|The Our Lost Jungle Chapbook Challenge: Join In!|
But there’s one question we have to answer before we even think of getting started: What exactly is a chapbook?
A chapbook is, very basically, defined as a short collection of work that is generally focused on one “central theme.” The way we differentiate between a “collection” and a “chapbook” varies from publisher to publisher and writer to writer, but here are some generalized points:
40 Pages: Just because it’s a short collection doesn’t mean it’s … well, short! Chapbooks are usually considered collections of less than or up to 40 pages. Generally, contests or publishers looking for chapbooks will set a page limit of between 20-40 pages. For poetry, this might mean up to 40 poems, with one per page. For fiction or creative nonfiction, it could be a short “portfolio” of work totaling no more than 40 pages.
Themed: While just about any publication could be said to have a “central theme,” chapbooks tend to be a bit more narrowly focused. In a full-length poetry collection, for example, a poet may cover several different themes or topics in the different sections of the book. In a chapbook, a poet may select just one theme that all the poems must relate to in order for inclusion.
“Self-Published”?: This can be a nitpicky generalization of chapbook “features,” but chapbooks tend to involve more self-published traffic. For one thing, they tend to be cheaper to produce than full-length collections or works. Chapbooks make for a great, inexpensive way to get your work out there without waiting for someone else to snatch it up. Where claiming this as a typical feature of chapbooks gets tricky, though, is in the fact that more and more publishers are looking for chapbooks, or offering chapbook contests.
“pu pu chapbook”?
Some writers consider a chapbook a “sampling” of their work. While this is sometimes true, it’s a use of terminology that we may want to be wary off. Viewing a chapbook as a “sampling” leaves some readers thinking of it as the Pu-Pu platter of the publishing world. Really, a chapbook is more like a model bedroom in a model house: just because it’s a smaller sample of a larger body of work doesn’t mean it should be out of order!
a word on formatting
The formatting of a chapbook is not unlike the formatting of a full-length collection. During this challenge we’ll look at a chapbook’s structure using an “emperor’s clothes” model. No, our chapbooks won’t be strutting around au natural. We will, however, look at three essential parts of a chapbook’s structure: the “crown” (beginning), the “robes” (middle), and the “slippers” (end).
When it comes to publishing a chapbook, there are many ways writers choose to go about it. To go back to the self-publishing point, some writers take self-publishing to the max by literally putting their books together themselves! A chapbook can be a saddle-stitched book or a DIY project bound with ribbon.
We’ll take a look at formatting chapbooks for publication through more traditional outlets (contests, publishers, etc.) during the last week of February, including formatting a table of contents, the importance of proofreading, and more.
Folks who read Our Lost Jungle regularly know that most posts end with a “Your Turn” section asking you a question. Today, before we get to that, I’m giving you a small task … Rummage.
This weekend is the time to start finding all your work. Scour your desktop. Search through your drawers. Head to the attic and find that box of writing you never unpacked! Flip through notebooks for pieces you started but never finished, and start finishing them! You don’t have to organize them … just get them gathered and consolidated either in a writing file on your computer, a stack (or box) on or near your desk, or some combination thereof!
To get us all tuning our brains for the coming month, here’s a question for you: What are you most, and/or least, looking forward to in this challenge? Getting organized? Developing a collection? Revising some work? Finalizing a current book project? Whatever it is, feel free to share it in the comments below!
Want to stay connected? I invite you to connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Please also sign up for the free email updates from Our Lost Jungle!
Join in the Our Lost Jungle Chapbook ("CB") Challenge!