Monday, September 26, 2011

FREE Tarot Reading or Dream Interpretation Offer


Buy any *two* No Tell Books titles between now and Sunday, October 2, 2010 and receive a FREE tarot reading or dream interpretation! (One free reading or interpretation per customer)

If you buy two No Tell titles during this timeframe, not only do you receive stellar collections of poetry, you also receive FREE PSYCHIC ADVICE from me, poet and editor, Reb Livingston. This psychic advice will be dispensed via either a tarot reading or dream interpretation. BUT WAIT, THAT’S NOT ALL, if I receive any clairvoyant snippets while I’m doing your reading or interpretation, I will share them with you AT NO EXTRA COST.

Psychic Qualification Statement: The first thing I ever shoplifted was a deck of tarot cards from Spencer Gifts. I was in 8th grade. The tarot cards called out and asked for me to take them. While I own several decks of tarot cards, I still use my original, thieved deck because it is the BEST. As a child I was harassed by a civil war era ghost (same ghost that harassed my grandmother, supposedly all he wanted was to “talk,” whatever, jerk) and I informed my mother about her friend’s miscarriage hours before she received the call with the news. Who wants to hang around a ghost-seeing, miscarriage-knowing little kid? NOBODY. So like any creepy kid who wants to be loved and accepted, I turned my back on these abilities and lost them. Now, like every middle-aged bozo, I’m searching for meaning, purpose and spirituality. Three years ago I made the conscious decision to reconnect with that weird little girl and last year it happened! She appeared to me in a dream--a tiny, deformed creature living in a robotic Alice in Wonderland-looking body. She was sad and freaky and I am totally embracing her. TOGETHER, HUMANOID ALICE & I WILL SHINE A LIGHT ON AND GUIDE YOU TO YOUR TRUE PATH.

For over three years I have been tracking and interpreting dreams. Aside from my own dreams, I’ve interpreted the dreams of friends, family members and great poets such as Jill Alexander Essbaum, Hoa Nguyen, Rauan Klassnik, Bruce Covey as well as a slew of Facebookers! I’ve read a number of books by C.G. Jung, Marie Von Franz and other accomplished Jungian thinkers.

But don't just take my word for it, read these testimonials from those who previously took advantage of this amazing offer:

"Spooky dead-on, and incredibly specific." -Nicole Mauro

"A generous and thought-provoking reading." -Peg Duthie

"This is vision. Pure. Sugar. Simple. Over the years I've had several readings by Reb, but last year was the stinger. Told me not only what I wanted to know. Told me what I needed to keep alive. Told me it was time again to check the newbees buzzing from the No Tell hive. Told me it was time again to put the honey where my mouth is."-PF Potvin

"I was completely inspired by my tarot reading to continue in the new direction I'd been thinking of moving toward in my writing. And the books I purchased from No Tell Books are ones I will return to again and again for their poems' captivating voices." -Bernadette Geyer

"I don't know from psychic veracity--if you handed me an oak leaf I could see in it whatever you said to me as you did--but I did enjoy the tarot card reading, it's like someone's writing a poem about you and when is that ever not fun? The funny thing is, Reb, and No Tell Books, is all about one person using her will to make happen what she wants to happen, as opposed to passively looking for portents and fortuitous moments to do what the portents tell her to. Reb Livingston is imaginative enough to make anything work; she has an amazing will-to-power, and it shows in both her editorial as well as prestidigitory focus. So try a reading, and you get to try both. Pretty cool deal, I think."" -Stuart Greenhouse

"I took advantage of Reb Livingston's offer of a Tarot reading in return for purchasing a book from No Tell Motel, and I recommend that others take advantage of it too! The reading was extensive and detailed--clearly more time and thought had gone into it than a lot of people put into, well, writing a poem. For that matter, the reading resonated with me more than most poems do too. As a bonus it was an excuse for me to get Rebecca Loudon's terrific book Cadaver Dogs!"-Robert Thomas


1. Buy two (2) NTB titles between now and Sunday, October 2, 2011 While it is preferred that you purchase directly from Lulu or take advantage of NTB's 2 for $20 deal, the purchase of two new titles from any retail outlet or store will suffice. Purchasing Reb’s Your Ten Favorite Words (Coconut Books) qualifies as well and can be ordered via the 2 for $20 deal, as well as retail outlets.

