Putting together a book of your poems, whether for self-publishing or sending to a publisher, can take a lot of time and effort – and it should. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you are creating your own poetry book.
1.Since you will naturally want to keep your book to one poem per page (except, of course for longer works), it should be relatively easy to estimate the number of pages your finished book will be. Those that are around 30 or fewer pages are what is known as chapbooks, while fifty pages or more would constitute a full-length book. It all depends, of course, upon how much work you have that you consider ready for the world, and on how you want to present it. While full-length books should be perfect-bound in soft or hard covers, chapbooks can generally have a more casual feel to them. Take a look online or at your local print shop to see what different binding styles are out there and which one is right for the book you want to create.
2.Depending on the type of book you are putting together, you may want to arrange your poems in different ways. If you have a lot of works about a certain place or person, or have some poems that are written in a unique voice, perhaps put them together in a section of your book. Breaking up your poetry book into sections like this gives your reader something to connect with and hold onto and helps to establish themes throughout your work. One suggestion for when you are in this stage of the process is to print your pages up rather than trying to do all this arranging via a computer screen. This simply makes changes easier, and gives you a better visual idea of how your poems will appear on the page.
3.When you are deciding what to include and not to include, you may want to enlist the help of a trusted friend or writing group. In the absence of that – or even if you do have those types of resources – you will want to evaluate your own material as objectively as possible. One way to do that with poems you’ve already gone over a thousand times is to read them aloud. Doing this will help stop you from skipping ahead as you read your own overly familiar poems, and will give you a whole new perspective on your work.
4.Once you have decided which poems are going into your book, set them (and the whole project) aside for a day or two. Do anything BUT work on your book. Go for walks, visit friends, take a short vacation, whatever it takes to get you away from the project for a bit. When you get back, do more sifting, editing, and arranging.
5.When the size and order of your book are starting to gel, start trying out titles. There’s no set-in- stone method for doing this, of course, but you are stuck for ideas, you can start to get the wheels turning by choosing a favorite line, alluding to one of your themes, or even stealing a title from one of your poems. This is something that you will want to enlist some help on as well, so gather some trusted sources and run a few titles past them.