The idea of trying to get your work published can be anxiety inducing for a burgeoning poet, and publishing a chapbook may seem like an impossible dream. Chances are you’ve heard countless stories of rejection, and maybe it’s made you pessimistic. Maybe, despite feeling confident that you have a complete collection of poetry, you aren’t even willing to try.
But there is a smart way of going about it that will ensure more success. Before you start sending your work out, make sure you have a collection that you’re proud of. Your poems might have a standout, unifying theme. Or maybe they’re all in a similar structure: a crown of sonnets, a book of nature haikus. Organize your thoughts, and be ready to defend your poetry as a cohesive collection—not that you’ll have to, but knowing your work and being able to discuss why it is unique is important.
Once you’re confident with your body of poetry, your best bet is to research, and to research a lot. Order books from the presses you’re checking out, and see if you like the previously published poets. Figure out where your poetry fits in—find the presses that publish the kind of poetry you write. Don’t waste your time sending things off to a press you don’t know anything about. Once you’ve identified your niche and you start sending your poetry to the right places, you’ll be on track.
Here are a few niche-specific presses to get started with:
Experimental/Genre Bending Poetry:
If your poetry uses genre as a transparent entity in which to manipulate and you find yourself most commonly describing your work as stand-alone, nonconformist verses, try Ahsahta Press, Furniture Press Books, or Interior Noise Press.
If your style has been influenced by extensive study of classic poets and you value the beauty of your poetry above experimentation, try Concrete Wolf, Parlor Press, or Pearl Editions.
If your poetry is inspired by love or heartbreak, thrill or anguish, and you often find yourself describing your work as confessional, try Flutter Press, Tipsy Lit, or Red Paint Hill Publishing.
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