Self-publishing Poetry: 8 Points for Beginners to Consider
Poetry is an amazing hobby or a profession. It promotes creativity, positivity, the power of expression and allows us to vent from the issues and stress of everyday life. There are many talented poets out there who have entire notebooks filled with verses that can get lost.
To prevent this from happening, you can use online tools to self-publish your poetry. However, before actually deciding to self-publish, here are some points that you should consider.
Make sure your poems are ready to go
Many poets get carried away with the excitement of publishing that they end up making poems public before they’re 100 percent ready. Of course, the other side of the spectrum is also too extreme—you shouldn’t be too critical of yourself and let perfectionism block you from taking action.
The first step is to re-read everything you’ve written so far. Then, think about the following:
Are you using the right format? Make sure that you’re satisfied with how your poems are structured and what they actually look like on the page. Set up the font, typography, size and colors until you’re completely satisfied.
Is it too long/too short? With poetry books, it’s important to hit the golden spot between a tiny poem booklet and a huge bible of vast text. To get it right, ask someone to take a look at it with a pair of new, objective eyes and ask for feedback about the length of the book.
How are your poems ordered? Did you use a logical or symbolical structure to order your poems? Is it enjoyable to continue reading from one poem to the next? Try and compile a perfectly fluid structure for your poetry book.
To monetize or not to monetize?
First of all, you need to decide if and how much monetization of your work is important to you. If you want to earn from self-publishing, you will have to choose the right platforms, invest in marketing and constantly promote your book or collection.
If monetization is something that’s not your priority, you can focus more on publishing on platforms that gather fellow writers and poets. On these websites, you will get much more constructive feedback and valuable criticism.
Should you submit poetry to contests?
Before you decide to publish your collection, you have to decide whether it’s publish-only or you want to submit it to poetry contests first.
Many poem contests have a requirement that the work hasn’t been previously published anywhere before, so if you do self-publish, you will lose the chance of submitting some of your best work to contests, winning and becoming more known.
“When you publish, many poetry contests become off-limits. So, before you decide to self-publish, you have to make sure that you’re willing to miss out on some contests with those particular poems. However, don’t let your poems sit in your drawer (or folder) too long before being published,” says Martha Hale, a creative writer at Subjecto.
Are you ready to expose yourself to criticism?
It can be absolutely joyful to write poetry. Poetry can soothe, excite and keep you creative, all at the same time. However, when you self-publish, you will come out of this shell of writing for yourself and expose yourself to all good things that can happen: fame, fans and great feedback—and all the bad: criticism, negative comments, etc.
You have to be sure that you are resilient and confident enough to handle whatever it is that’s coming your way. The worst thing that can happen is that you allow negative comments to bother you and demotivate you from writing your poetry.
Define your audience
Nowadays, it’s not hard to publish something. You can upload your work on a self-publishing platform and just wait for nature to run its course. However, if you want to be successful with your poetry, you will have to invest much more effort—and approach your publishing more strategically.
No matter how much you would like for things to be different, your poetry will work best with a specific segment of the audience. Without targeting, trying to approach the audience as a whole can be extremely difficult and can decrease your chances of success.
Decide on the platforms
In the previous paragraph, we said something about the need for defining your audience. Well, a large portion of the overall result and the audience you will reach will have to do with the platform you choose for self-publishing.
“Choosing the wrong publishing platform for your poetry can make a great collection sink instead of swim. To give yourself the best chances of success, do prior research and decide carefully on where and how you want to publish,” says Carrie Draper, a writer at BeGraded.
One of the most popular platforms that you can use for self-publishing is KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). Kindle has the biggest audience of all other publishing platforms, and you can publish for an international audience for free. However, this also means that your competition will be much higher than on some other platforms.
Consider Print-on-Demand (POD) Services
POD services are great for self-publishing poetry. They allow you to actually have your poetry available in paper form without having to risk a lot of funds before you’re sure about its popularity and selling rate.
With a POD service, your poetry is printed in one copy only when you, just like the name says, demand it. This way, you can offer your poetry book as a paperback or hardcover. After a reader orders it, you simply demand a copy, the provider handles all the printing and shipping efforts and you get the profits!
An awesome thing about this is that you can get your own copy of your poetry book in a cool-looking hardcover version. There’s hardly anything more motivating and inspiring than having a glance at your very own book that you can touch, feel and admire all the work you’ve done.
Explore marketing options
You don’t want your poetry collection to get lost in the sea of unsuccessful self-published books. That is why it’s crucial to outline a smart, strategic, failproof marketing plan.
There are many options for marketing your book: from social media networks and reader forums to paid promotions. You should also consider whether you will personally promote your poetry book or let the work speak for itself.
If you’re a great poet, but a not-so-great marketer, you can also consider outsourcing your promotional tasks and let your work have the best chances of success with the help of professionals.
Before self-publishing poetry, there are some points that you should consider. First, you should be absolutely sure that this is something that you want. Publishing can result in negative feedback and criticism, so if you can’t handle it, maybe you’re not ready to publish.
Next, you will have to equip yourself with knowledge and skills to successfully promote your book. You should do this before the launch, because marketing doesn’t start from launch day, but much earlier.
Finally, it’s important to define the audience you want to reach and pick the platform(s) where you will publish accordingly.
Estelle Liotard is a professional writer and translator who is passionate about all things digital. She’s currently working as a contributor on IsAccurate. Next to writing, she also enjoys reading and is a member of her local book club. She also works as a career advisor for high school students.