Main Street Rag's
Authors' Choice Chapbook Series
BACK ALLEY / BOOKSTORE / CONTESTS / EDITOR'S COMMENTS / ESSAYS /
EVENTS / FICTION / INTERVIEWS / GALLERY / POETRY / REVIEWS / SUBMISSIONS
Purpose / Guidelines / Selection Main Street Rag, PO BOX 690100, Charlotte, NC 28227-7001
704-573-2516, contact us
Our goal with The Authors' Choice Chapbook Series is to help get new/emerging poets into print in an affordable way. This does not mean we won't publish manuscripts from established poets in this format, but this format will have restrictions that may not appeal to more established authors. Mostly it's production limitations that can be found below in the Guidelines Section.
In order to keep the costs down, we needed to go back to basics the way the term, Chapbook, for instance, goes back to Old English meaning Cheap Book. We're not going back to the old folio idea of a folded sheet that can be stuffed into a pocket, but we did decide to use uniform cover and inside stocks and restrict design elements. This is a back-to-basics production: black ink only on the cover, black and white throughout. The only upgrade from the standard chapbook of as recently as the 90s is that we will continue to use perfect binding (as opposed to saddle-stitching).
These books will be produced in limited runs and, as a result, most will not have long enough print runs to justify making them available for distribution. The majority of the sales for these titles will be generated via the internet from the MSR Online Bookstore and will likely have runs of less than 250--less than 50 copies of which will be kept on the MSR bookshelf for post-production sales.
This format is best suited for those who are regular participants in open mikes, reading events and/or workshops and want to have an inexpensive sample of their work to sell to other participants. It's a good forum for a poet who wants to share his or her work with family and friends and is computer savvy enough to promote the product that way. It is not a format designed for those seeking bookstore distribution.
Main Street Rag is approached daily by people who would like to have us publish a book for them, but do not want to enter one of our contests. Often times they have seen or purchased one of our books or know one of our authors and decide that this is the place where they want to be published. Unfortunately, we simply cannot read or pay someone to read all of the unsolicited manuscripts that would come our way if we opened ourselves up to considering everything that was or could be sent our way. So, we posted an alternative on our Publishing Options page: a reading fee.
This was also less than satisfactory for some authors. Then it occurred to me: most poets selected us because they had seen something we published or knew someone we had published--many of whom are editors--why not put them to work for us? Thus the title: The Authors' Choice Chapbook Series.
Main Street Rag is like a family. When we choose readers to judge our poetry contests, the first people we ask are previous winners and poets whose books we published in the past. Doing so creates a comfort level that the judge is in tune with the type of work Main Street Rag is looking for. So, to open up the opportunity to recommend a manuscript to ALL of our authors, is just an extension of how we like to keep things in the family.
In most cases, we expect the author we've already published to contact us regarding a particular person and/or manuscript. As stated above, many of our authors are professional editors, teachers and workshop leaders. As such, they have opportunities to read other peoples' manuscripts. The Authors' Choice Chapbook Series allows them to increase their range of services. Now, not only can they offer editing service, but they can offer the chance for publication at the end of that service.
Any poet who knows one of our authors is welcome to ask them to read their manuscript and recommend it (according to Guideline #6 below). It is our author's option whether they want to charge a reading fee for this service, but it is totally up to that individual author and should be paid directly to him or her. I suspect many of our authors will read and recommend manuscripts for free, but--again--it is up to them.
Let's also be clear on something else: This is a recommendation. We expect to publish between 20 and 40 manuscripts each year through this process, but we have no idea how many we will see. We may need to limit based on volume alone. Final decisions for all selections will be made by MSR Managing Editor, M. Scott Douglass.
1) Chapbooks ONLY. That means total page count--including title page, copyright, acknowledgments page, TOC, dedication, and blank pages--is targeted for 36-48 pages. For this series we will not exceed 52 total pages, nor will we publish collections that are smaller than 32 pages.
2) Basic cover: Black ink only. May be as basic as title and author's name, but we will allow line art (pen sketches) or grayscale artwork or photos. Cover stock will be the same throughout this series: 80# cream card. If an author wants artwork on the cover, it should be presented along with the manuscript. Otherwise... title and author's name.
3) Limited print run. This is a one-shot--a single print run--the length of which will be determined on the basis of advance orders. We will post it on our website for advance sale at half cover price. That will also be the author's discount price, so if she/he wants copies, they can order from the website. Publication will occur after 6-8 weeks of advance sales. Length of the print run will be determined mathematically using the following formula:
A (Advance Sales) + B (Author Advance Order) + (author's 10 freebies) + (10 review copies) + MSR copies for sale (as much as 20% of A + B, but no less than 25 copies).
Example: Assume MSR sells 20 advance copies online and the author orders 25. The formula would look like so:
20 + 25 + 10 + 10 + (20% of 45) = 74.
But because 20% of A + B is only 9 and the minimum we will keep for ourselves is 25, the actual print run will be 90.
This formula is significant to this series since we will not issue an ISBN number to any book that does not have a print run of at least 100 copies. For the example above, a 90-copy print run, MSR would not issue an ISBN.
4) Cover Price. Our objective is to keep this series inexpensive. To that end, the cover price will be $8 and copies of these books will only be available directly from Main Street Rag. They will not be listed with a distributor and we will only sell it while we have copies. Once our copies are gone, the title will no longer be available. Believe it or not, this limited print run is what may make these titles valuable as collectibles some day down the road.
5) Royalties. No royalties will be paid on the copies MSR has to sell (since we will keep so few). If the author wants to make money on the book, he/she will have to do it by hustling his or her own copies at readings. This is a benefit/byproduct of low-cost and limited runs.
6) Selecting Author. The selecting author must have had a book published by Main Street Rag--preferrably a poetry book since this is a poetry series--and will be required to write a 100-150 word blurb for the back cover that explains why he or she selected the manuscript for publication. It will be the only blurb to appear on the book. The recommending author may also be asked to proof the galley prior to publication. His or her recommendation and blurb should accompany the manuscript submission. Submissions are by EMAIL ONLY as RTF files and should be submitted to: email@example.com