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.
- What type of poetry do you write; classical, modern, Avant guarde, or strict forms?
- Do you feel you need to test the waters first to gain confidence?
- Do you want payment for your poems or are you willing to go for publishing credits first?
- 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: http://www.writermag.com/ 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: http://www.pw.org/ 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: http://winningwriters.com/index.php#.UQZDsr-YuSo/ 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!