Bright yellow image of cover of How Not to book, showing title in blue and agonised, Olive Oyll-style poet screaming and tearing hair.Want to get your poetry published?

What – and where – have you tried so far? Any notable successes? Disappointments? How long have you been ‘at it’? Feeling driven slightly insane by the whole BUSINESS?


‘How hard are you prepared to work at this? Because writing poetry is one job. A labour of love. An art. Getting it published is quite another.’

How (Not) to Get Your Poetry Publishedappeared in March, 2016, in time for the bookfair at StAnza, Scotland’s poetry festival. So far this book, the product of eleven years of publishing poetry in the UK, has had some lovely feedback. Comments like

'It's a wonderful combination of warmth, wisdom, wit and wisecracks’


‘This is a must-have book for poets!’

Overwhelmingly positive

‘When your proposal or manuscript lands on the publisher’s desk they should recognise your name. That name, furthermore, should have overwhelmingly positive connotations.’

The whole process of getting work into print, whether a first collection or subsequent books or pamphlets, can be horribly slow and often depressing. I hope the humour and pragmatism of How (Not) to makes it more bearable, while providing tips and planning tools for those who need them. It is mainly geared to those writing in the UK, though the underpinning ideas are transferable to wide range of contexts.

Share your views

I also hope to keep the conversation going on this part of the HappenStance website. It's where I aim to provide useful links and tips as they occur to me, or as readers suggest them.

‘Should poets eat peanuts? Should they drive cars? Should they go on holiday to Finland? Of course they should – if they want to. And if they want to, they should write blogs.’

If you’ve read the book, and there are things I didn’t cover, or not well enough, please let me know. And please do visit again – I plan regularly to add new content. I want this page to become a hub for how, why, when and where to get your poetry published. And how not.

Workbook sheets

There are ‘Workbook’ pages in the book – some of which I’ve reproduced as downloadable pdfs here (see below).

These are designed to help you work-through your publishing ‘strategy’ – and the book explains too why you do need to have one. Print out these worksheets for a taste – and why not use them? Or share them with others in your writing group?

‘I truly thought all I had to do was write good poems and everything else would fall into place.’

Think again! And share your thoughts. There are lots of 'what if’ questions in the book. You may have more. Send them or ANY thoughts on this whole thorny issue via the Contacts box. I'll do my best to reply either on this page, or to you direct, or via email updates on this topic. And please take a look at the lists of useful links and references I've started to compile on the linked pages top right: Poetry Publishers, Submission Advice etc. They could save you some time.

Some other review comments on the book can be found on Poor Rude Lines, Rogue Strands and Josephine Corcoran's blog but I'll leave you with a quotation from Alison Prince's review in Voice for Arran, the online magazine for that beautiful Scottish island:

For anyone who secretly (or even overtly) writes poetry and dreams of getting it published, here is the hands-on, practical guide to the way to do it, including how not to . . . Helena’s book is marvellously helpful . . . She provides start-points, tackles the question of on-line publication and offers case studies of poets who have managed to cut their way through the Sleeping Beauty hedge of prickles and rejection slips. A good read, funny, shrewd, waspish and utterly clued-up.’

Want a copy right now? Click here.