three new nanopress poetry publishing teams

Long-time readers of this blog will recall my obsessive focus on nanopress publishing, aka “alternative poetry publication, with gravitas.” In June 2011, after participating in two nanopress publishing teams as author myself, and after gaining multi-format publishing experience from the Whale Sound Audio Chapbooks project, I offered free publication legwork assistance to any poet/editor teams out there interested in establishing a nanopress (an offer which stills stands, by the way). Here’s the current working definition of a nanopress:

The nanopress is a single-publication, purpose-formed poetry press that brings together, on a one-time basis, an independent editor’s judgment and gravitas and a poet’s manuscript. The combination effectively by-passes both the poetry-contest gamble and the dwindling opportunities offered by existing poetry presses, while still applying credible ‘quality control’ measures to the published work.

More information on nanopress mechanics here.

To my infinite joy, two poet/editor teams took me up on my offer and one poet/editor team went ahead on its own. They are:

A Place Without Dust Nanopress published Lent / Elegies by Nicolette Bethel, edited by Sonia Farmer, in May 2012. Blog post by the author here.

Omeremo Nanopress published Omer/Teshuvah by Shifrah Tobacman, edited by Rachel Barenblat, in May 2012. Author’s note here and editor’s note here.

DNA Nanopress published Diagnostic Impressions by Dana Guthrie Martin, edited by Donna Vorreyer, in September 2011. Author’s note here and editor’s note here.

These three nanopresses joined the two that were already in existence, in which I participated, for a total of FIVE nanopresses out there. Woot! The other two are:

Broiled Fish & Honeycomb Nanopress published Dark And Like A Web: Brief Notes On and To the Divine by Nic Sebastian, edited by Beth Adams, in June 2011. Editor’s process note here; author’s note here.

Lordly Dish Nanopress published Forever Will End on Thursday by Nic Sebastian, edited by Jill Alexander Essbaum, in March 2011. Editor’s note here, author’s detailed process notes here.

In the coming weeks, Very Like A Whale will be featuring interviews with the newest three nanopress teams about their experience and its outcomes, and showing how each team adapted the nanopress model to suit their own preferences. Meanwhile, I wanted to share updated stats for the Dark and Like a Web and Forever Will End On Thursday projects (as I promised I would here). Note that marketing & promotion for these two books was done entirely online, via websites & Facebook/Twitter, and supported by some awesome online blurbers and reviewers. No live readings or in-person hard copy sales went into the process. This is where the numbers are as of now:

Title ‘Forever’ ‘Dark’
ebook downloads 338 251
PDF downloads 44 22
print purchases 21 25
Full MP3 downloads 19 8
CD purchase 3 3
Total copies obtained 425 309
Total website views 2,522 1,300

As I said previously, there is no way to tell whether obtaining the collection = actually reading the whole collection or even part of it – the same question one could ask concerning print copies sold – but still, the evidence indicates that 425 people in one case and 309 in the other obtained copies of the collections, presumably with the intention of reading them or listening to them.  (Note: These stats don’t count the number of people who might have read the collections on their respective websites, clicking through the individual poems.)

These are not bad numbers, when you consider that in the informal poetry books sales survey we did recently, 27% of respondents reported selling less than 100 copies of their book; about 50% reported sales of less than 200 copies; and 74% less than 500 copies.

Stay tuned for the upcoming interviews with the nanopress teams.

Previous blog posts on nanopress issues can be found here.

Published by

Nic Sebastian

Nic is the author of Forever Will End On Thursday and Dark And Like A Web. She founded the now-archived Whale Sound site and is co-founder of The Poetry Storehouse. Nic blogs at Very Like A Whale and Voice Alpha.

11 thoughts on “three new nanopress poetry publishing teams”

  1. NIck, I’m delighted to hear that three other teams picked up on your offer, and especially that there have been so many reads/downloads/purchases of your own works. It was a pleasure to work with you on Dark and Like a Web and I’m awfully glad that it has found an audience! I didn’t take your survey, but contrary to some of the results, what we’re finding at Phoenicia is just about zero sales of e0book versions, compared to the hard copies. However, if they were offered for free (which we can’t do with our model) I’m sure there would be hundreds. It’s a complicated issue for poets, and if total readership is their goal, then free downloads in various formats is clearly an excellent option. I hope no one has financial reward as a goal!! I do think for some titles, a physical book, beautifully designed and printed, is desired by people who collect poetry, but it all depends. Thanks for continuing to explore this question for all of us and best of luck with your future projects!

    1. Beth – lovely to hear from you and right back at you! ‘Dark and Like a Web’ was an intense and wonderful experience for me, thanks mainly to you and your awesomeness as an editor and collaborator. Yes, you are right, there really is a clear choice to be made. As we note at the nanopress site: Be clear why you are doing this: are you trying to make money by selling your poems, or are you trying to get your poems read as widely as possible? For poetry, given its unique nature and status in the ‘business’ world, the answer has to be one or the other, in my view, because the first objective, if present, seriously undermines the second. And yes, definitely a physical book is a wonderful thing – just, does it have to be the only thing? Multi-format publishing is the way to go, I say! Best, Nic

  2. Those are very good stats for poetry chapbooks. One other uncertainty, of course, is how much overlap there might be. In my case, I think I read both books online whilst listening to the mp3s… and waiting for the print versions to arrive in the mail.

    This is a model I may well imitate at some point, but I’d be tempted to hire a professional designer as well, which might mean I’d then add a small mark-up to the print versions to pay her back. At any rate, thanks for your pioneering work on this model!

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