Could you tell us a bit about the history of your press? (what you do, how you got started, what your goals are)
The Wee Sparrow Poetry Press was founded by EIC Claire Thom in April 2022. Claire wanted to start an international and inclusive poetry community which would offer both new and previously published poets a platform to get their words out there. She also wanted to spread a ripple of much needed kindness by making poetry anthologies with all royalties going to charity. Our goals are to continue expanding our creative community and to donate to organisations which are doing vital work around the world to help those most in need. We also want to continue showcasing new poets and help them promote their work. As well as paperback anthologies, The Wee Sparrow Poetry Press also makes free digital zines which focus on current topics in order to raise awareness and create positive change. There are currently eight members of The Wee Sparrow Poetry Press team based in Spain, Germany, the UK, and the USA.
What is your press’s vibe in six words or less?
independent international inclusive encouraging quality charitable
What is the process of publishing a book like for your press? From the first read through and acceptance, through publication and promotion.
Firstly we put a call out for submissions via our Instagram platform, our website and our substack newsletter. We try to make the submission guidelines clear and easy to follow and we never charge submission fees as we don´t feel poets should have to pay to submit their words. We have a media design team which creates our media assets to promote our submission windows. There are currently three main editors - EIC Claire, and John and Marc who are co-editors. We also welcome guest editors for particular publications. Editors read through all the submissions selecting a long list, we then discuss our chosen poems and create a short list we all agree should be included in the publication. Poets are contacted via email and informed of whether they have been selected or not. If we reject poems, we make it clear to poets that this is not necessarily a reflection on the quality of their work rather the editors felt it wasn´t the right fit for that particular collection. The editing team then put together the manuscript and email the selected poets a proof copy so they can check they are happy with how their poem is displayed on the page. Our media design team work on the formatting of the front cover and also create promotional slides for our Instagram, website and newsletter. As all royalties are donated to charity and The Wee Sparrow Poetry Press team are volunteers, we do not have the budget to provide poets with a free or reduced priced copy of the finished publication. We currently use the free print on demand service offered by Amazon as it provides global distribution. If a poet does not have access to Amazon in their country, then we can provide a free pdf copy of the manuscript via email. We would also like to have our anthologies stocked by independent bookshops and this is a work in progress with a few shops already stocking copies of our debut anthology. Promotion of our publications is mostly done via social media.
What kind of books are you looking for? Do you follow the market, wait for anything good, or have a particular niche in mind when you’re reading through submissions.
We set the specific theme for our anthologies and focus on broad global topics which address aspects of people´s lives regardless of where they are in the world.
How many pages into a manuscript do you get before leaning one way or the other on accepting it?
We don't currently take manuscript submissions of individual collections as our focus is collective anthologies. However, when reading through submissions, we find that a poem needs to grab our attention, be that through choice of words, form, style or approach, in order for us to accept it. We are looking for poets who think outside the box when writing about a particular theme.
Are there any red flags you’ve found in writer’s submissions that other writers might want to avoid?
The main one is poets not reading and following our submission guidelines properly and sending work that is either in the wrong format, doesn´t adhere to the theme or they have not sent all the information we require. This takes up valuable administration time and as we are a team of unpaid volunteers, we really appreciate when poets help us make the submission process as smooth and easy as possible.
Do you have any recent books you’ve published that you’d like to show some love for?
In August 2022, we published our debut anthology "Hope is a Group Project". This is an inspirational anthology of hope featuring 98 international writers, and original illustrations by Scottish artist, Colin Thom (who is Claire´s father). All royalties from sales of this anthology are donated to the NGO Project Hope which is doing such important work in various different countries. We also ran a contest looking for poems reacting to the current state of the world and published our first free digital zine, "Still We Rise". We have a submission window open now which closes on 30th April and two guest editors are curating this publication. We are looking for haiku on the theme of "home" and we hope to publish this anthology, "To Live Here", in the summer of 2023. All royalties will be donated to Salford Loaves and Fishes, a charity in the UK which supports homeless people. We will also soon be opening submissions for an anthology on the theme of "water".
Is there any aspects of your submissions process that writers consistently miss or do wrong that they should pay more attention to?
We ask that poems be submitted in either pdf or word docs but occasionally poets send poems in a different format. We also ask for poems on a specific theme and now and again poets submit poems which do not follow that theme.
If you could add one question to this interview, what would it be, and how would you answer it?
How does your press understand the role of poetry? At The Wee Sparrow Poetry Press, we believe that poetry can be a great tool for change. Our ever expanding community is made up of creative people who have an interest in understanding human challenges, and using poetry as a way of raising awareness about our collective themes to promote positive change and good causes.