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Publishing your Poetry


Publishing your Poetry - brief guidelines from the Poetry Book Society

Reprinted by kind permission of the Poetry Book Society


The Poetry Book Society promotes contemporary poetry by selling the best new books at discounted prices to its members, rather than by publishing poetry or commenting on work submitted to us. However, we hope these guidelines may prove useful:

Magazines and Competitions

If your poetry has not previously been published professionally, we suggest you begin by sending your work to a wide selection of poetry magazines and entering poetry competitions. Aspiring poets have normally amassed a reasonable body of material before feeling ready to approach book publishers. Salt Publishing have a very useful article about the commercial realities of entering a publishing relationship on their website Poetry Library produces lists of reputable magazines and competitions.

Useful Publications

The Writers and Artists Yearbook (A & C Black, £11.99) is an extremely helpful publication. It contains a section devoted to poetry publishing with contributions from the poet John Whitworth and Mary Enright of the Poetry Library. It also lists poetry magazines, competitions and publishers. There are two excellent books with advice on the poetry 'scene': Writing Poems by Peter Sansom (Bloodaxe £7.95) and Getting Into Poetry by Paul Hyland (Bloodaxe £5.95) which are both available to members of the PBS at 25% discount off the published price.

Poetry Organisations

The Poetry Society 22 Betterton Street, London WC2H 9BU

Tel: 020 7420 9880. Runs an advisory service through which a number of poems may be sent in for comment.

The Poetry Library Royal Festival Hall, South Bank, London SE1 8XX

Tel: 020 7921 0943. Holds large collections of 20th century poetry and all English-language poetry magazines which are extremely useful for researching potential markets for your work.

Survivors' Poetry Diorama Arts Centre, 34 Osnaburgh Street, London NW1 3ND Tel: 020 7916 5317. Promotes poetry by survivors of mental distress, through workshops, performances, readings and publications. Network of 30 poetry groups around UK.

The Poetry Book Society - see below

Writing Groups and courses

Joining a Writing Group is an excellent way of both improving your skills and meeting other poetry writers; they are usually advertised in libraries and are often tutored by published poets. The Arvon Foundation runs very good residential courses in its centres in Yorkshire, Devon and Inverness-shire. Call 01422 843714 or visit for course details. In the UK, your regional arts board should be able to send you lists of classes in your area.

Self Publication

Publication is very hard to achieve and we suggest that you take a long look at your work even before taking the competition / magazine route. Most people write for their own pleasure and will never see their work in print - unless they do it themselves. This is possible with the help of a personal computer and a reasonable printer, or through using a self-publishing service, but do think carefully about distribution and marketing

Other Forms of Publication

A number of organisations offer publication in an anthology for a fee or on the assumption that the poet will buy an expensively produced book. Advertisements for such schemes appear occasionally in the press. While this kind of publication operates within the law, these ventures are primarily profit-driven and do not tend to benefit poets, financially or otherwise.

The Poetry Book Society

The PBS was founded by T S Eliot and friends in 1953 to foster a love of contemporary poetry and we have been funded by the Arts Council as a public resource ever since. We operate as a unique, high quality book club selling selected poetry titles to our members at generous discounts, producing a quarterly Bulletin full of poetry news, views and gossip and providing up-to-the-minute poetry listings every quarter. We also run the prestigious annual T S Eliot Prize.

As well as enjoying the financial benefits of membership, poets who regularly read a wide range of work which is currently being published are in a better position to judge the style and quality of their own poems, and many published poets are members of the PBS.

You can apply for PBS membership at or through asking for an enrolment pack. Contact us at:

  • Fourth Floor, 2 Tavistock Place, London WC1H 9RA
  • or telephone from the UK 020 7833 9247

We hope you will consider joining us to enjoy a wide range of high quality poetry at a fraction of the published price.

The Poetry Book Society