Have you always dreamed of being a self-published poet? To have your words read by a stranger and appreciated?
Do you know that aside from being able to leave a legacy through your work, you can also earn money out of it?
If you are dreaming of publishing your collection of poems but do not know how, this article is for you. Below, we’ll walk you through the most simple steps to self-publishing a book of poetry publishing your first poetry book.
Self-publishing a book of poetry
It’s never been easier to self-publish a poetry book.
Thanks to online book retailers such as Amazon, Apple Books, and Barnes and Noble Press, even novice poets can self-publish poetry to reach a global audience.
Self-publishing poetry requires more labor on your part than the traditional publishing route. Traditionally, a poet will send their final manuscript to a reputable publishing house.
The house will then evaluate the quality of the work and its degree of alignment with its brand or values.
When you self-publish, you take the reins of the publishing process. Tasks involved include:
- Writing your manuscript
- Editing and proofing the manuscript
- Book design and formatting
- Uploading your manuscript to a publishing platform
- Promoting your work
Besides writing the manuscript, all the tasks above will fall under a traditional publisher’s responsibility. If you go solo, these are your responsibilities.
While that means more work for you, you get full creative control over your work. You don’t have to remove or alter your work to fit the requirements of traditional publishers.
Understand that you don’t have to do everything by yourself. Many self-publishing poets hire freelancers to take over some of the above tasks.
Getting freelancers when you decide to self-publish allows you as a writer to spend more time on specific tasks rather than trying to do everything and ultimately crashing.
While poetry publishers may seem to take off some of the burden from you so you can focus on writing poems, remember that they can also some of your creative freedom.
How to publish a poetry book
If you decide to self-publish, consider the following tips.
1. Seek constructive feedback for your work and edit accordingly
Completing a poem or a poetry collection is a satisfying experience. Your mind and creative imagination sit on the page; even though it’s black and white, it conveys a more profound, personal message.
Don’t be blinded by satisfaction with your work.
Approach writers and poets whose taste you trust and respect and seek feedback.
Listen closely to their constructive criticism and address your work as such. Consider the reader and edit in a way that improves the reading experience.
2. Unify by theme
Your poetry collection should follow a consistent, unified theme.
Select poems that work well together and combine them; you may have an abundance of completed poems but be selective.
Choose those that complement each other, even contrast if that works under the overall theme.
Consider other published poetry collections that you enjoy.
Note that most of the time, poetry books are minimal. They are not an attempt by the poet to showcase all of their work at once.
Instead, they demonstrate said poets; ability to select and eliminate works based on a bigger vision for the collection.
3. Design and format your book
This stage of the publishing process can be tricky. Going solo at this stage will be challenging unless you’re already a skilled and experienced book designer.
First things first, decide how you want to publish your poetry. Self-publishing options include:
- Online book retailers – Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble Press, Kobo Writing Life
- Social media
- Guest posting on websites
- Online poetry forums and literary magazines
- Poetry blog
If you want to sell a poetry book and earn profit for your work, you’ll need to publish with a self-publishing platform, get your book into online retail stores, or choose to print copies and approach physical bookstores.
The former option – self-publishing online – is far more budget-friendly than printing and distributing by yourself.
Social media marketing, website guest posts, and online forums are a great way to boost your exposure and widen your reach, but these are often not that profitable.
You may earn profit from a poetry blog if you market it right, try ad revenue, and use affiliate marketing to boost your income.
Should I hire freelance designers?
Hiring professional freelancers to help you design and format your poetry collection is wise. A professional will have experience in the area, which means they know what works and does not.
You’ll have to spend money to pay the freelancers, but you’re investing in your book’s quality. If you want to reach an audience and make an impact, that investment is more than worth it.
4. Publish your work
Once your final manuscript is ready for publishing, upload your manuscript to your publishing platform of choice.
This process is relatively straightforward because all of the prep work is complete.
Like most other platforms, Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform uses a simple series of steps. The typical online self-publishing process involves:
- Upload your manuscript
- Enter author details
- Write taglines, meta-description
- Set price
- Choose distribution option
5. Promote your book
You’ve uploaded your manuscript to a publishing platform, and your work is finally out there, but your work is not over yet. You still need to market your work if you want to reach your target audience.
