Though the focus of this article is on poets & poetry, many of the tips below are appropriate for writers of fiction and nonfiction as well.
Where should I publish my poems?
My best suggestion for locating publishers is that you get your hands on a copy of Poet’s Market, published annually by Writer’s Digest. The 2013 edition is currently in print.
Poet’s Market includes detailed information about over 1200 publishers of poetry (book publishers, magazines, newsletters, journals, etc) including contact information, what they’re looking for, deadlines & submission guidelines. Whether you would like to publish individual poems or a book, Poet’s Market has the information you need to find the right publisher. This is the biggest and most up-to-date publisher resource you’ll find anywhere.
In the book, publishers are categorized by the difficulty of getting published and the type of poetry they publish (e.g., formal, experimental, sonnets, inspirational, nature, love, poems by young writers, etc.). So, you can easily find publishers which are suitable for the type of poems you write. It also lists publishers in many different countries.
Also included are many pages of advice on the process of publishing poetry. It will explain how to determine which publishers may be right for your work, and how to go about sending your poems to them for consideration.
Poet’s Market is used by novice & experienced poets alike to find places to publish. It’s widely considered the “Bible” for publishing poets.
Poet’s Market is available at your local library, bookstores, and at a discount at Amazon.
Poet’s Market is essential equipment for any poet who publishes, would like to publish, wants advice, or would like to know about the current poetry publishing scene. I cannot recommend it highly enough. If you’re serious about publishing your poetry, you should have this book at hand.
other helpful books
If you have some money left over after buying 2013 Poet’s Market, you might consider checking out these books:
- How to Publish Your Poetry: A Complete Guide to Finding the Right Publishers for Your Work
- Poet Power: The Complete Guide to Getting Your Poetry Published
And, if you write fiction, non-fiction, lyrics, or other types of writing, you may find these books helpful:
- 2012 Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market
- 2013 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market (Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market)
- 2013 Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market (Novel and Short Story Writer’s Market)
- 2013 Writer’s Market
- The Christian Writer’s Market Guide – 2012(Published by a different publisher than the books listed above. I’ve no personal experience with this book, but it’s popular with, and well-reviewed by, Christian writers.)
Where else can I publish my poetry?
While Poet’s Market is the easiest way to find publishers who may be receptive to your work, there other publishing opportunities out there, too. Here are some suggestions on how to find them.
online publications (e-zines)
In addition to print publications, there are also thousands of online poetry magazines – a Google search for “poetry ezines” will turn them up. (Also, see the “helpful websites” links below.) This is a great way to expose your poems to a worldwide audience!
Some print publications also have websites where you can read work from past issues.
Go to your local library, school, bookshop or newsstand to pore through the poetry journals, literary magazines, etc. See which ones resonate with you. Which ones might be a place to submit your work now, or to aspire to in the future?
Also, don’t forget publishing opportunities close to home.
Are there any local literary publications, magazines, or small weekly newspapers which sometimes publish poetry?
How about your school literary magazine or newspaper?
Are there local flyers, newsletters or magazines?
How about a publication associated with your workplace or one of your hobbies? (Your poems about roses might be just right for the gardening club newsletter.)
Does your church publish poetry in its newsletters or other publications?
Publishers close to home are often very receptive to beginning poets and can be a very satisfying way to get your work out into the world.
Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter be great places to discover new literary publications. Often calls for submission are announced this way.
Why not publish your own work? We’ve written an article explaining how to self-publish your chapbook, book or broadside.
On publishing individual poems, versus an entire book
The usual method of publishing poetry is to get individual poems published in a number of literary magazines. After you have an established publication record and have built a loyal readership, you may submit a book or chapbook manuscript to a publisher. This is because most publishers do not want to invest in publishing & marketing poets who have no track record and are unlikely to sell many books.
This is the long-established order of things, the way reputations are built in the world of poetry and publishing.
The books and other recommendations above will help you find the right places to publish your individual poems. Though these books do contain book publishers, if you haven’t yet published any individual poems, you’ll likely have a hard time finding a publisher for a complete book.
If you’d like to publish a book of poems without first having established a reputation amongst readers and editors, then you’ll want to self-publish your book. Doing so isn’t too difficult; there are many resources and businesses which can help you get your book published. Please read our article, Self-Publishing Your Poetry Book, for details.
How can I publish my own poetry?
Can I make money that way?
Why not publish your own chapbook, book, or broadside? We’ve devoted a whole page to Self-Publishing Methods & Resources.
