Poetry essay: Some tips on getting poems published

M. Sakran has had fifty three poems published, in addition to the collection of poetry First Try. You can find a list of the poems, along with links to some of them, at www.msakran.com/publications.html. That page shows a list of many of the items M. Sakran has had published.

If you are looking to have your poems published, here are some tips that might help you.

Keep an open mind about publications

There are a number of publications that publish poetry.  Some publications, like literary magazines, might publish predominately poetry, other publications, like some special interest magazines, might publish poetry only occasionally.

When looking for publishers for your poetry, keep your options broad.  Look at literary magazines, special interest magazines, blogs, calls for poetry from websites and so forth.  Keep an open mind about the types of poetry you write (for example, don’t just write free verse, but consider haiku as well) and where it can be published.


Unfortunately, a reality of sending poetry submissions is that many of them will be declined.  You might send out one hundred poems, and only get five published.  Don’t let this be a discouragement.  It’s just part of how things are.

When sending a number of poems out, keep a few ideas in mind.


Keep good records.  Know what you sent, to who and when.  This can help if you need to follow up, if someone accepts your poem, if there is some type of deadline and so forth.  It can be very useful if you keep everything organized.


If you are going to be sending out a number of poems, don’t spend too much time on any one.  Make sure you write quality poems, but don’t labor over any one.  Since part of the idea is quantity, you don’t want to slow the process down.

Don’t take rejection personally

When you send out many poems, many will be declined.  Keep records of the decline, but don’t take it personally or let it hurt your feelings.  Just move on from it and write something else.

Don’t simultaneously submit

Sending the same poems to many places can cause difficulties.  How do you keep everything straight?  How do you know who is still considering a poem, who rejected some, and what do you do if one is accepted?  It can be very hard to keep track of things if you send the same poems to different places.  If you follow the tip of not spending too much time on any one poem, you would be better off writing more poems than reusing poems.


One way to write many poems more easily, is to stick to the same subject.  Pick a topic that is broad but unified.  Some examples might be homelessness, poverty, technology in society, or working in an office.  Choose something that has a lot of subtopics to write about, but still has an overall theme.

Sticking to the same subject can make writing a large number of poems easier because you don’t have to think about something new to write about each time.  You only have to think about different focuses or perspectives.

Cover letters

When you submit poems for consideration, include a cover letter.  Say what you are sending, say something about yourself and maybe mention some past publications.  Don’t explain the poems you are sending in or have something that’s more than a page.

When you first start sending cover letters, you might write them individually.  If you do this enough though, you will often find that you write the same things, but in different ways.  A good idea might be to take a few letters you have written, see what they have in common, and develop a standard cover letter.  Using a standard cover letter, that you modify to a degree depending on what you are sending and to whom, can make the process of sending a number poems easier.  It can also be useful in refining what you want to say.


If you are sending a number of poems out, it can be get expensive if you pay to submit, like you would for a contest.  There are number of publications that will consider poems for free (or at least have a free option or time period).  At the start, stick with those.

Electronic submissions

Similarly, there are many publications that accept electronic submissions.  Sending submissions via regular mail can start to get expensive if you send many poems.


When you submit poems to publications, they will often have poetry guidelines.  They might have restrictions on the number of poems, where you send the poems, when you can send the poems and what information you include in your cover letters.  Follow the guidelines exactly.  They usually are not that cumbersome and not following them might hurt your chances at publication.

Learn about the publications

While it isn’t necessary for you to read every publication you send poems to, you should at least have a basic understanding of what they are about.  In addition to reading their guidelines, you should read their about section, a few items they have published and take a general look at their website or publication.  You want to make sure that the publication is a fit for you and that you have some idea about the kinds of poems they publish.

Stick with what works

When you find something that works for you in getting poems published, stick with it at least for a time.  Maybe you find that your poems about heart disease are getting published.  Maybe you find that your poems to environmental literary magazines are doing better than others.  When you find a type of poetry, a subject matter or a type of publication that is publishing your work, stick with it for at least a time.  While you want to keep your options open and consider new things, if you want to be published, this might be a way increase your chances.

Repeat publications

Similarly to sticking with what works in regards to type of poetry and so forth, if you find a publication that likes your poetry and has published more than one or two poems, you might consider keeping them in mind for the future.  Sometimes it can be easier to get published again with a publication, than it can be to get published with a publication for the first time.  Make sure you follow guidelines about how often you submit, but consider submitting to these publications over time.


The list of tips above isn’t exhaustive.  It’s just some ideas to help you in getting poems published.  While a lot can determine if the poems you write get published or not, following the tips above should help you in the process.