Are you dreaming of publishing your own poetry? If yes, you are in the right place.
In this article, we will guide you on how to make your well-crafted words and stanzas on the printed page available for everyone to read. We will share the different routes you can take and important considerations to publish poems.
Poetry publishing options
So, how to publish poetry? There are two main routes you can take: traditional publishing and self-publishing.
What is traditional publishing?
Traditional publishing is the publication of a piece of writing under the name of a known and well-established publisher.
A novelist may aim for a big publishing house like Penguin or Harper Collins. However, since poetry is typically short, most poets seek a traditional approach like reviews, anthologies, or literary journals and magazines such as the New Yorker or Poetry Magazine to publish poems.
If you choose to take the traditional route, consider the following:
Traditional publishers have a reputation to maintain. Given that most traditional publishers receive masses of new work through submissions, they often do not have time to read through all of their submissions and give them enough consideration.
Still, do not let that discourage you. It is entirely possible to get your work published through a third party—you just need to be consistent, persistent, and relatively un-phased by rejection.
They tend to filter their submissions through a theme, style, or tone they prefer and seek out those submissions above others. In essence, if you choose to approach an established publisher, it is wise to know what type of poetry they most like to publish.
Read other publications from the same publisher and see what they lean toward. Find out if they have set a theme for a particular time, such as the holidays, springtime, traveling, or mental health.
What is self-publishing?
Traditional publishing can be challenging for a new writer. Many traditional publishing houses or other established and reputable publishers often require that your work already has a fan base.
Publishing costs money so, if you are a new writer, publishing your work is a greater risk than publishing the work of an established writer.
If you do not want to jump through the hoops of the traditional publishing route, you can try self-publishing. More and more new and even established writers choose to self-publish to get their work available for everyone to read.
If you choose to self-publish, consider the following advice:
Once you self-publish, traditional poetry publishers are less likely to re-publish that piece of work on their website or platform. As such, if you really want to publish something, try the traditional way first. If you fail to secure the means to publish traditionally, it may be best to try self-publishing.
Self-publishing requires more labor than traditional publishing.
A big part of that work is organically growing a fan base. It is wise to have your own online platforms, such as a social media account on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter.
Posting your work on social media does not count as self-publishing, but it is still a great opportunity to share your work with the public and attract interested readers. When you get a piece of work published, you can share that update on social media and encourage your fans to patronize your published work.
Where can I submit my poetry?
If you are a new writer or have been crafting poetry for years, there are plenty of options for submission. We have included below some of the best options in which aspiring poets can submit work and get published.
1. Literary magazines and reviews
The following is a list of reputable literary journals that accept poetry submissions. These journals and magazines are a great way to begin your journey into publishing poetry online.
In most cases, you need to submit a bio or short cover letter to let the publisher know about you, your work, and previously published poems.
Be mindful of the submission guidelines so that you have more chances of getting your work selected.
Ghost City Review
Ghost City Review is a branch of Ghost City Press. According to Ghost City Press, ‘our goal is to provide a platform for the exhibition and distribution of work by new, emerging, and established writers and artists in the online literary community.’
Ghost City Press was founded in 2013 and has already published an impressive catalog of poetry and poetry collections from new and established writers. They favor the experimental and contemporary, so if your writing is eclectic and diverse, Ghost City Press is a great choice.
Make sure to check out their site and read through their guidelines before you approach them. They receive a lot of submissions, so if you do not follow the guidelines, you are unlikely to get seen.
3Elements Literary Review publishes new submissions every quarter. They outline three elements or themes that must be included in a piece of work to get it reviewed and published. Until May 31, 2022, the three elements are ‘Moon, Western, Placebo.’ 3Elements’ Winter Edition, published on February 1, 2022, featured work with the themes’ town square,’ ‘mercy,’ and ‘frost.’
According to their guidelines, ‘we only require that you represent one element, but creating something representing all three elements will impress us.’
They explain that poetry submissions can vary in length but must be under two typed pages and must be submitted through Submittable.
3Elements also encourage writers to include a short bio in their submissions so that their organization and the readers can learn a little more about the authors.
Finally, 3Elements claims that they accept simultaneous submissions, but you must notify them as soon as possible if you intend to publish with someone else.
