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How to Prepare Poetry Manuscript Submissions

How many poems can you send to a magazine at one time? How do you prepare a collection of poetry for submission to a publisher? A poetry expert answers these and other questions.

What are the manuscript guidelines for poetry submission, including chapbooks?

(What is a poetry chapbook?)

Here's advice from the editors of Poet's Market:

The guidelines are slightly different for poetry manuscripts than for fiction manuscripts. Following is a brief checklist for submitting either individual poems or a poetry manuscript.
For individual poems:

  • Send only three to five poems at one time, positioning your best poems on top. Most editors don't have time to read more than five poems and less than three doesn't provide a sufficient sample of your work.
  • Type one poem to a page, single-spaced with double-spacing between stanzas. (Haiku may be an exception here.) Leave at least a one-inch margin on all sides of the page.
  • Include your name, address and telephone number in the upper left or right corner. The title of your poem should appear in all caps in initial caps about six lines underneath your address, centered or flush left. Begin the poem one line beneath the title.

For book manuscripts:

  • First, when submitting a poetry collection to a book publisher, it is best to request guidelines since press requirements vary from a query letter with a few sample poems to the entire manuscript.
  • When submitting an entire poetry manuscript, use a separate cover sheet for your name, address and telephone number. Center your book title and byline about halfway down the page. Then include your last name and page number in the top left margin of the first and each subsequent manuscript page.
  • Again, type one poem to a page, single-spaced with double spacing between stanzas. Leave at least a 1-inch margin on all sides of the page.
  • If a poem carries over to a second sheet, list your name in the top left margin. Underneath your name include a key word from the poem's title, the page number and information on whether the lines at the top are a continuation of the same stanza or the start of a new one (e.g., continue stanza or begin new stanza).

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Build an Audience for Your Poetry tutorial

While your focus as a poet will always be on refining your craft, why not cultivate a following along the way? With the multitude of social networking opportunities available today, it's never been easier to connect with other poetry enthusiasts. Within minutes, you can set up a blog and share your poems and insights with like-minded readers.

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