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How Can You Publish Poetry?

If you’re here, you’re probably thinking about publishing your poetry, taking the next steps toward becoming a respected and read poet.

We’re going to show you four ways to do just that.

1. Traditionally publish a poetry book.

If you want to publish with a big publisher, such as one of the Big 5, your first step will be to secure representation by a literary agent. To do that, you’ll need to write a query letter.

If you want to go with a smaller independent publisher, however, as most poets do, you’ll likely be approaching the publishers directly. You’ll need to write a query letter to the publishing company instead, paying careful attention to all of their submission guidelines.

To find the right publishing company for you, look at some of your favorite poetry books or find poems similar to yours in style. Research the companies that publish those poems, and check whether they’re accepting submissions.

After you’ve done some research, make a list of the top ten publishers you want to approach, and send out your query letters along with anything else mentioned in their submission guidelines. You’ll find that some publishers will want to see all of your poems, while others will want to see only a few.

2. Self-publish a poetry book.

If you want to have more creative control and maintain the rights to your published work, you should consider self-publishing your poetry. The self-publishing and traditional publishing processes differ in a few key respects, but the process for self-publishing a poetry book is similar to that for self-publishing other written works.

Here are some tips for your self-publishing journey:

  1. Create a great cover that captures the genre and aesthetic of your poetry.

  2. Use relevant genre keywords and categories on Amazon and on your webpage or blog.

  3. Write a captivating description of your poems that conveys their content, tone, and style. Mention a well-known poet of the same style so that people who like that poet can find your work.

  4. Promote your work on your webpage and on social media.

  5. Edit the dickens out of your poems. Don’t settle for producing second-rate work just because you don’t need to impress a publishing company. Your material and your future readers deserve your hard work in this regard.

  6. Format your book with care. Think about all of the formats you want your book published in, and work with a formatter who can deliver a professional result for print and eBooks. Remember audiobooks, too!

  7. Create a book marketing plan. You want people to be able to find your amazing poetry, don’t you?

3. Post your poems online.

Another way to self-publish your poems is to share them online. You can share your poems on your website, blog, or social media accounts. This is by far the fastest and easiest option. If your goal is simply to share your work with others, this is a great place to start.

The only real strike against publishing your poems online is that it’s much harder to make money this way. On the other hand, this is an effective way of gaining a following for if or when you choose to publish your work down the road.

4. Submit your poetry to magazines and competitions.

If you want to start gaining recognition for your work and potentially be paid for it, especially if you have only a few poems ready to publish, not enough for a collection, consider submitting your poems to literary magazines or contests.

While publication rates and contest prizes tend not to be high, you will gain some new readers and will be able to advertise your new credentials on your website or blog. And, if you choose to approach a traditional publisher in future, a publishing history looks great in a query letter.

To avoid a quick rejection, make sure you read and follow all the submission guidelines for the magazine or contest. Also, pay attention to any fees. A nominal reading fee is not unusual, but choose your submissions carefully, as even small fees begin to add up!

Finally, submit to journals or contests focusing on your genre of poetry. Your lengthy narrative poetry will not be accepted by a journal that publishes blank verse or haiku, so avoid wasting their time and yours.

Lastly, no matter which publishing route you choose to share your poetry with the world, make sure you edit your work until it shines. Our sister site,, can help.



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