Beginning the Marketing Process


Writer Florence Osmund said, “Unless you’re a celebrity, famous author or just an exceptional writer who caught some lucky breaks, you will have to make at least some effort marketing your own books.”

 Osmund may have referred only to books, but the sentiment is equally true for all other writing in today’s industry.

Poetry, that odd-man-out of contemporary literary writing, is no exception to marketing needs. Some might say that poetry is one of the hardest sells in the business. Marketing poetry is like marketing a short story.

Like the essay, poetry is coming into its own again. Ebooks, chapbooks, iPhone apps, and other convenient venues create markets that didn’t exist even ten years ago. The savvy poet can also use these for personal benefit.

Several easy avenues exist for finding markets. A few questions first help narrow the search before you begin plucking blossoms from that enticing field of  magazines and journals.

  1. What type of poetry do you write; classical, modern, Avant guarde, or strict forms?
  2. Do you feel you need to test the waters first to gain confidence?
  3. Do you want payment for your poems or are you willing to go for publishing credits first?
  4. Do you feel confident enough to enter a competition with your poem(s)?

These questions will focus your thoughts on marketing before choosing target journals for submission. Once you have solid answers, you can discriminate quickly among the hundreds of possibilities available.

One of the easiest ways to make your own market list involves a simple spreadsheet. It doesn’t have to be an Excel mega-sheet. A piece of lined notebook paper, segmented to allow for columns, will suffice. Use plain headings.

Market           Type of Poetry           E-subm.          Theme            Deadline         Pay

These can run vertically or horizontally. You name the market, what kind of poetry the market accepts, if submission is by email, if theme is followed, if deadlines apply, and if the market pays and how much. Simple check marks will do for a “YES” answer. You need the address for submissions as well. Some markets use only one type of subject for their poetry; others have no preference on subject, etc. This is critical to know.

When you go to a market’s website, go to the Submission Guidelines for the relevant information.   

**NOTE: This same type of worksheet can serve as a submission tracking sheet by adding one column each for “Response Time” and “Acceptance/Rejection.”

The following are three major sources of market lists from which to pick your contenders.

  • The Writer Magazine at:    The Writer website has a quick link section on its front page. In it are the market directory, contest directory, agent directory, etc. In the Market Directory alone are hundreds of current markets checked out as legitimate. Everything the poet wants to know about a market’s appropriate fit for her work is there.
  • Poets & Writers Magazine at:   The PW website has many useful features. The Tools for Writers button on the toolbar will take the poet to market databases that will keep any writer busy for days, if they have that kind of time.
  • Winning Writers at:  This website has plenty to offer those who want to explore contests.

Dozens of other marketing lists are available, and as you become familiar with various personal poet/poetry websites, you’ll discover many more recommendations for exploration into markets.

For those testing the poetic waters, friendly websites such as Khara House’s Our Lost Jungle, Poetic Bloomings, and Poetic Asides all encourage and foster new poets. Check them out for regular writing prompts and work with new forms of poetry.

Most of all have fun!


15 comments for “Beginning the Marketing Process

  1. January 28, 2013 at 11:32 am

    A wonderful post Claudette! Thanks so much for sharing!!

  2. January 28, 2013 at 11:40 am

    Thank you, Dana. I’m glad that you enjoyed it. I’m in marketing mode right now, as I try to clean out the hard drive of all those items that never got revised and submitted to the appropriate market. Putting this together allowed me to focus intentions with actions.

  3. January 28, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    These marketing suggestions work well for fiction and nonfiction, too! Thanks!

  4. January 28, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    They sure do, Cheryl. I’m up to my armpits in market lists today for everything from essay to poetry and all the fiction in between.

  5. Sopphey
    January 28, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    Great post Claudette! I write a special breed of avant garde/modern poetry so I find myself using the question a lot. Especially when I’m submitting, I’ll sift through previous issues of a magazine and see if what kind of poetry they like to see if we match.

