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Publishing Poetry : 10 Useful Tips

Updated on January 16, 2016
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Andrew has a keen interest in all aspects of poetry and writes extensively on the subject. His poems are published online and in print.

Introduction


Writing poetry is one thing, publishing poetry is another! If you write poems regularly and want to get them in print or online, it's worth knowing how best to go about it. You may have written the perfect poem and left it gathering dust in the attic, or buried a notebook gem deep in the middle of all your clutter?

Who knows, there may be an editor out there just waiting to read and then publish your poems! This article will guide you in the right direction and help you build up confidence.

But before you send out dozens of masterpieces please read the following tips on publishing poetry - they'll help you prepare your poems for publication.

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Keep writing poems.
Keep writing poems. | Source

1. Write and Write, Then Write Some More


Before you even think of sending out any of your poems make sure you keep working on them! Don't stop the poetic process! Write and write - lines, words, observations - have your notebook handy in case inspiration strikes, and rework old poems that may be in need of shape, fresh content and a complete overhaul.

  • When you think you have worked your poems into a final form and can't do any more with them, leave them to one side for a few days and return with fresh eyes for a closer reading. Tie up the loose ends and declare them as finished as they can be.

Your poems are ready to be published.

If you're part of a writing group or have close friends and family who like to read poetry, show them what you've got.

This website is packed with blogging information for those keen to get their work seen on poetry blogs:

http://www.newpages.com/writers-resources/poets-and-writers-blogs

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2. Read All There Is To Read


Reading other material is really important. Reading poetry that relates to yours is vital because then you'll be able to compare and contrast and become richer for it. You may also gain inspiration from work that is written by other poets both great and small. Inspiration costs nothing yet is priceless - it's the driving force behind many a fabulous poem.

  • If you want to send off your poems to a magazine then it's imperative you read several recent copies of it. There are many printed and online magazines (e-zines) that pay for poems once accepted but you must do the ground work beforehand to avoid disappointment.

By doing this you'll know exactly what is required plus you'll get to know the work of poets who are featured, always an advantage.

If you love poetry books these links may help:

Poetry Books

Poetry Anthology

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The Three Must Do's


Write, read and share! Listen to feedback, use sound advice wisely but don't change your style. Your unique voice must come through in every poem. Keep trying and never give up hope of having your poems published.

3. Let Others Read Your Poems


Oh no! The thought of other eyes peering into your precious fragile poetry, picking it to pieces like a predator and declaring it ' a load of old ****'! Nightmare on Metaphor Street! The Crazy Zombie Haiku Massacre IV!

  • Well, if you want to get your poems out there and published - in a magazine, on a quality blog, or wherever - other people are going to read your work and they're bound to have opinions one way or the other. So don't be afraid to show your poems to others. Start off with close friends and family and gradually move out into poetry groups and reading groups.

Be prepared for criticism and accept it willingly. If someone you know has experience of reading poetry and knows their stuff demand an opinion from them. Take on board the advice from fellow poets and try to work out just what it is they're saying. If you don't agree with their conclusions then fine.

Don't get too elated or depressed at this point! Opinion is opinion after all and you shouldn't be put off or go screaming around in wild ecstasy.

Forums are an excellent way to get others to read and critique your poems:

Poetry Forums

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4. Do Some Research


After some research write a list of suitable magazines, e-zines and blogs. Say you have 6 in total that you're confident would be interested in publishing the type of poetry you write. You can find contact addresses on the internet, like http://www.writersandartists.co.uk/ which is also an annual crammed full of useful information for the would be writer.

Remember that poetry magazines tend to be published sporadically - once a month if you're lucky, or 4-6 times a year, whereas e-zines and blogs tend to be more frequent.

  • If you are not 100% confident about your poetry ( but want to get it in print in a magazine) then I would try online first. Send your work to a blog or any website that you like and will accept the kind of poetry you write. Build up your confidence. Magazines tend to be more picky about what they accept so the online route is best if you're unsure.

