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Self-Publish or Marketplace? How to Publish Your Poetry

PS has worked as a freelance writer since 2012. When she's not traveling and writing, she helps people with web design and development.


Poetry comes from the highest happiness or the deepest sorrow.

— Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

With more than a hundred poetry publications actively running, it’s a bit complicated to reckon the best one. And at times, overwhelming too. I should mention many publications publish only specific types of poetries and you must read their guidelines before finalizing it.

You surely aim to shake a leg with the best ones, but it takes time and perseverance to reach the top. Stay positive and attend workshops, read articles and join an organization or a group to grow your skills.

Things to do Before Submitting Your Poem

Generally, you’ll need to submit around 3 to 5 poems at a time to different publications. Once, you’re done compiling the list of poems, ask yourself following questions before submission:

  • What types of poems does this publication prefer?
  • What are the editors’ likes and dislikes?
  • Do all my poems adhere to the submission guidelines?
  • Have I correctly edited and proofed my poems? (The best way is to read them out loud)
  • Do these poems represent my best work and are they workshopped by the right SMEs?

If your response is positive for all the above questions, then confidently submit your poems with a compelling cover letter. A cover letter is not always required, read the guidelines for the same.

Maintain Your Submission Track

Maintaining your submission track is important to stay aware of your progress and success rate with the number of rejections.

Create a Submission log. While it seems an easy and less required task, it is important if you weekly submit your work or even if you are new to publication to note the final result of your actions.

Why you must keep track of your submissions?

Here are some reasonable points that’ll make you keep a submission log:

  • You are aware of accepted and rejected poems and by whom.
  • You know the submission date. This is important to have an estimate of how long it took to get a response for your query.
  • You’d be aware of the requirements of the different publications.
  • You’ll have the detail of all the payments received and what are publications’ responses, which is important for your future submissions.

For all this, I use Excel. Some even use Word doc or other related software. I have the following categories in my submission log:

  • Date Submission
  • Publication Name
  • Poem Titles
  • Date Accepted
  • Issues(if any)
  • Date Rejected
  • Payment

It is also good to add additional information such as editors’ names, their email addresses, and their comments along with the publications’ websites. Keep it on a month-to-month or week-to-week basis as you prefer.

Keep in mind - what you focus on, grows spontaneously. Remember this while writing as well as while exchanging emails. Also, keep a track of the number of rejections, this is important to avoid future mistakes and turn up with something better the next time. Even if you are a good writer, it’s your dedication and continuous creativity in your craft that help you make a significant difference.


Steps to Write a Great Poetry

  1. Read the related literary journals and magazines
  2. Find out the reading and submission periods of different publications
  3. Inquire for submission
  4. Find out editorial preferences
  5. Send no more than 5 poems at a time. It’s not important for them to be interrelated.
  6. Format and proofread them
  7. Use your name and contact info on every poem
  8. Use page numbers for poems longer than a page
  9. Include titles of your poems and professional bio in your cover letter, along with a perfect closure
  10. If you have no apt title, go with the word ‘Untitled’, but there’s has to be a title for each of your poem.
  11. Make use of appropriate font size and type as per the submission guidelines, most of the times it is 12px with Times New Roman or Arial.
  12. Keep track of your submissions, acceptances, and rejections
  13. Repeat 1 to 12.

While poetry is highly creative and it takes determination to become an expert in this field, it is imperative to say most of the publishers are minimally thirsty for poetry submissions. In case, this statement penetrates your heart, then cheer up. People still write poems and make a living out of it.

While articles and books are long-form content and take time to read, poems are short and can quickly change readers’ moods not letting them compromise with their busy schedule. Still getting your poem published is a bit tricky and needs thorough research.

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Self-Publishing Your Book of Poems

  • Many poets are preferring self-publishing over publications to make better revenue and get rid of the hassle.
  • Though lucrative, it’s not always a good option taking into account the expenses of printing and formatting.
  • As a self-publisher, you are solely responsible for marketing your work.

