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Q: How do I submit a poetry manuscript to a major press? ( Answered,   4 Comments )
Subject: How do I submit a poetry manuscript to a major press?
Category: Arts and Entertainment > Books and Literature
Asked by: mfalicensedpoet-ga
List Price: $140.00
Posted: 10 Jul 2004 21:24 PDT
Expires: 09 Aug 2004 21:24 PDT
Question ID: 372551
Who are the editorial contacts for submitting a manuscript of poetry
to major commercial publishing houses (eg Knopf, Houghton
Mifflin/Mariner, Farrar Straus Giroux, Harcourt and
HarperCollins--I'll be happy with three of five)? Or, who can steer me
past the slush pile?

My first book of poetry was published through a respected university
press, and I have a reasonable list of magazine and journal

Here's what I know: Literary agents for poetry don't seem to exist except in
rare cases (e.g. if you're Billy Collins), and most well-known poets
that I have spoken to do not have agents. I know Jonathan Galassi
occasionally takes poetry at FSG, but he also runs the press--so I
assume he's a bad first contact. Also, Mariner, Harcourt, and
HarperCollins allegedly ignore all unsolicited submissions. Finally, I
am also aware of the National Poetry Series competition (with
HarperCollins and Penguin) and the Norton/Barnard second book award
for women, but I am male. Most editors I talk to suggest working with
a "mid-major" press such as Graywolf, Pitt, or Wesleyan. I just don't
want to rule the majors out yet.

Clarification of Question by mfalicensedpoet-ga on 10 Jul 2004 21:43 PDT
I should mention that I'm looking for information that's more
specific/insider than what one could get from Writer's Market, Poets &
Writers, or other generally published resources. Ideally, you know an
author who has been through this process. Thanks!
Subject: Re: How do I submit a poetry manuscript to a major press?
Answered By: nancylynn-ga on 14 Jul 2004 15:40 PDT
Hello mfalicensedpoet-ga:

Back in October I answered a somewhat similar question:

Here's one excerpt from that answer, which also happens to note Billy Collins:

From the popular site "Literary Agents":, and the FAQ,
"Take for example, Billy Collins, whose last two books were published
by Random House. His first book of poems was published by the
University of Arkansas Press. (He submitted it himself.) His next
three books were published by the University of Pittsburgh Press,
which has an extensive line in contemporary poetry. Finally, in 2001,
Random House published a New and Selected volume of poems as well as a
subsequent volume of all-new poems. This is the arc
of an ideal publishing career in poetry. Billy Collins didn't need an
agent until long after his first book of poems was published.' "

And, the Academy of American Poets:
cautions "Be aware that the big publishing houses -- the ones whose
books you see in every bookstore -- publish very little poetry at all,
and almost none that comes from writers who approach them without the
mediation of agents. Many good agents, meanwhile, won't even return
your call unless you've already published a book."

That gives you an idea of just how tight the market is for poetry!

Your best bet, by far, for bypassing the slush pile is an agent. But
here, again, the news is grim. Glance through "Agents Actively Looking
[for new clients]":
None of them accepts poetry.

Still, I managed to find a few agents who represent poetry (listed
below), along with some editorial contacts at major houses.

You have a great advantage over most poets: you've already published a
book of poetry and you "have a reasonable list of magazine and journal
publications." This will definitely get the attention of editors and
agents -- especially if your first book sold reasonably well by the
genre's standards.

Btw, do you write anything besides poetry? If you can write a saleable
novel or play, or non-fiction book, that will broaden the list of
agents who might be interested in representing you. It will also
increase the chances of your getting a publishing deal -- the greater
the volume of good (and commercial!) material you can produce, the
better, in the eyes of a publisher.


A small proposal consisting of a query letter detailing your
publishing history and sales numbers for your first book (if they're
good numbers!), enclosed with samples of your poems, and any good
reviews of your work, is the best way to approach agents.