As for money, well, you may be able to recoup your costs, and, if you’re lucky, a little more. But, poetry isn’t lucrative.
The self-publishing article mentioned above, and our article, How to Sell Your Own Book, give our best ideas about making the most from self-publishing.
How much do poetry publishers pay?
What about a career as a poet?
The short answer is: publishers do not usually pay cash; they will most often pay you with one or more copies of the publication in which your work appears.
Most well-known poets don’t actually make a living at it; they often work in related fields (publishing, teaching, etc.) or even doing something completely different. (For more on this subject visit our article, Poetry & Money.)
Tips on submitting your work to publishers
- Choose your poems carefully. Study the publication to which you’re submitting very carefully. From your best work, select the poems that seem best suited for that publication.
- Format your submission correctly. Each poem should be printed (or typewritten) on a standard-sized piece of paper. (Handwritten submissions are not acceptable.) If the poem spans more than one printed page, identify each page as “1 of 2,” “2 of 2,” etc. Include only one poem on each page. Your name and address should appear in the top corner of each the page. A copyright statement is not necessary and looks amateurish. (The editor already knows that your work is copyrighted.)
- Proofread. This is so important, and many poets miss it. Proofread your work for spelling, capitalization, punctuation, and grammatical errors. Then, have someone else do it. Correct any mistakes before you submit your poem to a publisher. Your poem should be ready to publish, as is. Errors look amateurish; even one creates a poor impression and may give the editor a reason to reject your work. Show them you take your craft seriously by sending only error-free work. Check Grammar Slammer for help.
- Don’t use ALL CAPS. Again, this looks amateurish. You don’t see books published in ALL CAPS. (And, on the web writing in all caps is interpreted as shouting.) It is permissible in a title, however.
- Include a brief cover letter. A short letter, telling the editor a little about yourself & your publishing history (if any) is usually a good idea. Don’t be too verbose – after all, while the editor probably would like to know something about you and where you may have published before, it’s your work that interests him most. If any of the poems you’re sending for consideration have been previously published, be sure to let the editor to know where and when. In closing, be sure to thank the editor for his time & consideration.
- Always include a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) if submitting your work by postal mail. You’ll need to send a SASE of sufficient size, and with enough postage for the editor to either return your poems to you, or notify you of their acceptance. Most editors will not consider submissions without a SASE.
- After you submit your work, be patient – it sometimes takes a long time to get a reply. It might be months. This is normal. If several months go by with no reply, you might consider sending a polite note to inquire about the status of your submission. Again, include a SASE.
- Be prepared for some rejections, keep writing, and keep trying. Even poets who are well-known get rejected. (As an editor, I’ve turned down many well-known poets whose work was not suitable for the magazine I was editing.) Space in literary publications is very limited and most editors get sent so much more work than they can publish. And, most magazines are looking for a specific type of poetry – you’ll want to find the ones best suited to your work. Many poets new to publishing don’t realize how much time & effort the process can take. Don’t get disheartened. Try different magazines & learn from experience.
- Take your time in publishing your work. Experiment, find your voice, learn what works first. When you do want to publish, send only your best work to editors. Once you have published in a number of literary journals, you might consider assembling a chapbook manuscript.
Resources Regarding Writing, Publishing & Modern Poetry
- 10 Things Teenage Writers Should Know About Writing Just brilliant. Great advice for teens & adults alike.
- Dee Rimbaud’s excellent advice on publishing & how best to go about it.
- The Academy of American Poets Valuable advice on writing & publishing.
- Publishing Explained. Everything you wanted to know about publishing poetry.
- Poetry Magic. Resource center for the theory & craft of writing poetry.
- Poets & Writers. The magazine’s website offers articles & resources.
- Writer’s Digest. The magazine’s website offers helpful books & advice.
- About.com Poetry. Resources for poets & info about contemporary poetry.
- Kennesaw St. Univ. Careers in Writing Network. Literary career info.
- Essay on what makes poetry poetry.
- Electronic Poetry Center. SUNY Buffalo’s huge modern poetry site.
- Duotrope. Searchable database of poetry and fiction publishers.
- Publishers & Guidelines Lists both paying and non-paying markets.
- Poetry Kit’s listing of eZines. A huge list.
- Poets & Writers database of literary magazines.
- Poetry Mountain’s list of online & print lit mags.
- Writers Write Many writers resources of all kinds.
- Resource Central Poetry Resources
How do you write a good poem, and get feedback on your work?
Our best advice on this topic is found in our article, Advice on Writing Poetry & Getting Feedback On Your Work