If you’re a poet, you might be wondering how to get your poetry book self-published online. With so many self-publishing platforms on the market today, poets can feel left out. What is trending is usually fiction, especially speculative fiction.
So, what’s a poet to do? If you’re ready to go beyond just posting your poems on Instagram or Twitter and publish an actual book of poetry yourself, we’ve got some solutions for you! We’ll help you go from randomly scattered poems to a polished, publishable collection in no time.
If you’re like me, you’ve got your poems scattered hither and yon, in Google Docs, your phone’s notes app, and scribbled into notebooks. So, the first step of any poetry publishing journey is to create a collection, even if your poems are neatly organized in folders on your computer.
Like a short story collection, a book of poetry needs a theme. For instance, my first book of poetry was love poems, while my second book was all poetry focused on mental health. Giving your collection a cohesive theme will make your book seem much more professional than a bunch of poems that seem randomly thrown together.
Start reading through your poetry and creating folders as you see different themes emerge. Do you have a lot of poems about space? Great! Create a speculative poetry collection. Writing a lot about the death of a loved one? A theme here would be grief. You get my point.
If you’re new to the poetry genre and don’t have a lot written, brainstorm some possible themes you’d like to write about, and start creating a specific collection just for publishing.
Once you have your collections grouped together, then decide how long you want your book to be. There are a couple of options here.
Chapbooks, which are a small collection of poetry, run around ten to thirty poems. While many chapbooks are handmade by the authors themselves or by small indie presses, digital chapbooks are definitely gaining ground in the poetry community. These are great ways to dip your toes into the publishing world, especially if you are just starting out and don’t have tons of poems written, or if a full-length book seems daunting.
A poetry collection for a full-length book is about 100-200 poems. This is a great option if you have a lot of poems already written, or you want to go big or go home.
Choose whichever is right for you so you don’t feel overwhelmed in the next steps.
It goes without saying that if your poems are handwritten, they’ll need to be typed. If you aren’t a fast typist and have a little extra cash, you can hire typists on Upwork very cheaply who can make quick work of transcribing your poems. Or you can beg or bribe a friend. Otherwise, creating a manuscript is as easy and copying and pasting into Docs or Word.
To save you some headaches later, be sure to only put one poem per page when you’re creating your manuscript. Use a common font like Times New Roman or Arial, as these upload into publishing platforms better without formatting issues.
Once you’ve got your poetry manuscript together, you’ll need to go through a few rounds of edits before you get your poetry book self-published online.
As a poet, I’ve heard many poets say they never edit their work. They write and post or publish without going back to revisit. I used to be like that. But I had a small collection of speculative poetry I had written that was ok but not great, yet I saw their potential. After hours of edits and rereads, I had a polished, cohesive set of poems that have been accepted into an upcoming anthology.
After you edit your work yourself a few times, have a couple of writer friends read through your manuscript. Someone else may have some suggestions you never thought about. It always helps to have another set of eyes on your work, because we as writers sometimes can’t see the forest for the trees.
If you don’t have anyone you know who can read your work, you can seek out other poets on social media, hire an editor on a freelancing site like Upwork or Fiverr, or find a critique partner. You can find critique partners for free on sites like CritiqueMatch or Critique Partner Matchup.
Like any other ebook out there, your poetry collection will need a snazzy cover to catch the eye of your prospective readers. The old saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” doesn’t apply anymore. Book covers have become even more beautiful and eye-catching these days, as competition in the book market is fierce. Your title is also very important, as this also gives your readers a clue as to what your book is about. Or you’ll catch their eye because it’s so creative and unique.
But don’t worry, if you don’t have the cash to hire an artist to design your cove, there are lots of free options out there. Here are a few free options (that also offer paid services if you can afford them):
Now that you have a completed book of poetry at your fingertips, you’re now ready to publish your poetry book online. Deciding on what platform is right for you can be a daunting process. So, to help you out, we’ve narrowed down the playing field to give you the best places to self-publish your poetry, and you might even earn some royalties to boot!
Fees: $38 for anthology publication; $860 for solo full-service book projects