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How to Self-Publish a Poetry Book in 5 Easy Steps

Publishing, Marketing, & Writing Tips

To self-publish a poetry book or to not self-publish a poetry book. That is the question. And this blog post has your answer!

How to Self-Publish a Poetry Book in 5 Easy Steps
Table of contents

Good news! You don't have to be Shakespeare or even know what iambic pentameter is to put out a book of poems that others will enjoy (and even make money doing it). In fact, some of the most popular poetry books on the market over the past few years have been self-published by people who don't even consider themselves professional writers or poets.

All it takes is a spark of inspiration, a laptop, and this blog post, and you'll be publishing a poetry book in no time. And the best part is, no one else will have any say in what you publish or when. As a self-publisher, you'll be completely in charge of the whole publishing process, from choosing the idea for your book of poetry to writing, editing, designing, formatting, and marketing your final work.

Wanna know how to find the most profitable book ideas? Catch our free webinar that lays it all out for you. You'll see exactly how self-publishing works and how to make life-changing income.

Is It Hard to Get a Poetry Book Published?

Getting poetry published used to be an incredibly long and stressful process with no guarantees. But without the overbearing traditional publishing model, you don't need anyone's permission to start your publishing and writing career or share your poetry with the world. You don't even have to deal with fighting other poets for the attention of a literary agent anymore.

Once you've got your finished book of poetry, getting it published online is as easy as starting a free Amazon KDP account, building out your profile, and clicking the "publish" button. In most cases, the book will go live within a week or two, and the royalties generated from your book sales will be directly deposited into your bank account on file.

How Much Does It Cost to Publish a Poetry Book?

Depending on how much of the self-publishing process you decide to outsource, your costs can be very minimal, or they might broach the $1-2k range. There are self-publishing options for every budget.

A poetry book is often much shorter than a work of non-fiction like a memoir or a work of fiction like a romance novel. This may decrease your self-publishing costs twofold. First, writing poems with a ghostwriter should take much less time and cost less due to the fact that there will be less research involved. And second, the printing costs that come out of your royalties will likely be a lot lower.

The trick is finding that sweet spot that your competitors are in. If your fellow poets are writing books in the 75-100 page range, for example, then you know where you should be.

The Self-Publishing Landscape for Poets

The poetry world has really shaken things up lately. Forget the old-school rules about how to format your poems or what rhyme schemes to stick to. Today's poets are breaking the mold, and self-publishing is a big part of that revolution.

Here's how publishing a poetry book has changed over the years:

Then vs. Now

In the past, getting your poetry out there meant navigating a pretty tight ship: specific formats, select publishing houses and a lot of waiting. Now, self-publishing has changed the game. It's like having an open mic night where everyone gets a chance to share their voice. This shift means more styles, more voices, and a whole lot more poetry for everyone.

Notable Names

There are some self-published poets who've really made waves, like Rupi Kaur, Erin Hanson, and Kenneth Jarrett Singleton. Heck, even Edgar Allen Po, E. E. Cummings, and Oscar Wilde self-published some of their own works of poetry. You don't need a big publisher to make a big impact.

Kindle: Your Poetry Playground

And where's the best place to self-publish your poetry? When you look at the metrics for self-publishers, it's a no-brainer. Amazon's KDP is legit and hands down the best choice. It's user-friendly, reaches a vast (and growing) audience, and gives poets the flexibility they need. Whether you’re a first-timer or a seasoned poem publisher, KDP will give you the platform to reach your publishing goals.

How To Self-Publish Your Poetry In 5 Easy Steps

When it comes to self-publishing poetry online, these are the steps that most publishers will need to follow:

#1: Organizing Your Poetry Collection

The first step to any publishing project is getting to know your potential readers inside and out. What motivates them? What keeps them captivated? Many independent authors and publishers make the mistake of writing their books for themselves rather than the humans on the other side of the book who will be leaving the reviews and deciding whether the book actually becomes successful.

Attending poetry readings at local cafes can be a great way to get inspiration or even meet with a potential ghostwriter you'd like to partner with. Otherwise, you can also look at literary journals and magazines for trends and ideas. Basically, at this stage, you want to make sure there's solid proof and evidence backing your ideas before you go through all the work of bringing them to life.

Action Items:

  • Get inspiration from your local community and other sources
  • Lock down your "Proof of Concept" and evidence that your poetry book idea fills a gap or need in the market
  • Hire a ghostwriter or freelance writer to help you execute your vision

#2: Reviewing The Right Publishing Guidelines

It's been said in the Spiderman universe that "with great power comes great responsibility," and that just about sums up the life of a self-publisher. With full creative control comes great responsibility to oversee the quality of every step of the publishing process on Amazon.

As your writer begins to work on the poetry, it will be your duty to ensure that everything meets Amazon KDP's content guidelines. No need to panic! They're all pretty straightforward.

Here's the gist:

  • No copyright infringement or stealing other people's content
  • Nothing overly graphic, obscene, or harmful
  • Nothing misleading in the title or book descriptions
  • Nothing that leads to a poor customer experience

You might also notice a new section about AI-generated and AI-assisted content for writing a book. Amazon has taken a pro-AI stance as long as it doesn't break any of the above rules. Whether you decide to add AI to your workflow, work with a ghostwriter, write it yourself, or a combination of all three, you'll earn up to 70% of your book sales in royalties. Yes, even if a ghostwriter did 100% of the writing!

Action Items:

  • Get familiar with the content guidelines and relay your expectations to your ghostwriter
  • Regularly check in with your writer. Don't wait until the last chapter of poems to realize it's not a good fit!
  • Provide your writer with concrete feedback and give them opportunities to improve if there's an issue.

#3: Proofing and Revising Your Book

Although you might be able to edit the work yourself, it's typically better for the overall quality of the book to get another set of eyes on the final draft. You might consider working with editors who can provide developmental editing, copyediting, and proofreading before giving the book the poetry book green light. They'll be able to spot grammatical errors as well as formatting errors and inconsistencies with the voice or tone of the project.

It's not uncommon to go through several rounds of revisions with an editor, so don't be alarmed if there's a lot of "red ink" and feedback! They want your book to succeed as much as you do. 

Once you and your editor are happy with the final manuscript, Amazon allows you to order a "proof copy" to give it a final read before officially publishing your book of poems. 

Remember: This work will ultimately reflect on you, and you get to make all the end decisions!

Action Items:

  • Hire an editor or proofreader you can trust. Don't be afraid to hire contractors who might be newer to the industry, especially if the budget is tight. They need the experience, and you need the editing help. It's a win-win!
  • Make sure your editor is someone who knows how to meticulously cross all the t's, dot all the i's, and check all the line breaks in addition to catching the big picture things like tonality.
  • Consider sending digital copies of your manuscript to beta readers to gather more feedback about the poetry book as a whole
  • Go through as many rounds of revisions as it takes to put out quality content

#4: Designing Your Poetry Book

Your poetry collection may or may not have accompanying images. Either way, you'll need a front and back book cover at the minimum. Poetry covers have a lot of range in colors and styles, so don't be afraid to check out your competition and see what's selling. In fact, you should be doing this with every book you publish!

Remember the saying, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it"? If a particular style is already selling well, why wouldn't you take inspiration from it? Now, this should go without saying, but this isn't a sign you should copy something 100%. But at the same time, there's nothing wrong with borrowing a color scheme or animation style and adding your own personal touch. The publishing process should be FUN!

Something to keep in mind is that you'll need to submit specific file types for your print book, eBook, and audiobook, so working with a professional designer is often the most efficient method for self-publishing poetry, as poetry can be especially difficult to format.

Action Items:

  • Invest in the right AI software to generate images, hire a graphic designer, or a combination of both
  • Check out the competition's poetry covers and see how you can make your book cover design stand out without straying too far from what's already proven to work
  • Work with a professional formatter to get ready-to-publish files for manuscripts and a cover design in multiple formats

#5: Launching & Marketing Your Book

Submitting your formatted and polished manuscript for publishing is actually the easiest part of the entire process and only takes a couple of clicks. There are so many distribution services these days, like Amazon KDP, which will take care of all the inventory management and shipping so you can focus on growing your book sales.

The vast majority of new self-publishers are at least somewhat overwhelmed by the idea of creating a book marketing plan. If you're in the same boat, take a deep breath! There are plenty of online resources like HubSpot (and this blog) that walk you through the process step-by-step.

Action Items

  • Create your personal website, write your author bio, and set up your professional social media accounts
  • Create a focused plan for your marketing efforts, but don't be afraid to tweak it as you begin marketing and gathering data
  • Create a focused plan for gathering consistent book reviews
  • Consider joining poetry groups on Facebook and connecting with poets in your area to gain more visibility

Need a little extra guidance? Our AI publishing course gives you access to over 30 hours of training videos and live call recordings to catch you up to speed with the latest industry trends and has helped generate over $50 million in revenue for our students. There's an entire module dedicated to marketing and advertising, along with the quickest method to gathering compliant book reviews.

Poetry Publishing Ideas

A poem is meant to evoke emotions in the reader, whether that's joy, curiosity, or even grief.

Here are some ideas to help you consider how you might like to self-publish poetry.

  1. Themed Poetry Collections: Focus on a specific theme or subject matter, such as love, nature, personal growth, or social issues. This approach will make it easier to target readers who share similar interests or experiences. like women going through a divorce, first-time dads, or children starting school.
  2. Personal Journey or Memoir in Verse: Compile individual poems that narrate your life story or significant personal experiences. This approach can help you establish your branding early on in your career.
  3. Seasonal or Nature-Inspired Poetry: Create a collection inspired by the seasons or the great outdoors. Nature lovers and poetry lovers often go hand in hand.
  4. Haiku or Specific Form Collections: Focus on a specific poetic form, such as haikus, sonnets, or free verse. This can be an interesting challenge and appeal to readers who enjoy these forms.
  5. Inspirational or Spiritual Poetry: Write poems that offer inspiration, delve into spiritual themes, or explore philosophical questions. This type of poetry can offer comfort, guidance, and reflection to readers.
  6. Poetry for Children: Write poems tailored for a younger audience. These poems might focus on teaching kids about emotions or using their imagination.

Pro Tip: Any single idea may produce completely different results depending on the niche it's applied to, which is why we hammer home the idea of "Proof of Concept" so much. Attend our webinar training to learn the proven steps for conducting your research and landing on the ideas with the most potential.

Meet the Publishing Industry Experts Here to Help You Get Started On Your Self-Publishing Journey

While some self-publishing companies and traditional publishers will try to negotiate a percentage of your royalties for their own keeping, you won't ever find that at, guaranteed. The book sales and royalties you make from publishing poetry (or any other kind of work) will remain 100% yours.

We're simply here to walk you through a proven process to beefing up your book sales potential and making more money online with Kindle...all on your own terms.

See why our system is trusted by thousands of people all over the world, and see what kind of impact this has made on their lives by visiting our Student Success Hub. Just imagine how it would feel to say...

I'm a busy mom who gets to spend even more time with my kids because I have a system that brings me extra money every month. (That's Michell Ferret Velasquez's story).

I'm making $3754 per month with just three books as a college student. (That's Samuel Arnold's story.)

I'm making over $20,000 publishing books, and I'm having fun doing it. (That's Oliver El-Gorr's story.)

Attend our webinar, and this could be your new story!

A Bonus Poem to Get Inspired

A student in our private community shared this lovely poem the other day and dedicated it to those who might be feeling discouraged on their journey. If you need a little dose of inspiration, you might enjoy it, too! 

"Don’t Quit."

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,

When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,

When the funds are low, and the debts are high,

And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,

When care is pressing you down a bit,

Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,

As every one of us sometimes learns,

And many a failure turns about,

When he might have won had he stuck it out;

Don’t give up though the pace seems slow–

You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than

It seems to a faint and faltering man,

Often the struggler has given up,

When he might have captured the victor’s cup,

And he learned too late when the night slipped down,

How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out–

The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,

And you never can tell how close you are,

It may be near when it seems so far,

So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit–

It’s when things seem worst that you mustn’t quit.

- Author Unknown

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