Not sure how to publish a poem? You are in the right place. Writing a poem is half the battle, the main struggle starts when publishing the poem.
Every now and then I am asked by many newbies how they can publish their poems and what are the steps that required to become a published poet.
So in this blog post, I will try to answer your question of how to publish a poem.
How To Publish A Poem?
Below are the steps that will be required for any poet to get their work published.
So let’s get started.
1. Preparing Your Poem
Before you start your poem publishing journey there are few things that you should look into to increase your chances of getting your poems published.
If you are reading this article then it means you already have some poems written at your disposal and ready to be published.
So the first and foremost step you should consider doing is preparing your poems (manuscript) for the following:
Fixing Spelling, Grammar and Errors
Poems with typos, errors, and grammar mistakes are more likely to get rejected even if the poem is amazing.
So before approaching any poem publishing system make sure to double and triple check your poems for any grammar, spelling, punctuation, and all sorts of errors and mistakes.
This will help you in getting approval from many literary agencies and Magazines for submitting your poems.
If you are on a budget let someone else, your friends, professor, or family member do the proofreading for you.
You can use some of the free and paid online software to do the proofreading or you can hire a professional proofreader and editor to help with your work.
This professionalism will show in your work and chances will be higher of getting approved by famous magazines or publishers.
Always choose a font size and style which is easy to read and looks clean both on the computer and on paper.
Avoid any script-style fonts which are hard to read.
The standard font size is 12 point and the standard style is Times New Roman or Arial which is accepted by most publishing houses and online magazines and journals.
Apart from that, you need to manually look for guidelines from each publishing house and magazines to check what style and font size they recommend and then structure your poems accordingly.
Writing a title for a poem is the most important thing to consider as it is the first thing anybody will ever notice.
Pick a title which gives the representation of your poem as a whole. It should tell your readers a little bit about what your poem is all about.
Don’t ever leave the title as blank. If you are unsure of what to title your poem you can title it as “Untitled”.
I am saying this because if you are sending your poems to any publisher or magazine they may sometimes suggest a better title.
And even after you title your poem, they may consider changing it or modifying it, so be prepared for that.
So don’t ever leave any poems with blank titles.
For inspiration, you could look at the poems of some famous authors like John Keats, William Wordsworth, Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, etc.
Sometimes you can just title your poem as the starting sentence only.
For example, John Keats poem “Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art” (1819)” has the same first line as the title.
2. Finding And Submitting Your Poems To Literary Journals, Magazines, And Other Publishers
The best way to become a poet is by publishing some of your poems in literary journals and Magazines.
This will help you in getting started if you are just a beginner. And getting your poems published in some of these publications will also increase your chances of getting your poems published by some bigger publishing houses as well.
This is important as you are building your portfolio at the same time and while submitting your poems to other publishing houses you can mention your previously published poems in your bio.
So How To Find Literary Journals, Magazines, and Publishing House Which Accepts Your Poems?
You can go to your local library and check through some of the books, journals and the like containing poems.
Look at the name of your publishing house and note that down.
Alternatively, you can also browse the Amazon store and check the publisher’s name in the description area.
Note: Look for a new poet’s first book and check their publisher’s name. As the same publisher published the work of new poet so there is a chance that they accept new poets.
You can also check online as well as search in your local newspaper as they also have a section of poems and submission guidelines.
Note: It is easier to get your poems published in the local newspapers than getting published in some top-level newspapers.
As some newspapers have both paid and free programs of poem submissions, so make sure to read the submission guidelines carefully.
Things to Consider While Submitting Your Poems
Now you might have found the magazine or literary journal which accepts the poem submission but it will not guarantee that your poems will be published even if you have the best work in the industry.
This is because many poets make mistakes when submitting which decrease their chances of getting published.
So before you submit your poems take care of a few things that can increase your approval rate.
Read the Guidelines Properly
Every online, as well as offline literary journals, magazines, and publishing houses, have a set of guidelines for the submission process.
Make sure to read the submission guidelines properly and then send your poems accordingly.
For example, if it is mentioned that you can send only PDF version then send PDF version only. Don’t ever send DOC/DOCX, TXT, etc.
If you missed doing so there is a 99% chance that your work will be rejected even before they read it.
Follow every guideline and then send your work to the publishers.
Every publisher, magazine, and literary journals have a different set of guidelines but main of the basics always remain the same.
Some can ask for different file formats, some may ask you to send your manuscript by having a specific set of formatting.
And also make sure to check how many poems the selected magazines accept. Some may take one at a time and some will take 5-6 poems at a time. So check that.
Note: Do check whether the selected magazines or publishers were publishing the type of poem that you want to submit or have they published poems in similar genres before or not.
The simple answer is that you need to read the submission guidelines very carefully and then submit accordingly.
Add a Cover Letter
Almost all of the literary journals and magazines will ask you to submit a brief cover letter along with your poems.
So make a habit of including a cover letter along with your submission.
If the submission guidelines include the cover letter than send one, however if not they will mention that a cover letter is not required. If nothing is mentioned then you can include the cover letter as it shows professionalism.
Keep your cover letter short, 4-5 lines maximum.
