insightful write. I don’t think a poetry book is the best idea because like you said, it’s already available here but a book about your experiences with life, essays on dealing with grief, Jewish religious history and traditions and the like sound like they’d make for a great read!
    Most of my works were rejected by a majority of the journals mostly because they weren’t good. Most journals accept works that are amazing but also fall under the standards they usually publish. Spillwords however was welcoming! I think you should go for it – Spillwords and farther!

      1. The journals I submitted to had some truly brilliant works and from their point of view, mine would have come across as amateur, is what I meant. Good is subjective, I guess 😂

  8. I understand the insecurity that comes with writing. I have written several books that probably will never be published. I have the same fear they will get hung up somewhere on Amazon, and no one will read them after all the work. I write because it is as essential as breathing for me. I think a book about your blogging journey sounds interesting. It would help people dealing with grief. You could add your poetry in with your prose.

  9. Hi David,

    Most of us are insecure. However, most of us learn how to live with insecurities. Insecurities should not get in your way of acting.

    “Let’s say I publish a book – how many people would buy it? 5? 50? 500? To be honest, it’s hard for me to imagine that 500 people would buy it – that seems like a stretch to me… but, for the sake of argument, let’s go with that number. That’s not especially successful.” No, it is not, but it is how most people start. Your poetry is beautiful. You should start somewhere.

    Spillwords will definitely accept your work. I would be thrilled to publish you in MasticadoresUSA. I hope I can do a MasticadoresUSA anthology next year.

    David, if your goal is to sell 5000 – 10 000 you may not. Although you could.. I personally did not think like you. I published Passions – my first book of poetry – because the opportunity of publishing came my way (I got a publisher). I did not think how many books I am going to sell. That said, there are very few people that make money from poetry books. If you are not self-published part of the sales go to the publisher. If you are self-published you may sell less, although is not a given these days. Self-publishing is big today.

    Go for it! Submit! Publish!

  10. Another option, if you are not concerned about making money from it, is to simply publish as pdf that can be downloaded (for free) from your site. The pdf can contain hyperlinks back here or to anywhere. The document could also be formatted as an e-book for Kindle, etc. The WooCommerce plugin can get everything you need on your site for some e-commerce activities (whether you charge a small fee or make it free).

  11. It’s incredibly easy to format and publish a book on Amazon’s KDP program. Anyone can do it. Because it’s not in print, you can keep making changes and reuploading it, if you find errors. You can also include colors and links, as well as a playlist (it doesn’t play, but people can go to YouTube while they’re reading and paste in your suggestions). Probably you won’t sell much. Most don’t. But it’s still fun!

  12. Follow your heart, David! Spillwords have been very receptive of my work. I tend to avoid the more snooty literary magazines that don’t like rhyming poetry! Read a few and see if you can find those which would best suit your style.

  13. That seems a decent-enough analysis. One of my friends is some way along this road. They keep their ear to the ground and seem to respond to several prompts – poetry but also things like flash. It seems to be mostly misses but there have been some hits, including some that pay real money. But we’re talking a visit to Starbucks rather than to the Tesla garage, so it is still very much a labour of love. But just in terms of getting things published, it sounds like it’s snowballing. Out of this, they feel successful, I guess. Motivated enough to keep doing it, for sure.
    Not really my cup of tea, I’m new to this game and happy just to experiment for fun. If something doesn’t work I can put it down to experience.

  14. The fact that you have already put so much careful thought into the possibility, means that you have a good idea what is involved and the potentials of success or not. I think, and its only my opinion, that remaining rational and careful in your considerations you can and will decide on the route to take.

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