Writing Workshops, Retreats, Mentoring

Poetry Chapbook Self-Publishing Workshop


You could be holding your book of poetry in your hands by Christmas!


One of the most satisfying moments for new poets is the first time they see their poems published, but in today’s highly commercialized market there are so few traditional opportunities for publication. If poets want their poems published in book form, self-publishing poetry is not just considered acceptable–it is the norm.

The most commonly recognized format for an emerging poet is the chapbook. It is economical and easy to create, but certain fundamental skills are needed to prepare and print this important first publication.

The Whitchurch-Stouffville Public Library has partnered with micropress publisher and poet James Dewar to present a two-part series that will guide emerging poets through the process of publishing their poetry for the first time.

DATES: September 22 & November 3, 2012
TIME each day: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm (1-hour lunch)
This workshop is presented in two Saturday installments, 6 weeks apart

LOCATION: Royal Canadian Legion
150 Mostar Street, Stouffville

Click here to read kudos from former students of this workshop.



Essential Self-Publishing Skills for Poets

On the first day, the instructor will lead the group through the poem selection and book design process:

Part One:

  • What is poetry?
  • What are the different types of poems?
  • How do you know if a poem is working?
  • How do you decide which poems to put in your chapbook?

Part Two:

  • What is a chapbook?
  • What is the difference between perfect bound, stapled and other formats?
  • What are the basic elements of a professional-looking book?
  • How are the first, last, middle and other poems selected?
  • How is the ideal title chosen?

The instructor will finish with a discussion about front and back cover designs (a template will be provided).

A copy of the “Microsoft Word Poetry Chapbook Template” will also be handed out, but participants will not receive detailed instructions until the second workshop.

During the 6 weeks after the first workshop, participants will be required to perform three important functions:

  1. Choose the poems they will be including in the book, and revisit/review them using the editing techniques covered in the first workshop.
  2. Decide on the order of the poems.
  3. Choose an image for the cover and create the chapbook cover using the template provided by the instructor.


WORKSHOP TWO: (November 3rd)

Preparing Your Chapbook for Printing

Part One:

Using examples, the instructor will explain how poems are placed into the Microsoft Word Poetry Chapbook template and guide poets through these stages:

  • essential elements of aesthetic page design
  • layout fundamentals
  • inserting page numbers and excluding them from blank pages
  • headers and footer options
  • solving the problem of section breaks
  • obtaining ISBN numbers and pricing barcodes for the cover

Part Two:

Participants will spend the day designing and laying out their chapbooks with the assistance of the instructor. At the conclusion of this second workshop, each poet will have:

  • A professional looking poetry chapbook interior file (READY TO PRINT)
  • A professional looking, beautiful chapbook cover file (READY TO PRINT)
  • A chapbook template they can use for future poetry chapbook publications.
  • The skills needed to create additional print-ready manuscripts and book covers.
  • The option to have their chapbooks printed. The presenter has access to low-cost, low print run options.
  • Poets could have copies of their books printed in time for the holidays.
  • Tips on how to sell chapbooks.

Click here to read kudos from former students of this workshop.


In order to produce a Poetry chapbook, each participant must bring a laptop computer with Microsoft Word installed on it. The instructor is available to discuss this in advance of the workshops if you have questions.

Each participant should bring a minimum of 20 poems in Microsoft Word or other text formats to both workshops. Participants may also bring printed copies of their poems to the first workshop to simplify the process of choosing and ordering the poems.

Note: programs may be cancelled due to insufficient registration so please register early.