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How to Self-Publish a Poetry Book

July 05, 2022 (Last Updated July 20, 2022)

Marcy G.





Poetry continues to be a popular genre printed at 48 Hour Books and we’ve seen many different approaches to the art of poetry book printing. Since poetry is a diverse form of writing, you really have the freedom to conceptualize your book in a way that best represents your collection of poems. This can range from structure and formatting choices to visual aesthetic.


Self-publishing a poetry book doesn’t have to be overwhelming. We’ve compiled actionable steps you can take to print and self-publish your poetry book:


Find your Community

When you decide to self-publish, the first thing you should do is find your poetry audience. Start by doing an online search:

·      Where do poetry lovers converse with each other?

·      Do you write about a niche subject? Where can you find people with the same interests?

·      What content are they consuming online? Follow them.

·      Are there Facebook groups or discussion groups to join?


Once you find your audience, start engaging with them! Join the groups, follow the members then create your own content. This online research will come in handy when planning your book marketing strategy.


Establish an Online Presence

If you don’t already have a personal website, it would be helpful to set one up. There are a myriad of free web hosting sites and blog sites you can utilize, and if you want more website capabilities, you can purchase your own web domain with access to more sophisticated features.


Your personal website would feature an “about you” section, including any writing contest wins, awards, and references to published works. This is also a good place to feature your writing portfolio. If you have published poems, link the articles or publish existing, copyrighted poems.


Other popular features you can find on a poet’s personal website are blog posts and social media platforms. Link your social media handles and create new blog content detailing your journey to self-publishing your poetry, writing advice, and anything that speaks to the poetry community at large.


Promote your website on your social media and writing groups to help develop an email list and attract subscribers. This will come in handy when you are teasing your book’s release to help gauge interest.



Format your Poetry Book

There are multiple ways you can choose to organize your poetry book. Organization and structure can depend on whether or not you have an underlying theme to your poems. For example, you may organize your poems into sections based on the content and tone of select works. These sections can simply be numerical or be based on seasons, emotions, etc. For example, fall, winter, spring, and summer could be used to group your poems. You may choose a more traditional structure without sections, using a corresponding Table of Contents or Index. Think about what makes sense for your poetry and go for it! There is plenty of room for creativity in the poetry genre.


As with structure, you also have the ability to take liberties with formatting for poetry books. Formatting may sometimes differ from poem to poem. The way you format your poems can affect the way the reader interprets the meaning of a poem, and just as importantly, how they read it.


Justifying your text may be a decision based on individual poems. If the way you justify your text on the page, (for example, choosing to center your lines), adds to the interpretation of the poem, then that’s fine.  If you want your poetry book to look more uniform, then you may choose to keep all your poems left justified, which is the cleanest formatting choice. Larger margins are also common in poetry books because of the way stanzas are condensed and formatted.


Need help with formatting? Download our Formatting Tools and Tips or use one of our free book templates.


*Before you start formatting your poetry book and preparing your files for print, consider hiring a poetry editor. When self-publishing a poetry book, it’s important to hire a professional editor, proficient in editing poetry.



Choose your Print Options

48 Hour Books recommends perfect binding (paperback) for poetry book printing, but you may also choose to go with hardcover. It’s your book, so it’s your choice!


Common poetry book sizes are (in inches):

·      5 x 8

·      5.5 x 8.5

·      6 x 9


Paper recommendations:

·      60# White Offset (uncoated)

·      60# Cream Offset

·      If you want some added thickness, 80# White Offset and 70# Cream Offset


Cover recommendations:

·      Choose Gloss UV for a shiny finish

·      Choose Silk Laminate for a matte finish

·      For a more eye-grabbing, special edition look, consider adding Diamond 3D printing to your book cover to make it pop!


Design an Intriguing Book Cover

The cover of your book is what people are going to see first, so make it eye-catching. Whether you have a fully illustrated cover or decide to go with just text, there are multiple ways you can make your books stand out, including 48 Hour Books’ exclusive Diamond 3D Printing.


Start by researching popular book design trends to stay up-to-date on what is selling on the shelves. Go to the poetry section at the store and look at book covers to see which ones resonate with you. Once you have a good idea of what you like, relay this information to your book cover designer.


* Need help designing your cover? We’re here to help with our custom cover design services.


Prepare to Self-Publish


Copyright and ISBN’s:

Once you’re ready to print and self-publish, it’s time to file for copyright. We’ve detailed the ins and outs of copyrighting your book in this blog post.


If you plan to sell your poetry book in stores and/or online, you will need an ISBN & Barcode: An International Standard Book Number, or ISBN, is a unique, 13-digit number that identifies a book. It works almost like a serial number: it establishes the publisher, author, title, and format of the book. 48 Hour Books can obtain your ISBN directly from Bowker for you. Simply check the box for ISBN when you fill out your online order form. We will send you the application, submit it to Bowker, then create your barcode for your back cover once the ISBN has been assigned. 


Create a marketing plan:

Devise a marketing strategy for teasing your book’s release. Look into to promotional opportunities on blogs, podcasts, publications, and more. Plan to host a giveaway for free signed copies during the initial release and map out how you want to advertise on your various platforms well in advance. For detailed marketing tips, check out these marketing resources.



Research retailers:

You also need to research self-publishing avenues that will work for you. Whether you decide to sell on Amazon, in stores, your personal website, or all three, make sure you understand the protocol for each route. Contact large bookstore chains as well as independent booksellers to see if they will stock your book. Once you have an idea of how many copies you need stocked, you can arrange to have them shipped to the various distributors. 48 Hour Books can ship to multiple addresses or fulfillment centers – if you have questions, contact us!


If you have the capability, set up your own ecommerce platform on your personal website. This way, you can keep 100% of your book profits. Start by gauging interest with pre-sale purchases so you know how much to stock at a time. When you print with 48 Hour Books, you receive 25 free copies of your book when you order 100 books or more.


Are you ready to self-publish your poetry book? Get instant pricing today!


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Sign up for the 48 Hour Books newsletter to learn how to self-publish your book — and get it printed faster with us than anywhere else.


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