If you’re a poet in this modern age, your finished and unfinished poems may come in different forms and may be written in different places.
Some are written in a beautiful paper-based journal, others are inked in paper napkins and old bills and receipts. Some are hidden in your phone’s notes app, others are published on your blog or Instagram feed, with stunning layouts and hashtags for greater viewership and reach.
Some poems rhyme, others don’t. Some are brief, concise, and quote-worthy, others are lengthy and detailed. Some are meant to be read in silence, others are meant to be spoken in front of a large crowd. Some talk about life, and love, and death, others talk about one random Sunday and how you loved the weather.
Do these things ring a bell? Well if so, that means you already have a collection of poems that’s worth being bound in a book and read by a lot of people. Don’t let your poems rot in the cabinet or stay in the realms of social media. Put them in a book!
Having your collection of poetry might be your next milestone as a writer. If you’re planning to take your writing game to the next level by writing a poetry book, check out these 7 tips to get started.
1. Write a lot of poems
Most poetry publishers stick to this definition: A poetry book is a collection of poems longer than 48 pages. Though most poetry books contain between 30 to 100 pieces, there’s no standard for how many poems go into the collection. Your book can get thinner or thicker, depending on the length and layout. However, you might want to write more, just in case, some pieces won’t make the final cut.
If you already have a lot of poems written in the previous years, hiding in different places, the next thing to do is find them.
2. Decide on a theme, style, and poetic form
A poetry book isn’t simply a collection of everything you’ve written, printed, and merged into one, thick book. Each piece should be meticulously chosen to be there. Poems should also be unified by a choice of poetic form, central theme, or style so individual poems seem interconnected.
Before curating, decide on a theme, format, or something that will make everything feel cohesive. Even if the book is divided into several chapters, there should be a unifying theme or core idea that binds them together.
The theme will also dictate other visual elements like book covers, book layout, and illustrations or photographs.
3. Collect and select the best
After gathering all of your materials, it’s time to separate the gemstones from the pebbles. Which ones are the most powerful and thought-provoking? Which ones spoke the closest to your heart? Lastly, which ones are connected to your theme?
Take out any poem that’s not intimately relevant to your theme. You may also seek help from others, like your family, friends, and fellow writers and editors when it comes to curating.
4. Organise your poems
After having a strong collection of poetry, it’s time to organise again. To get the attention of poetry publishers, here are questions to ask yourself when putting your poems in order:
- Do the poems feel connected to each other, such as the ones following or preceding them?
- Do the poems feel evenly spread out in terms of quality and length?
- Does the subject matter change and evolve as more pages are turned?
- Are there new revelations or developments as time progresses?
Put yourself in your reader’s shoes. Create a conversation among individual poems. You can also make it into a series-type, making it feel like you’re writing a poem of poems. Give your readers a treat. The idea is they should be hooked to read page after page.
It’s also imperative to choose the first and last poems deliberately to make a strong initial impression and lasting impact. It’s not about the quantity or thickness of the page — it’s about how “finished” it feels in the end.
5. Make sure they’re free of typos and grammar errors
Just because poems play with words, forms, and structures doesn’t mean you’ll be excused from typos and grammar errors. Sure, the heart of your poem is the message, but poor grammar is still unacceptable. Poetry publishers won’t take you seriously if your manuscript is loaded with careless mistakes.
6. Know your publishing options
Traditional publishers, small presses, self-publishing chapbooks — which one is the best option?
Well, it depends on how established you are in the field. Traditional publishing houses are less likely to publish a poetry collection by an unknown poet.
- Small presses
If this is your first book, you may try small presses. While they don’t have the same reach and resources as traditional poetry publishers and literary fiction publishers, it’s a great way to get started. They take a chance on unpublished authors too. As you progress, you can use your published work as a tool to get accepted by the traditional publishing houses.
You may also consider self-publishing poetry, one of the most favoured options by indie writers. Unlike traditional publishers, this option provides you with complete creative and financial autonomy, from the layout of your pages to how your book is going to be released (digital booksellers or print-on-demand services).
A chapbook, which refers to shorter collections of poetry (usually 40 pages or less), is also a great option. It’s best for those who’ve been writing for a short while and may not have an adequate amount of output.
7. Get it published
Okay, so you already have an impressive collection of poems, organised meticulously in accordance with a strong central theme. The question is, how are you going to turn that manuscript into a book?
Keep a handful of literary magazines, literary journals, or poetry publishers to submit your work to. Read their specific submission guidelines. These include submitting query letters, synopsis, a gist of your writing profile, and samples of your work.
And then, get ready for revising and proofreading over and over again until it’s good to go. Enjoy the process of working with professional editors, publishers, and graphic artists too.
Author Bio: Carmina Natividad is a passionate content writer who spends most of her time writing poems, songs, short stories, and informative blogs. To know more about literature, from poetry to fiction, check out Doire Press, an award-winning book publisher in Ireland. y