It’s FINALLY a new year, and if your resolution/goal/intention is to publish a full-length poetry collection, take a peek at this round-up of publishers accepting manuscripts in 2021.
But before we get into the list, let’s talk foundations. First, what’s the difference between a full-length book and a chapbook? Generally speaking, it’s a matter of page count, and even that range can vary. But most publishers classify a chapbook as a collection between 20 and 40 pages in length, while full-length falls around 40 to 80 pages (or sometimes even longer!). So when you’re submitting to full-length contests or open reading periods, you can count on that rough length, but always double-check the publisher’s guidelines before you send.
And how can you increase the likelihood that your manuscript will be selected for publication? To publish a full-length poetry collection, it’s often helpful to have a number of the poems you’ve included in your manuscript published individually in literary journals or magazines. Unless the press reads blind (meaning they won’t see your name or publication history until after they’ve selected a winner), a solid publication history shows publishers that your name is out there and that people know your work, which generally translates into more sales in publishers’ eyes.
If you’ve taken our submission strategies course, you’ll know we recommend starting with a packet of five poems if you’re new to the process. Depending on the journal’s guidelines and aesthetic, which poems and the number of poems you include in your submission may vary. For example, if you’re submitting to a journal that favors experimental work, include your best experimental poems in the submission—but save your formal verse for publications looking for sonnets, villanelles, etc. If you want to streamline your process, you might create a few different submission packets targeted to like markets. For example, you could group together a batch of feminist poems and send that packet to all your favorite feminist journals, and group together your poems about the environment and send that batch to your favorite naturalist magazines. Once you have a few submission packets out in the world, and as you start to place your work (woo hoo!), you will pull out accepted pieces and replace them with different poems. But you can regroup poems in any way you see fit at any time. The most important thing to keep in mind is to get a feel for each journal’s aesthetic and submit poems that will be a good fit.
If a journal rejects your work (and remember, it doesn’t mean your poems aren’t good!), it’s best not to submit the same poems the next time you try—unless you’ve done major revisions, or the publication asks you to edit and resubmit the same poems. And while we are on the topic of “rejection,” we often find it helpful to look at a “no, thank you” not as rejection but as an opportunity to take another look at your lines and see if any revisions might be fitting. As time passes, we come back to our work with a fresh perspective, and sometimes that distance can help us see our work with more objective eyes.
Once you have a healthy number of individual poems published (many publishers look for about 25–50 percent of a chapbook or full-length to be previously published in journals or magazines), you can assemble a manuscript! The process of submitting your book to publish a full-length poetry collection, is similar to that of submitting individual poems, which is to say, each press has its own aesthetic, so do your research and gauge each one to make sure your book will be a good fit. If you have the means, you can purchase a title or two from a press, or you can read their authors’ work online to get a feeling for the kind of work each publisher favors. We’ve culled this list of where to submit and publish a full-length poetry collection in 2021 to offer opportunities that will float every kind of boat! No matter your style, you’ll find a press that piques your interest below:
Sarabande Books Kathryn A. Morton Prize (Entry fee: $28, Deadline: February 15, 2021): Kathryn A. Morton Prize in Poetry — Sarabande (sarabandebooks.org)
Terrapin Books Open Reading Period (Entry fee: $12, Deadline: February 28, 2021): Guidelines (terrapinbooks.com)
Changes Press Bergman Prize (Entry fee: none, Deadline: March 1, 2021): The Bergman Prize – Changes
National Poetry Series (Entry fee: $30, Deadline: March 15, 2021): Apply – National Poetry Series
Four Way Books Levis Prize (Entry fee: $30, Deadline: March 31, 2021): Four Way Books » Levis Prize Guidelines
Cleveland State First Book Competition (Entry fee: $28, Deadline: April 5, 2021): First Book Poetry — Cleveland State University Poetry Center (csupoetrycenter.com)
Gunpowder Press Barry Spacks Poetry Prize (Entry fee: $20, Deadline: April 30, 2021): Barry Spacks Poetry Prize (gunpowderpress.com)
Ghost Peach Press Prize in Poetry (Entry fee: $22, Deadline: May 1, 2021): Ghost Peach Press – Birdcoat Quarterly
Lost Horse Press Idaho Prize for Poetry (Entry fee: $28, Deadline: May 16, 2021): Lost Horse Press – an Independent Literary Publisher
Word Works Open Reading Period (Entry fee: $20, Deadline: May 31, 2021): Submissions Guidelines – wordworksbooks.org
Green Writers Press Open Reading Period (Entry fee: none, Deadline June 1, 2021): Submissions | Green Writers Press
Autumn House Poetry Contest (Entry fee: $25, Deadline June 15, 2021): Poetry Contest – Autumn House Press
BkMk Press Open Reading Period (Entry fee: none, Deadline June 30, 2021): Open Submissions – BkMk Press
Trio House Press Open Reading Period (Entry fee: $20, Deadline July 31, 2021): poetry press, Trio House Press Submissions
Diode Editions Full-Length Contest (Entry fee: $18, Deadline August 15, 2021): Diode Editions | Full-Length Book Contest
Sundress Publications Open Reading Period (Entry fee: $13, Deadline August 16, 2021): Sundress Publications – A Publishing Collective
Steel Toe Books Prize (Entry fee: $25, Deadline September 1, 2021): Submit | Steel Toe Books
[PANK] Book Contest (Entry fee: $25, Deadline September 1, 2021): [PANK] Submission Manager (submittable.com)
C&R Press Poetry Book Award (Entry fee: $30, Deadline September 15, 2021): C&R Press Submission Manager (submittable.com)
Texas Review Press X.J. Kennedy Prize (Entry fee: $28, Deadline September 30, 2021): The X. J. Kennedy Poetry Prize – Submissions – Texas Review Press
Milkweed Jake Adam York Prize (Entry fee: $25, Deadline October 15, 2021): Copper Nickel | The Jake Adam York Prize (copper-nickel.org)
Blue Light Books Prize (Entry fee: $20, Deadline October 31, 2021): Blue Light Books Prize | Indiana Review
Persea Books Lexi Rudnitsky Prize (Entry fee: $30, Deadline October 31, 2021): Poetry Manuscript Opportunities 2021 – Google Sheets
Autumn House Open Reading Period (Entry fee: $10, Deadline November 1, 2021): Open Call – Autumn House Press
Gold Wake Press Open Reading Period (Entry fee: none, if book is purchased, Deadline: November 30, 2021): Guidelines – Gold Wake
White Pine Press Poetry Prize (Entry fee: $20, Deadline: November 30, 2021): White Pine Press
Small Harbor Publishing Laureate Prize (Entry fee: $25, Deadline: November 30, 2021): Submit to Harbor Editions — Small Harbor Publishing
Crab Orchard Series Open Competition (Entry fee: $20, Deadline: December 3, 2021): Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Submission Manager (submittable.com)
Codhill Press Poetry Award (Entry fee: $30, Deadline: December 20, 2021): Codhill Press Poetry Award Guide – codhill.com
Driftwood Press (Entry fee: $20, Deadline: December 31, 2021): Driftwood Press | Poetry Collections
Harpoon Books Open Reading Period (Entry fee: $10, Deadline: December 31, 2021)