The Ultimate Guide on How to Publish a Poetry Book
Poetry is one art form that has always been meant to be shared. Poets use this medium to express their observations, experiences, and emotions through powerful words. So it makes sense that many poets want to publish their work and share it with other readers.
However, thanks to capitalism and the "dying" art of poetry, it can be difficult to know how to get your art into the world. Thankfully, self-publishing has become an easier way for poets to share a collection of their work, and many traditional publishers are also accepting poetry books.
If you're a poet with a collection of poems that you're eager to share with the world, I've got you covered. In this post, I'll cover everything you need to know about publishing a poetry book, from preparing your poems to promoting your published poems.
Why Should You Publish Your Poetry Book?
Will anyone even read your book? Is it worth all of the time and effort?
Before you embark on this journey, you need to answer these questions for yourself and figure out what your goals are. For me, I wrote my book to help myself heal from a bad relationship. I decided to publish it because so many books helped me, and I wanted my book to do that for someone else.
I wasn't focused on making money, but I just wanted people to heal and find comfort in my words. Seeing this happen, even if I wasn't an instant New York Bestseller, meant that it was worth it. I had accomplished my goals.
Setting expectations and realistic goals can really help guide you through this process. Even if you think no one will want to read your book, it might end up being the one poetry book that someone has been waiting for.
Prepare Your Poetry Book
The first step in publishing any poetry book is to prepare your poems for publication. You want to choose the best poems that all fit cohesively in your collection.
Go through all of your poems, whether they're in your Google Doc, Microsoft Word, iPhone notes, or even your Instagram. Find ones that are representative of your voice and style, and think of what your readers might enjoy the most. Which ones are the most powerful?
While you're choosing these poems, consider the structure and flow of the book as well. When you find out which poems you want to include, start organizing them and dividing them into sections. If you have one central theme, figure out how you can organize them to carry on that theme.
Once you've organized them, edit and revise your poems. If you have the money, it can really help you to hire a poetry editor. They can help you improve your poems and also ensure that you don't have any typos before you send them out for publication.
When you take time to go through these poems and organize important and emotional ones into a cohesive book, you can stand out in the poetry market. When your book is professionally put together and organized, you'll attract attention from readers and publishers.
Explore Your Poetry Publishing Options
Once you've narrowed down your poems to your favorites and have a polished collection ready to go, you can start exploring your poetry publishing options.
There are two main options for publishing a poetry book: traditional publishing and self-publishing. Both have their pros and cons, so it's important to understand the differences between the two and determine which one is the best fit for you and your work.
This decision is entirely up to you. Regardless of which one you go with, you'll need to consider your resources, goals, and your personal preferences. You'll also have to think about your timeline, budget, and audience.
For whichever path you choose, keep your eye on the end goal, and don't be afraid to reach out to other poets and ask for help and advice.
If you choose traditional publishing, you'll have to submit a query of your finished work to a publishing house or a literary agent. While there are some poetry literary agents out there, most poets can publish their work without needing a literary agent.
When you publish traditionally, you'll get access to wider distribution, and you'll also have the help of a publishing team. The catch is that submitting your manuscript can take a lot of time and patience, and most poets will face multiple rejections.
It can be a great way to make your book seem more "legitimate." However, many self-published authors and poets are becoming just as popular as traditionally published poets.
Keep in mind that traditional publishing can be a great avenue, but you'll still have to do a lot of marketing for your book, or you won't see as many sales. The publishing house can also make changes and edits to your book, and you likely won't have full control over the design cover.
Self-publishing, on the other hand, allows you to have more control over the publishing process and a faster turnaround time, but it also requires more effort on your part to promote and distribute your book. There are various self-publishing platforms and services available, such as Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), Ingram Spark, Draft2Digital, and Lulu.
You're responsible for handling all of the work and the costs for designing, editing, distributing, and marketing your book. Thankfully, many of the platforms we mentioned above give you a lot of resources and tools to help you make your book successful.
If traditional publishing is still your dream, many self-published authors can be noticed by traditional publishers and get traditionally published later on down the road.
Start Marketing Your Poetry Book
Once you've published your poetry book, now you need to market it! You want to define your target audience and then make efforts to reach them where they are.
For example, my target audience is primarily on Instagram and TikTok, so I have accounts on both of those platforms and schedule constant content. If you have an older audience, you may want to focus on Facebook marketing. You can also do email newsletters or in-person events. You might also want to make a website and then post blogs about your book as well. Even networking and building a community with other poets can help you get your work out there.
You will also want to generate as many reviews as possible for your new book. You can upload a copy of your book onto BookSirens for free and then send out digital Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) to generate interest and reviews before your book even launches. If you traditionally publish your poetry book, then the publisher will handle this process.
By implementing these marketing and promotion strategies, you can reach a wider audience and increase the visibility of your poetry book. Be creative and don't be afraid to try new things to promote your book. The more you put into promoting your book, the more success you're likely to have.
Also, remember that even if you don't have instant success with your book, the important thing is that it's out there. With writing and publishing, a lot of success comes years later after the first one is published.
Think of your favorite author or poet right now. When did their books come out? It was likely a few years ago, but now people are realizing its potential and it's becoming popular. The same thing happened with Sarah J Maas's books or Colleen Hoover's on BookTok.
Don't give up; you never know when your book will take off.
Publish Your Poetry Book Today
This is just a high-level overview of the general steps on how to publish your poetry book.
Whether you choose traditional publishing or self-publishing, remember to stay focused on your goal and don't be afraid to seek help from others when needed. With the right preparation, marketing, and promotion, you can turn your dream of publishing a poetry book into a reality.
It can seem like a lot, but overall it's a very rewarding experience and process. Even if only one person reads the book, that one person may have needed to hear your words. If you go into the process with the right intentions and goals, the whole process will be cathartic and rewarding.
If you're interested in reading the poetry book that I published, you can find it on Amazon or my store.
Disclosure: I am an Amazon and Planoly Associate, and some of the links above are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalize a purchase.