Tips to Self-Publish

  • Post on social media. Remember if you choose this option, you are restricted from submitting them to literary journals and magazines.
  • Start a blog of your poems. Try to write in a specialized genre to earn higher traffic.
  • Turn your collection of poems into an ebook and publish it on sites like Amazon and Smashwords.
  • Create a chapbook and sell it to a book store or online marketplace.
  • Participate in poetry contests

Famous Poetry Contests

  • Rhyming Poetry Contest
  • A Line of Shakespeare Poetry Contest
  • The Society of Classical Poets Poetry Competition
  • Shortest Poem Poetry Contest
  • ABC Poetry Contest
  • Cinquain Poetry
  • 3 Line Poetry Contest
  • Haiku
  • Poetry Nation
  • Barthelme Prize for Short Prose
  • Kore Press
  • Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales
  • TulipTree Publishing
  • Grayson Books
  • Red Wheelbarrow

Famous Self-Published Poets

  • Rupi Kaur
  • Atticus
  • Nayyirah Waheed
  • Nikita Gill
  • Sarah Kay
  • Fatimah Asghar
  • Terrance Hayes

Most Important Question: Do you understand your Audience?

Certainly, a brilliant art is useless if it has no audience to appreciate its charismatic beauty.

Ask yourself:

  • Who likes poetry?
  • Why do they like it?

Once, you get hold of these two factors, you’ll understand the potential market better. Thus, increasing your chances of earning a substantial amount of income.

Examples of Target Audience

  • People who need poems for a special event such as anniversaries, birthdays, etc.
  • People who are enthusiastic readers.
  • People who are looking for unique artwork to decorate their home or office.
  • People who wish to present the gift to their friend and family in a poetic and sensual style.

Looking for Marketplace to Submit Your Poems?

If you are not a self-publisher type and wish to go with the established publications, here is a list of famous magazines and literary journals:

  • Kenyon Review
  • Poets & Writers
  • Rattle
  • Ploughshares
  • Poetry Magazine
  • Antioch Review
  • Acorn
  • Modern Haiku
  • The World Haiku Review
  • Frogpond
  • The Heron’s Nest
  • Asimov’s
  • Star*Line
  • The Pedestal Magazine
  • Illumen
  • Strange Horizons
  • Qu
  • Agni
  • The Atlantic
  • Blackbird
  • The Baltimore Review
  • The Cincinnati Review
  • Confrontation Magazine
  • Contrary
  • Event
  • Crannóg
  • The Fiddlehead
  • The Christian Science Monitor: The Home Forum
  • Strange Horizons
  • Ploughshares
  • Southern Indiana Review
  • Southern Review
  • Thrush Poetry
  • Rust+Moth
  • Dime Show Review
  • Yes, Poetry
  • Softblow

Besides Submitting Your Poems for Publication, you can also

  • Provide poetry writing services on Fiverr or other freelancing sites.
  • Create a website for your poems.
  • Sell your poems on Etsy.
By Shakespeare

By Shakespeare

Famous Legendary Poets

  • Mirza Ghalib
  • Gulzar
  • W.B Yeats
  • Shakespeare
  • Sylvia Plath
  • Javed Akhtar
  • Rudyard Kipling
  • Oscar Wilde
  • Alexander Pushkin
  • John Milton
  • John Keats
  • Charlotte Bronte
  • Lord Byron
  • Rupert Brooke
  • Lewis Carroll
  • Robert Frost

A poet can earn between $50 to a few thousand dollars for one publication. As a freelance or employed poet, you can earn around $10k to $70k per year. If you are a skilled poet, you can charge around $200 or more on an hourly basis.

© 2019 Prachi Sharma


Luis G Asuncion from City of San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan, Philippines on November 24, 2019:

This is a big help. Thanks for sharing. I appreciate it that you've shared here.

Shaloo Walia from India on September 17, 2019:

Informative hub...I will check out the poetry contest you have listed here. Thanks for sharing!

Prachi Sharma (author) from Seattle, WA on August 02, 2019:

Oops! Thank you Lena. Typo error.

Lena Kovadlo from Staten Island, NY on August 02, 2019:

In your hub you mention "Many poets are preferring sub-publishing over publications..." What is sub-publishing?

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