2. Forward the receipt (proof of purchase) to reb(at)notellbooks(dot)org. If you purchase the books via a brick and mortar store, send a jpg of the receipt. Lulu & other retail outlets do not share customer information and my psychic abilities are not THAT powerful. Yet. The only way I will know that you purchased a book is if you forward your receipt to me.

I will contact you within 24 hours with directions on how to receive your FREE tarot reading or dream interpretation.

Time of delivery of reading or interpretation will depend on the number of book sales. If we sell 100 books (oh goddesses, please let us sell 100 books), it may take a little while to receive your FREE reading or interpretation. If we sell 2 books, you’ll hear from me pretty quickly.

One reading or interpretation per customer.

All readings and interpretations will be communicated over email.

Sorry, books purchased at earlier dates do not qualify for this offer.

Sorry, the purchase of used books does not qualify for this offer. We're glad you're interested in the books, but this offer is a fundraiser for the press and we do not receive a penny from used book sales.

This Week at No Tell Motel

Joseph Ross creates an arching tombstone this week at No Tell Motel.

Monday, September 19, 2011

This Week at No Tell Motel

Alice B. Fogel thinks you are what you are made of or what you make of that this week at No Tell Motel.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

In Your Ear Presents Lea Graham and Reb Livingston

DC Arts Center
2438 18th Street NW
Washington, District of Columbia

Please join the In Your Ear Reading Series for a reading by Lea Graham and Reb Livingston at 3PM on Sunday, September 18, 2011.

Lea Graham’s first book, Hough & Helix & Where & Here & You, You, You is just out from No Tell Books. She is also the author of the chapbook, Calendar Girls (above ground press, 2006). Her poems, collaborations, reviews and articles have been published in journals and anthologies such as American Letters & Commentary, The Bedside Guide to No Tell Motel: Second Floor, Notre Dame Review and The Capilano Review. Her translations are forthcoming in The Alteration of Silence: Recent Chilean Poetry through the University of New Orleans Press. She is Assistant Professor of English at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York, and a native of Northwest Arkansas.

Reb Livingston is the author of God Damsel (No Tell Books, 2010) and Your Ten Favorite Words (Coconut Books, 2007). She's the co-editor of The Bedside Guide to No Tell Motel anthology series, the publisher of No Tell Books and the editor of the soon-to-be-closed-for-business No Tell Motel. She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and son.

Admission is $5.00.

Monday, September 12, 2011

This Week at No Tell Motel

Lee Ann Roripaugh bells down around you like a cool white jellyfish this week at No Tell Motel.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

the ease of selling poetry books

Some have focused on my following statement as being defeatist or having a bad attitude in regard to poetry's potential:

Gatza states, "In general, books by new authors sell around 25 - 30 copies." Shocking? Only if you don't know the first thing about poetry publishing.

Let me explain. Poetry collections categorized as "avant garde" or "experimental" written by less known poets tend not to sell a great deal of copies. Probably less than poetry collections categorized as "mainstream" by less known poets. The reasons are multiple. Some may argue that these types of books lack "accessibility" and "appeal" -- I don't know if I agree with that, but I throw that out there as one possible reason. I do believe that this perception does carry a great deal of influence in promotional opportunities a book may receive. These types of books by less known poets are very rarely reviewed in places that have a substantial readership, if anywhere at all. They're also less likely to be taught in college courses (course adoptions are a significant percentage of NTB's sales). Libraries are less likely to order books by new and unknown poets. Few bookstores shelve them. Word of mouth is limited.

Also, a significant factor in how well a book sells is based on how successful the author is at promoting it. Truth is, many poets with first books don't fully grasp this. Or often they don't know how to promote effectively. I recall one NTB author pursuing his hometown bookstore for months, trying to get the owner to order his book. After several months, this author got a local newspaper to write an article about a local poet making it good and how people could find his book at this bookstore. Finally this bookstore owner felt compelled and grudgingly ordered 5 copies, while complaining to me how persistent my author was. That was a lot of work to sell 5 copies. Probably not the best investment of his time.

Sometimes authors are limited (just like publishers) in what they can do. Many authors have financial limitations, job and/or family commitments that restrict travel. Some authors are shy or have difficulties in social situations. Some authors have medical reasons that limit how much promotion they can do. There are NTB authors who fit into each of these categories.

