If you’ve written 30-100 poems — and I mean at least 25 to 30 you consider some of your best work — why not learn how to publish a poetry book of your own?
How you go about publishing your book, though, depends on whether you choose to self-publish or to submit your work to a poetry publisher.
Which option is best, you ask? Honestly, both have their pros and cons.
The more you know about both, the easier it’ll be to decide which to try first.
Read on for the information you need on writing a poetry book and getting it published.
How to Publish a Poetry Book
Whether you publish as an indie or submit your work to a vetted publisher depends on what you most want to gain (or retain) from the experience.
But before you can make that choice, you need a poetry book that’s ready to publish.
And that’s what the next ten steps are all about.
10 Steps to Writing a Poetry Book
1. Write a lot of poetry.
As mentioned above, the average poetry book has 30-100 poems. And each one generally gets a page — or two-page spread — of its own.
2. Connect with other poets and poetry-lovers.
Find groups on social media that enjoy your work and share it with their own followers. Look for the best ways to build buzz for your first foray into poetry book publishing.
3. Collect the best 30+ poems for your book.
Not all the poems you write will make you smile when you reread them days later. But I hope you find 25-30 or more that do. Save those for your book.
4. Arrange your poems in an order that makes sense.
If there are themes that tie some of them together in groups, use those. Also, if your poetry represents an ongoing conversation, show that in the way your poems are ordered.
5. Decide on your poetry book’s format.
Choose your print book’s size, and decide whether you’ll stick with black and white with words only, or if you’ll include images or other visuals.
6. Edit your poem collection.
Make whatever edits you deem necessary to make your poems more powerful and more enjoyable to read. If you know an editor who loves the kind of poetry you write, get them involved.
7. Design your book’s interior.
You’ll want to design every two-page spread with the eye of an artist (which you are). Every spread should tell a story that supports the poem or poems featured. You can learn to do this yourself or hire a designer.
8. Have a cover designed for your book.
Poetry books have a smaller target audience than most fiction genres, so it’s all the more important for your book’s cover to shine. Make sure it looks professional and fits the overall theme of your poetry.
9. Create and edit your first proof copy.
Once your book is complete and beautifully formatted, find a printer who will create a proof copy for you to edit. The more eyes you get on your proof copy, the better.
10. Revise and assess a second proof copy.
Once you’ve made your edits, have a second proof copy printed. Then look it over carefully to catch any mistakes you missed with the first proof copy.
Once your book is ready to publish, get it set up on Amazon for paperback, ebook, or both.
Then create a plan for your book’s launch, getting as many people involved as you can round up.
Learn what you can about effective marketing from fellow authors of published poetry books.
If you’re tired of waiting around for someone to decide your poetry is worth publishing, indie publishing is the way to go.
That’s true especially if you like having more creative control over your book’s cover and formatting.
Take the following steps to self-publish your poetry book on Amazon:
Poetry publishing on Amazon is simple and fairly quick, once your formatted book file is ready to upload. KDP will take your book’s interior file and cover file and create a digital proof copy for you to look over before you publish it.
If you struggle with the wording of your book description, look at the book descriptions of successful poetry books and see what they do that makes you curious enough to want to buy a copy.
Once you learn how to publish a book of poetry yourself, you’ll get a better sense of whether you’d rather stick with self-publishing or try submitting your work to a poetry publisher.
If you’re still stumped, you can always try both.
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Publishing Poetry with a Publisher
If you’d rather hand over creative control of your book’s cover and formatting to someone else in exchange for a nice advance payment, you may be happier sending your work to a legitimate poetry publisher.
For the traditional publishing route, take the following steps:
Depending on the contract, your publisher might offer you a signing payment, which is a portion of your advance. While the advance itself isn’t likely to be huge, it may still be more than your book would earn if you published it yourself.
But every book is different.
The wider your book’s appeal, the more you stand to earn from it. The smaller your niche, the more you’ll have to put into marketing to sell enough copies to recoup your costs.
If you’re working with a poetry publisher, though, at least you don’t have to pay for professional interior design or cover design for your book. They’ll handle that for you, since their reputation on the line.
In either case, though, it’s in your best interests to carefully edit your work before submitting or publishing it.
Ready to publish your poetry book?
Now that you know how to publish a poetry book, how close are you to finishing your first? And have you begun connecting with other poets and poetry lovers — online and in your area?
The more people you know who love your work, the more likely you are to sell copies of your book once it’s out.
Since marketing will be your responsibility whether you self-publish or work with a poetry publisher (though possibly to a lesser extent with the latter option), you’ll want to know how to reach the people most likely to be interested in buying your book.
And don’t forget to support other poets. The more we help each other, the more meaningful and satisfying the publishing experience is for all of us.
May it enrich your life and the lives of all you touch with your poetry.