Sawako Nakayasu & Wave Books


i promise to continue the discussion of the chin/cop canyon exchange soon, but tonight just a quick post about WAVE BOOKS.

i own two books published by WAVE, Eric Baus’ The To Sound and Sawako Nakayasu’s So we have been given time Or. (both of which i highly recommend). my review of Sawako’s book recently went live at RATTLE. it’s probable no surprise that i’m a huge fan of Sawako’s work, as i’ve reviewed 2 of her books and 2 of her chapbooks.

if you check out WAVE’s website, you can find their submission guidelines under the tag “contact”:

Though Wave Books is not currently accepting manuscripts for consideration, we are interested in finding out about your work. Please check this page for more information.

what often annoys me about this kind of description (which is quite common) is that there’s no sense of when they will be accepting manuscripts. in 2009? 2010? never? my contest money is on ‘never.’

if you look thru their catalog, you’ll notice that some of their books are published thru contests: either the verse prize or the national poetry series. so that’s one way in. they also publish multiple books by single authors, such as caroline knox, matther rorher, dara wier, joe wenderoth, and joshua beckman (who’s also one of the editors).

what’s reeeaaalllyyy interesting is the page they link to for more information (all italics are my own):

Are you interested in sharing your work with the editors and staff of Wave Books? We invite you to submit to our library:

Though we are not accepting submissions of unpublished manuscripts, our goal is to get to know a wider range of poets. In an effort to broaden our understanding of the contemporary poetry landscape, we have established an office library, to which we hope you will contribute. Many of the books published by Wave are by poets we’ve been reading for many years. We feel that submitting a published book or chapbook to the Wave library is a more organic way for us to become better acquainted with your work than through standard manuscript submission procedures, and we hope that you will join us in this collaborative endeavor.

What happens to my submission?

All works submitted to out Editorial Library will be read, catalogued, and discussed by Wave Books staff. Editorial Library submissions will be kept on the shelf for a minimum of one year, after which time, some contributions may be donated in order to make room for new work. Our editors use the library as a way to familiarize themselves with poets and poetry they might not otherwise come across.

How do I submit?

Please send 1 copy of your published material (no more than 3 different items per year, please) to the address below, accompanied by a brief cover letter that includes your name and contact information. Please let us know if you currently have an unpublished manuscript for which you are seeking a publisher. Galleys or advance reader’s copies are also acceptable.

Will I hear back from you?

Because of the high quantity of material submitted, Wave Books cannot respond to everything we receive. Please consider this submission as a way of keeping us informed of your work.


at first, i really liked the idea of an “office library”. but is sending a published book to them really a more “organic” way for them to get to know my work? how is that different from me sending a manuscript that i’m trying to get published? arent both ways for them to get to know my work? why should i waste the cost of my book and postage with a simple note saying yes i have a manuscript with no guarantee that they will ever read my manuscript? plus, what if my manuscript is totally different than my book and not what they expect (on the oft chance they don’t donate my book but actually request to read my manuscript). i dont want to keep the editors “informed” of my work, i want them to seriously consider my manuscript. but maybe i’m being overly cynical. i think WAVE books should put some statistics on this so called “organic submission policy”, something that tells poets 1) how many books have been submitted to their library 2) how many of these “submissions” actually resulted in a solicited manuscript 3) how many books in their catalog were published from this system.

i’d much rather go to STEEL TOE BOOKS, which barbara linked to a few posts ago:

Steel Toe Books selects manuscripts through open reading periods. Our next open reading period will be October 1-31, 2008, at which time we will be specifically seeking quality manuscripts containing predominately formal poetry (sonnet sequences, blank verse, ghazals, terza rima, sestinas, haiku, haiban, renga, etc.).

During our June 2008 open reading period, we received 252 manuscripts, from which we selected two for publication (Nevertheless, Hello by Christopher Goodrich and Blue Collar Eulogies by Michael Meyerhofer).

Submission process: There is no reading fee for authors who submit during our open reading periods, but we ask everyone who submits to purchase one of our existing titles directly from us.


ok, so their submission process isnt exactly “open” cuz you still have to shell out some could-have-been-used-for-a-contest-money and buy one of their books. BUT hey, at least you get a book out of it and a promise your unpublished manuscript will be considered. that’s so much better than having to GIVE AWAY a free book and hope that after they follow your work for years that they might look at your unpublished manuscript (which could have been a finalist in 20 contests at that point).



One thought on “Sawako Nakayasu & Wave Books

  1. yeah, that wave books’ send us one of your books and we’ll file it in our library thing is weird to me. no guarantee that they’ll read it (vs. file it), and of course never any guarantee that they’ll ever contract one of your future books. that also rules out poets with no previous collection from submitting.

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