How to Self-Publish Poetry Successfully

Added: Publishing
by The Urban Writers

Self-publishing poetry can be a stepping stone for introducing your work to the world. You might be a fighter of a writer, but are you ready to put your verse into the universe? These six simple steps will guide you in the right direction.

Why Self-Publish as a Poet: To Share or to Sell 

Wordsmith William Shakespeare penned, “To thine own self be true.” Do you want to weave words that share your secret self or do you want to pen prose that produces profits?

Self-Publishing Poetry to Share

When you were at school, your lab reports might have rhymed. You fantasize about fiction though you were told that turning out technical tomes made more money. 

You want to self-publish in order to share yourself with the wider world. It isn’t about the fame game or banking big bucks if either means writing words that don’t ring true to the real you. 

Self-Publishing Poetry to Sell 

When browsing in a bookstore, do you cast a critical eye at the books on offer, reimagining more titillating titles that sail off the shelf? Are potential readers viewed as customers? 

You want to self-publish for profit. You know there is an untapped market in the making and your writing will be up for the taking.

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Self-Publishing Poetry for the Sharers and the Sellers 

Online

Sharers search up writers with a similar mindset by focusing on forums that describe themselves as “experimental,” “emotive,” and “free-thinking.” 

Sellers find forums focused on “writer royalty percentages” and “retaining ownership of written works.” 

Offline

Whether you’re sharing or selling, consult community boards at libraries and bookstores for local writer groups. No luck? Look into a book club; readers often are writers!

How to Self-Publish Poetry: Teamwork Makes the Dream Work, or Solo You Go 

Self-publishing seems to be a solo pursuit. While the final written product is yours, the development can be a team effort. Consider these two approaches.

Self-Publishing Poetry When Teamwork Makes the Dream Work 

Your idea is forged in concrete,  yet you are derailed by details. Are 14 lines a waste of time and thus the idea of a sonnet puts a bee in your bonnet? Are grammar and punctuation constructs that matter or are they vestiges of tradition that must scatter?

You may want to consider feedback. Teamwork makes your dream work.

Exchanging examples and swapping suggestions takes time. Set due dates with a cushion for gab and collab time. 

Non-commercial sources exist for writers who need a helping hand. Using keywords specific to the area in which you need help (e.g., haiku), utilize search engines and social media platforms to connect with a community.

Self-Publishing Poetry When You Go Solo

You know the total count of poems in your forthcoming anthology (the total matching your granny’s birth date is not a coincidence). 

Are we reading your mind? If the answer is “yes,” then you are the diva of your own destiny. Maybe you are on a budget in terms of time and (legal) tender. For the sake of streamlining, you want to own the entirety of your writing process. 

If you get on with Donne, then you are familiar with “No Man is an Island.” The same idea applies to writers. We benefit from thoughts beyond the Greek chorus in our heads. Not into group brainstorming? Benefit from an online poetry generator. Don’t diminish it; it can serve as a generator of ideas. Who doesn’t love fresh ideas?



Who Can Self-Publish as a Poet?: Cherish or Perish

You can’t spell self-publication without public. The public can be a critical crowd. Some will be caustic with a cause, while others may mean to demean. Are you willing to get your written works out there, when the hits (the good and bad) keep coming?

 Criticism: I Cherish

When your manuscript comes back with more strikes than a middle-aged bowling team, do you (sort of) smile as you scroll, guessing the guidance will get you on a roll? Can you ignore the oblique dig or slight, focusing on the helpful hints as you work late into the night?

If that is you, you’re ahead of the pack. You can debut your self-published masterpiece with less fear and hesitation. That may mean you produce additional manuscripts more quickly. Catalog the criticism and keep it in the back of your head for your future fiction. 

Criticism: I Perish

Your work is you, so a harsh word about your book is a harsh word about you. Even well-meant advice puts you on edge and direct denouncement digs deep. 

If we’re describing you, no worries. Creators take their creations seriously. If you’re set on self-publishing, rough reviews are almost a guarantee, regardless of your writing talents.

Keep a list of specific criticisms and pointed praise. Tape it to your mirror. It will be a concrete reminder of your successes (and your works in progress). 

Who received a quantity of rejection letters that could’ve wallpapered their kitchen before they hit it big? Consider if they would have quit, and rewrite a world where we don’t have J.K. Rowling or Stephen King. 


What to Self-Publish as a Poet: Appetizer or Main

Self-Publishing Poetry as an Appetizer 

Like the goat cheese tartlet that precedes dinner, authors can self-publish a small sampling. A collection of poems that clocks in at 40 or fewer pages is a chapbook. 

A chapbook is beneficial for first-timers. One gets a sense of the effort involved. Also, the chapbook’s reviews may give you an idea of how your poetry is received. If you’re unfamiliar with the medium, here’s an overview of chapbooks you should know.

Self-Publishing Poetry as a Main 

Chapter and verse, it’s all there. You have a story to tell and it unfolds in 30 to 100 individual poems. 

If it seems like we’re reading from your planner , then consider what is involved in self-publishing a lengthier piece. Like self-publishing a shorter work, the same costs are associated with the proofreading, copyediting, artistic work, binding (if hardcopy), and website fees (if digital). As there is more content, these processes take longer.

When to Self-Publish Poetry: Step by Step or Tonight

Self-publication can evolve in carefully-executed phases. Alternatively, you can shoot from the hip and click, post, or mail the final version as soon as you finish. 

How to Self-Publish Poetry: Step by Step

For those methodically-minded writers, the phases look like this.

  1. Assemble your poetry in an organized format.
  2. Review the guidelines for written submissions (e.g., Kindle Direct Publishing and Barnes & Noble Press have different requirements).
  3. Read the fine print. Do you retain ownership? What percentage of sales belongs to the writer?
  4. Enlist friends and family as beta readers to give opinions (this may be Uncle Edward’s time to shine). 
  5. Engage with editors or proofreaders who are new to the job market. They have the knowhow, and they need the experience. 
  6. Complete a final pass.
  7. Mail, email, or upload the final draft. 

How to Self-Publish Poetry: Tonight 

Months or even years have gone into your written work. You have been pruning your prose from the start. Invite an honest friend to dinner and ask them to review a book. Yours.

If they greenlight it, submit it. Tonight.

 

Where to Self-Publish Poetry: On Social Media or Using Social Media

Are Instapoets the same as self-published poets? Know what constitutes self-publication of your poetry and what happens to be a tweet that rhymes.

How to Self-Publish Poetry on Social Media

Self-published poets whose work lives on their Instagram feed can raise some eyebrows. However, some of these so-called Instapoets have come to stay in a big way.

In her 20s, Rupi Kaur shared her thoughts via beautiful and bite-sized Instagram posts. Now, she has over 4 million followers on Instagram and has sold 2.5 million copies of her book, “Milk and Honey.” 

If you haven’t solidified a style or you’re toying with tone, dabbling on social media may be right at this time. Add a mini script weekly or even daily as you evolve as a writer. It’s the internet; everyone has an opinion. Some might even be helpful! 

How to Self-Publish Poetry Using Social Media 

Whether you work through Kindle Direct Publishing or Thrush Poetry Journal, your body of work can collect a body of readers in a few clicks. 

If your substance speaks to generation Z, then look at TikTok as a way to use social media even if you’re not self-publishing on social media. 

How to Self-Publish as a Poet: Final Considerations

Studying these six steps can set you straight on whether you’re ready to self-publish your poetry. If you’re not ready, this groundwork will guide you forward to the finish. You can be the beacon for your book.

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