The best advice that I can give any child or adult who wants to be a poet is to read lots of poetry. Get a feel for poetry. Look at different styles of poetry. I have grown so much in my own writing by reading the work of other poets. Don't be afraid to accept constructive criticism. Part of being a writer is being able to accept criticism. Everyone who writes poetry is eager to publish a book but why not start out small. Before you send off your poetry for publication ask yourself if you are ready. It might be wise to Join an online poetry community and share your poetry with other poets who will be honest with you and offer some constructive criticism.
Once you are ready to take that plunge the best place to start is poetry magazines and ezines . You might also want to check some publishers that accept poetry for anthologies. You are going to want to purchase a copy of Poet's Market that is published annually. This is an essential book for poets who are interested in publishing their work. For younger poets some places you might want to check out are Poetry for Kids, Teen Ink and Creative Writing for Teens.
You are also going to want to reach your market. You are going to want to see just what kind of poetry the magazine publishes as often time's magazines will receive poetry that is just not right for their magazine. Submission guidelines are on most sites and many magazines will post a sample of poems that can be found in their magazine.
When submitting your poetry to magazines. Always present it in typescript, using a simple 10 or 12 point font like Arial or Times New Roman. Present a cover letter that is professional addressing the magazine editor by their name. Offer the poems for publication in their magazines, be sure to list your other publications if any and thank the editor for considering your work for possible publication. Send them about five of your poems and always include a S.A.E. (Self Addressed Envelope) with your submission. Editors most times do not return your poems but without submitting a S.A.E. your poems won't even be looked at. Also make sure that you have included enough return postage in your S.A.E.
Example of a cover letter:
Please consider the enclosed poems for publication in (name of magazine). I have enclosed a self-addressed stamped envelope for your reply. Thank you for your consideration of my work for possible publication. Your very brief bio here and other publications here.)
If you are submitting by email make sure that you follow the guidelines on the website. Most publishers prefer the poem to be submitted as an attachment in word document. If you are unsure of the guidelines it never hurts to email the editor and ask them. You should never submit a poem that has already been published or that you have sent to another magazine to be published. This includes if you have published them on your own homepage. In most cases magazines will consider a poem posted on your website or an open poetry community to be already published. Therefore you will not be able to claim first rights to it and most magazines; newspapers etc will not accept it as submission.
Sandra Soli of byline magazine says if a poem appears on a web page, it is published. If a poem can be accessed via the general internet user, it is published. On the other hand, if the forum is closed to a limited membership and your poem is not available for general viewing, then she would consider that a workshopped item just as in a private critique group. This concerns how easily the piece can be accessed by readers. Most web appearances are open to all and byline magazines considers that to be a publication.
The Pedestal Magazine quotes "The Pedestal Magazine would consider such a piece previously published, in that it has been inserted into the public domain."
If you are submitting work that has already appeared in the web for publication, mention in the cover letter the forum(s) where the poems have been posted and let the editor make an informed decision. You really do not want to do anything that jeopardizes your chances of seeing your poem published. Also be sure to keep track of all your submissions. Then prepare yourself also for a long wait. Chicken Soup for the soul states that they receive 100 stories per day and it takes up to three years to develop a book.
Poets should not be discouraged by rejections. Part of being a poet or any kind of writer is preparing yourself for rejection. Trust me I'm an over sensitive person and when I got my first rejection letter I thought it was the end of the world. But I later learned that a rejection letter does not mean that you are by any means a bad poet. A rejection letter should never discourage you from pursuing your craft. Not all poetry will be published but find comfort in knowing that someday somewhere your poem will find its rightful reader. By all means consider me and every other writer who has been rejected on your side. Having your poetry published is only one part of writing. Until it happens and you have that first publication enjoy your writing and join a community and find a few good readers and supporters of your work and be proud that you took the step and sent your poetry off to be considered for publication.
I have a confession of my own I have only had my poetry published in a few newspapers, ezines, and my own book that was published by one of the worse publishers out there but that has not discourage me one bit from working towards fulfilling my dreams or wishing my fellow poets great success. I have had my accomplishments and one of the greatest is seeing that an article such as this one I have just written might help just one of you. Many poets end up self-publishing their own writing and that isn't a bad route to go either.
Good luck and have fun writing.