how cheap

is too cheap

cheap is the wrong word

it implies shoddy

lacking in quality

how inexpensive 

is too inexpensive

before something becomes worthless

before self-worth not seen

as egotism


you look at me

as if the price of my chapbook

is too much to ask

after all

the paper itself isn’t that valuable

the cost of printing it

isn’t much greater either

so why should you be expected

to pay more than the paper is worth

the words are worthless 


expecting to cover more than costs

is egoism as its worst



you’d rather buy a beer

to numb the pain

of not getting my chapbook

for free

Based on a true life experience, or should I say, experiences. Experiences I have had & ones that I’ve seen other poets go through. Over the years I’ve produced several chapbooks mainly so I had merch – so I had the physical proof of my writing. I do almost all the work – layout, page layout, cover design & prepare a copy to deliver to a printer. At one time I was doing my own stapling as well. Now I leave part to the printer, but I usually do my own folding. Flat product is easier to store. Plus I write the contents.


I price chapbooks to make giving change easy but not so inexpensive as to be giving them away. As printing cost went up my cover price went up. But because I am asking for more than the cost of materials there is often this reaction that I am being unreasonable expecting to be paid anything. I should be grateful they even looked at the chapbook. I have done trade-offs at times. Freebies go to hosts & co-features but that’s it.

More than once I’ve had people attempt to guild me into reducing the price because they too are ‘starving’ artists & to be supportive of them I should be considerate. I fell for this a few times but stopped when I saw them enjoying a glass or two of wine at the bar. Clearly the bar deserves their support more than the artists. Though I know many poetry events count on bar sales to access the space – if they don’t bring enough they are no longer welcome at that bar. That’s one reason I pretty much stopped doing open stages or features for a share of the passed hat.

There’s also this expectation that because something in ‘homemade’ it should be less expensive than ‘manufactured’ or something with a ‘brand’ such as Atwood of DeVinci. I know painters, musicians etc who aren’t brandnames who hit this same reluctance when selling their work. Undervaluing myself in order to sell is a bad bargain & is not going to happen. I am not worthless regardless of what someone may decide. paypal.me/TOpoet 


Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & to eat at Capturing Fire this June in Washington DC – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

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