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How Do Poets Get Published?

Poets often express a great deal of frustration about publication of their work. On the Internet the poetry publishing world may seem full of scams, cheats and frauds.

Poets who have been deceived by anthology publishers are bitter about their experiences. It's galling to find that a publishing" success" was only a way in which you were separated from your hard-earned money. Poets who submit their work to genuine publishers receive endless rejections.

How does a poet get published?

What to avoid (how not to get published)

Publishers who want you to pay anything for a book (or magazine) with your work must be avoided. Some of these scam artists are highly original in their approaches, and it may not be obvious what they're up to. But eventually they will ask you to pay for something. That is the tip-off.

Take it from us—if they're printing your work and you have to buy a copy to see your printed work, it's a fraud. That is not how real publishing works.

Real publishers pay you for your work, even if the "payment" is only in free copies of the publication. They will not ask you to send them money.

How hard is it to become a published poet?

How hard is it to excel at anything? Most vocations require long term dedication, months of training and years of practice. While we see occasional headlines about "overnight successes" they are rare indeed. Even a novelist who seems to spring onto the bestseller list from nowhere has likely been toiling in obscurity for a very long time.

A published poet will not be a person who has written one or two poems in her lifetime… or in her spare time. A published poet will be a person who has dedicated herself to refining her work over a period of years. A published poet has most often studied the craft of poetry with other poets—not necessarily in formal study—receiving advice in a critical atmosphere. A published poet has usually had her work rejected by numerous publishers before seeing it get into print. It's part of the learning process.

A published poet is a skilled professional who takes her work seriously. For many people it may be easier to become a medical doctor or a firefighter than a published poet.

That is the level of dedication required.

Don't be discouraged

None of this is meant to discourage hopeful poets. If poetry is really in your blood, if it's a gift God has given you, then you will dedicate yourself to the task of being the best you can be.

If you persevere and learn from your experiences and the instruction of other poets—and submit your work often—you will be published. You will win poetry contests.

Best of all, your work will achieve excellence and glorify the Giver of your gift.