Organizing Your Poetry Manuscript: A Five-Step Guide


For some, writing poetry is no more than a hobby or skill. But for most, it’s a creative and therapeutic method of psychological and emotional healing or coping. This form of writing is known for its unique benefits, such as fostering emotional and raw expression, promoting creative and critical thinking, and strengthening writing and language skills.

If you’re also passionate about writing poetry, compiling and publishing your pieces might be one of your dreams. When thinking of publishing, writers are often stuck with the notion that it’s too difficult to do. In reality, there are many ways to self-publish your book. Thousands of local publishing companies now focus on helping new writers in sharing their works with the world. But before you get excited about printing out that poetry collection, here are some tips on how to come up with a good manuscript for self-publishing

  1. Decide which to include

The first thing you need to do is to decide which poems will make the cut. When making this decision, you’d want to consider if a certain piece fits within the broad thematic concerns of your manuscript. You’d also need to check if a poem’s writing quality and strength match up to the others included in the manuscript. Go through every piece you have. Avoid having extra pages just to fit weaker poems. It’s better to have a shorter book. For quality pieces that don’t fit into the theme, you can save them for your next self-published book. Reevaluate your manuscript again after making your first cut.

  1. Find out the patterns

After choosing the poems for the manuscript’s theme, it’s now time to find patterns for organizing and ordering the collection. Rhythm is important for guiding the readers into your book, from end to finish. You can use time as your pattern and just present them in chronological order. Or, you can separate your poems into parts and threads in case you’re having multiple complimentary themes.

If your collection is telling a story, a common viewpoint should be dotted from the beginning, middle, to the end. Poems may also be arranged in stages of life, colors, elements, cycles, sequences of time, or events. Others even use universal themes such as love and death to organize their collection.

  1. Divide them into sections

If your poetry collection focuses on just one theme, it’s not a requirement to break them into sections. But if you do have multiple topics on hand, doing so is recommended. The rules are simple. If you’ve written poems on love, family, and death, you need to have sections for each topic. This makes your book easier to follow, more professional, and more organized. You can have a miscellaneous section for poems that don’t exactly fit the three major themes or a mix of the topics. In addition, you need to ensure that even its section names are unique that can excite readers. Come up with creative, descriptive titles.

  1. Read and edit as you go

Before you could publish your book, you also need to read and edit your manuscript several times. Act as if you’re a reader who just got the book at the store. Read the entire manuscript and check for pieces that need to be edited or revised. If the theme is lacking in development, you might need to write new pieces to complete it. You might also need to let go of some poems. Don’t forget to consider the guidelines on the manuscript length from the publishing house and press when editing your book. Editing shouldn’t be rushed. It does take time and patience, but the results will be worth it.

  1. Take a breather

Creating and editing an entire manuscript is a long and tiring process. If things are not working the way you want to, it’s always a good idea to take a break. Stepping back from your manuscript for days or weeks can refresh your brain and reset your focus. The simple idea of a break can bring you more clarity when working on your poetry book. Don’t hesitate to ask your trusted family members or friends to read your manuscript and give their comments. Doing this helps you see how the collection is working and what areas need improvement.

The journey from editing your poetry collection to self-publishing can be tedious, especially if it’s your first time. But by being careful in creating your manuscript, your self-published poetry book will be as good as you expect it to be. Start organizing and editing your manuscript now and prepare for your publishing date.

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