Poetry is one of my first loves. It continues to be my voice of reason, one of the best forms of self-expression and a consolation in times of chaos.
Unfortunately, it’s a well-known ‘fact’ that poetry doesn’t sell. It’s a tough market to break into, even for well-established poets. So how does one chip away at the writing industry’s reticence, and get your poetry published? There are several ways:
Start a Blog and Publish Yourself.
I actually didn’t feel it was so necessary to add this, but I also knew that if I didn’t someone would point out my omission. So yes, for free- if you haven’t had a blog, a good start might be with your words.
What better way to get published- skip the icky dealing with an editor cutting apart your art- and be able to share your poems internationally- than by doing it yourself?
Publish single poems through small presses, university presses or literary journals.
This is one poets hear all of the time, but how do you translate it into something you can actually use? Consider the basics: most publishers are not going to publish a collection by an unknown poet, ever; most unsolicited poetry- especially collections- are put into a ‘slush’ (read: trash) pile without a line being perused; and literary agents won’t touch you with a ten-foot pole without at least a few publishing credits.
That being said, submitting single poems to a correctly targeted publisher gives you poetry cred. Here’s a short list for you to check out for single poem submissions (and some even- gasp!- pay):
- Poets & Writers has a long list of literary magazines, including submission guidelines and the ‘artistic vision’ of each mag, is a must-visit. It’s also intimidatingly long and detailed, which takes time. Quite a lot to sift through. However, thanks to their diligence, you can find even the most obscure poetic genres imaginable. Which means there’s most definitely a place for your work.
- ‘Show me the $$$! Literary Magazines That Pay,’ by Becky Tuch, provides an extremely useful list for slightly paying poetry gigs.
- New Pages provides a list of independent publishers and university presses. It’s another sifter for your free time, but it’s well worth taking a look. You can find a lot of presses that aren’t listed by the ‘Big Boys’ of poetry publishing.
Publish single poems through poetry ezines or through online submissions.
While many poetry publishers stick with the old, tried-and-true format of only accepting snail mail submissions you do have alternatives. Ezines are typically small(er) magazines, independently run or newsletter-esque. They’re also quite open to publishing unknown poets. A fab list can be found at Poetry Kit.
Finding online submissions can be tricky, because of the established methods. Yet Louie Crew has compiled a list specifically for poetry publishing submissions online. It’s a brilliant and extremely helpful list (thank you, Louie).
Writers for Diversity has a listing of literary mags that include ratings and direct submission links for each online magazine with poem possibilities in various niche areas. Note for this site: keyword being ‘diversity,’ not typical.
Publish Poems in Anthologies or Competitions.
If you want to waste your money, time and ego there’s no better way than entering contests or submitting to anthologies blindly. Any anthology that ‘charges a small fee to send you a copy’ is legal, sure- it’s called a ‘vanity press.’
Congratulations, taking part has just made that company money off of your words, you and other innocents. You can find a list of faulty or dodgy sites at Winning Writers.
Some contests are legit and some are not. Chances are, if they’re charging you an arm and a leg with a starred list of ‘Terms and Conditions’ longer than a novella: no. They’re a scam. Is your focus is to get published, not money? Then try the multitude of free contests out there.
Good writing sites and great blogs run them all of the time. Find a place that speaks to the poetry in you, and try. Worst-case scenario: you can go on forums and get advice from fellow poets. Connect with people who see the world in a similar atmosphere of words. Challenge and improve your poetic craft. Some examples of general poetry contest sites:
Publish Your Poetry by Applying for Grants or Fellowships That Do Chapbooks.
Some poets feel that this is the ‘Holy Grail’ of getting published as a poet: having a chapbook released. It might seem a little hoity-toity, but in actuality it’s simply another avenue a poet can pursue to become published. By the by, many established poets are doing chapbooks themselves via self-publishing (see below).
You do have to consider multiple angles, since some grants/fellowships have strict guidelines you need to fulfill. On the other hand, you’ll get the support and time you need to perfect your poesy to its highest potential. A few possibles, to get you started, can be found at Thrush Press, Bright Hill Press or this list of awards and grants at Poets & Writers.
Self-Publish Your Poetic Self.
For those of you that have been hoarding your poems and now have a neglected stack in the corner, wailing to be freed into the world you might want to explore self-publishing. It’s not as pricey these days, and there are now options to get ‘public funding’ if you’re willing to put in the time for promoting your poetry collection.
A friend of mine is using Lulu for his collection, and he loves it. Tons of sites and tools are available, but like everything else check out your options. A few other popular sites for self-publishing:
For free eBook publishing, try:
Crowd-funding places (below) are also becoming a norm for outside-the-box artists. BUT if you’re not comfy asking people for help, it’s probably not the right path for you.
What better poetic justice could you do for your writing than to prove the naysayers wrong- and get your poetry published? Fingers crossed for you, from Sicily, M.