Anyone who has published a book of poetry? Or knows how it's done?

I’ve done a lot of research on how to publish novels (because that is my main goal) yet, I also write poetry and would like to (if possible) publish a collection of poetry.

I could go online and ask, but I thought I’d start here with you guys :slight_smile:

So, how to go about publishing a book of poetry?

Is there like a querying process? Do you get agents? Or, do you just send your MS to a publisher directly and hope they pick it up?

What about self-pub? What are the odds that you could become a successful poet through self-pub?

Or, is it actually more effective to try to get published in a literary magazine and hope for the best out of that? Like, maybe one day a publisher might find you? For this question, I must mention that I live in Japan so I would have to find an international magazine or one that accepts manuscripts from outside. I have not had very good luck with searching for an international magazine, actually.

Thanks in advance for any information :slight_smile:


So, my friend works for a publisher that publishes a lot of poetry. What they do is they take full manuscripts and read through them. And then if they liked it, they’ll pub it.

They also have a magazine where you can send in submissions for their “up and coming” spots.

But it might be different from country to country? I don’t think a lot of publishers in my country do the whole querying process (because there’s not a lot of writers to begin with)


In the US, there is very little poetry published. Most is published in magazines, rather than in books, and the poetry books that are published are by well-known poets. Why? Because it’s not even close to profitable.

If you want to publish a book of poetry, I would strongly recommend self publishing it. If you really want traditional publishing, then you’re going to have to get a fair number of poems published in really prestigious places and build a reputation as a poet.


I’d submit to magazines that publish poetry.

I’d stay away from the magazine contests with entry fees. They don’t seem right to me.

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Entries fees I never understood. I mean, we’re the ones submitting, I think magazines should be paying us :stuck_out_tongue:

I once saw a magazine accepting entries internationally and free of cost, but they requested to see a copy of your passport :0

That’s how they make money. They collect a sum of money and pay out a fraction of that.

There’s a great movie called “The Spitfire Grill.” I don’t know if it was a hit or not, but it was great. A lady wants to sell her grill (diner) so someone suggests she have a contest where people send in some amount ($100?) as an entry fee with a letter as to why it should be them. She’d pick one and they’d get the grill for $100 while she walks away with hundreds of thousands of dollars. (btw, that’s not what the story is about.)

There are magazine contests that do not have entry fees. My “Coming Home” flash fiction story here on wattpad was entered in one. The winner got published in the magazine but not paid. So the magazine made out again. They got a story to publish without having to pay the author.

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That’s how magazines get you, huh? :confused: I wish the publishing industry were a little easier on writers…

It’s a incentive so people send their best work

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I generally use places like Leanpub to format the book, and then publish it on myself. Plus you can have your own forums and contact information on there, and adjust the color scheme of your author profile.

Since I was introduced to that, I don’t think I’ll ever go back to Amazon.

I’m thinking of attempting the traditional publishing route. Anyone know if it’s generally better to find publishers directly or find an agent? This, regarding publishing a book of poetry.

Is it very unlikely to find an agent for poetry?

Never mind - it seems it’s nearly impossible to find an agent for poetry if you’re not famous. I may just have to keep trying contests.

More like impossible. An agent makes a living with commissions (15-25%) on the sales of books to publishers, based on the amount of the contract advance. That sum is based on how many books the publisher expects to sell, and the sale of rights, etc. Only about 1 in 20 books earns out its advance and starts paying royalties (which the agent shares).

Most books of poetry are published by small or university presses that don’t pay for manuscripts (the authors being desperate to publish). The print runs are small: 1000 is a large edition. There’s almost no chance for a book of poems to even pay the cost of its being published, so there’s nothing to attract an agent.

A poet who’s well-known and has won major prizes stands a chance with a commercial publisher. To get there, you have to publish heaps of poems in journals and win top-tier prizes.

Occasionally, there’s a reputable competition that offers a publication prize. But any contest asking an entry fee is suspect. Books published by those outfits don’t get read.


You may want to try independent presses. There is a list of them on the Poets and Writers website.:smiley_cat:

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