Here’s where social media, blogs, and guest posting come in. Get your name out there by posting in different places online.
Find relevant forums, check out poetry contests, or use your social media reach to gather a fan base.
It’s much easier to sell your book with an established online presence. Online self-publishing companies often feature in-site marketing options, such as a ‘free period’ to boost exposure and downloads, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bolster your reach elsewhere.
Consider online literary communities, journals, contests, and even in-person open mic nights. There are many ways to get your poetry heard as long as you make an effort and get yourself out there.
Open-mic poetry nights are a popular marketing choice for poets. Marketing is not the primary goal but an expression to the audience.
Still, those who enjoy your work may approach you, wish to connect, and even purchase your book.
How many poems in a book
How many poems should you include in your collection? Is there a standard number that other poets use?
The average poetry book generally contains anywhere from 20 to 100 poems. Earlier, we mentioned the importance of choosing a theme for your collection.
You can also include multiple themes in one book, whereby each poem is categorized under its relevant theme.
If you include multiple themes, you have more scope to include a more significant number of poems. If you focus on one theme, your collection will probably be shorter.
If you’re a new poet, it’s wise to spend a lot of time writing. You don’t have to match everything you write to your highest standard.
Approaching writing with such a mindset is a zipline to writer’s block.
While the typical poetry book can contain up to 100 poems, you don’t have to write a typical poetry book.
Consider writing and publishing a chapbook if you’ve got a small collection.
Writing a book of poetry
Like all art, poetry is cathartic.
It offers poets and readers a chance to explore feelings and emotions that are otherwise difficult to express. It invites us into the eyes and world of others.
If you’ve read a great poetry book, you know just how intimate the experience can be. You’re left with a connection to the poet, formerly a stranger, and an understanding of the human experience you may not have had before.
So, how do you write a great book of poetry? Step one? Write.
1. Write consistently
Just write. Create great work and create awful work.
The more you write, the more you’ll develop a style and voice, and the more supply you will have to draw from when you want to compile more of your work into another collection.
When writing, understand that your process may look different from that of another. Some people like to dedicate scheduled time for writing, while others base their input on how they feel.
Find a way that works best for you, but practice consistency.
2. Consider your theme
Your theme is the hook for the reader. You want to offer your reader an immersive experience for maximum enjoyment.
As such, consider the reader’s journey. How do you introduce them to the theme? How do you emphasize it? What does that journey look like?
Bear in mind that the reader will have the first point of contact with your published work, unlike you, the author who has already spent significant time reading, re-reading, editing, and in general, being occupied by the book.
Which poem works best as an opener? What about a closer? Which poems, and in which order, carry the reader seamlessly through the overall tone and theme?
Outline potential combinations and order your book with the best, most effective option.
3. Get feedback
Ask friends, family published poets, and trusted literary community members to read your work and give you feedback.
You don’t have to take everything everyone says seriously, but it’s helpful to gain insight into your poetry collection by considering different perspectives.
4. Consider illustrations
Illustrations can add a touch of color or visual inspiration for your reader.
Not all poetry books require illustrations, and many readers enjoy the simple design of a classic collection. Still, minimal, black and white images or sketches can look great when applied well.
Your cover should be appealing even if you don’t opt for in-book illustrations.
Solid block colors work well but considering that visual appeal is more important than ever, it’s worth investing time or money into a well-designed and possibly illustrated front cover.
“Writing poetry is a passion, ignited by thoughts, fueled by ink. A way to travel through another mind, where souvenirs of tears are tucked away inside your soul. Or leave you with smiles for miles, depending on which route you go.”Renee Dixon
Writing poetry is a profoundly personal experience. Even if you don’t write about your own life per se, the act of creating a poem comes from a deep well of inner creativity that, when explored with grace, leads to an unforgettable experience for both poet and reader.
Hopefully, the tips and advice on self-publishing a poetry book outlined above will help you take the next step on your journey to getting your poetry collection published.
A final tip? Read as many poetry books as you can. Read the classics, read modern poetry, and read whatever you can get your hands on.
Think about why one book is more impactful than another, then consider your work accordingly. Before you know it, you are well on your way to be a self-published author.