You are never going to get rich by composing and publishing poetry. There have been many poets who have had day jobs. So why write and publish poetry?
First, composing a poem is a marvellous form of creative expression. Secondly, poetry is one of the pillars of creative writing. In most creative writing programs, courses are offered in poetry writing. Thirdly, writing good poetry can be rewarding. You can enter contests. If you are really good, you could win an award. Fourthly, many respected writers are a skilled at writing poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. Finally, composing good poetry will get you recognition as a writer.
With the emergence of the Web, you can now publish your work online rather than just in a printed publication. Many writers publish their poetry on their blogs. For instance, Sage Cohen, who has published a very good book on how to write poetry, has a blog where you can read and write poetry. You can visit this blog by clicking the following link: www.writingthelifepoetic.typepad.com .
Let’s assume you have been writing poetry and have a collection of poems you want to publish. How do you go about getting your work published?
Here is how:
- Research the market. Find out where you want to submit your poetry. A very good resource for finding publications to submit your poetry is the Poet’s Market. You can purchase this publication at Amazon.com or visit this publication online at www.poetsmarket.com .
- For both printed and online publications, read the publication to see what kind of poetry the publication is publishing. If the publication doesn’t publish your type of poetry, there is little point in submitting it.
- Request the submission guidelines from the publisher, read them, and follow them. If you don’t, your work will not be published.
- Always enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope for a reply. If you request your work returned, make sure to include a large enough envelope with adequate postage.
- Send a cover letter with your poetry. Keep it short. Your bio should take up only a few lines; don’t explain your poetry; it should speak for itself; don’t ask for or expect to receive feedback on your work.
- Send only three to five poems, unless stated otherwise.
- Before you send your poems, proof read your cover letter and poetry. There must be no typos or spelling errors. Your work must be perfect.
- Be aware that it often will take a long time for publishers to respond. Be patient. Don’t call unless it is to inform them your work has been accepted by another publisher.
- If your poetry doesn’t get published, don’t be discouraged by the rejection. Many well-known writers have experienced rejection of their work. Submit your poetry to another publication.
Do you need an agent? No. You can submit your work to journals and small publishing houses on your own. In fact, very few poets ever work with agents. However, the big publishing houses — the ones whose books you see in every bookstore — publish very little poetry at all, and almost exclusively through the mediation of agents. Many good agents, meanwhile, won’t even return your call unless you’ve already published a book.
How much does it cost to publish? Publishing your work should cost very little, no more than your own expense to produce and submit your poetry — paper, envelopes, and stamps. If you want to publish online, you need a blog or a website.
However, some contests and awards require that you provide a small entry or reading fee. Once a poem or manuscript is accepted, the publisher typically covers the cost of publication and promotion.
Some writers choose to self-publish their work. If you choose this method of publishing, you will have to pay the cost of publishing your work.