How to Self-Publish a Poetry Book: A Step-by-Step Guide


If you are a poet, you know that publishing your work can be an uphill battle. Traditional publishers and literary agents may not always be interested in your work, leaving you feeling frustrated and stuck. That’s where self-publishing comes in. Not only does it offer a viable alternative to traditional publishing, but it also provides poets with the freedom and control to publish their work on their terms. In this step-by-step guide, we will outline everything you need to know to self-publish your poetry book successfully.

Why Self-Publish Your Poetry Book?

Self-publishing is no longer seen as the “last resort” for authors. In fact, it is becoming increasingly popular among poets, novelists, and non-fiction writers alike. There are several reasons why self-publishing may be the right choice for your poetry book:

Benefits of Self-Publishing

One of the biggest benefits of self-publishing is control. When you self-publish, you retain complete control over your book’s content and design. This means that you can ensure that your book is exactly how you want it to be, without having to compromise your vision for the sake of a publisher’s guidelines.

Another advantage of self-publishing is speed. Traditional publishing can take years to complete, with authors often waiting months for feedback from publishers or agents. With self-publishing, you can move at your own pace and have your book available for purchase in a matter of weeks or months.

Flexibility is another key benefit of self-publishing. You can make changes to your book even after it is published, something that is impossible with traditional publishing. This means that you can respond to feedback from readers and make updates to your book as needed.

Finally, self-publishing can be more financially rewarding than traditional publishing. While traditional publishers typically take a larger share of the royalties, self-publishing gives you a larger share of the profits.

Overcoming the Stigma of Self-Publishing

There was once a time when self-publishing had a negative stigma attached to it. However, with advances in technology and the rise of self-publishing success stories, that stigma has largely disappeared. Today, self-published books can stand toe-to-toe with traditionally published books in terms of quality and success.

One of the keys to overcoming the stigma of self-publishing is to ensure that your book is of the highest quality. This means investing in professional editing, cover design, and formatting. By taking the time and effort to create a polished and professional book, you can demonstrate that self-publishing can produce books that are just as good as those produced by traditional publishers.

Another way to overcome the stigma of self-publishing is to build a strong author platform. This means establishing a presence on social media, engaging with readers, and building a community around your work. By demonstrating that you are committed to your craft and to your readers, you can build a loyal following that will help to promote your work and establish your credibility as an author.

In conclusion, self-publishing can be a great option for poets looking to share their work with the world. With complete control over your content and design, the ability to move at your own pace, and the potential for greater financial rewards, self-publishing offers many benefits over traditional publishing. By investing in quality and building a strong author platform, you can overcome any remaining stigma and establish yourself as a successful self-published poet.

Preparing Your Poetry Collection

Before you can self-publish your poetry book, you need to prepare your collection. This involves selecting and organizing your poems, editing and proofreading your work, and designing a book cover.

Self-publishing a poetry book is an exciting and rewarding experience. It allows you to share your voice and your art with the world. However, before you can hit the publish button, you need to put in the work to make your collection the best it can be.

Selecting and Organizing Your Poems

Choosing which poems to include can be a daunting task. Start by selecting only your best work, the poems that represent you and your style. Consider themes, voice and tone, and the overall flow of the collection. You may want to consider grouping your poems by theme or subject matter. This can create a cohesive and engaging reading experience for your audience.

When organizing your poems, think about the pacing of the collection. You may want to start with an attention-grabbing poem that sets the tone for the rest of the book. From there, you can build up to a climax or conclusion that leaves a lasting impression on your readers.

Editing and Proofreading Your Work

Editing and proofreading are essential for every published work, be it traditionally or self-published. While self-editing is common, it’s always a good idea to have a professional editor review and proofread your work. A fresh set of eyes can catch errors and inconsistencies that you may have missed.

You can also enlist beta readers for feedback and constructive criticism. Beta readers are a group of trusted individuals who read your work and provide feedback on areas that need improvement. They can help you identify weak spots in your collection and offer suggestions for improvement.

