Writing a book of poetry?

A queer guide to pursuing your passion for writing.

Writing a book of poetry?

Are you into writing poetry? Ever wondered how you might go about publishing a book of your poems?

Here’s some of the steps that you might want to explore. It’s the kind of process that could be applied to any book or writing project, it doesn’t have to just be poetry.

Why do you want to write this book?

There’s nothing easy about writing a book.

Even if you’ve been inspired and you’ve got a great idea, the challenge of turning that inspiration into words on paper is a big commitment.

Is writing this book something that you need to do?

Make sure that you can clearly articulate why this book is important to you.

Who is your audience?

Before you start writing, it’s really helpful to have a clear understanding of who you’re writing for.

Who are the people that will read this book?

This is important because it will influence how and what you write.

What do you want your audience to feel when they read this book?

Obviously, feelings and emotions are very subjective things. Different readers will probably respond to your work in different ways. However, before you start writing, it’s useful to have a sense of the type of emotions that you’re hoping to evoke in your readers.

Do you want them to feel uplifted, reflective, scared, or do you want to take them on an emotional roller-coaster and surprise them with a few twists and turns?

It’s a useful reference point, particularly as you get into the revision and editing stage.

Does your book deliver the emotions that you want your readers to feel?

What format will you use?

If you’re working on a book of poems, some of the questions that you’ll be grappling with will include:

  • What unites these poems and makes them a collection?
  • Should the poems included all follow a consistent style?

If your project is a work of fiction, or a non-fiction examination of a particular topic, the question of structure is just as important.

  • Will you be breaking your work up into chapters?
  • Will you be following a linear narrative?
  • Will there be any photos or illustrations?

Thinking about photos and illustrations up-front is helpful – if you know that each poem that you’re presenting or chapter that you’re writing is going to accompanied by a photo or an illustration, then that’s going to help you with structure and gives you a reference point for what you’re writing.

What process will you use to write it? What’s your creative process? What’s the logistics?

Writing takes time. Think about how much time you can dedicate each day to your writing project.

Where will you be when you’re writing? Will you be in your bedroom? At your kitchen table? In a cafe? In a library?

It’s important that you’re able to concentrate and get creative in the place where you’ve decided to write.

How will you decide on a title for the book?

Don’t get stuck on the title.

Give your project a working title – as you move through the process, it’s likely that something will emerge.

Put it out of your mind and revisit this question once you’ve finished writing.

Will you use an editor? How will you get feedback on the book?

Writing a book is an incredibly personal thing, but at some point you’re going to have to let someone else read what you’ve written.

Professional editors are an incredibly useful resource, as they’re able to give you some objective feedback – does your book deliver what you set out to do?

If you don’t have access to a professional editor, find a trusted friend or someone within your network who can give you some honest feedback.

It’s never easy to hear that your writing could be improved, but it’s an essential part of the process if you want to be a successful writer.

Will you need to design cover art for the book?

Decisions about cover art will be influenced by how you’re going to publish your book, but it’s useful to be thinking about what you’d like your book to look like. Go to a bookshop and browse the titles in your genre – which styles of cover art appeal to you and reflect the type of work that you’re creating?

How will you publish?

For authors at any stage of their career, getting your book published can be a bit of a challenge. Self-publishing is a useful entry-point for new authors. Self-publishing through Amazon is easy to do, but there are also other self-publishing options.

How will you market/promote the book?

No one is going to care as much about your book as you do, and no one is going to do a better job at promoting it than you.

  • Website: It’s useful to have an online presence of some kind, even if it’s quite basic. Somewhere that shows what the book is, shows how people can buy the book, gives a bio about you, and gives options for people to contact you.
  • Social Media: Use your social networks and platforms to promote your book. Include the link through to where people can buy your book. Look at how other authors are using social media to promote their work.
  • Newsletters: If you’ve got a distribution list, then there’s a number of different newsletter platforms that enable you to send information to your contacts about your book. If you don’t have a distribution list set up, you can create one from the contacts in your email.