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How Do I Submit Poetry?

By Jillian O Keeffe
Updated May 23, 2024
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Poetry is published in poetry magazines and journals or online. Inexperienced authors are unlikely to get a book publishing deal. A poet can enter a competition or submit a poem directly for publishing. Each publisher has rules that you must abide by when you submit poetry, and submissions can occur either online or through the mail. Occasionally, there is a fee to submit your poem.

The first stop to get your poem published is through a magazine, a journal, or a competition. These are most easily found online, and most publishers have websites. Poem-sharing websites are also options, but these do not carry much weight with professional publishers. Book publishers usually prefer writers who have already been published and are recognized.

Before considering submission of a poem to a certain publisher, you should research the type of work the establishment prefers. Some focus on a niche market, such as science fiction, and some may not accept poems over a certain length. This information helps you to identify the most likely market for the poem and saves on time. Many poetry competitions also require submissions to be accompanied by a fee.

Once the suitable publishers have been identified, you should look at their submission guidelines. This information can be found on the publisher's website or can be given to you over the telephone. It will tell you how much work you can send in when you submit poetry, how long the poems should be, and whether you can send them by e-mail or by mail. All poems should be proofread for spelling and grammar mistakes before submission.

Usually, the poems have to be typed, sometimes with specific line spacings. If sent by e-mail, they usually have to be typed using certain commonly available software. E-mail submissions may also have to be sent as part of the message body and not as attachments. Some publishers ask you to use certain e-mail headers to prevent the message going into the spam folder by accident.

The cost of postage should be taken into account when you submit poetry to many publishers by mail. You may also have to include a self-addressed envelope with stamps if you want the printed poem back. The cover letter should be short and include details such as your name and contact information.

Often, publishers only want three to five poems per submission and may place restrictions on the amount of times in a year you can submit poetry to them. Generally, poetry establishments only consider poems that have not previously been published elsewhere. This usually includes online publishing, whether for payment or otherwise. After you submit your poetry, there may be a wait of weeks or even months before you hear if your submission has been accepted.

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Hymnomove — On Apr 29, 2014

Yes, and a great place to find out information on where to submit poetry for publication is the Poet's Market. This is a book updated yearly that lists journals as well as poetry publishers for books. I believe they have an online version or an online component as well. I like to get the print version, and then check off in the book the places I've submitted to.

By SumDude — On Apr 28, 2014
I agree with your suggestions, @Hymnomove, and I would also add another--when you submit your work for consideration to a journal or magazine, keep track of where and when you submitted it. An Excel spreadsheet is one way to do this.

This is important because if you submit the same poem to several places and it is accepted by one, you will need to contact the other places to withdraw that poem for consideration. Also, be aware if you are posting poems on a blog you write, or somewhere else online, many places will then consider your poem as having been previously published, and they will not consider it as a result.

By Jolecter — On Apr 27, 2014

It is very important when you submit poetry for publication that you be sure to read the editorial guidelines of that specific journal or magazine thoroughly, and make sure that you are following them. Editors can get annoyed when you don't follow the directions. If they say they want only three to five poems, don't submit two or ten--submit three to five. Also, it is often very helpful to read a number of back issues of the journal you are interested in before submitting poetry. This will help you determine if your poems are in keeping with the style and tone of the magazine, and can help you get an idea if your poems would be a good fit there.

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