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If you’ve written so many poems that you’re interested in publishing your poetry as a book of poems, as a chapbook, or as a collection of poems, there are a number of ways you can get a book of poems published. But before we tell you how to publish your poetry book, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
First, poets approach Writer’s Relief every day asking us how we can help them make money on their poetry. The unfortunate truth is that it’s not very likely you’ll make a significant amount of money by publishing your book of poetry. Traditional, big publishing houses typically do not publish the work of unknown or moderately known poets because there simply isn’t a large audience that is willing to plunk down money for poetry. And because there’s no money in poetry, literary agents tend not to represent poets (with the exception of the very famous). So that’s the bad news.
Learn more: How much money can you make writing poems?
But the good news is that poetry readers and writers have created a strong alternative market to big New York publishing houses. And if you’ve got time, talent, and luck, you may be able to get your book of poems published and maybe even make some money on your poetry. It’s best to have a solid list of publication credits for your individual poems before you start asking people to publish your poems en masse. If your bio is strong and testifies to your skill, here are some ways to publish your poetry chapbook or collection of poems.
How To Publish A Book Of Poems
Enter chapbook contests. If you’ve amassed a collection of poems that might not be long enough for a full poetry book, you may want to consider entering a chapbook contest. Although the rules vary, chapbook contests generally want between 25 and 60 pages of poetry. Most chapbook contests are sponsored by universities or small presses, so while there may be an entry fee, there is also usually a payout for the winner in the form of publication and a monetary prize. If your poems are very strong, entering chapbook contests might be a good way to get your poetry chapbook or collection published.
Approach small presses. If your collection of poetry is too big for a chapbook, you may consider approaching small presses (independent publishers) with your poems. To do this, you’ll need to have strong publishing credentials. You can learn more about how to get publishing credentials at these links: Building Publication Credits and No Publishing Credits? Get Publishing Credentials: How To Build Up Your Writing Bio Super Fast. Universities and small presses are the heart of contemporary poetry, so do the proper research and send your queries their way.
Self-publish. If you have not had your individual poems published in reputable magazines, and you don’t have the patience that it takes to develop a good submission strategy, you might want to consider self-publishing. Just be aware that self-publishing requires you do all the legwork regarding distribution. Your book will not appear on bookshelves unless you do something to get it there. If you’d like a way to easily share your poetry with your family and friends, self-publishing may be a good option. But if you’re taking the self-publishing route because you think it’s an easier way to reach a large audience, think again. Unless you’re prepared to do lots of legwork and marketing, your book will not reach far and wide.
Many poets are competing to publish their poems as poetry collections or chapbooks. Even though there isn’t a strong mainstream market for poetry, the “underground” and independent markets are thriving. In order to keep publishing markets open to poets everywhere, consider subscribing to literary magazines and journals, or consider supporting the work of other poets who are publishing in the small-press market. To build more lucrative publishing markets for poetry, read and buy more poetry.
If you’d like help building up your poetry credentials, Writer’s Relief can help you develop a strong submission strategy to publish your individual poems. Our clients publish regularly in the literary magazine and journal markets. Visit our Overview of Services for more information.