Sunday, March 23, 2008

Publication Laws and Practice

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I've found an informative and fun poetry blog called Poetic Asides. It is hosted by Writers Digest and written by poet Robert Lee Brewer. A post that especially caught my attention was one (authored by "Nancy") called Published is Published!

According to this post, any poem put on the web in any form, including via blog, is considered "published". It is therefore disqualified from most poetry contests and poetry book publication deals. However, it is considered not fully published but merely "self-published". It is thus disqualified from being cited as a published source in those contests or deals that require the author to be a published poet. In other words, any as-yet-unpublished poem I put on my blog will henceforward be good for nothing.

There was vigorous debate about this in the comments section of the post, and it emerged that the laws surrounding this policy are hazy and that there are editors and awards that make exception. But in general, published is published (wherever, however) is standard policy.

My reaction to this was two-fold: 1) This sucks. 2) Hurray! I am now (self)published. All the more reason to make this blog as brilliant as possible.

In general I think poetry, the poetry business, publication, and copy-right laws are at a formative and murky stage right now. It would be an interesting time to study publication and copy-right law. As it is, when I put a poem on this blog, and thus disqualify it in all sorts of ways, I think of another, more informal publishing rule I found in the book Putting Your Passion Into Print: Get Your Book Published Successfully! (I know, exciting title). It urges writers to be generous in giving away their published books, stating that for every book you give away, you end up selling three. Given that blogging is apparently a mass giving away of a poem, it would be nice if some similar return policy applied. I'm going to continue to test the theory.

However, I think I'll rein my poem blogging in a bit. Of the five projected poems I write a month, I'll blog two of them here, leaving three for other uses. This will push me to look for a wider range of topics for posts and ultimately provide more poem fuel.

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