Poetry, Publishing

I need some advice on self-publishing

Insert cover art here
It’s probably pretty pathetic that something as simple as designing a book cover is what is keeping me from self-publishing my poems, huh?

A few semesters ago, I took a poetry writing course. I don’t really consider myself a poet, but I like to dabble from time to time. I wanted to take a course that would challenge me to think about my writing in a different way, and this poetry course definitely fit the bill.

At first, I had a hard time writing poems on demand. Then I started reading poetry on a regular basis, and the ideas began to flow. I started jotting stuff down as it came to me, and I ended up with a stock of poems to choose from whenever the time came to turn one in for a grade.

By the end of the semester, I had a small collection of poems that I am actually kind of proud of. I sent a couple of my favorites off to a few magazines and even attempted to have one published as a picture book. But nothing ever really happened with any of them, and they’ve been sitting around in folders and on my hard drive ever since.

I don’t know that I would ever win any poetry awards, but I do think there is some potential in what I have written. It’s one of those situations where I think I could sell my writing, but I’m not sure if it’s worth shopping around for a traditional publisher. After all, I have no intention of writing a follow-up collection. I just don’t want the work I have done to go to waste. I want to share my writing!

I would like to self-publish my little collection of poems. The problem is, I’m not sure where or how to start. I have done a bit of research, but I always get scared off when it comes to elements such as designing a book cover. I have no idea how to design something like that, and my budget of $0 for this project rules out the option of hiring someone to do it for me.

What do you think? Have you self-published anything? If so, what? And how did you get started?

~Mandy Webster

5 thoughts on “I need some advice on self-publishing”

    1. I’ll have a look at it. I think what I really need is to find someone who would be willing to trade off services rather than expecting payment. i.e. I’ll give you feedback on your novel if you’ll throw together a book cover for me. I’m too poor to afford much else!

  1. Deal! Actually I’m probably not the person to do a poetry collection unless it has a strong central theme, as all my covers are just a stock photo with text overlaid. None of the free book ones have cost more than a fiver though.

    For general self-publishing advice it’s worth visiting Catherine Caffeinated. She’s just done a few summary posts but most of her blog is about self-publishing.

  2. I don’t have any advice, because I haven’t self-published anything yet. I would like to eventually get some of my own poems out there, once I’ve built a proper chapbook or collection. For now I submit to journals, magazines, and contests. I’ve also considered trying to get picked up with a small press in the future. Keep us up-to-date on your progress with your decisions. Would love to know more and see what you learn along the way!

  3. These days I am working on a couple of things. One is a poetry manuscript tentatively titled The Unkept House. I’ve been reading Edith Wharton’s early nonfiction about home and garden design as well as writing by contemporary geographers such as Doreen Massey who think about how space and place shape us. Other people’s housekeeping habits and domestic travails enter into many of these new poems. I’m not really a project-centric poet, but these are the poems I’m writing now.

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