Designing a Book Cover

Your book cover should capture the essence of your poetry book and entice readers to pick it up. Consider hiring a professional designer or use a design tool such as Canva to create a cover that represents your style and your work.

When designing your cover, think about the mood and tone of your collection. Are your poems dark and brooding, or light and whimsical? The cover should reflect the overall feel of your work. You may also want to consider incorporating images or artwork that relate to your poems.

Remember, your book cover is the first impression readers will have of your collection. Make it count!

Formatting Your Poetry Book

Formatting your book may sound daunting, but it is a necessary step to get your poetry collection published. Factors such as layout, font, page numbers, and headers may seem small, but they can make a significant impact on your readers and the perception of your work.

Choosing the Right Layout and Font

The layout and font you choose will define your book’s look and feel. Consider the mood and tone of your poetry when deciding the font, and make sure it’s easily readable. You want your readers to be able to focus on your words without any distractions. Some popular font choices for poetry books include Garamond, Times New Roman, and Calibri.

When it comes to layout, there are a variety of templates available on self-publishing platforms to choose from. Try a few different options to see which one feels right for your collection. You may want to consider a simple and clean layout that allows your poetry to stand out, or a more artistic and visually stimulating layout that complements your words.

Adding Page Numbers and Headers

Page numbers and headers help readers navigate your book and give your collection a professional touch. You can choose to place your page numbers and headers at the top or bottom of the page, or in the margins. Make sure they are consistent throughout your book and easy to read.

Headers can also be used to add a personal touch to your book. Consider adding a header with your name and the title of your collection on each page to reinforce your brand and make your book stand out.

Creating a Table of Contents

A table of contents not only adds an air of professionalism to your book, but it also makes it easier for readers to navigate your collection to find their favorite poems. You can usually create a table of contents within the self-publishing platform you use. Make sure to list each poem and its corresponding page number accurately.

Consider adding a brief description or a few lines of each poem to your table of contents to give readers a taste of what’s to come. This can also help them decide which poems they want to read first.

Choosing the Right Paper and Cover

When it comes to printing your poetry book, the paper and cover you choose can make a big difference in how your book is perceived. Consider using a high-quality, acid-free paper that will stand the test of time and preserve your words for years to come.

For the cover, you may want to consider hiring a professional designer to create a custom cover that reflects your poetry and captures the attention of potential readers. Alternatively, you can use a pre-made cover template or create your own using software like Canva.

Remember, your book’s cover is the first thing readers will see, so make sure it’s eye-catching and memorable.

Selecting a Self-Publishing Platform

Once your collection is ready and formatted correctly, it’s time to select a self-publishing platform to publish it on. Choosing the right platform can make all the difference to the success of your book.

Comparing Popular Self-Publishing Platforms

There are a variety of self-publishing platforms available, each with its unique features and benefits. Some of the most popular platforms include Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, Smashwords, and Kobo Writing Life. Compare the platforms to see which one aligns with your goals and needs.

Understanding Royalties and Pricing

Understanding how royalties work and setting the right price for your book is essential to your financial success as an author. Make sure you research how royalties work on your chosen platform and price your book accordingly.

Marketing Your Self-Published Poetry Book

Finally, the last step is to market your book to the right audience. With millions of books vying for readers’ attention, marketing your book is more important than ever.

Building an Author Platform

An author platform is where you can showcase your work, engage with readers and build a loyal following. Consider setting up an author website, author social media accounts, and joining writing and poetry groups to get your name out there.

Utilizing Social Media for Promotion

Social media can be a powerful tool for promoting your book. Consider reaching out to book bloggers and reviewers on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to request reviews. You can also run paid ads on these platforms to target potential readers.

Connecting with Poetry Communities and Events

Community events, open mics, and poetry readings offer excellent opportunities to connect with readers and promote your book. Reach out to local poetry groups and attend events where you can showcase your work in front of an interested audience.


Self-publishing your poetry book requires a lot of hard work and dedication, but it is a viable and rewarding way to get your work out there for the world to see. Following the steps outlined in this guide, you can self-publish your poetry book successfully and gain the recognition and readership you deserve.