It’s so important to do your homework before sending your manuscript to a publisher. Make sure to take notes for each publisher you research. You will most likely want to compare them to each other before deciding where you want to submit.
- Make sure the press is the right aesthetic for your work. Do you like the cover art and the fonts they use? Do you like the design of their web site?
- Also, check forms. For example, if they mostly publish free verse, but your poems are all sonnets, that’s not likely going to be a good fit.
- If budget allows, purchase one of their current titles so you can hold it in your hand and be familiar with the quality of books they print.
- Look for reviews of current titles to get a feel for what other poetry readers think of the books they publish.
- Do they have a social media presence?
- Do they actively update/post/maintain it?
- Do they have a distributor? How do they distribute their books?
Read their guidelines carefully and find answers to important questions:
- What type of promotion do they offer poets?
- Is the poet responsible for any up front print run costs?
- How many are in the first print run?
- Do they use an on-demand printer, such as CreateSpace (print costs are typically much higher)?
- Do they offer free copies or discount copies so you can sell your books for a profit at readings and other events?
- Does the length of your manuscript fit within their page range and/or poem count?
- Do they provide artwork or are you required to provide cover art?
- Do they provide editorial feedback?
If you aren’t able to answer some of these questions by researching the publisher online, send them a polite, professional email with your questions. Most editors are happy to answer questions.
For more advice on how to submit your manuscript and things to look for in a poetry publisher, check out this helpful guest blog post by Sandra Beasley:
Also, if you have other tips for first-time manuscript submitters, please comment and share them below!
And now for the list! Big thanks to Emily Harstone for doing the research and creating such a great resource, as well as big thanks to Author’s Publish for sharing the article on their resourceful site!
UPDATED JAN. 2021
Harstone includes a brief description of each publisher and a link to their web site. Make sure to read Emily’s note at the top about limited reading windows and the order of the list. Also, if you know of any others that should be included, send them to email@example.com.
This is the longest and most accurate list of poetry manuscript publishers who do not charge fees for online or postal submissions. A number of the publishers on this list have at least one free reading period a year, where they will consider all the manuscripts submitted to them. Some of the publishers are open all the time. Some have a limited window that is only a month or two long.
If you don’t already subscribe to Author’s Publish, do so while you’re there. Authors Publish is a completely free magazine for writers and includes submission opportunities, publishing tips, writing advice, prompts, and more.
If you like this post, please share with your writerly friends and/or follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. You can see all the FREE resources my site offers poets/writers on my Start Here page.