  6. January 28, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    I have to do the same, Sopphey. That’s where all the time goes. A whole day so far today. That’s just for the next 2 months. Thank you again for the Twitter mention as well.

  7. Sabra Bowers
    January 28, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    Thanks, Claudsy. I honestly don’t have time to do the research to submit. Maybe the spreadsheet idea will be the ticket for me. I won’t have to start over each time. 🙂

  8. January 28, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing this, Claudsy (and for the OLJ mention)! I’ll be checking out all the links you shared, and definitely taking the time to (finally) put together my own submission tracking spreadsheet! 🙂

  9. January 28, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    Sabra, I used to fly by the seat of my drawers, too. I didn’t get very far that way and ended up feeling as if the world had narrowed to fifteen or so markets that would soon cringe at the sight of my name.

    That’s when I began finding the joy of marketing. (I’m seriously thinking of writing a small booklet by that title.)

    When I found so many inspirational sparks simply by reading the market list put together by The Writer or Poets & Writers, I thought I’d arrived in heaven. There are times when I use those incentives gathered while trailing my fingers through the big lists to dictate at least five ideas for new work. They don’t have to be big, just new and different.

    I have to admit, it becomes addictive and I have to beware, or I have too many projects gathering at the “incomplete” gate and too few ready for the release chute.

    • Sabra Bowers
      February 9, 2013 at 6:14 pm

      Claudsy, I encourage you to write that small booklet. Joy of Marketing…I like it.

  10. January 28, 2013 at 7:50 pm

    Khara, thank you and I love OLJ. I just don’t get to play there very often.

    Tracking spreadsheets–for me there is nothing that compares to having one at hand, in the physical sense. I know there is a lot of tracking software out there. It doesn’t work for me. I guess I’m too old-school. I need to touch the spreadsheet, be able to pick it up and carry it while I think about alternatives and options.

    My preference is a simple accounting ledger notebook from Wal-Mart. It costs less that two bucks and has lots of room. Each market can have it’s own page(s), I can add segment tabs where I need them to separate types of markets, etc. Once I get the segments set up, I can begin filling in with the actual market list.

    Editorial calendars are a whole other ballgame.

  11. January 29, 2013 at 5:39 am

    Oh, this is a wonderful post, Claudsy. I really loved Duotrope where I could make lists of publishers I like and don’t with short notes as to why. In this way I wouldn’t waste time for unproper markets. Sadly, it’s paid already, so no use 🙂 I also used a Spreadsheet to track my submissions, deadlines and the like. That’s time-consuming, too. Unfortunately, I am nearly constantly behind, because time is an issue.
    I also made an Editorial calendar, using a template, very useful, especially if you plan to follow it 🙂 Once my semester assignments piled up, I forgot all about it.

  12. January 29, 2013 at 10:23 am

    Thank you, Mariya. I’m glad you liked it. I, too, was disappointed that Duotrope went to paid only, but I can keep making my own list for from the other big lists. The one thing that is so marvelous about Duotrope was that you can find out which markets aren’t viable any longer and remove them, if you have to, from your preference’s list of favorites. That does save a person time and effort.

    Tracking software is fine and I applaud any who can remember that its there. For me, I need to be able to do a physical manipulation of my submissions. Call it a personal quirk. The act of opening a ledger, writing down acceptance/rejection, or entering a new item for tracking, makes the procedure more personal for me.

  13. Becca
    January 29, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    Thanks, Claudsy! I checked out the Winning Writers site and it’s pretty awesome. Thanks for the resource!

  14. January 29, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    You’re welcome, Becca. I’ve been getting their newsletter since early ’09 and never come up dry for some kind of contest market.

    And anyone who likes to experiment and get immediate feedback, take a free membership in

    Fan Story allows you the freedom to work in poetry, fiction, etc., to get feedback from any of thousands of members, and continual contests in poetry and fiction. All this at no cost whatever.

    It’s a great way to get your feet wet with contests without having to pay any entry fees.

    Just another/different resource

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