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Poetry magazines accept submissions but read the small print first!
Poetry magazines accept submissions but read the small print first! | Source

5. Read Submission Guidelines!


Submission guidelines are written by editors to provide writers with key information about what is needed and what's not!

  • Read these guidelines with care because they are important - you don't want to annoy an editor or waste their time by sending in the wrong sort of stuff in the wrong way.
  • For example, some magazines want poetry only via email and will happily accept your work via an attachment or in the body of the email. Other guidelines will stipulate postal submissions only, with postage enclosed for return of the work.
  • Many magazines want 4-6 poems only, no more. Editors are very busy (often stressed out) people and prefer their poetry in small doses. Don't go sending off dozens of poems at once without return postage and without a return address envelope!!
  • Typically you can wait anything from 4 weeks to 3 months for a reply so be patient. If you've read the guidelines through and done everything according to the rules your poems will land on the editor's desk and will be read!

If you want to get your poems published keep the editor on your side!

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Copyright


In the UK any original written work qualifies for automatic copyright, that is, only the original author has the right to put the international mark, name and date next to the original work. Infringements occur when original work is copied by someone other than the author and published/printed for commercial gain. There are other exceptional circumstances, mainly in the areas of education and public interest. Please read the copyright laws thoroughly for detail. In the US copyright laws are slightly different. More information online.

US Copyright Laws

UK Copyright Laws

6. Final Read Of Poems


It's best to have one last look at your work before you send it out into the big bad world of poetry publication. Have a friend or reader scan through the poems - it's amazing how a small spelling mistake or wrong word can escape detection!

Assure yourself that the poems are dressed as they should be for such an occasion! If the guidelines say each page should be signed and numbered then do just that. You wouldn't want a great poem lost in some corner of an office, or thrown into a waste paper bin!

  • Make sure you have copies of your work at home. Never send original work out without having first made a copy or three.

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7. Send Your Poems


Once all your poems are ready send them off, either via email or snail mail.

  • Be sure to send the right poems and the right number! Enclose enough postage for their return and it's up to you whether or not to write a covering letter explaining why you've chosen the magazine. Editors aren't usually interested in small chat however - they'll go straight for your poems! (If they're accepted you may get a nice congratulatory reply! Otherwise forget it!)

Write your address on the back of the envelope, that way your work will be returned should there be problems with delivery.

Celebrate quietly with a piece of chocolate cake, dark roast coffee and closest friends around to keep you from feinting.

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8. Don't Pay Money To Have Poems Published


  • If your poems are accepted by a magazine or other publisher you'll be offered payment, either a small cash figure or copies of the printed magazine. Or both. Never pay money to have your work in print. So called Vanity publishers are always looking for easy profits. Try to stay clear.

Many blogs will not make a payment if your poems are published but the kudos is valueable and your name will be permanently added to the list. For young aspiring poets this is an excellent way into publication in print ( magazine or small book or pamphlet) as increasing numbers of blogsites offer pamphlet publication if the poems are strong enough.

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Amy Clampitt - first published at the age of 63.
Amy Clampitt - first published at the age of 63. | Source

9. Accept The Rejection And Move On!


Rejection is a fact of life if you send out poems on a regular basis to quality publications. There probably isn't a poet alive - or dead - who hasn't had at some time in their career a rejection slip from an editor.

'Loved all six of your poems. Interesting language. Fabulous lines. Not quite what we need. Thank you for sending your poems to Slaughter Magazine.'

You could at this point create a scrapbook or journal and stick your rejection slip to the first page as a reminder of the kindness of editors. There may be more to follow! You could end up with quite a gallery but they'll become a source of laughter for you once your first acceptance is in the bag.

  • Don't be alarmed. Do not get depressed. If rejection after rejection hits you treat the imposter with disdain and continue your journey towards publication. Time will tell you when the game is up - but don't forget that it can take years to have your first poems accepted. Just think of American poet Amy Clampitt. She was 63 years old when her first collection appeared, The Kingfisher, in 1983!

