9 Tips on How to Find the Best Poetry Publishers

Getting your poem published is probably the biggest challenge you will ever have to face as a beginner writer in your road to success. If you are looking for the best poetry publishers out there and you are willing to go the extra mile in order to find the right poetry publishers for you, then you have landed on the right page.

We will discuss the importance of how to publish a poem, outline some publishing guidelines and give you 9 unique tips on how to find the best poetry publishers available on the market.



Publishers are always extremely cautious about what they accept. There are good reasons behind their suspicion. Poetry is not as famous as other genres, such as thrillers or science fiction. Thus, poetry is not given much space in bookshops, and it is not promoted too much by famous publishers and publishing houses.

Publishers need to work very hard to launch new poems, so they are not willing to invest their time and resources to accept anybody. Poem publishers are very selective when choosing poetry publishing candidates and partners. Hence, you need to be very good when writing poetry and you need to be equally good when choosing poetry publishers.

9 Tips on How to Find the Right Poetry Publisher For You

  1. Write Amazing Poems

The first and most important step in the process of finding the right poetry publications willing to help you out is to be the best at what you do. As previously stated, poetry has a limited number of benefits and it’s not the most sought after literary genre out there.

To start off, begin by reading hundreds of poems published in magazines and literary journals. Read as much as possible in order to improve your writing technique and to discover what kinds of poems are appreciated by avid readers.

Do not just think that your poems are awesome, but keep your eyes open at what your readers like and want. You need to write poems that are perceived as high-class and favored among connoisseurs.

It is imperative to make sure your poems are in the best shape before submitting them. As you already know, writing poetry is pretty much a solitary action, one that takes all of your spare time and requires all of your creativity. That’s why you need to dedicate your spare time to reading and researching this field.

By reading as many poems as possible, you will not only improve your creativity, but you will also reach a higher understanding on how the poetry world works.

  1. Research the Market

To start off your process of finding the most trustworthy poetry chapbook publishers, start by researching the market. This includes two aspects: find the best market for your poetry and discover the best publishers for the selected market.

If you want to submit short stories, essays or poems, the market books are definitely a great place to start. Market books are large books that include thousands of publication outlets, such as magazines and literary journals. Some of the books that could prove a gold mine in your research process are Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market, Poet’s Market and the Writer’s Market. You can also browse through the International Directory of Little Magazines & Small Presses for additional publishers and markets.

These books contain plenty of concrete information that could give you a head start over your competition. However, make sure to check the information you find online, especially as some information is out of date.

The research process could take a lot of time, up to 100 hours. Researchers evaluate that one needs to send his poem to over 100 markets and publishers. After you’ve done that, you will need to reevaluate the calls for submission, the reading dates and your editorial preferences.

  1. Research your Competition

Before you dive deeper into the publishing process, you need to spend some time researching your competition. It is not enough just to read the books others have managed to publish, but you need to discover what they have done in order to succeed.

You can start calling poets who started out just like you and talk to them about the publishing process. You might find a few who are willing to help you out without requiring anything else in exchange. Do not be afraid to go the extra mile in order to find out what publishers want. You might receive some nuggets that could ease the whole process for you.

  1. Choose 2 or 3 of your Best Poems

The next step right before starting to find publishers is to choose the best 3 poems you have written to date. Most literary magazines will only read as many as 3 poems before deciding whether to accept or decline a new writer.

  1. Format the Poems

Now that you have selected your best poems, it is time to format and proofread them. Stick with a simple font that can be easily read. Verify the length of your poems and make sure they correspond to the ideal length. Here is a great article that explains why length matters and teaches you how to choose the right length for your poem.

Note the page numbers on each poem and put your name along with your contact information at the end of each poem.

  1. Write a Compelling Cover Lever

This is one of the most neglected steps in the complicated process of poetry submissions. Publishing poetry is all about being unique and thinking out of the box, and 21st century publishers appreciate that more than anything else.

A cover letter is an introduction to your poetry subscription. Your cover letter should contain your bio, basic information, hobbies and a synopsis of your projects. The cover letter should be no longer than one page and should follow all submission guidelines required by the publishing house.

To create an appealing cover letter, you need to be aware of some designing tips. Here is a resource that should help you in this regard.

  1. Find the Right Poetry Publishers for your Needs

Here comes the tricky part. Now that you have your submission all together, you need to start finding publishers. Recently, an increasing number of publishers have created their own poetry websites where they accept your submission via email.