Address it to the editor of the publication if the name is listed online or the name from the submission guidelines. Else you can address your cover letter to the name of the print publication.
Include any other works that you might have published before, the awards you have received, etc to boost your overall success rate.
Don’t summarize the poem in your cover letter. And don’t ask for comments or feedback.
You can just write one cover letter and change it each time you send a submission to different publishers.
Include your Bio
You should also have a well written short biography in your submission which should not exceed more than 4-5 lines.
State details such as where you are from, your education, your previous publications, and awards, if any.
Always, Always write the bio in the third person.
This is because many editors will just copy and paste the same bio and publish what they received in the submission.
It saves them time and effort and also can help you build credibility as many poets submit their poems without a proper biography and they get rejected.
So having a nicely written biography will help you stand out from the crowd.
Submit your Poem Online or Send by Post
Nowadays most of the publishers have an online submitting system where you can upload your poems.
Look on the publication’s website for the “Submission” page or “Call for Submissions”.
There you will find the submission guidelines for submissions and link to Submittable (the online portal system where you can upload your poems) portal.
Now according to the guidelines upload your poems, cover letter, biography, whatever is asked for.
Remember some publications charge a small reading fee of $3-$5. And some even higher depending upon the publication you choose.
Some publications will require you to send a hard copy of your poem.
You will need to print your poems, cover letter, and biography on separate pages and send it on an 8.5″ to 11″ envelope.
You can also include an empty self-addressed envelope with a stamp if you want to get a reply or want to get your work returned.
Maintain a Submission Log
You will be submitting your poems to a large number of publications, journals, and magazines simultaneously. So it is best to keep a log of when, where, and what you send.
You don’t want to send the same poem to the same publishers multiple times.
So make a spreadsheet with date, publication name, poem(s) name. This will prevent you from sending the same poems to the same publishers over again.
Maintaining a submissions log is also important as you can mention the publication while submitting that you have sent this poem to other publishers as well.
It will help you to know which publications accepted your poem for publishing so you can notify the other publications if you sent the same poem to multiple publications.
3. Submit Your Poems Into Poem Contests
Many publications, newspapers, magazines, and journals organize poetry contests on a regular basis.
You can also submit your poetry and if you win the contest, apart from money and awards it can raise your profile as a poet. This can make your work more accessible to a wider range of audiences.
To know more about contests you should follow some of the publication’s social media pages or visit their websites on a regular basis.
As there will be some high profile judges and writers who pick the winner of the contests so it can also help you gain some attention if your poems can attract those who are judging your poem.
As these contents will have a lot of contestants so expect a higher entry fee ranging from $10-$30, maybe higher sometimes depending upon the publications.
4. Self-Publishing Your Poems
The final option I recommend is to self-publish your poems.
Nowadays self-publishing can be the easiest option to become a poet or author and publish a book (ebook or paperback) at almost zero cost.
I also started with self-publishing my first short stories eBook on Amazon and then later went for traditional publishing.
You can also do the same.
Some of the things you can do are:
Post Your Poems on Social media
If you want to avoid any trouble in getting publications to publish your Poems you can publish your poems on social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Social media can help you to get a large number of eyeballs as your poems can be easily shared by your friends, family, and your followers instantly and in a more accessible way.
This also helps you to build a loyal fan base and customer if you want to self-publish your poetry book.
You can also write poems on Instagram as it works best for writers and poets.
Create an eye-catching image and put your poems and then post it on Instagram. The same image you can put on Facebook and Twitter as well.
You can use tools like Canva and Crello to create such images with text(poems).
I write quotes on Instagram and get good engagement from this.
Note: If you publish your poems on any social media sites then you will not be able to submit the same poems to any literary journals or magazines.
Create Your Own Blog for Poems
You can also create a blog site for publishing your poems.
I did the same for my short stories. I created a personal blog and posted some short stories on a regular basis. And then shared the post link on my social media pages and personal profile.
It did great. I was able to generate visitors to my site and later monetized it with ads that enabled me to earn a few bucks.
Though the money generated was small it helped me to get a few loyal customers for my next eBook.
Having a blog is also important as you can also showcase your new works, create a portfolio, sell books from your own website with almost 100% profit margin.
You will not be dependent on other publishers and their commission dependent royalty.
Though it takes time to generate traffic to your blog at the initial stage but in the long run, it will be worth the effort.
Self-Publish your own Poem Book (eBook or paperback)
Now if you have a collection of poems you can publish your poetry collection yourself.
Self-Publishing is the easiest way to publish your poems.
You can use the online self-publishing platform such as Amazon KDP or Smashwords to publish your eBooks on the go.
I have a detailed step-by-step guide to publish eBooks on Amazon. Check the article to know more about the publishing process.
So these are the basic steps you will require to publish a poem.
The most important thing you need to follow while submitting your poems to any publication is to read their submissions guidelines carefully and follow accordingly.
It will then depend upon the type and quality of the poem you have submitted.
And don’t lose hope if your poems are rejected by the publication. Rejection is a common thing and happens often.
You have to keep hope alive and send your poems to as many publications as you can.
If your poems are rejected continuously then look for the reason for rejection. Rectify the error if any then resubmit.
If you follow these tips, I’m sure you will make it to the list of published poets!