7 Tips To Winning A Poetry Chapbook Contest

Writer’s Relief
3 min readNov 28, 2023

Getting your poetry chapbook published isn’t easy — most of the traditional publishing houses aren’t interested unless the poet is very well known and has a large fan following. While many poets self-publish their chapbooks, the experts know another available option that many poets overlook: Enter a contest! Along with publication, winners might also receive cash prizes ranging from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. You may also get complimentary copies of your poetry collection or be invited to attend public readings and book launches. Based on our research, here are the 7 best tips to winning a poetry chapbook contest.

Advice And Tips For Winning A Poetry Chapbook Contest

Know what you’re working with: A poetry chapbook is typically twenty to forty pages long, and the poems may fit a theme or be unconnected. Before you submit your chapbook to a contest, be sure to determine if it is organized around a theme or a particular subject. Some contests are open to chapbooks consisting of unrelated poems, but always check the guidelines before making your submission.

Many contests are also open to writers from all backgrounds, but be sure not to submit to a competition that isn’t a fit for you. Some contests want specific content OR they want content from specific authors, such as poets of color, those belonging to the LGBTQ+ community, writers with disabilities, and other demographics. You don’t want to spend money entering a contest you won’t have any chance of winning simply because you (or your chapbook) don’t meet the qualifications.

Include your best poems: Of course, the poetry chapbook you enter into contests should feature your best work. If the contest allows for published poems, be sure to include them; this proves your work appeals to editors and their audiences. You want to put your best foot forward to catch the judges’ eyes.

Follow the guidelines: Submissions that don’t follow the contest guidelines will be eliminated right at the onset. Be sure to thoroughly review the submission guidelines for the chapbook contest you intend to enter. Your entry should have the correct number of pages or poems and should follow the requested formatting. If the contest rules don’t specify any particular…

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Writer’s Relief

Author’s Submission Service Est. 1994. We help authors reach their publishing goals with targeted submissions to literary agents and editors.