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10. Self Publish


More and more people are self publishers these days, investing their own money in the publication of high quality volumes which they can choose to help distribute. This way they recoup some of the initial capital and experience the thrill of selling their own work.

  • Self publishing guarantees that your poems will get into print but won't necessarily mean you will be feted as an instant poet of repute! Be realistic about your ambitions.

Follow this link:http://www.guardian.co.uk/info/2012/sep/25/how-to-self-publish

There are many bookbinding companies online who will create anything from a perfect bound paperback to a leather bound hardcover with dust jacket and embossed gold titles. All you have to do is supply the poetry! Advanced printing technology means that you don't have to have a minimum 5,000 books printed at 20$ each either. You can choose to have 50 printed initially, then increase the print run if needs be.

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What To Do Next

So you've gone through all ten tips and you ask yourself the question - What's next? The very next thing you should do is go back to your poems, read them through, revise, chop, add, edit, revamp, renovate....do all you can to get them polished and ready for send off.

Good luck in having your poems published - don't give up. Persevere.

I like that maxim 'If not now when? If not you who?'

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You Might Also Consider


  • Competitions - each year many magazines, journals and publishers offer prize money and the chance of publication to winners of competitions.
  • Local Newspapers, Booklets and Magazines - local publications often have space for poems or are open to ideas. There may not be payment but opportunities to have your work seen could be a confidence booster.
  • Pamphlets - small presses often give poets the chance to collect poems together in neat pamphlets which may lead to bigger things like book publication.
  • Chapbooks - smaller books of collected or themed poems.
  • Awards - awards are given for individual poems, collections, themed works, lifetime achievements and other categories.
  • Books - if you have a good track record of published poems in magazines then it could be worth trying a publishing house. Many well known poets have established themselves with a first small volume from reputable names. You'll need to have a body of solid work, say 20 - 30 poems ready to go.

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The Basics On Publishing Your Poetry

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© 2012 Andrew Spacey

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  • chef-de-jour profile image
    Author

    Andrew Spacey 2 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    Thank you for the visit Glenis, much appreciated. HP is a great place for poetry.

  • Glenis Rix profile image

    Glenis Rix 2 years ago from UK

    Great Advice. I have put some of my poems on hub pages. Poetry is a satisfying hobby for me, though. Don't aspire to get into print.

  • CarolineVABC profile image

    CarolineVABC 3 years ago from Castaic

    Thank you for the tips, chef-de-jour! I have started sharing some of my poems that I've written here on HubPages with family and friends via social media. Some have read them, and a few liked them, but not too many comments/critiques just yet. I'm sure someone is bound to critique them one of these days:-). Thanks again for sharing your wisdom! Very informative. Keep writing. God bless!

  • KrisL profile image

    KrisL 4 years ago from S. Florida

    Hi Andrew - I like what you do with your poetry on HubPages; I haven't found many better poets here.

    I have some of my poetry in "Kigo: Season Words in Haiku," but mostly I write about poetry on HubPages (just published one on the haiku of Richard Wright), and save my poetry for twitter & my tumblr site (Haiku etc.).

  • chef-de-jour profile image
    Author

    Andrew Spacey 4 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    More and more poetry is appearing on blogs and that's a good thing for those beginners who want to see their work out there but who aren't yet ready for the big leap into print publishing. It's a competitive world. The most important thing is to keep at it and share as much as you can with close friends and colleagues and others.

    I wonder if you put your work on HubPages?

    Many thanks for the approval!

  • KrisL profile image

    KrisL 4 years ago from S. Florida

    A good comprehensive overview of what is important. I've had a few poems published, almost by chance, but I'll return to this if I want to go at it more systematically.

    Shared and tweeted.

  • chef-de-jour profile image
    Author

    Andrew Spacey 4 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    You are very welcome, many hanks for the visit and comment.

  • profile image

    ExoticHippieQueen 4 years ago

    Hey, chef! I bookmarked that site for self-publishing. Thanks for the interesting and useful tips!

