What to Consider When Self-Publishing Poetry Books?

Self-Publishing Poetry Books

For the longest time, the literary industry has been heavily dominated by long form novelists, magazine writers, column writers and so on. As of today, poetry books have been experiencing a huge surge in recognition and sales. Between traditional publishers, self-publishing, online publishing and more, there is a huge market open for poems.  So if you want to self-publish and bring out your poetry to the world, this is the perfect time to do so. 

Traditional publishing has witnessed a lean patch lately due to the lack of transparency in their selection criterias. I, as a writer, have been more inclined towards self-publishing. Self-publishing has done justice to budding writers all over the world. Besides the low investment, it also promises higher royalties so it helps turn your passion of writing into a source of income. 

However, self-publishing comes with its own tasks. Collating your poetry before self-publishing can be quite a task if you are doing it for the first time. Here’s a few ways you can turn your poetry collection into a book. 

  1. Decide your poetic form

There are hundreds and hundreds of ways you can write a poem. Some of the finest poems ever written have very beautifully crafted forms of poetry. While self-publishing your own book, take some time out to think about the way you want to express your story. Here are some of the famous poetic forms: 

  1. Narrative Poetry

Narrative poems in a nutshell, speaks about stories. Just like a novel or a film, this form of poetry should have a solid plotline, characters and a setting. They present a series of events with actions and dialogues. 

  1. Sonnet 

Sonnets are 14-line proses that consist of a unique rhyme scheme. They typically are written to express the feeling of love. The most common type of sonnets, written by William Shakespeare follows a synonymous rhyme and rhythm pattern that consists of three quatrains and a two line coda. 


  1. Epics 

Epics are long-form lengthy poetry that speaks about extraordinary experiences and stories about a character. One of the things to remember about Epics is that it’s written in third person and it typically involves the story of a journey across various settings and terrains. 

  1. Haiku 

Haiku, a Japanese form of poetry, consists of a short three line poem that has a 5-7-5 syllable structure. This form of poetry focuses on evoking natural imagery that normally doesn’t follow a rhythmic pattern. 

Before collating your book, don’t forget to decide on one type of narrative and then choose the type of poetic forms that would go well with the narrative. 

  1. Unify your work’s theme and structure

An average collection poetry book usually consists of 30 to 100 poems, so you’re going to need a huge body of work with a unified theme, style of writing and much more. One of the first questions you should ask yourself is what you want your readers to feel after reading your poems. What connects your poems to the audience? What story are you seeking to tell? How do you want to share your stories? 

Once you have established what you want out of your book, the next step is to consolidate all the poems you’ve written and categorize them. There is no hard and fast rule on how to classify your poems, so feel free to explore! There are a lot of different tones, styles, subjects, and forms of poems a book can have. You can truly stand out and keep poem enthusiasts hooked if you manage to develop an underlying story arc through all your poems. 

If you’re facing troubles in figuring out how to structure your book, the best thing to do is to read poetry books by renowned authors. It will broaden your mind and enlighten you. 

 Here are some of the most famous poetry books, do check them out!

  1. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur 
  2. Leaves of Grass by Walter Whitman 
  3. If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho by Sappho
  4. On Love & Barley: Haiku of Basho by Basho 
  5. The Essential Rumi by Rumi 

This can be especially beneficial when you are self-publishing your book, since a unified theme will increase the chances of your book receiving increased marketing than other books.

  1. Formatting, designing and the nitty-gritties! 

Once you have decided the list of poems you want to publish, the next step is to arrange them. Pick which poem should come first. Without a doubt, if you want readers to finish your entire book, this first piece of work should be strong enough to “hook” your readers. It is also like an introduction to how your entire book is going to look like, so make sure you create the best possible impression. 

Now that you’re done with arranging and formatting your poems to make sure they’re placed perfectly to complement the overall theme of your book, the next thing on your task list should be to design a beautiful cover for your book. Even though people say “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, it’s an unsaid fact that everyone does.  Compelling visuals can help you establish a connection with the readers  even before they read a single word. It is important that the designs on your cover are in sync with the theme of the book. 

Simply put, make sure the images and illustrations you add in your book induces a physical sensation (an enhanced response) to all your poems. 

  1. Proof-read

The last thing to do before self-publishing your book is to proof-read and edit. Over and over again. After writing, collating and formatting all your poems, it is only human to overlook a few minor errors here and there. Hence, it is recommended that you go through three rounds of revisions before actually publishing your book. With Pencil, get experienced editors with an expertise in poetry to edit your content. 

To enhance your proof-reading further, make sure that your poems have the perfect blend of meaningful lyrics, an elaborate narrative with a flair of drama! Review your word choices and make sure each one is an appropriate fit according to the theme, rhythm and rhyme structure. Incorporate various poetic techniques and literary devices in your poem – like alliteration, assonance and much more to add a different meaning to your poems. 

  1. Establish an online presence

If you’ve completed the previous steps, congratulations, you’ve successfully written & self-published a book! Showing your poems on social media and building a strong community of readers will be highly beneficial for increasing the readership/popularity of your book. Another reason to post your work and establish your presence on social media is to interact with your audience and understand their likes and dislikes. This will further help in improving your scope of work and at the same time create a loyal readership audience. 

  1. Expand your network 

Make sure you attend book fairs, open mic nights and other poetry contests to know your local artist community. Most poets enter various chapbook contests to expand their network to share their work with like-minded people. 

What is a chapbook you ask? In the publishing industry, a chapbook is basically a ‘sample’ or ‘test’ book. This is normally released to test your own potential and understand the audience better. If a chapbook becomes a success, you will get enough confidence to publish your full-length collection.

All in all, self-publishing a poetry book requires an enormous amount of time, patience, effort, meticulous planning and attention to detail. No one knows your potential better than you, so take that pen and paper, curate your own beautiful manuscript and publish it!

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