If you are serious about seeing your work published by reputable publishers, there are a few points you should consider. Firstly and most obviously, you need to determine if you have poetry worth publishing. This assessment can be done by doing something that will not only help you gauge the competitiveness of your poetry, but will give you some viable options for publishing it. Subscribe to literary journals and buy books of poetry. If you do this, what you are doing is searching out the market place. Read the types of poetry that many publishers are publishing and see if the quality of these poems surpasses or is on par with the quality of your own poems.
Read Literary Journals and Poetry Books
Not all literary journals are going to publish the same type of poetry. Some journals will only publish poetry that rhymes, most will not publish poetry that rhymes, and some journals will focus on specific themes such as humanity, nature, or locality. After having perused your bookstores and the many available literary journals, you will more than likely find a publisher who publishes poetry that your very own poetry would compliment. You can find reputable literary publishers by doing a search online, by reading the biographies of respected poets, and by checking out your local universities and colleges. When you find these publishers, write down the name, the address and keep a log, because these are going to be your potential publishers.
Improve Your Chances
The next vital aspect of publishing that you will need to consider is the actual process of getting your works accepted by the publishers. Each publisher will have very specific guidelines for submissions. Read these guidelines carefully and be sure to follow them precisely. Some online publishers will accept submissions via attachments while others frown upon attachments. Following the guidelines is crucial because whether your poetry is Pulitzer Prize quality or not, if you do not follow these guidelines, there is a good chance that your submissions will never even get read.
Also, do a little research before submitting your work to a publisher. Invest in resource materials for poets such as The Poet's Market. The better educated you are with regard to the publishing industry, the better your chances of avoiding the hassle of fighting scams and vanity presses. Because poetry is a hard market to sell, most publishers are struggling to stay afoot. Since there is such a small market for those seeking to buy poetry, vanity presses capitalize on the overwhelming desire of the public to become published.
Aside from researching the market, you should sharpen your skills at writing cover letters with the same intensity that you sharpen your skills at writing poetry. You can search online workshops and information sites about poetry, or you can refer to The Poet's Market for more information on writing cover letters. Not all publishers will necessitate cover letters, but a good cover letter will improve the chances of the editors actually reading your poetry.
Finally, expect a few rejections. As I previously mentioned, there is an overwhelming imbalance between the number of people who are looking to buy literary journals and books as compared to those who wish to publish it. Do not be discouraged if your work is rejected. Try revising it and sending it out to another publisher. Also, despite the fact that a rejection can make you want to send out your piece to several different publishers at once, you should never send your work to multiple publishers.
When a publisher accepts your work, enjoy the pride that comes along with such esteem. You will be on your way to building a portfolio. Getting your poetry published by various publishers is sometimes a slow and arduous adventure, but it is well worth the time and work.
Devrie Paradowski has been published by several literary journals such as Adagio Verse Quarterly, Eclips e-zine and Meeting of the Minds Journal. She has also published articles with Poetry Renewal Magazine. She is the editor of LE Quarterly: http://www.literaryescape.com/journal/