1. Write poems
The first step is both the easiest and most difficult: write. The more poems you write and submit, the more likely you are to be published. Writing more affords you the chance to submit to multiple publications at one time; sometimes a publication might want to see more of your poems, or prefer to publish a selection of poems rather than one. (We currently accept submissions of six poems to give you the highest chance of publication.)
2. Read excellent (and not-so-excellent) poetry
Find our where your favourite poets have been published and follow them up in places like the National Poetry Library if you live in the UK. Often, poets with published collections have published many times in magazines like ours. Delve into these publications where you can. Read the surrounding poems: the poems that put you off, the poems that draw you in. Glean as much as you can from reading. Subscribing to magazines like ours means you’ll regularly enjoy a breadth of new international contemporary poetry and discover some new poets at the very start of their career. Poetry subscriptions not only give you an insight into the publication over time, but also offer ample sources of inspiration for your next poems.
Bonus tip: Sometimes poets and publishers hold or take part in events like open mics where you can watch poetry performances from published poets. These are a great way to build your poetry network and share your own poetry. You can find many of these on our What’s On page.
3. Research publications
There are thousands of places that publish poetry, but not every place will be right for you. Make sure you research publications before submission. Find out who the poetry editor or reader is at a publisher/publication and whether the publication is currently open for publications.
Use websites like Duotrope and Submittable to narrow down your search and find publications that suit you. Be sure to read submission guidelines and copyright information carefully to give your poem the best chance. We make clear on our submission guidelines what you’ll be paid for your poetry and how we manage the copyright and publication of your poems.
4. Choose your market(s) and submit
Choose the publications you’d like to receive your poetry and follow their guidelines when submitting. To give yourself an even better chance, purchase a copy of their publication or find it in your local library. Reading previously published work from publishers/publications you intend to submit to will help you decide whether your poem is the right fit.
Bonus tip: Editors appreciate when you send them a cover letter with the correct and appropriate greeting. Avoid outdated ‘Dear sirs’ to open your cover letter, especially when directed at women and non-binary people. Most of the editors you’ll be corresponding with are not knights of the realm.
Once you’ve submitted your poems, nourish yourself with life and food and distraction and more poetry, then get back to writing! The most engaging poetry comes from those who are, in one way or another, engaged in the business of life.