Written by A Guest Author July 1st, 2021

How to Self-Publish a Chapbook

By Trish Hopkinson

Chapbooks are a short collections of poetry or prose, typically 20 to 50 pages in length. They are sometimes referred to as pamphlets or booklets. Shorter still are micro-chapbooks, usually less than 10 pages in length. Traditionally published chapbooks often have a consistent theme where the poems or short prose pieces are connected in a specific way to create a cohesive collection. For example, my first self-published chapbook was a collaboration of my poems with my children’s artwork, my second was published for a 30 poems in 30 days contest, and my third was a collection of response poems.

There are benefits to self-publishing a chapbook to promote your work, whether you intend to traditionally publish in the future or not. Some benefits include a much quicker turnaround time, the ability to print as many as you need or can sell, and complete creative control. Keep in mind that once you self-publish a collection, most presses will not accept submissions of the exact same collection, since it is now considered previously published. 

To self-publish your own chapbook, you can create your own at home with a printer, have it printed at a copy shop or commercial printer, publish it electronically online on your own blog or web site in-page or as a downloadable PDF, or use a free digital publishing platform, such as Issuu or Flipsnack.

You can also create your chapbook using software (Word, Google Docs, etc.) and then have a local copy shop print and staple them. You can purchase your own saddle stapler that allows you to do your own saddle staples and print copies at home on an inkjet printer.

If you prefer to sell your books on Amazon or other store websites, there are several publishers who specialize in on-demand and other self-publishing. Keep in mind these are not vanity presses, who may charge you much more to “publish” your book. This is a great article on self-publishing with a list and links: 12 Best Self-Publishing Companies.

If you need help putting together your chapbook file to print some yourself or to have them printed, check out these helpful sites:

Lastly, if you do want to submit to a press to get your chapbook published instead of self-publishing, note that most chapbooks are published by presses via contests and do typically require a fee of $10 – $25. Research each market thoroughly and make sure submitting is worth the fee. Many will provide prize money along with several copies of the chapbook for you to sell and otherwise promote your work. Click here for my list of 20 NO FEE Chapbook Publishers.

The Poetry Society of America provides a list of Chapbook Publishers on their Resources page with links and Writer’s Relief has tips on how to win a poetry chapbook contest.

Read more about chapbooks

Bio: Trish Hopkinson is a poet, blogger, and advocate for the literary arts. You can find her online at SelfishPoet.com where she shares submission calls and publication tips. She resides in Utah, where she runs the nonprofit group Rock Canyon Poets and curates the Poetry Happens series for KRCL 90.9 FM.



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