formatting / poetry

Formatting Your Poetry for Submission

I am frequently asked, “How do I format my poems for submission for a magazine or contest or anthology?” Here are some useful tips:

  • Read several issues of the publication before you send in your work. Make sure they publish the kind of poetry you’re submitting!
  • Request submission guidelines and adhere to them carefully.
  • Unless guidelines specify otherwise, send no more than three to five poems.
  • Use twelve-point Times New Roman font unless otherwise specified. Don’t use script-style fonts, bright colours, fancy fonts for titles, and so on. Yes, those things will get you noticed–but not in a positive way. They’re a major invitation to the publisher to hit the delete button or toss your paper in the round file. (And if you’re doing a paper manuscript submission, don’t use fancy coloured paper or add perfume!)
  • Make sure what you submit is as perfect as possible. Have some beta readers give you input. Share it with your writers’ critique groups. Have an editor check it for you.
  • Check the spelling of the email address and of the person’s name it should go to. Look at the publication’s website and submission info in the most recent issue.
  • Keep your cover letter short. Your bio should only take a few lines. Don’t explain your poetry; it should speak for itself. Don’t ask for or expect to receive feedback on your work. Don’t call unless you need to inform them your work has been accepted by another publisher.
  • Check this site for good advice and a list of websites for Canadian journals that publish poetry and articles on poetics.
  • Check this site for information on how to get your poems published, along with tricks and tips to help you publish your poems and increase your poetry acceptance rate from magazines.

Your turn: What tips would you like to share about formatting poetry for submission to anthologies, contests, and magazines?

We’d love to have you add your advice in the comments! Thank you!

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