FAQ (version 2.0, updated and posted December 29, 2018)
What's a chapbook? A chapbook is a short book (usually under fifty pages). It's designed, in many ways, as a "sampler platter" for a writer. In today's publishing world, chapbooks are most frequently associated with poetry, but they have a long history going back hundreds of years, and have been published in every genre. Poets often publish chapbooks as they are first starting out, but established poets also release chapbook work. The medium can be highly collectible and an excellent way for showcasing new work. For more information on the history of chapbooks as a form, take a look at this Wikipedia article.
Does Jane's Boy publish anything other than poetry? Currently, Jane's Boy Press does not consider genres other than poetry. However, as we continue to expand our editorial staff to include members who are well-versed in other areas, we intend to begin expanding our offerings into additional genres. Please check back in the future for submissions calls for fiction and non-fiction.
Does Jane's Boy only publish chapbooks? No. We have published both chapbooks and full-length poetry collections, and plan to expand into even more areas in the future. One of our current projects in the pipeline includes an anthology of poems with prompts for writers.
What are the books like? Our books are like any other trade paperback you purchase in a standard bookstore. While some chapbook publishers specialize in niche production techniques or hand crafted texts, we are more interested in making the poetry chapbook something available on a widespread basis. We consider it a viable and worthwhile form for introducing exciting poetry to the publicin an affordable fashion, therefore we prefer to produce standard, perfect bound trade paperbacks that can easily be mass produced and distributed, as well as stocked in fine bookstores. While we appreciate the care that goes into the process of creating handmade chapbooks, we also recognize that's not our strength.
Why do you charge a reading fee? Unfortunately, a reading fee is a reality of modern independent publishing, especially for a press that is just starting out. The money from a reading fee accomplishes several things
It covers the basic costs of operation.
It covers paying for outside editorial help when submissions become more than we can handle alone.
It pays for advertising to get competitive submissions.
It allows us to cover some of the basic fees associated with printing costs.
Additionally, a reading fee encourages submissions by people who truly believe in the quality of their work. A writer who is willing to pay a small fee to have their work considered for publication has at least some sense that their writing is deserving of that consideration. Additionally, many collegiate writing programs currently require their students to make submissions as a condition of completing coursework, which results in a flood of material that is not really ready for publication, but is being submitted in fulfillment of a class obligation. While we appreciate the need for student writers to get experience in the submission process, and we welcome submissions from writing students, we also want to make sure that the submissions we are receiving represent work that the writer firmly believes in and feels is ready.
Is Jane's Boy a vanity press? No. There is a major difference between a press that charges a reading fee and what is called a "vanity press." A vanity press accepts your money to publish your book. There is little to no editorial consideration in the process, and you are responsible for all of the marketing and production costs of the book when you work with a vanity press. Additionally, you accept the burden of selling your own books, and frequently you are required to purchase a certain quantity of them up front. The costs associated with submitting to our press, as detailed above, all go to operational fees, marketing, and compensating editors.
Can I hire you to give me feedback on a manuscript? While we would love to be able to offer that kind of service, at this time we do not have the staffing or resources to be able to perform consulting services. We do not, as a rule, provide feedback on submissions that we reject either. In some cases, when we see the potential in a manuscript that could make it publishable, though it is not quite there yet, we will offer feedback to the writer with the hope that they will take the advice under consideration and with the option to resubmit the work once it has been revised.
Are reading fees refundable? No. When you submit something to us for consideration, please be certain that it is at the point where you are confident enough to make the small investment to have it considered. If you publish it somewhere else before we have responded, we wish you the best of luck with your new publisher and hope that you will consider us in the future when making new submissions, but we still incur the service fees from our submission management service and the in-house time and effort that goes into reviewing the manuscript.
Are there conditions under which you will waive reading fees? At the moment, the only circumstances under which we waive a reading fee is in the rare instance where we have specifically invited a poet to submit a manuscript to us. These situations are usually based on prior relationships through journal publications or readings, or (more likely) are manuscripts we have already seen and rejected, but felt had a great deal of potential and offered comments on for suggested revision and improvements. In short, we already have a strong sense of the poet's work, and we are extending the opportunity to be considered without the reading fee because it is, once again, at our request. Poets who receive such invites are considered with the same scrutiny that all submissions receive, and an invite does not guarantee publication.
Do you accept simultaneous submissions? Yes. If your submission is accepted by another publisher, please notify us immediately so we can remove it from consideration. We will not refund the reading fee, but if you have another manuscript you would like to submit at that time, we will allow you to exchange it with your prior submission for the same reading fee. This applies only to those poets who have a second manuscript they would like to submit. It is not a coupon for submission at a later date. If you are pulling a manuscript from consideration and want to substitute a different one, please have that manuscript ready for submission within a day or two of notifying us that you are pulling the original from consideration.
