Categories : publishing


Should I Publish my Poetry as a Paperback?

I was recently asked this question by an aspiring author, ie someone who has written poetry but has never published it anywhere.

She wrote me a short email with a list of questions, and I dotted my answers in between her questions.

Below is the mixture of her email (in italics) and my reply.

If YOU are thinking about publishing your poetry, prose or other creative writing, I hope that this gives you some practical things to think about. . . .


Hi RT,

Here is are a few big questions for you:

  • Are you publishing in order to make yourself known, or for the benefit of others, or just to give away to friends?
  • Has anyone else seen your work, and, if so, what did they think of it?
  • Do you absolutely need physical copies, or are you happy to start out with digital copies?

There are a lot of things that go into publishing, and least of them are the technical/formatting parts.

I have a lot to say on the subject. Maybe it would be better to do an audio on the topic of publishing poetry, then others can learn from it as well.

Now, let me address your questions:

RT:  I’ve used publisher to map it out so far and including the cover there would be 20 pages ie cover plus 8 inner pages.

I work from MS Word, so it is better to use that rather than Publisher.


RT:  Would it be possible to publish with illustrations either hand drawn or photographs.?….

Yes, you could use either, though paperbacks in full colour are more costly to produce. No probs with digital versions.

RT:  Could text be overlaid onto photographs & is this advisable?

Not advisable for poetry. The words tend to spoil the image and vice versa. Keep the images separate.

NOTE: you can only use either royalty-free or public domain images… don’t want to get sued for copyright infringement.

RT:  Could a ‘cursive’ script be used to make it feel more handwritten & is this advisable?

It is better to use simple, easy to read fonts….though you could test that with a few friends and see what they think.

RT:  How much would you need me to do & how much editing/tidying would you do taking in that my publisher skills are basic?

You would simply submit your text in Word, in as simple a format as possible. Since it is poetry, which is sometimes formatted in ‘creative’ ways (centered, right justified, erratic spacing, in the shape of an elephant etc), submit it formatted the way that you want it to appear.

RT:  Do you only publish digitally or do you publish hard copy too?

I publish in paperback, Kindle and pdf formats

RT:  BIG question…..How much do you charge and how much for plain text compared with illustrated, colour/b&w etc…..

My quotes are based on seeing a specific manuscript and the specs to which you want it published.

RT:  I’m also going to ask the printer we use for our stuff for his input but I know he only does hard copy.

Of course, feel free to get his input. I would strongly suggest starting with digital, as all associated costs are lower and it is much easier to produce. It is also easier to sell digital/Kindle versions……thus my initial questions.

Important input regarding poetry:

If you are publishing for YOUR benefit, then you can do whatever you like.

If you are publishing for the benefit of OTHERS, then we have to look at it from a marketing perspective (what do people want to read? do poetry books sell?)

Is there a way to write creatively and STILL sell books? Do you want to simply pay for production and then give the books away for free, in order to serve others?

Clue clue–  if you select a  specific problem area that people have (loss of loved one, post-divorce, low self-image etc) and then write a stack of pieces that address various sides of that issue, you can be creative and still minister to others….and it might just sell to that niche as well. That is something that I would personally do, if I were to create a book of poetry. Create a theme based on a personal problem that a lot of people have, explore it in writing and then try to get that book out to that group of people.

One last thought…..why don’t you start your own blog and put your stuff up there first. That way, you can share it with others and see what they think about your work. Recommended!

Give it some thought and let me know what you think. I hope that this helps,

Jerry K

[end of email]


If YOU are considering taking some of your poetic works and publishing them to the general public, please take time and re-read some of my comments above. It is better to come up with a PLAN first, before you do any work towards publishing a poetry book.

Unless you are going to give it away for free, you need to have a (gulp) marketing plan in place for your poetry. Don’t let that discourage you–just do your homework and be smart about this whole book publishing dream. If you find a market and you can effectively write creatively for that market, then you may be able to make a success of it. Be encouraged!

If you have any questions or comments, send me a message on our SUPPORT PAGE here:

Till next time,

Jerry Kuzma

Director, Perissos Group/Perissos Media


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