A conversation in the pub the other day led – as these things often do – to an idea that has invaded and pervaded my brain. Poets, you see, are creative in any number of ways, and Chris Bainbridge (who’s book The Bride Wore Blue I have just produced and had to order another hundred copies of due to it’s popularity) and Eve Nortley (who’s book Geek Speak I will be producing later in the year) are collaborating.
This talented pair are going to be putting together a book called Love and Lust in Bury and Rochdale; a silly, clever, beautiful body of work that will be available in time for valentines day, 2017. They are also talking about running a poetry workshop here in sunny Manchester, well, Bury. The pub plan is for an afternoon workshop resulting in a poetry book that will include the work of all participants. It would be professionally produced and have an ISBN etc and everyone who attends the workshop would get 15 copies to distribute among friends and family or at poetry events etc.
Well it’s 2 days later and I’ve fallen quite inappropriately in love with the idea. I’ve run a poetry workshop before and absolutely loved it, but organizing and finding the attendees was not something I was any good at so I only did the one. It was fun though. And the flyer ran like this:
“Micro publisher Emma K Lea will be running a poetry for publication workshop in association with Reading Room Café Project Publishing.
The workshop will be three hours long with a half hour break and will result in a book of poetry containing five poems from each poet in attendance, which you will receive 15 copies of.
We will cover writing poems to a theme, Working in collaboration and the various tools available for collaborative work, Entering your work into competitions and how spot scam competitions, Writing intros and bios for books, Approaching larger publishers, Performing your work, We will also try to cover any questions people in the group might have about writing poetry for publication.
£30 for 3 hours and 15 copies of your book
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details
What you need to bring:
At least 7 poems that you’ve written, Pen, Paper, Tea/ beer money for the tea break
What happens in the workshop:
You can expect to write notes as well as some new poems. You’ll receive instruction and constructive criticism (only if requested, Emma’s not a monster!)
What happens after the workshop:
Poems that you’ve brought with you and written will be collected in. You will have a week to submit any other poems that you feel might be suitable/ you have written since the workshop. Emma will choose 5 poems from each writer to be included in the book. Within a month of the workshop your 15 copies of the book will be available for collection.”
It was fantastic fun! Over night other ideas broke into my brain. I could run flash fiction workshops too. The ideas in my brain began to swim and swirl. I could do one on novels. Novels, though, would need more time. I could run a year long course. It would be once a month for 4 hours on a Sunday.
And as I slept the seed, once planted, grew -thriving in the quiet of slumber. If I had a class of 10-15 we would be able to look at cross promotion. My mind began to race as the ideas flowed. It would run October to September so that the books and promotion would be out in time for Christmas. The first session would be about planning the book, but also long term planning the launch, supporting each other and promoting each other. They would each interview someone else in the group. Everyone’s homework would be to set up a blog and every month they would publish an interview with another writer from he group, a review of a book that they were reading or had read, an update of their own writing process and an excerpt from their book. That’s at least one blog post a week. 10 writers all blogging about each other and sharing their skills. And there’d be a forum. A forum that I’d set up for them to chat about their work and the course and to share information and ideas. It would be expensive at £100 a month, but that would include 250 copies of their book, an ISBN and 200 promotional postcards well. In fact, if they sold all of their copies they would be in profit from the course, 250 x £5.99=1497.50, so they’d be up almost £300.
The second to last session would be talking about final edits, choosing covers and interviewing everyone. Everyone would have a copy of everyone else’s chosen cover and an interview to put out on their blog in anticipation of the launch.
The final session would be about contacting papers, distributors, shops, setting up co-operatives of their own, printing costs and selling online. It would be buzzing with tension and anticipation. Then I’d hand out their boxes of books and surprise them all with 20 posters each promoting their books that they would be able to send out with their books.
I woke up feeling elated. I could do that. It would work. Everyone would be getting a good deal out of it, too. I would have to find the students, though. That is not my strong suit.