Do you accept previously published work? Your manuscript may include work that has previously appeared in other journals, magazines, anthologies, or books (including e-publications), so long as you have retained the right to reprint them in another form. All work that is previously published must include acknowledgement of the prior publisher in the final, released book. This is frequently a condition of the initial publication of the piece when it was accepted by the prior publisher. You do not need to include these acknowledgements in your initial manuscript, as we will work with you to make sure they are included in the final published work if it is accepted. However, it can be helpful for us to understand the built-in audience for your work if you do include credits. We do not give different consideration to manuscripts that feature previously published work, however.
Do NOT submit manuscripts that have already been published by another publisher. In those cases, the rights of publication belong to the previous publisher, and we cannot accept your book. We will automatically reject any manuscript that we have accepted if it comes to our attention that it has already been published before.
Do NOT include any poems that have been previously published to which you do not have the rights for reproduction or publication. Most journals and other publications publish under First North American Serial rights, and the publication rights revert directly back to you upon publication. Some publications, however, do not work under this model, and you should not submit work to which you do not retain the rights. If you are in doubt as to whether you own the rights to your own work, contact the prior publisher to verify that the work still belongs to you.
What are the additional fees if my work is accepted? NONE. If your work is accepted, it is a sign that we believe strongly enough in it that we want it to be a representation of our press and that it has the potential to be successful enough to warrant the investment of our time, money, and resources into getting it out to the public. We will pay for all the setup costs and advertising. Additionally, if you are publishing a chapbook or full-length collection with us, you will receive a generous percentage of profits as your royalty payment, and, unlike many major presses, we will not deduct the costs for promotion and marketing from your royalties. When we accept your book, we are placing a vote of confidence in your work.
If my manuscript is accepted, will I receive an advance? No. At this point in time, we are unable to offer advances to writers. In the long run, this actually works in your favor, as advances are usually treated as a "loan," and the amount of that advance is deducted from your royalties until the full amount has been recouped by the publisher. If, for some reason, your book did not sell enough to recoup the initial payment you received, you would receive no royalties on the title (and sometimes publishers demand a refund of the money they did not recoup). Under our model, despite not receiving an advance, you will begin collecting royalties from the first copy that is sold.
How many manuscripts are you planning to publish? We do not set a quota on the number of manuscripts that we plan to publish. So long as resources are available, we hope to be able to publish every manuscript we receive that we feel is ready and meets our standards. While our original model had been to release a six-issue subscription series of chapbooks on an annual basis, we began receiving far more quality full-length manuscripts than we had expected, and now we have decided it is more important to worry about selecting the best work that we receive, without having a concern for fulfilling a pre-determined goal.
What kind of work are you looking for? Your best. This isn't a glib answer. While our personal bias may err toward poetry that is accessible and narrative in nature (and let's be very, very, very clear that "accessible" does not equal "dumbed-down"), what we really want is poetry that reaches us, makes us want to read it, makes it impossible to put down or walk away from it. This can come in all varieties of poetry, if the poet knows what s/he is doing. Send us a manuscript that represents your strongest work. It can be a collection of individual poems. It might be a selection of poems that, placed together, tells an overarching story. It may be an epic (OK, maybe we aren't so much in the market for epic poems, but if you think it's good enough to consider, then send it). If it moves us, grabs our attention, or even has a few lines in it that we find ourselves thinking about hours after we have stepped away from it, then you're likely to make the first cut.
What are you not looking for? Rote, by the book, formalism that exists simply to fulfill the standards of the form. Form can be fine, if done well, but it is increasingly done poorly. Avoid cliches. Avoid tortured extended metaphors that make absolutely no sense. Avoid the kind of poetry that "sounds pretty" but actually means nothing at all. Don't send us word salads, gibberish, or hackneyed attempts to make your grocery list look like it's somehow a profound statement on the universe. Yes, William Carlos William published a famous poem that was originally just a note to his wife apologizing for eating the last of their fruit. He wouldn't have published it with us. (With apologies to WCW, but it's not mean if it's true.)
How long will it be before there is a decision about my manuscript? We're a pretty small operation. We work as fast as we can, but we also have day jobs. Please be patient with us. We will read as quickly as we can, but we also want to make sure that we give everything a fair reading as well. Generally, expect that it will be six months before you receive a response. We'll aim for sooner. The exact time will be affected by the volume of submissions and the number of editors we have available to review. We have recently expanded the size of our editorial staff to try to make our response time shorter, but we are only human.
On the positive side, the longer you go without hearing from us, the longer you're in contention for publication. Any manuscript we accept will have gone through a longer process of evaluation as we select the absolute best of what we receive. If you haven't heard from us within a month or two, then that means you're definitely still in the running.
