How to Publish a Poetry Book

girls lying in grass reading poetry

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Are you an aspiring poet with a collection of verses ready to be shared with the world? Publishing a poetry book allows you to showcase your creativity and connect with readers who appreciate the power of words.

Building your writing portfolio

Before diving into the poetry publishing process, it’s crucial to build a strong writing portfolio to demonstrate your dedication to the craft while providing a selection of your best work to include in your poetry book.

Consider these ideas to help build your portfolio.

  1. Daily journal. Strengthen your writing habit by maintaining a daily literary journal. This will nurture your creativity and help you explore different ideas and themes for your poems.
  2. Writing prompts. Participate in writing challenges or use writing prompts to spark creative thinking. This pushes your boundaries and encourages experimentation with different styles and subjects.
  3. Workshops and writing groups. Attend a writing workshop or join a writer’s group to receive feedback on your poetry. Engaging with fellow writers can offer valuable insights and inspire growth.
  4. Poetry contests and poetry competitions. Join a poetry contest to flex your creative muscles. You might even win a prize!

Choosing a theme and target audience

One of the critical decisions in publishing poetry is selecting a theme that ties your collection together. A unifying theme can create a cohesive reading experience for your audience. When choosing your theme:

  1. Reflect on your voice. Identify the recurring subjects, emotions, or experiences in your poetry. You may discover you have commonalities in your subjects and images that define your work and poetic voice.
  2. Consider your audience. Think about the readers you want to reach with your poetry book for the book promotion. Understanding your target audience‘s preferences and interests will help you craft a collection that appeals to them.
  3. Experiment. Explore different themes or topical combinations. Your poetry book can include a mix of personal, social, or abstract themes, allowing for diverse interpretations.

Traditional publishing vs. self-publishing

When it comes to publishing your poetry book, you have two primary options: traditional publishing or self-publishing.

Benefits of self-publishing

Self-publishing offers poets greater control over the entire publishing process. Here are some advantages:

  1. Creative control. You have the final say in every aspect of your finished product, from book cover design to formatting, ensuring your vision is fully realized.
  2. Speed to market. Self-publishing allows you to bring your poetry book to market quickly without the lengthy poetry submissions and acceptance process of traditional publishing.
  3. Royalty rates. With self-publishing, you retain a higher percentage of book sales, providing the potential for greater financial returns.
  4. Anyone can do it. You don’t need to get an agent (which can be challenging) and hope they can sell your manuscript to a poetry publisher. If you want to self-publish your book, there’s no gatekeeper standing in your way.

Benefits of traditional publishing

Of course, authors and poets wouldn’t crave a traditional deal if there wasn’t any value in it. The three biggest benefits are:

  1. You get an advance. There’s nothing like having someone pay you to publish your books instead of the other way around.
  2. Editorial help. When you work with a publisher, you will have the guidance of an experienced editor who can help your writing.
  3. Marketing. Although many authors complain about the lack of marketing they actually get from their publisher, having a marketing department behind you can certainly help.

If you want to pursue a traditional deal, do some research and find a book publisher whose poems fit your style. Here is a list of companies that publish poetry.

Of course, publishers don’t just hand out publishing deals to just any poet. And many poets prefer the speed, freedom, and royalty rates of self-publishing to the traditional deal. That’s why BookBaby offers world-class editing services to help with your writing, as well as robust book marketing services so your poetry book can reach as wide an audience as possible.

FAQs About Self-Publishing a Poetry Book

How should I format the pages?

Formatting your poetry book’s pages requires careful consideration to enhance the reading experience. Follow these tips:

  1. Line breaks and spacing. Pay attention to line breaks and spacing to preserve the intended rhythm and flow of your poems. Experiment with different arrangements to achieve the desired visual impact.
  2. Typography. Choose a legible font that complements the tone of your poetry. Consider font size, alignment, and spacing to ensure readability.

BookBaby can help you ensure your poems are displayed correctly in both eBook and print. Check out our eBook conversion as well as our printed book trim sizes for more information.

How many poems do I need to include?

There is no fixed rule for the number of poems to include in your book. However, aim for a substantial collection to provide a satisfying reading experience. Generally, poetry books contain between 40 to 100 poems.

What should I add to the book cover?

The cover of your poetry book is the first impression readers will have. Consider incorporating the following elements.

  1. Title. Choose a captivating and memorable title that reflects the theme of your poetry collection. Or choose the title of one poem that reflects your style and piques the interest of your intended reader.
  2. Author name. Display your name prominently as the author of the book.
  3. Visual imagery. Select an image or artwork that complements your poetry or evokes the theme of your collection.

Submitting your poetry book to literary magazines

In addition to publishing a complete poetry book, you can enhance your visibility and credibility by submitting individual poems to a literary magazine. These magazines serve as platforms to showcase your work to a wider audience and attract potential readers and poetry book publishers.

Marketing your poetry book

Once your poetry book is published, marketing plays a crucial role in reaching your target audience. Consider the following strategies:

  1. Author website. Create a dedicated website to showcase your poetry, share updates, and provide information about purchasing your book.
  2. Social media presence. Use social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook to engage with poetry lovers and readers, share excerpts from your poems, and promote upcoming events.
  3. Book readings and poetry events. Participate in local poetry events, open mic nights, and book readings to connect with poetry enthusiasts in person.

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