Most reputable agents do not charge so-called "reading fees" or any
other "fees." Be wary if an agent mentions such a fee, or if an agent
refers you to an "editing service" that charges for its services.

If an agent expresses interest in you, it is perfectly acceptable to
ask to review a client list and/or list of titles detailing where the
agent placed those works.

Langton International:
They represent poets Liz Cowley and Susan Manning:

Eddison Pearson Ltd. (Based in London):
"Handles literary fiction and non-fiction, contemporary fiction,
children's books, poetry for the literary market. Please enquire in
writing, enclosing s.a.e. Email enquiries also welcome. No unsolicited
mss. Clare Pearson, 3rd Floor, 22 Upper Grosvenor Street, London W1X
9PB.Tel: 02076292414. Fax: 020 7629 7181."
Their e-mail address is:

The Writers' Reps:
 Writers' Representatives, LLC
116 W. 14th St., 11th Fl.
New York, NY 10011-7305
Phone/Fax: 212-620-0023

They represent some poets, including Richard Howard:

Writers' Reps pitch trade books to both university presses and major houses,
including: " . . .Avon, Ballantine, Bantam, Basic Books, Broadway Books,
University of Chicago Press, City Lights, Collier, Crown, Dell, Doubleday,
Encounter Books, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Grove/Atlantic, The Free Press,
Harcourt Brace, HarperCollins, HarperSanFransisco, Henry Holt,
Houghton-Mifflin, Hyperion, Alfred A. Knopf, Macmillan, University of
Michigan Press, University of Nebraska Press, Wm. Morrow, New Republic
Books, W.W. Norton, Overlook Press, Oxford University Press, Penguin,
Perseus Press, Pocket Books, Prima Publishing, Putnam, Random House,
Regnery-Gateway, Riverhead, Scribner, St. Martin's, Simon & Schuster, Times
Books, Viking Penguin, Villard, Vintage, Warner Books . . . ."

See Writers' Reps: FAQ:

Kiesha Easley Literary Agency, LLC
PO Box 42119
Atlanta, GA  30311

The Desert Rose Agency (in Texas) represents (a few) poets:

Contact Desert Rose:
And see their FAQ:

The Soaring Spirits Literary Agency specializes in representing poetry:
Contact agent Janet Moreland:

The ST Literary Agency:
which has offices in New York City and Boca Raton, is open to all
genres. They prefer to be contacted via e-mail:
There isn't any information about their authors at their Web site, so
if they are interested in you, you should ask for a client list.

The Charlotte Gusay Agency represents some poets, such as Saul Williams:

"To initiate contact:
You may E-Mail a query to Agency E-Address as below. No more than a
paragraph or two. No downloads please. After which, you will receive
specific instructions should we specifically request to see your
material: Comply with the guidelines when you receive them. For
example: If fiction, send approximately first 50 pages and a one-page
synopsis. For nonfiction, send a proposal consisting of an overview,
chapter outline, author biography, first three sample chapters and
survey of the competition. (Note: Material will not be returned
without a Self Addressed Stamped Envelop - SASE) We discourage queries
by phone and by fax.

Regular mail address: 
Charlotte Gusay Agency
10532 Blythe Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90064

Trident Media:
is "actively seeking new or established authors in a variety of genres." 

Their guidelines don't rule out poetry -- that's promising! -- but to
be honest, I wouldn't have listed them if you hadn't already published
a book of poems.

Trident's FAQ: 
suggests you contact the agent who seems to be the best match. 

Trident agent Alex Glass"spent three years in the literature
department of the National Endowment for the Arts, where he helped
award over seventy federal grants to American fiction writers, poets,
and translators," so he may be worth trying. Read about him at:
where you'll also find his contact information.

Trident's snail mail address is:

Trident Media Group, LLC 
41 Madison Avenue, 36th FL
New York, NY 10010 


I've included phone numbers, in case you want to check a name or
ensure that the contact is still at that house, etc. Making cold calls
to editors or agents isn't recommended.

