Deciding where to submit your poetry for publication can be tricky as there are so many options, and you’ll need to decide how important being paid is.
If your goal is to one day have a collection of your poems commercially published, then it’s a great idea to consider trying to get paid for your poetry as early as possible.
Demonstrating to publishers that you have been paid for your work will go a long way. If you start having your poems regularly published professionally, then you can gather all those poems and present them to a traditional publisher as a collection!
There are many different avenues however, many different ways to be paid for your writing, and no single path on the road to creative success! I hope the resources below are helpful.
Literary Journals and Magazines
Journals and magazines often have a commitment to publishing young / emerging / first time / unrepresented writers, and fostering the next generation of talent.
Journals are often focussed on publishing writers who are geographically local to the journal, so make sure to do some Googling and find out which journals are located in or near your hometown!
Journals often also have political agendas, so make sure to read plenty of prior issues, and check out their ‘About us’ pages to ensure that the journal / magazine is the right home for your work!
Most of the good journals will pay you at least some money to publish your work. If you can get into one of these publications, whether online or in print, congratulations! You’re now a professional writer.
Check out this website for a great list of journals that publish poetry:
Poetry Competitions For Money and Fame
Competitions are a fantastic way to get your poetry out into the world. They are often judged blind, which means that the judges don’t know who has authored the work until the prize is awarded. This will give emerging writers the greatest chance of success!
People actually read poetry that wins awards. Poetry awards often come with financial prizes, which is great if submission is free! Otherwise that money will probably just get used to cover more submission fees.
Commercial publishers really do pay attention to competitions as well. Getting your first collection published is all about building a compelling case that you are a talented poet, with an audience that will be interested in your work.
Here are some resources with links to poetry competitions:
Social Media Poets are Popular
Coming as a surprise to some, social media sites like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter have spawned a new generation of online poets. These poets have built up huge fan bases in some instances, and popularised poetry with a whole new audience. In some cases those online poets have approached traditional publishers and had their work printed as a book.
Makes you realise / remember that people do actually love poetry, and that it is possible to be a popular and commercially successful poet!
Maybe the way traditional poetry publishing operates needs to be overhauled, and we need to reconsider the definition of ‘good poetry’ altogether? Then again, maybe not.
The important thing to remember is that publishing your poetry online probably won’t harm your career in any way, because poems can be written relatively quickly when compared to novels. If you publish your novel online, by contrast, you’re unlikely to be able to publish that with a traditional commercial publisher afterwards, which may hurt your bottom line because novels take so long to write.
Remember that building an online following can result in revenue generating opportunities. Plenty of people make big money from being instagram ‘influencers’, promoting products, and running ads.
If this avenue appeals to you, it’s definitely worth researching how to make money online.
Check out these resources discussing online poets and poetry:
Poetry Websites Publish Poems for Free
There are also lots of websites that publish poems ‘for free’ i.e. they are not going to pay you, but they won’t charge you to upload your work there either. You have to decide if this is providing you with value.
If these sites lead to engagement with an audience who love your work, this may be a great avenue for you to consider.
This avenue might also bring you into contact with other poets, and help you build a supportive community of friends!
This is an especially great avenue for the amatuer poet, who writes for fun, and doesn’t mind if the money never flows! The word amatuer comes from the latin word for love, and so this word really refers to someone who practices not for money, but for love.
Check out these resources on poetry websites that publish ‘for free’: