Are you a poet? Looking to get your poetry available to a wider audience? For those with a poetic focus, poetry can difficult to get published as the market is incredibly competitive. On the plus side, however, self-publishing your poetry and joining the ranks of other indie poets is an extremely viable way to get your poetry out there.

We’re going to talk about getting your poetry manuscript ready for publication on Kobo Writing Life. When it comes to publishing your poetry, great preparation is key! Here are our steps to publication – plus, some marketing tips at the end.

1 – Finalize your draft: first thing’s first, of course: finish your draft. Compile your poems. Rarely is a poetry collection completed as one cohesive draft; usually, it is several poems written over the course of months or years. Make sure you have included every poem you want to include! Aim for around 50-70 poems, or 70-90 pages, give or take a few pages depending on the length of your poems. Remember – most poetry manuscripts are pretty short!

2 – Edit, edit, edit: after the draft is done, make sure you edit! For poetry, editing can look like rearranging the order of poems in the book, making sure the format of your poems is correct, and, of course, checking for spelling and grammar (if relevant to the poem), or any misused or otherwise erroneous words. Poetry editing can also mean rewriting entire poems until it sounds – and looks – perfect! You will probably go through at least three rounds of edits before you are done, but keep going – it will be great in the end.

3 – Create a compelling cover: poetry covers, like any other cover, need to look great. Create an eye-catching cover that really speaks to the work within. Using artistic or abstract imagery is often a great choice for a poetry cover, as is playing around with typography and making the title the focus; this works wonderfully if the title is a longer one. Look up some of the covers of your favourite poetry collections and try and pinpoint what you like best about them. This will help you design your own cover, or, if you are hiring a designer, give you some ideas of what you want to see done for your cover.

4 – Craft an evocative title: poetry titles are sometimes as short as one word or read as an entire sentence. Consider using the title of one of the strongest poems in the book as the collection’s title, or even use a whole line of poetry as a title itself! Poetry titles are often extremely memorable and catch a reader’s attention by being beautiful or intriguing, so keep this in mind, too.

5 – Write a clear and interesting summary: as with fiction, poetry needs a summary for its sale listing. Consider including a few lines from one of your poems, followed by a short summary of what readers can expect, such as theme, subject matter, or the types of poems. Make your summary more straightforward than poetic, but don’t miss out on an opportunity here to showcase your poetic style.

6 – Format your book, and then format it again: so much of a poetry depends on how it looks on the page. Pay careful attention to line breaks, stanza breaks, page breaks, and placement of indents, spaces, and anything else relevant to your poetry. It’s better to layout a book in InDesign than Word, for example, but Word has options when it comes to interesting or unique formatting of text. Make sure to always test out how your book looks after converting it to an ePub! There are plenty of tools out there, both free and paid, that will allow you to do this. If all else fails, however, consider hiring a freelance book designer to help you out, if your budget allows. This will help you get everything exactly right!

Be sure to check out this great article on creative poetry layouts from Reedsy for more inspiration.

7 – Market your poetry widely: again, like any other book, market your poetry wildly! Share excerpts, post a video of you reading a poem from your book, advertise, submit it to promotions on Kobo, and much more. Make sure you highlight both the beauty of your cover alongside some of your favourite lines of poetry. People love sharing impactful, meaningful lines of poetry on social media – be sure to make your poems steal the show rather than a flashy advertisement or impressive ad copy.

And, remember: on Kobo’s storefront, poetry is found under the fiction & literature section. You can categorize your poetry under non-fiction as well, especially if it touches on non-fiction subject matter, or even under memoir and biography, if it is poetry about your own personal experiences. Categorization is a great way to ensure discoverability; don’t let your poetry get lost!

To illustrate or not to illustrate

In the last few years, poetry accompanied by illustrations has been on the rise. However, the practice of pairing poetry with illustration goes back centuries! It remains a popular choice for some poets, and can really draw together the look of your book. However, it is not the best option for every collection.

If you are interested in featuring illustration alongside your poetry, ask yourself this important question: why?

Are you following the trend? Or is the illustration (whether it be your own or someone else’s) adding to the poetry? It is more important to include illustrations that will add to the impact of your work or compliment it in some way, rather than illustrations that simply exist to fill blank spaces or to capitalize on this trend in publishing.

At best, the illustrations are a welcome addition and add to the appeal of your collection. At worst, they are distracting and detract from the important part of your publication: the poems. Think carefully before adding illustrations!

Poetry-focused promos?

Currently, KWL does not have a poetry-focused promotion option. However, you can submit your poetry to the new release promos, or the fiction or non-fiction free page promos. Remember, poetry is not a genre: it’s a format. Poetry can fall under just as many genres as fiction. Be sure that is made apparent in your categorization of the collection, as mentioned above, before submitting to promotions.

As mentioned previously, much of your poetry can be promoted via social media such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and more. Poetry reading videos are great to share, or something as simple as a post that highlights a line or two from a poem of yours can be just as effective. Consider, too, sharing poetry from others in order to immerse yourself in a poetry-focused community, and be sure to have a newsletter and website you can link people back to in order to find out more about your work.

There are many ways to promote your poetry, so try out several different approaches and see what works best for you!

Check out IngramSpark’s guide to publishing poetry.

Likewise, learn a little more about poetry’s many forms from this Reedsy article.

And, as always, happy writing!