Someone with the heart of a poet has probably filled a slew of notebooks with their poetry. Some poets may even sketch drawings or thought trees to flesh out their poems as part of their writing process. Once a sizable number of poems have been penned, the idea of writing and publishing a poetry book may come to mind. This handy guide explains the dos and don’ts of writing a poetry book and can be useful to the budding poet whose sights are set on authoring a collection of poetry.

Popular Styles of Writing Poetry

What makes poetry such an intriguing writing form is its wide range of styles. Whether the poem is a vehicle for storytelling or a foray into the esoteric, the poetry style that a writer uses shapes the rhythm and mood of the individual poem.

Consider the many styles of writing poetry:


Haiku, a short form of poetry, originated in Japan in the 1700s. Haiku poems contain only three lines and a total of seventeen syllables. The syllables are ordered in patterns of 5-7-5, and the words are unrhymed.

Free Verse

Free verse is a style of poetry that stems from the French “vers libre.” A free verse poem has no set syncopation or rhythm, reflecting the natural patterns of speech. The free verse style follows no customary rules of poetry and is not designed to rhyme. Modern poets enjoy the creative freedom this form of poetry allows.


The sonnet has Italian roots and features a fourteen-line poem that follows a prescribed format. A sonnet includes two stanzas, one containing eight lines and one containing six lines, and utilizes one of several rhyme schemes.


The limerick originated in 18th-century England and is known for being humorous and even rude. The limerick contains five lines and follows a set rhyming pattern, with lines one, two, and five having eight syllables, and lines three and four having five syllables.


Although the ode style of poetry is often attributed to England, it actually originated in ancient Greece. The ode is typically a dedication to or celebration of something from the past that the author feels is meaningful and praiseworthy. It has a three-part structure: the strophe, the antistrophe, and the epode.


Ballads are of French origin, before taking root in England and Ireland in the Middle Ages. Ballads are narrative poems or folk songs that feature emotional storytelling using four-line stanzas in 4-3-4-3 rhythms.

Now that you’re familiar with the different types of poetry, let’s move on to the writing process dos and don’ts.

Dos of Writing a Poetry Book

As you embark on your poetry book project, consider these important dos:

  1. Write a lot of poems. A typical poetry collection will include 30-100 poems, so the more poems you write the more you will have to select from. Pick your strongest poems to compile into a poetry book.
  2. Decide on your writing style. When considering the styles of writing poetry, it is best to use one style throughout. This helps you create a cohesive reading experience.
  3. Organize your poems. When deciding on the order of your poems, strive for balance throughout the collection, versus placing all the strongest poems at the beginning. Poems should also relate somehow to one another, or even follow the evolution of a particular theme.
  4. Edit your collection of poems. Correct all typos or syntax issues by carefully editing the poetry manuscript repeatedly.
  5. Design your pages. The interior design of your poetry collection is a central feature of its overall visual appeal. Formatting pages of poetry is much less rigid than designing a book, which allows the writer to be creative. A collection of poems may even include simple hand-drawn illustrations to complement individual poems.

Don’ts of Writing a Poetry Book

Keep these don’ts in mind as you write your poetry book:

  1. Don’t allow room for errors. Even the most astute writer will miss their own typos. Don’t risk making this mistake by having a professional editor do the final editing.
  2. Don’t be afraid to share your thoughts. The essence of good poetry is the author’s willingness to open up and reveal what is in their heart and mind. Draw from personal experiences to take the reader on a journey.
  3. Don’t make your book too long. An average poetry book will have between 40-80 pages or up to 100 poems.
  4. Don’t attempt to be trendy. While it may be tempting to follow the current poetry trends, resist that impulse and focus on creating a collection of innovative and unique poems. Experienced poets know that adhering to trends may result in their books feeling dated at some point.
  5. Don’t forget your audience. Remember that you are speaking to a particular audience through your poetry. As you select the poems for your collection, keep that audience persona firmly in mind.

We hope that our advice for writers is helpful in your poetry writing journey. Almost finished with writing a poetry collection? Contact Gatekeeper Press for professional editing and cover design services.

Publish Your Poetry Book With Gatekeeper Press

Creating a book of poetry can be tricky. Why go it alone when you can team up with the professionals at Gatekeeper Press to produce a polished and well-designed poetry collection? When you are ready to self-publish your poetry book, give us a call at 866-535-0913 or contact us online!

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