These tips on getting your poetry into magazines, anthologies, or your own book of poems are from John C. Goodman. Not only has he published two collections of poetry, he wrote a non-fiction book called Poetry: Tools & Techniques.
Here, Goodman describes the chances of getting your poetry published, and offers tips on breaking into the poetry market.
First, here’s what a different poet and writer – also published – says about writing poetry:
“You’ve written a poetry book – congratulations!” writes Cherie Burbach in Selling Poetry? 5 Ways to Market Your Book of Poems. “Now comes the hard part: getting people to buy it. While it’s true that poetry books don’t sell as much as other works overall, there is a market for them. You just need to reach the right audience.”
The key is to find your audience. It takes research, diligence, and a thick skin, but it’s possible – as many successfully published poets will tell you!
5 Tips for Getting Your Poetry Published
This is a guest post from author John C. Goodman.
Starting out as a poet is tough. There are thousands of poets out there all scrambling to get their work published. Wanting to see your poetry in print isn’t vanity, it is part of the artistic process. Art requires an audience, which is why there are art galleries, theatres and concert halls – and poetry magazines!
The good news is that with the coming of online magazines, there are more publishing opportunities than ever before. But that doesn’t mean getting your poetry published is easy; it takes hard work and dedication – and faith in yourself and your writing.
Polish your poetry
You want to submit your best work, and you want that work to shine. Check your poems for typos, unnecessary words and overused common words such as ‘that’, ‘and’ and ‘the’. Check for common usage errors, like confusing ‘their’, they’re’ and ‘there’, or ‘its’ and ‘it’s’, or ‘to’, ‘too’ and ‘two’ – the kind of errors that make the work look amateurish. Make sure that each poem has an opening that grabs the reader and an energy that follows right through to the end. Polishing will make your writing stand out.
Choose your market
Besides having publishable work, choosing your market is the most important part of submitting. The number one reason for rejection is that writers send their poetry and other work to the wrong publication. Every magazine has a different focus and finding where your poetry fits will increase your chances of being accepted. Magazines are like radio stations, each has a unique playlist. You wouldn’t expect to hear country music on a jazz station, so don’t expect to see formal poetry in a magazine dedicated to post-modern work. It takes time to research poetry magazines, but it is time well spent. Whether you are submitting to an online or print publication, read the magazine first and see if your poetry is similar to what they have already published.
Read and follow the submission guidelines. A professional presentation will give the impression that you are a serious writer and will help in getting your work read by an editor. Some magazines won’t even consider submissions that do not comply with the guidelines. The guidelines are there for a reason, they help the editors focus on reviewing your work instead of wasting time searching through a sloppy submission looking for the information they need. An annoyed editor is less likely to give your work a sympathetic reading, so help the editor and help yourself by following the guidelines.
Be prepared for rejection
Rejection is something that every writer and poet has to deal with. Everyone gets rejected, even established writers. In many cases, rejection doesn’t mean that your writing is bad, it just doesn’t fit with what that particular editor is looking for at that particular time. It may be that the magazine has been publishing a lot of love poetry and wants to explore other topics, so your love poem will be cut – not because it isn’t any good, but because the editor has other interests. There are many similar reasons for rejection that have absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the work, so don’t take it personally, just move on.
Keep submitting your poetry for publication – and keep writing
If you have haven’t had any success in getting your poetry published, you need to sit back and take a look at what you are doing. Review the publications you have sent your work and see if there are other magazines that publish work closer in style to your own. Perhaps you have been aiming for high profile magazines and need to build some credits with smaller publications before approaching larger markets.
If the poems you have submitted haven’t been accepted or published, then maybe you have to write a better poem. Don’t give up and don’t despair; keep writing and keep submitting. Eventually the right poem will wind up at the right magazine and you will see your work in print!
For more tips on getting your poetry and other writing published, read Overwhelmed by the Thought of Selling Your Writing? Help is Here.
If you have any questions or tips on getting your poetry published, please comment below!
About the author: John C. Goodman has published two collections of poetry, Naked Beauty (Blue & Yellow Dog Press) and The Shepherd’s Elegy (Knives, Forks and Spoons Press) as well as a novel, Talking to Wendigo (Turnstone Press), which was short-listed for an Arthur Ellis Award. He also authored the non-fiction book Poetry: Tools & Techniques (Gneiss Press).
John is the editor of ditch, an online poetry magazine. He lives in the Gulf Islands, BC, Canada.