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Poetry Genre

How to Self-Publish a Poetry Book

The world needs poets.

Poetry books illuminate the human experience and provide a unique perspective on the world. When you self-publish a poetry book, you retain complete creative control while producing a retail-ready, bookstore-quality book.

Self-publishing your book of poems is a 6-step process:

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1: Writing

If you’re a poet, the first step is probably your favorite: writing the poetry. It’s better to have more poems than you need so that you can group them together into a themed collection. Grouping your poems by theme or topic will help you produce a cohesive collection that speaks clearly from your point of view. If certain poems don’t make the cut, that’s all right – save them for your next poetry book!


2: Editing

You might be tempted to skip the editing process since poems are “creative.” But don’t underestimate how important it is to check and recheck your poetry to be sure you’ve written and spelled things exactly the way you meant to. It helps to hire an editor experienced in editing poetry to make sure your poems are communicating your message and achieving the desired effect.

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3. Design

The design of your book is like underlining your key themes and messages. The cover design especially will help you convey the style and spirit of your work. If you don’t feel comfortable creating the cover artwork yourself—many poets prefer to stick to words—you can hire a graphic artist to design your poetry book cover. We offer easy-to-use book cover design templates to help you get started.

As a full-service self-publishing company, 48 Hour Books also offers custom book cover design services and an economical Create-A-Cover design service you can bundle with your purchase. Because we offer premium cover customizations such as dust jackets, Diamond 3D foil printing and leather covers, you can create the ideal book design for your poems.

Self-published Poetry Book

4. Formatting poetry books

An important step to publishing a poetry book is formatting the poems. Unlike books of prose, poetry books may require unusual or nonstandard formatting, spacing, line breaks, and even art. You’ll use computer software to create the formatted file that you’ll send to the printer, and it’s a good idea to proof the file before self-publishing the book to make sure your poems are displayed correctly.

Formatting your poems the way you want them may seem tricky, but we provide book formatting templates that will help you get your text in the right place, so that your poetry book comes out the way you want it. We can even format your book for you for an additional fee.

Self-published Poetry Book

Choosing a template size for your poetry book

Your choice of template size is up to you. We offer standard book templates in a variety of common sizes.

4 Template Sizes

When you’ve completed formatting your book to your chosen book size, you’ll create a PDF file to be uploaded to the printer.

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5: Printing and binding

Once you’ve got the poems formatted and your book cover designed, it’s time for the printing company to put it all together. Choose a company that uses high-quality presses and paper so that the end result looks and feels professional. This is also your opportunity to select whether you want a “chapbook” —like a pamphlet for your poems — or a paperback book or hardcover book.

You can jazz up your design with foil or embossing, choose between fabric and leather covers, add a dust jacket, and more. If you buy an ISBN and barcode for your poetry book (recommended), make sure your printer adds the code to your book cover.

Poetry books vs. chapbooks

There’s a difference between self-publishing a poetry book and a chapbook. Chapbooks are typically smaller and much shorter books of poetry. They are often bound with paper covers and may use a saddle-stitch binding instead of perfect binding. If a chapbook includes art, it is more likely to be black and white or line art.

Poetry books are full-length books of poetry, in a standard book size (or larger) and with 50 pages or more. Poetry books may be softcover, paperback or hardback, and can feature full-color art and illustrations to accompany the poems.

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6. Marketing and distributing poetry books

Once you receive your book, it’s time to share your poems with the world! It’s a good idea to set up your book marketing plan as soon as possible – even before you self-publish. That gives you plenty of time to set up an author profile and secure your social media platforms. Then, you can market and advertise your book to people who can’t wait to get their hands on it. And with an ISBN number, you can arrange to sell your book through bookstores and online platforms, too, in addition to your own website.

Not everyone produces a poetry book for sale; perhaps you’ve created yours as a special gift for loved ones or as part of a bigger mission. No matter your book’s destination, take care to get it into the right hands and watch your poems light up new readers.

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Self-publish your poetry book with 48 Hour Books

48 Hour Books has everything you need to self-publish a book of poetry, including high-quality printing and binding, great extras and exceptional service. And true to our name, we’ll get your books to you fast.

Send us your questions - we're happy to help!