Monday 19 September 2022


When someone asked me once how I decided whether to buy a book, I said I look at the acknowledgements. He didn't know what I meant, which is no surprise - he, like most people, only reads novels.

Yes, poetry books and short story collections can contain thankyous to family, teachers and friends, but they also have a list of places where the works were previously published. A glance gives me a fair idea of the writer's standing.

Some authors seem to have focussed on competitions, mentioning appearances in short/long lists. For example, in "Sightings", Elisabeth Sennitt Clough lists 14 prizes and commendations that the poems won.

Others are in some themed/regional anthologies, a market I've never looked at.

Some authors have an extensive list, showing that most if not all of the works have been published before. I view with suspicion books where the list is short - if the pieces haven't gone through the periodical filtering process, I wonder if they're good enough for a book.

Some story writers thank by name the magazine editors who accepted their pieces - not something I've ever done. These editors sometimes suggest revisions so I suppose it makes sense.

The books I'm most likely to buy are those whose acknowledgements page mentions several magazines I've been in, and some I've tried but failed to be accepted in. I'm also tempted by mentions of Bridport and National Poetry Competition shortlistings.

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