Sunday, February 3, 2008

AWP and me. Or, have book, need markets

No, I didn't actually go to the biggest baddest literature conference happening in NYC this year. It was booked so early I couldn't get in, but on Saturday, the last day, the bookfair was open to the public.

The bookfair filled three huge floors of the Hilton. Apparently the first floor is usually clogged and tumbleweeds move freely on the third. To my delight, both the Alimentum and Marsh Hawk Press tables were facing each other on the second floor limbo. This facingness allowed me to move back and forth and eat chocolates placed to entice. I talked to Paulette, publisher of Alimentum, about designing a color insert of a heavily illustrated piece. Cool. Then back at MHP I talked to Sandy, our managing editor, about going to the AWP in Chicago next year. If I help run the table I can get a good chunk of my expenses covered.

I sold a copy of my book. I gave some copies away.

I walked around and handed out hot pink flyers advertising our book contest. I didn't have to look far for the hungry new MFA students. Barbara, who is the heart of the press, was endless energy presenting our books. Rochelle, who is not well, managed to be there every day and spent the afternoon telling our latest prize winner, Karin Randolph, how to promote herself and sell her book. I met people who felt like instant friends and hugged friends for an instant.

I found tables of publishers and writing programs that I love EVERYWHERE. Small Beer Press, A Public Space, Poetry, Tupelo, The Frost Place, Fairy Tale Review, Edward Tufte of the fascinating visual information books (the assistant says he likes to be called E.T.) and on and on. Tables and journals and books, oh my.

But all this muchness has a downside. It is now absolutely clear to me that more than enough poetry is published in the US. One could feel like a mere drop of sweat in an incredibly large bucket. Best not to think about that. One writes. Others write. Some are driven to publish and we thank them for it.

Best of all an agent and two publishers may be interested in helping to bring The Poets' Grimm (fairy tale poem anthology) back into print. Our publisher went out of business. Used copies are selling for $100 on Amazon and we get weekly emails from teachers and readers wanting the book. Have market, need books.

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