You don’t necessarily need to physically mail your work, but you can choose the easy path and send your poems via email. Here is a complete list of poetry publishers willing to receive your submission electronically.

Generally speaking, major publishing houses available in big cities do not accept poetry manuscripts, unless they come with credentials from high above. The editors in major publishing houses are mainly interested in poets who have already published a few poems in magazines or in chapbooks.

Conversely, small publishers such as University presses and small presses are open to new authors. Best of all, they do not require writers to contact them via an agent, and they have easy to understand and to follow submission guidelines.

Even though your poems are not the best out there, small publishers are willing to help you start your publishing career. Here is a very useful database of small presses that could come in handy for you at http://www.pw.org/small_presses.

  1. Try Magazines and Chapbooks

Probably the easiest way to promote yourself and start building a brand around your name is by submitting your poems to poetry magazines and chapbooks. There are thousands of poetry magazines in US, Canada and UK, so you have plenty of options to choose from.

Bear in mind, the smaller, less important and less famous a magazine is, the easier it will be for you to be accepted. However, do not be afraid to try your luck with more important magazines.

On the other side, chapbooks and poetry pamphlets are an excellent and very cost effective method to get your poems published in no time at all. Chapbook publishers are quite energetic when it comes to promoting your poems, especially if your poems are really good.

Chapbooks are twenty-five pages long or less, and are specially designed for a very targeted group of readers. Many poets choose to assemble chapbooks on their own, so you can start working with other poets and create a chapbook together.

Once you have been selected to take part in a chapbook, magazine or pamphlet book, your work will be promoted to the right people and you will be able to get quick earnings for your creations. Not just that, but you will become eligible to be accepted by larger poetry publishers.

  1. Moving Forward

If you want to have success when publishing your poetry books, you need to go two steps forward. Here’s why you should capitalize on the power of poetry contests.

If you want to learn how to publish poetry, you also need to know how to promote yourself, and there’s no better way to do that than contests. Enter in as many contests and opportunities as you can. New competitions are set up monthly, both in UK and the US.

You can practically find poetry competitions on each site belonging to major publishing houses. To start off, search on Google for “your city name + poetry competitions” or “international poetry competitions and contests.”

Self-Publishing vs Book Publication

If you are just starting out as a poet, it is wise to go with the self-publishing route. This is the exact same route chosen by countless others poets and small publishers. Today, this route is even cheaper than in the past, and the final result is more than satisfactory.

On the other side of the spectrum, approaching publishers for publishing your first poetry books is a huge mistake. Your chances to be accepted are only valid if you can point to one of your publications in magazines or chapbooks.

Do not waste your precious time and money trying to hire a literary agent to represent you when approaching large publishing houses. Speaking bluntly, there is so little money in poetry that very few agents will bother to help out poets.

However, if you manage to find a contact or referral and get your work noticed, you have greater chances to succeed. Be patient though, because this whole process can take a great deal of time.

Discover what Poetry Publishing Houses Want

There are many poetry websites that contain tons of information on what poetry publishers really want from you. Published poems have something extra compared to unpublished poems. Published poems have managed to get the attention of publishing houses. Not only that, but the author has left a great first impression.

Publishing houses want from you to have a substantial number of poems published in magazines and chapbooks. They also prefer for you to already have a number of readers who are constantly looking for your work. In case that’s not possible, you must at least follow the submission guidelines carefully.

Many capable writers were rejected over the years because they did not follow the submission guidelines. Don’t make the common mistakes many new authors make. Read the guidelines thoroughly and make sure you meet all the requests imposed by publishers.

What to Expect from Poetry Publishers?

Small presses are generally more open to the work offered by new writers, while large publishing houses accept only solicited submissions. Both large publishing houses and small presses offer poetry contests. Along with the publication, the winner can get up to $2,000.

If you are accepted by small publishers, expect the distribution of your work over many social media channels and get ready to participate in reading tours. Some publishers might even send copies of your work to be reviewed by large publishing houses, but only if your work is top notch.

Conversely, if by some miracle you are accepted by a commercial publisher of fiction or poetry, you are in luck, because you will get a lot of benefits. For starters, you will get a contract that stipulates your deadline, word length and amount earned per poem. After your work is ready, the publisher will commence the process of choosing a book cover, designing your poetry book, writing the copy, printing it and cording the whole distribution process.

During all this time, the sales and marketing department will promote your new poetry book and will work on finding the best strategy to publicize your book.
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