Sales certainly have some level of importance to me as a publisher because I can't continue doing what I do if I don't recoup at least some of my expenses. Also, I want as many readers as possible for my authors, as I do for my own work -- let us not forget that pretty much ALL POETRY PUBLISHERS ARE POETS. But when I consider manuscripts, I don't take into consideration sales potential. If I did that, I wouldn't have published any of the titles I have. The reason the majority of poetry today is published by small presses is because it has little sales potential. Else bigger, for-profit presses would publish more and would take chances on unknown poets writing weird poems.

Do I think 25-30 sales to be in any way impressive? No. Those are low numbers by any standard, even poetry. Do I think those same titles have the potential to sell more than that? Yes, in most cases they probably do. So let me phrase it this way:

Do I find it shocking that a book from an unpopular genre, written in what some perceive to be a less popular style of that unpopular genre, written by an inexperienced, unknown author and published by a low-profile, small press with limited means only sold 25-30 copies for the press?

No, not at all.

Because I know how difficult it is to sell poetry books. As both a publisher and an author. Sure, I've had instance where it was easy to sell some books, but most times, it is not. Not in substantial numbers. I've published 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th collections by poets with NEA and Stegner fellowships, whose earlier titles won national awards, who teach at universities, who've been published in some of the "biggest" and most "prestigious" poetry publications out there. It's still really difficult. It's still a great deal of work. I'm sorry if that bums you out or bursts your bubble but maybe this is something you need to hear.

I'm not saying that as a publisher I've done everything right (I haven't) or that there isn't plenty more for me to learn (there is). But don't blame low poetry sales on the only people out there making poetry books happen at all. If you have ideas, by all means implement and share them. Do the job better, if you can, but please stop calling poetry publishers the problem even though, admittedly, it's true that there wouldn't be a low book sales "problem" if we didn't exist.

No books, no problems!


Reb Livingston
Editor & Publisher of No Tell Books

Monday, September 5, 2011

No Tell Books Supports BlazeVOX

Yesterday a post with the sensational headline BlazeVOX Goes Vanity Press? appeared at HTLMGIANT. It generated a stream of criticism in the comment field and prompted this explanation from BlazeVOX publisher, Geoffrey Gatza and a few hours later, this announcement stating he will be closing the press at the end of the year. (Update: after this article was posted, Geoffrey Gatza announced he would not be shutting down BlazeVOX.)

Publishing poetry is a thankless job. What begins as a labor of love can often sour rather quickly. Despite technological advances, such as print-on-demand, publishing books still cost money, supporting and promoting books, even creatively and with a shoe-string budget, costs money. Very few people, including poets looking to be published, buy many poetry books. If I sold anywhere near the number of books that I receive as submissions, No Tell Books would be making a small profit. No Tell Books is not making a small profit. When all the costs are put together (including printing, postage, author copies, review copies, design, proofreading, holding reading events, advertising, travel and costs to participate in book fairs and conferences), No Tell Books loses thousands of dollars each year. I lose money on things like bookstores not paying invoices (around half never pay for books ordered and received so now we require all payment up front, which means many bookstores won't order directly from us). When I travel to speak at universities about poetry and publishing, I often loses money, even if I'm being paid. For instance, once I drove 8 hours to speak at a university. They paid me $150, but gas, meals and a modest hotel cost more than that--and I have to claim the $150 on my taxes as income. Yes, I claim my expenses too, but since my expenses are always so much more than my income, every year I taunt an IRS audit.

I do a lot of things knowing I am losing money because I believe it's important to promote the books I publish. I also believe it's important to educate people on diy-publishing and poetry. But it's draining, really draining. I gave a reading and spoke at a classroom at a university. After my reading, I sold one book and had two stolen. Luckily that university paid me $500 and covered my hotel and airfare, so the sting was much less than if I paid my own way. Often I'll travel to give readings at independent reading series. These are almost always on my own dime, but I go because they often bring big crowds. I can't tell you the number of times I'll read to a full room of 50-100 grad students, the girls in their pretty leather boots, the boys with their fancy scarves, all enjoying pricey cocktails and nobody will buy a single book afterward. But many want to know when is my next reading period.

No Tell Books' best selling title broke even after three years and is now earning a very modest profit. This is by an author whose work has appeared in places like Poetry and Best American Poetry. This title has been taught at universities. How many copies does one have to sell to be the best selling title at No Tell Books after four years? 228. That is not a typo. This number doesn't include what the author has sold herself, probably around 200 copies on her own. But the press doesn't earn money on those sales.