  • ajwrites57 profile image

    AJ 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

    Thanks for the thorough and helpful advice for poets. Shared!

  • chef-de-jour profile image
    Author

    Andrew Spacey 4 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    Many thanks for the comment Cris - I hope I can help ONE poet to get some poems published!

  • chef-de-jour profile image
    Author

    Andrew Spacey 4 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    Many thanks for the extra information, useful addition. It's good to know that poetry is thriving in some communities and there are many published poets nowadays who make the most of online sites and contests.

  • xstatic profile image

    Jim Higgins 4 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

    Great advice here for aspiring poets. In the US, I believe that every state has a Poetry Association, and each one has one or two annual contests. They are generally free to members and dues are quite reasonable. There is an online publication called Winning Writers' Newsletter too ( a free version and one that needs a subscription) which vets contests and recommends some based on your level of writing. Many are free.

  • wayne barrett profile image

    Wayne Barrett 4 years ago from Clearwater Florida

    Very good advice. Thank you for the helpful tips.

  • CrisSp profile image

    CrisSp 4 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

    Clever and indeed a very useful hub. Thanks chef! Bookmarking and sharing. Cheers!

  • bravewarrior profile image

    Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

    You can also publish your poetry books on lulu.com. They do not charge you for publishing but do retain 10% of any books you sell.

  • Rosemay50 profile image

    Rosemary Sadler 4 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

    A very useful hub with some good advice and knowledge past on. I am at the stage where I am looking at self publishing, just not so easy here in New Zealand.

    Thank you for the encouragement

  • chef-de-jour profile image
    Author

    Andrew Spacey 4 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    Many thanks for the visit and advice. Yes, it can be a maze out there. Best to try and keep everything simple, if that's possible! Only submit to those magazines who are clear in what they will and will not give you.

  • chef-de-jour profile image
    Author

    Andrew Spacey 4 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    Many thanks for the visit. Perhaps you should try a blog or two?

  • chef-de-jour profile image
    Author

    Andrew Spacey 4 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    Than you rjsadowski, your visit is most welcome. Good luck with your poems. Perhaps you should try a blog or two?

  • denise.w.anderson profile image

    Denise W Anderson 4 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

    Thanks for the great tips! There is still hope! I'm not 63 yet!

  • chef-de-jour profile image
    Author

    Andrew Spacey 4 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    Yes Vinaya, there is much to learn about having poems published in paying magazines! It sounds like you are a hard working poet - hopefully one who will never stop writing! Many thanks for the visit, much appreciated.

  • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

    Vinaya Ghimire 4 years ago from Nepal

    When I was 20,I was very enthusiastic poet. I submitted my poems to many publications, but in vain. Then I self published. Years later my poems are still rejected by paying markets.

  • chef-de-jour profile image
    Author

    Andrew Spacey 4 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    Many thanks for the visit and comment. How positive that you write about true experiences and try to capture or express inner feelings through poetry. Perhaps in the future you would want to send them out, let others share your words, although it's quite natural to want to keep deeply personal writings 'in house'.

  • chef-de-jour profile image
    Author

    Andrew Spacey 4 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    Thank you for the visit and comment. Publishing poetry can be a challenging business - something so personal sent out in to the public domain - and so many suspect publishers wanting to make a quick profit! You're right to point out those publishers who do not respect the work of the poet.

  • rjsadowski profile image

    rjsadowski 4 years ago

    You give some very useful advice. I like to write poetry based on true experiences in my life, but I have not tried to get any of them published yet.

  • lovebuglena profile image

    Lena Kovadlo 4 years ago from Staten Island, NY

    Very useful and informative hub about publishing poetry. Thanks for sharing.

    There are some publishers that don't ask for submission fees when poets publish their work with them but they don't pay poets for allowing them to publish their work, which is not right. And on top of that they don't even give away a free copy of the book that the poets are published in. It's best to stay away from those.

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