How to Publish Poems and Short Stories - Part 2

This is part two on our series about how to publish poems and short stories. Click here to go to Part 1.

If you're looking for information about publishing a novel, click here.

How much can you expect to earn with your stories/poems?

Normally, not much.

Some literary journals pay small amounts for contributions. Some pay in free copies instead of cash. Some pay nothing at all.


Even book-length collections rarely bring in big money. All of the poets and short story writers I know have day jobs, normally teaching, to support themselves.

One way you can potentially earn some money for poetry and short stories is by winning competitions or grants. However, many charge a submission fee, so it's a gamble.

You can find a list of reputable competitions and grants here.

Watch out for literary competition scams. Any contest that asks you to purchase something after you have "won" is suspect. You can read more about these scams here.

Publishing a short story or poetry collection

Some small presses may be willing to consider a collection from an unpublished author, although some a previous publication record is likely to help.

Poets & Writers and are two places where you can browse small presses and learn more about what they publish and what they're looking for. You'll have to pay a fee to use

You can also research publishers in the latest Writer's Market book, which may be in your local library. Be sure to get the latest edition of the book since editors move around a lot.

The big publishing houses normally won't accept unagented submissions. You need an agent to send your manuscript to them. And reputable agents normally won't represent an author based only on short fiction or poetry.

You can learn more about getting an agent here.

If you also have a novel or nonfiction book manuscript, you may be able to sell that first and then be in a better position to sell your short fiction or poetry.

Another option is to self-publish.

You can easily create a blog for free at and use it to share your poems or short stories with the world.

Just be aware, if you are thinking of submitting the same work to magazines, that many magazines won't considered previously published work. They may consider posting the work on your blog to be a previous publication.

I know one very good poet who has created an e-mail list to share his poems. He asks people he meets if they are interested in being added to the list. And then he e-mails out his new poems when he writes them (including a link to his blog where there's an audio version of each poem).

Or you can go ahead and self-publish a collection -- in digital and/or printed format. You can read about self-publishing a book here.


How to Publish Poems and Short Stories - Next Steps

How to self-publish a book

More pages on how to get published

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