Thursday, 25 November 2010

Cocking a Chapbook Snook

A chapbook is a cheaply-printed pamphlet often regarded as a 'sampler' of a particular author's work. Chapbooks may feature essays, stories, poems or a mix of all three: they have a venerable history in the publishing world. My own first chapbook was issued in 1995 by an obscure outfit known as Wyrd Press and it consisted of fourteen short stories.

Since that time I have had a further five chapbooks published and I have always regarded them as worthwhile additions to my growing body of work. But lately I have been entertaining doubts about the wisdom of doing this. What value do they have really? Not much. True, I never gave them the same status as proper books: I always listed them separately in my bios. And yet I still listed them. The truth is that they don't deserve to be acknowledged in that manner. I have given up keeping a record of anthologies my stories appear in, so why should I persist in glorifying what are essentially just flimsy squares of stapled sheets? It seems perverse. I have thus decided to stop listing chapbooks among my publications. I will now acknowledge only my real books.

Another thing. Too many readers who have ordered copies of my three most recent chapbooks have complained that they never received them. Clearly there is a problem with the publishing house involved, Ghostwriter Publications. The chapbooks in question are: Madonna Park, Plutonian Parodies and The Fanny Fables. A so-called 'box set' of all three titles was also issued under the name Tempus Fugit. I do have a few spare copies left. So if you ordered any of these titles and didn't receive them, please email me ( and I'll send you what I've got left until it runs out.

I'm rather an easy-going chap. I rarely complain when publishers fail to pay me, issue books years late or fail to issue them at all, riddle my fiction with typographical errors, even spell my name wrong, etc. Life's too short to fret about such things. But when readers pay money for goods they never receive, I must draw the line. That's simply unacceptable. Therefore I have decided to officially break with Ghostwriter Publications and also turn my back on chapbooks in general. Why settle for something so spineless?


  1. I can assure you, Rhys, that the chapbooks issued under the Spectral Press imprint will be anything BUT 'cheap' or full of typographical errors - and I will ensure that whoever orders one or subscribes will get their copies within a week or two of requesting one or just after it gets printed. The last thing I want to be seen as is as a shyster... not all of us are so lackadaisical in their approach to things...

  2. Nice one, Simon. And yes, I know that you'll do things properly!