Most of the following houses *only accept manuscripts from agents*. If
you fail to get an agent, or want to try going it alone, then, again,
your best bet is to approach with a query letter and a few samples and
reviews of your first book. If you send in a manuscript -- unsolicited
-- it's likely to be returned to you, unread.

Knopf Publishing Group:

Deborah Garrison (who is herself a poet) is the poetry editor at Knopf
and a senior editor at Pantheon, a division of Knopf. See this July
13, 2003 New Yorker magazine interview with Garrison:

Knopf is a subsidiary of Random House, which only accepts submissions from agents:

If you want to try contacting Garrison directly, anyway, try:

Ms. Deborah Garrison
Knopf Publishing Group
1745 Broadway
New York, NY 10019
Telephone:  (212) 782-9000

Houghton Mifflin:
Click "About Us," then "Submissions":
Houghton Mifflin regrets that we can no longer consider unsolicited
poetry. Since our poetry publishing program is quite small, we have
decided to reserve it for the authors to whom Houghton Mifflin has
already made a commitment. Please seek out resources like Poet's
Market if you want to pursue publication."

If you still want to try them, Houghton Mifflin's poetry editor is
Michael Collier, according to this March 2004 Poet & Writer magazine
According to this Houghton bio (Houghton publishes Collier's poetry),
he resides in Maryland, where he is the state's Poet Laureate:

Mr. Michael Collier
c/o Houghton Mifflin Company Trade & Reference Division
222 Berkeley Street
Boston, MA 02116
Telephone: 617-351-5000

You can learn more about Michael Collier:
Maryland Archives:
And here's a 1998 AOL "Poet of the Month" profile. As you can see, his
first few collections were published by university presses.

Little, Brown & Company:

Jeff Herman's 2001-2002 Guide To Publishers and Literary agents lists
(Ms.) Pat Strachan as a "poetry editor" with Houghton Mifflin's New
York office.

According to the Sept. 23, 2002 edition of Publishers Weekly, Strachan
has since moved to Little, Brown, as a "senior editor", where she
acquires both fiction and non-fiction:

Little, Brown & Company is part of Time Warner Books:
Type "poetry" into search box at top, and you'll get a few results, so
they do publish some poetry.

Time Warner Books doesn't accept unsolicited manuscripts:

If you want to try contacting Strachan with a short query
letter/proposal, send it to her at:

Little, Brown and Company 
1271 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020   

Little, Brown Poetry e-zine IS accepting submissions:
and  *may* prove to be a good doorway to its parent company, Little, Brown:

Farrar, Straus & Giroux:

Jonathan Galassi, whom you mentioned, is the President and Publisher
at Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

Farrar, Straus & Giroux
states at its site "Poetry has always played a pivotal role on the
Farrar, Straus and Giroux list, which boasts some of the greatest
names in modern verse, ranging from Elizabeth Bishop, Ted Hughes, and
Philip Larkin to John Ashbery, Thom Gunn, and Les Murray."
Farrar, Straus & Giroux's Faber & Faber imprint publishes poetry:

According to "Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Publishers, Editors and
Literary  Agents" (2001-2002 edition; Prima Publishing), Galassi still
"acquires in areas consistent with house description."

Also, Galassi was interviewed for the April 12, 2004 edition of
Publishers Weekly's article "What Does It Cost to Do Poetry?" (written
by Michael Scharf) and, from what I can tell, poetry remains Galassi's
first love, so he may well be your best first contact at Farrar after
all! (Especially since you already have one published book under your

Farrar, Straus & Giroux
19 Union Square West
New York, New York 10003


Currently, only the Avon Romance division is accepting unsolicited material. 

