Being your own publisher is easier than you think. Here are some things to consider.
Gathering Your Material
The first thing to give some thought to when you are going to self publish your poetry is whether your book will contain a central theme or not. Often, poetry books are centered around a certain time, place or person in the poet’s life. This is a great way to put your book of poetry together, as it is often easier for readers to connect to your work when there is a theme for them to follow. You can also organize very different themes into chapters. There are, of course, no strict rules to follow. You can put your book together however you choose.
One thing you might want to do is to gather some of your favorite poetry books together and do a little research. Other than the poetry itself, what is it that makes the book work for you? Do the poems flow from one to another, exploring a theme? Do they jump all over randomly like a stream of consciousness? Not that you will be imitating the book in question, just taking notes on how the separate works play off each other to create a poetry collection.
Putting Your Poems Together
Now that you have decided on an overall theme, you can start to pick and choose the poems you would like to include in your book. Choosing from your own work can be a daunting task, so you may want to enlist the help of some trusted writer-friends, or others whose opinions you have some faith in. Once you have gone through the process of deciding what stays and what goes, you can start to compile your poems into one word processing document, choosing a nice, readable and appropriate font.
Now you can write yourself a short bio (including, if you like, a small thumbnail photograph) and any dedications you’d like to make. You should also create a table of contents, including the names of the poems and any chapters you have organized them into.
You should also give some serious thought to including artwork such as photography or drawings in your poetry book. If you have an artist friend or acquaintance whose work you admire but who is also struggling for exposure, you can do sort of a joint venture by creating a book that includes both of your work.
Design a cover with a compelling title and artwork.
Printing and Binding
You will want to do the highest quality printing that you can afford. If you have decided on a four color process cover, you will want to have it printed digitally, and give some though as to what kind of binding you will be using.
If your poetry book is more of a simple chapbook, you can simply fold you pages and staple them in the middle. If you are going for something a little more permanent, you could take a look into thermal (hardcover or softcover) binding, which is inexpensive and easy to do yourself.
Twin loop wire binding is another option, if you want something a little more elegant than a chapbook, but don’t feel that a hardcover is quite right for you. In all of the above cases, the machines that do the binding are fairly inexpensive and easy to use, and will save you money over a print shop if you plan to keep self publishing.