Barren Magazine is a quarterly publication featuring poetry, short stories, creative nonfiction, photography, and mixed media. They prefer works of deep introspection that speak to larger themes and social conversations.
Barren Magazine describes itself as ‘a safe space that embraces the beauty of the human condition and celebrates diversity, inclusion, and equality.’ According to their site and submission guidelines, they ‘prefer previously unpublished material, but may accept previously published work as long as authors own its copyright and provide appropriate attribution.’
2. Poetry journals
Getting your work published in a reputable online poetry journal is a great way to help your work reach a much wider, larger, and more engaged audience. However, publishing in a literary journal is more complex than publishing in the reviews and magazines listed earlier.
Still, once you get a handful of submissions accepted and published by a review or magazine, you are much more likely to have your work accepted and published by a journal.
Rattle is a highly reputable online poetry journal. It is free to submit to Rattle, and writers can get paid for high-quality work.
According to their guidelines, ‘we’re looking for poems that move us, that might make us laugh or cry, or teach us something new. We like both free verse and traditional forms—we try to publish a representative mix of what we receive.’
One of the advantages of approaching Rattle to get your work published is that they accept submissions of all genres, themes, and styles.
A typical issue features 70 pages of poetry on average, which means they have a lot of room to explore various themes and appreciate diversity.
Palette Poetry is an online poetry journal that aims to ‘uplift and engage emerging and established poets in our larger community.’ So, whether you are a recently published poet or already well-established, Palette is a wise choice.
Palette Poetry’s guidelines state that they are ‘open year-round to poets at any stage of their careers.‘ They can be incredibly selective in the work they choose to publish, so it is wise first to try publishing through one of the reviews or magazines mentioned earlier.
Still, if you can manage to get published through Palette, you can earn between $50 and $150 per poem!
How do I publish a collection of poetry?
The publishing routes listed above are opportunities to publish individual poems. Some only allow one submission or will only publish one of your poems per quarter and sometimes per year.
They are a great way to get your work and name out there, but they are not practical options for publishing an entire poetry collection.
Again, traditional publishers prefer to publish poets who have already been published elsewhere but whose submission is original.
Self-publishing is a great way to get your work out there, especially if you are generally new to publishing.
To optimize your collection for publication, consider the following:
1. Writing and editing
When writing poetry for submission, develop an in-depth understanding of your themes and style. It helps to combine works that share a similar running theme or style into one collection rather than trying to publish a book of random works.
When you know the pieces you want to include and work together, make sure that your work is well-edited. That includes grammar, spelling, syntax, proofreading, and structure. Get feedback from other writers, non-writers and publishers if you can.
2. Format and design
All works of literature must be formatted and designed before publishing. An aesthetically pleasing and appealing format and design can make all the difference to how the public receives your work.
Since poems are typically short, there is a lot of room for creativity and experimentation when formatting.
Traditional publishers of online journals or magazines may have their own formatting guidelines, but you have the freedom to play if you self-publish.
Your book’s cover design is also incredibly important to consider. Whether online or in print, a cover can attract more (or less) potential readers and buyers. It lies at the core of your marketing strategy and is worth your time and resources.
As a self-publisher, there are many options available to you.
Currently, e-books are incredibly popular and wise for first-time authors to get their work out to the public. Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is a popular and straightforward platform where you can publish your work. They also offer a print-on-demand (POD) service, allowing potential customers to order a print copy of your e-book.
POD means you do not have to waste money on printing books that may or may not be sold. Books are only printed at a customer’s request.
Do I need to copyright my work?
To copyright your work means to own it legally. Unsolicited use of your work is illegal and has consequences. You do not need to copyright every piece of work you write, but it is wise to protect them if you intend to publish them.
How to copyright a poem
If you have decided that you want to get your poems published, copyright them.
The process is relatively simple and typically costs a small fee. File a copyright notice on the U.S. Copyright Office website or, if you do not want to submit it to the U.S. Copyright Office, find the legal copyright authority where you are.
It has never been easier to get your poems published, yet that is not to say that the publishing world is not incredibly competitive.
Whether you are a brand new or seasoned poet, getting your work published involves an in-depth understanding of potential publishers’ submission guidelines, high-quality work, and persistence.
Persistence is also key when it comes to self-publishing. There is more hard work on the self-publishing route, but it is also a practical option for new writers to get their name out there and potentially work with bigger publishers later.