Publishing Poetry : 10 Useful Tips
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.
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:
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:
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:
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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?'
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.
More Poetry Links Here
- Simile - Use Of In A Poem
Similes are figures of speech that bring colour and life to the English language. Life is like a bowl of cherries and this article will help to explain why.
- How To Analyse A Poem For Exams Or Pleasure - Part 2
Part 2 of how to analyse a poem deals with rhyme, metaphor, meaning and much more. For GCSE students there is evaluation,anthology comparison and essay writing.
- 10 Bird Poems
Original poems about birds. How different birds inspire different kinds of poetry.
- How To Analyse A Poem For Exams Or Pleasure - Part 1
How to analyse a poem for an exam or simply for pleasure. Learn the basic method of analysis and gain greater understanding of the words that lie before you on the page.
The Basics On Publishing Your Poetry
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© 2012 Andrew Spacey