Poets and writers often self-publish their work because they do not know how to go about getting published by traditional print journals, books, or e-zines. These tips, first posted here over 3 years ago, bear tweaking and repeating:
• Notice publishers of books and periodicals you like to read.
• Most of these publishers now have a website where you can study the titles in their book lines and read the poems and articles in their archives.
• Make a list of each publisher whose work is similar to yours.
• Study the writers’ guidelines on each company’s website.
• Some editors want a query first to get a quick idea of what you have in mind. Consider this a “sales pitch” meant to give the editor an overview that’s brief, relevant, and to the point.
• If an editor prefers your actual manuscript or batch of poems, great! Just follow the writers’ guidelines, submitting to one editor at a time.
• Keep track of where and when you sent your work. If you do not have a response in 2 to 3 months, follow-up.
• While you wait to hear about one poem or manuscript submission, start another.
• If the editor returns your work, don’t take it personally. The acceptance pile might be too big and space too small. But just in case, your work still needs work: Read it aloud. Listen for rough spots. Revise as needed, then submit the manuscript to the next publisher on your list.