So if that's a best seller, what's a flop? 74 sales after five years (again, this number doesn't include what the author sold on his own, which was maybe 50 or so). (UPDATE: Gatza states, "In general, books by new authors sell around 25 - 30 copies." Shocking? Only if you don't know the first thing about poetry publishing.)

This is the reality of poetry publishing. There are certainly presses that sell more copies. A poetry title reviewed in The New York Times can sell 2-4k copies, it is true. But small, independent presses, those small shops, usually run by one or a few people, rarely see those kinds of sales. University presses, for the most part, don't see those kinds of numbers for poetry. I attended a panel by the publisher of Grove/Atlantic and he said his press' poetry sales was around 800 per title. They publish "big-name" poets, their books are often shelved by chain bookstores, they have good distribution, a strong reputation . . . and that's what they sell. Publishing poetry is their charity--their poetry titles are subsidized by their fiction and non-fiction sales.

This is why there are so many poetry contests. Because, in general, poets will spend a lot more money on their desire to be published than they will on poetry itself. Because the readership of poetry by non-poets is ridiculously tiny. When people don't believe me, I ask them how many poetry books did they buy in the past 10 years. Few can come up with one title.

If we're going to talk about ethics, I think giving a donation to a press that's publishing your book and supporting you as a writer is far more ethical than giving money to presses that likely won't read more than a few pages of your manuscript, that likely won't even forward your manuscript to the final judge(s) for consideration, that really have no interest in you or your work at all.

$250 to support a really good press that's going to support you as a writer (if we're going to be all capitalist about it, a press that is going to be give you ALOT more value than $250) or entering 10 contests where your manuscript many never once be seriously considered. If we're going to use terms like "scam" -- what's the scam here? What's not transparent? A publisher wants to publish your work, he asks for a donation--you have the choice to say yes or no. You can walk away, no harm, no foul (except maybe to your precious ego). If you say yes, you know you're getting a book from a press that has a proven track record of publishing good books. When you send that check into a contest--what do you know? Do they tell you who has read your manuscript? How many pages? Do contests ever write back to the folks who enter and say, "Hey, we're never in a million years going to publish this manuscript, so save your money and don't enter next year?" No, those people who never had a chance will get an announcement about next year's contest. And then the contest after that.

I haven't entered a contest in over 7 years, yet a week doesn't go by where I don't receive an announcement imploring me to enter or help promote a book contest. Can we be that critical of these presses? Let's be honest, most poets entering these contests know little to nothing about the presses they hope will publish them. Few have purchased or even seen previous titles published by these presses. The cycle can't exist without participants. Lucky for the cycle there are plenty of participants to go around. Long live the cycle! Oh, it will, it certainly will.

I had a successful money job in the '90s. Because I saved some of my earnings from that job, I was able to put roughly $25k of my own money into No Tell Books over the past 5 year. That's money gone, most of which I'll never get back. Most people aren't able to do that. Most people who are able to do that, would not. They are smarter or more savvy and put that money into their homes or travel or their children's college education or pretty much anything else. I am wildly fortunate and probably have a touch of the crazy. In 12 years when my son goes off to college and I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to pay for it all, I may curse this entire publishing venture. I may wish that I asked for donations. Or maybe even held a contest.

What occurs to me is that it makes less and less sense for poets to seek publishers at all. Since there is no money in poetry publishing, little prestige and perks for publishing poetry, an intense requirement to invest one's own time, energy and often money -- and doing so opens one up oneself up to all kinds of scrutiny and criticism about how one is managing to do the MIRACULOUS TASK OF PUBLISHING POETRY-- why would ANYBODY want to publish someone else's poetry? Aside from having a touch of the crazy?

More poets need to be publishing their own poems, books, projects, etc. We need to get back to focusing on the poetry itself instead of HOW it's being shared and distributed. Truth is readers don't care if the work was subsidized by the author or not, it's not a factor in what they chose to read or buy. It's not something that crosses their minds.

Let us be artists and create art and share it however we can. Let us not worry ourselves with other artists' methods of sharing. Let us save our disdain for the works themselves. Like God wants us to do.


Reb Livingston
Editor & Publisher of No Tell Books

This Week at No Tell Motel

Jane Joritz-Nakagawa unfolds along with impersonal bad luck this week at No Tell Motel.