In today’s crowded digital world, searching for and finding the right publisher for your poetry can be hard, frustrating work that often comes down to pure luck. Years ago, poets often published a chapbook, a collection of ten to fifteen poems assembled in a small volume, often saddle-stitched or artfully handmade. Chapbooks are still common among new poets who want to publish and print a limited number of copies of their work for their family, friends, and community; and they are still an excellent way to produce a small, attractive, polished sample collection with which to query larger publishers.
For serious poets who want to reach wider audiences, poetry journals publish poetry by both first-time and more established poets. Wildness Journal, Little Death Lit, Rattle, and Southeast Review are a few such journals, some of which actually pay poets upon publication. Exclusive journals like Poetry, Kenyon Review, and Ploughshares are looking for higher-level poetry for their audiences, and expect poets to have a portfolio of poems previously published by smaller journals, or a successful book. When it comes to journals and publishers that publish book-length collections, it’s important to study these publishers’ work before submitting to familiarize yourself with the style, themes, and subject matter they publish. And be sure to submit your work according to the publisher’s guidelines—sending a manuscript by mail when the publisher requires an online submission will likely lead to rejection.
Speaking of rejection: Expect it. Rejection is part of the process of becoming a better writer. It may mean you have much to learn, or that your poem or collection just hasn’t found the right home.
Over the last few years, a number of poets have found a home for their work at Brandylane. We believe in nurturing our authors, guiding them through the publishing process, and helping them find and develop their audience. And although we don’t publish single poems, if you have even a small collection you’d like to put together in a chapbook or book, we’re here to help.
written by Robert Pruett, publisher