If you have not received a response from us after six months, feel free to contact us, but please do not contact us prior to six months lapsing. Time spent responding to emails is time taken away from reviewing manuscripts.
So what happens if I am rejected? We contact every person who submits to us. We will notify you either way, whether we accept your submission or not. If your submission is rejected, you may feel free to submit something new to us. In cases where we reject something either with great reluctance or in which we see real potential, we will offer a personalized rejection with suggestions for what you should do to improve the piece before re-submitting it. In those cases, the fee for submitting the revised piece will be waived, as it is considered an invitational submission.
And what if I'm accepted? Congratulations! Welcome to the Jane's Boy family. If your manuscript is accepted, we will work with you in the following months during the editorial process to make sure the finished product is as strong as possible. We will not make any changes to the manuscript that do not meet your approval. We will also consult with you about cover design. You will receive our standard publishing contract, dictating the terms of your relationship with us, our obligations to you with regards to compensation for your work, and other legal aspects of our relationship. Upon signing the contract, we will provide you with a projected date for official publication (the point at which the book will be available for distribution and sale). This date is tentative and can be affected by any issues that may present themselves in the editing or production processes. Generally, the projected release date will be within 6-18 months from the signing of the contract.
We will also ask you for an author photo for the book, and information so we can begin building your author page on our site. Each author we accept will be featured on our site on an individual page. We will include biographical information, links to your webpage and social media (at your discretion), any contact information you are willing to share with the general public (or, if you prefer, contact may be directed through us), links to where to buy your book, excerpts from the book you've published with us, and information on any prior publications. We want to do our best to promote you as an author in the process of promoting your book, and we will work with you to put your best foot forward through your author page.
Do I retain the rights to my work? The book will be copyrighted in your name, and you will retain the rights to all work that is included in it. Jane's Boy, however, will retain the right to publish that collection until such time that our contract is dissolved. You may include the poems in the book in future collections, anthologies, selected/collected works, or other forms, but you may not publish the same book on your own or with another publisher without our express, written permission or the dissolution of our contract. Should Jane's Boy Press cease to do business, all contracts will be dissolved, and what rights are retained by us will revert directly to you.
How are royalties paid? Royalties will be paid by check on an annual basis. Royalty payments will be calculated by the percentage of net profit on each unit sold as determined by the initial contract, multiplied by the number of units sold within that quarter. Net profit per unit refers to the sale price of the book minus the cost of production charged by our printer. If your contract awards you 50% of net profits on your title, and the book sells for $10.00 with a $2.00 production cost, then the net profit is $8.00, and your royalty per unit is $4.00. If you sold four hundred units within the quarter, then your royalty payment would be $400.00. It is your responsibility to keep a current mailing address on file with us to receive your royalty checks.
Where does the share of profits go that I do not receive in royalties? These funds go back to the press to cover operational costs, salaries for work for hire employees (additional editors, graphic designers, marketing personnel, accounting, etc.), promotional and marketing expenses, and other costs associated with press business. Unlike some major publishers, we will not deduct the costs for marketing from your royalty payments. Those costs will be taken from our own profits, as well as from the reading fees that we collect from ongoing submissions. Any remaining funds will count as profits for the press itself. While we do hope to make money from our operations, our most important goal is finding new and emerging poets and bringing their work to the public. So long as we can keep operations running, we consider ourselves financially successful.
So what are the actual royalty rates? Our current royalty rate is 40%. Any future adjustments to royalty rates will not affect any book that is already under contract to us--the royalty rate promised in your contract is the royalty that you will continue to receive under your contract.
Do you pay for author tours? Right now, no. In the coming years, as we hopefully develop a better economic footing and can afford to budget for travel and appearances, we will hopefully be able to sponsor or at least defer some of the costs for author tours.
What other benefits can I expect from publishing with Jane's Boy? Good question:
Your book is out there. You have a publication credit. You've started building a reputation.
We pay for advertising and some other promotional costs, such as review copies.
We provide you with an initial order of author copies to use as you see fit. Gift them to relatives and friends. Donate them to libraries. Sell them at readings. The choice is yours. This initial allotment of free copies will be specified in your contract.
Additional author copies are available through us at a reduced price. If you are touring or doing readings and need more copies to sell at your merchandise table, you can purchase them through us at the lowest price available, ensuring that you can sell them at list price and still make your standard royalty from each copy.
Having a book already published with a press may make you more marketable in the eyes of larger publishers. We fully expect (in fact hope) that our authors will move on to larger publishers as opportunities present themselves, and we hope to be able to do our best to promote them in ways that allow them to build solid careers. As a start-up press working to build its reputation, your success is just as integral to us and our continued ability to do business as ours is to your ability to get your book out there and in the hands of readers.
Publication credits with Jane's Boy may also satisfy professional requirements for consideration for tenure and promotion at some colleges and universities, depending on the institution's criteria.