In spirit I have struggled long to find
A manner fit to hold my roiling thoughts;
A way to slowly pour them to a mold -
And happily that manner has been found.

A writer long, inclined to stories long
And intricate, my poetry is not
Of brief and shining moments, gilded-gold;
But narrative, where stanzas many throng.

Though novels I did once compose, no more.
And even then, I timidly did not
Successful win that phantom, promised gold -
A book deal, and great fame forevermore.

An ugly begger, heiress lost and found -
Or else a tragedy of ages lost
Where myth and superstition mix. All told,
So many thousand words each poem crowds.

Pray, reader, can you tell me where to look?
What market is there? Fantasy but not
in prose - my hope of publishing grown cold.
Say, where to peddle such a verse-filled book?

  • 6
    You're trying to sell is a modern epic poem, a 21st-century Paradise Lost or Sir Gawain and the Green Knight or Beowulf. I think the people who would enjoy reading it are the people who read similar older works for fun, rather than as a school assignment. That doesn't answer how to get the work published, though. I hope somebody else can help - I'd love to see a new epic poem out there. Closest example I can think of is Tolkien's unfinished Lay of Leithian, but that had Tolkien's name on it. You could publish Tolkien's school homework, and it would sell. Dec 20, 2018 at 20:21

5 Answers 5


Whenever I go to a bookstore, they either do not have any poetry books at all, or only a very small selection of classics shelved alongside Homer and Shakespeare.

When you search "market for poetry" in your favourite search engine, you'll find a couple of webpages that list venues that pay for short poems, mostly periodicals such as Christian Science Monitor or Slice. You'll have to research them.

But none of these publish epic poetry. Your best approach would be a two-step strategy:

  • Find the publishers that publish contemporary poetry (your format) or fantasy (your content) and submit. Maybe one of them will be interested.

  • If none of them want your work, self-publish. Be prepared for a tremendous marketing effort or be conent with a handful of readers.


A common market for shorter pieces is anthologies.

You didn't give a length but "long poetry" is probably still not novel length.

Anthologies tend to have themes based on the subject of the work or the communities the author belongs to, or both. For example:

These are simply examples of anthologies I've read and liked. There are countless more. While science fiction and fantasy anthologies are common, there are plenty that don't have that theme. Most do not have requirements that the author belong to a particular community either. Though if you do belong to a particular community of any kind, do some searches. This includes living in a particular city.

Look at theme broadly. For example, if Goblin Market was just written and the author was trying to publish it, it could belong with stories of fantasy, fairy tale, horror, family ties, women, sisterly love, etc.

Consider graphic novel format.

Many anthologies are for graphic novel/comic book creators. You might consider partnering with an artist and submitting to anthologies using a creative illustrative style that doesn't have to look anything like most graphic novels.

If your poem is long enough (or if you have more than one that would work together), an illustrated book that is all your own might catch the eye of publishers more than a book of an epic poem.

I can imagine, for example, pages with long but narrow text down the middle and pictures and patterns in the very large margins.

Or pictures breaking up each stanza (or set of stanzas).

Or each page of text side by side with a full page illustration.

If you go this route, take your time finding the right artist and only get one, maybe two, sample pages to show publishers. Art is expensive!

Be creative!

Epic poetry isn't a big seller unless it's older works for school children, and even then... So the more you can position your work as part of other markets, the more successful you'll be. Good luck!

  • Your suggestions are very interesting, but I'm afraid I didn't make myself sufficiently clear as to length. The two most recently completed poems are around 10,000 words and 30,000 words, respectively. For reference, I think Paradise Lost is around 80,000. Given formatting requirements for verse, these would run into multiple volumes in graphic novel format, and easily overflow an anthology.
    – Jedediah
    Dec 22, 2018 at 12:40
  • @Jedediah yeah length is pretty important & you may want to edit it into the question. The "graphic novel" format can vary a lot & I was not suggesting the usual 5 or so panels a page with a line of poetry in each. There are many many ways you could illustrate an epic poem while still keeping it in normal book size. The Iliad is 15,693 lines which comes out to 448 pages in the paperback edition. Your average line seems to be 8 words, so your poems are around 1250 and 3750 lines. So that gives us something in the range of 36 to 107 pages for the text alone. Less for hardback.
    – Cyn
    Dec 22, 2018 at 16:20
  • So if you took the 10,000 word poem and illustrated it, that could be a gorgeous 60-80 page book. Not unreasonable at all. Would there still be a market for it? No idea. This may need to be a self-published deal. If it's pretty enough, you might get sales as a coffee table book or gift book.
    – Cyn
    Dec 22, 2018 at 16:22

A most unwelcome answer

'Tis too late, said one. 
Not here, said another.
Then silence, or rather 
Mystery not yet undone.

There is an unspoken thought,
an obvious sky-ridden star: 
absolute, earnest by far.
'Tis the answer you sought:

of words twisted and obscure,
many of which but manure,
the world is full in surplus.

If you write for pleasure,
Then yours is the treasure:
enjoy, and don't bother us.
  • 1
    If you had but let meter have his due, then I would owe the victor's crown to you.
    – Jedediah
    Dec 22, 2018 at 12:31
  • Nah, that's false I tell thee, and know'st thou that better 'an me.
    – NofP
    Dec 22, 2018 at 23:54

I know this is somewhat late but I thought I might share my experience with you.

I have just had a long, narrative poem accepted for publication in Piker Press. It is just under 4,000 words and 30 (A5) pages long. It is written in quatrain form. It is the shortest of my long, narrative poems - the others are up to 40,000 words. I am afraid that poetry rarely sells (according to what I have been told and read) and hardly ever makes a profit, which may explain why publishers shy away from it and seem to consider only established poets if an at all.

My view is that if a good, long narrative poem that relates an engaging tale, could be published, with appropriate artwork, it would probably sell better than some novellas or novels.

Until then, keep trying.

Good luck.



Go to Duotrope, put your criteria in the search, and see what you find. Duotrope has a pretty good sized database for markets and you can search on a number of criteria. Hopefully, you will find something useful.

  • Sorry, I'm going to have to downvote this. "Go search on this pay-for-access site to find out" doesn't strike me as in the spirit of the StackExchange question-answer format.
    – Jedediah
    Dec 26, 2018 at 18:59
  • @Jedediah, help yourself to the downvote if you want, however I didn't find it appropriate to go to the database, do the search for the OP, and paste the results here, especially when there may be useful criteria to search on beyond the size. Dec 26, 2018 at 23:52

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