According to that April 12, 2004 PW article, published poet Dan
Halpern, is the Senior Vice-President and Editorial Director at

"Halpern notes that Ecco does turn a profit on books by poets like
Poet Laureate Louise Glnullck and Nobel Prize?winner Czeslaw Milosz,
as well as former Poet Laureate Robert Hass. That kind of backlist,
which Knopf also has with poets like Anne Carson and Mark Strand, is
part of what allows Halpern to go into a board meeting and present
poetry as part of his list without any questions being asked."

Contact Mr. Halpern:

10 East 53rd Street
New York NY 10022

Telephone: 212-207-7541; Fax: 212-207-6927. 

W.W. Norton AND Company: 

Jill Bialosky (also a published poet) is Vice-President and Executive
Editor at Norton. According to that same PW article, Norton "has found
the right mix of formats and timing for keeping Norton's poetry in the
black." Says Bialosky, " 'We find that if we do the books in hardcover
first and then 12 months to 18 months later bring out a paperback, we
are making the numbers work, at a modest level . . . .' "

Norton's submissions policy:
Norton doesn't open unsolicited manuscripts received via regular mail,
but they will review proposals (query letters and samples). From their

"If you would like to submit your proposal by e-mail paste the text of
your query letter and/or sample chapter into the body of the email
message. Do not send attachments. . . . Keep your proposal under six
pages. If you are submitting poetry, again, try to send fewer than six

E-mail your proposal to:, or snail mail your
proposal to Bialosky:

W.W. Norton And Co.
500 Fifth Avenue
New York NY 10110-0017

Telephone: 212-354-5500
Fax: 212-869-0856  
Harcourt Trade (formerly Harcourt Brace):

Its paperback division, Harvest Books, publishes poetry:

"Harcourt does not accept unsolicited query letters or e-mails,
manuscripts, and illustrations. We require all such materials to come
to us through a literary agent, and encourage aspiring writers and
illustrators to submit work to an agent who specializes in their area
of creativity."

According to this 2003 edition of Writers' Lounge:
The venerable Ms. Drenka Willen is still poetry editor for Harcourt.
You can try contacting her at:

15 East 26th Street
New York NY 10010

Telephone: 212-592-1117; Fax: 212-592-1010  

You might want to check out this interview with Willen, "Umberto,
Drenka and Bill," by Gayle Feldman: 
from the October 21, 2002 edition of Publishers Weekly.


The Academy of American Poets recommends these magazines and literary
market guides:

I certainly recommend that you attend every conference you possibly
can that this, and other poetry organizations, convene. Nothing beats
face-to-face networking and the chance to meet agents and editors who
might take an interest in your work.

Also check the April 12, 2004 edition of Publishers Weekly for the
article I referenced: "What Does It Cost to Do Poetry?, written by
Michael Scharf. The article provides a good overview of how poetry is
currently faring at larger houses, and features interviews with some
of the editorial contacts noted above. The story also assesses some
smaller houses devoted to poetry, including Graywolf and Copper
Canyon, which both pride themselves on strong PR.

See the article "Escaping The Slush Pile," by Rachel Funari:

And the article "The Pains of Trying To Get Poetry Published by A
Reputable Publisher," by Sara L Russell, published December 04, 2001,
at Authors' Den:

As previously mentioned, you may find some valuable tips in this
answer which I provided for another poet who requested assistance at
Google Answers, last October:

"Book Editors; First Fiction," provides a good, apparently current,
round-up of addresses for editors and publishing houses:

Search Strings:

publishing poetry
literary agents poetry
agents accepting writers
agents accepting poets
agents who represent poets
agents AND "all genres"
[publishing house] AND "poetry editor"

I hope my research is of help to you. If you require further
clarification, or need help navigating any of the above links or
addresses, please post a "Request For Clarification," PRIOR to rating
my answer.

I wish you the very best!

Google Answers Researcher
Subject: Re: How do I submit a poetry manuscript to a major press?
From: kriswrite-ga on 12 Jul 2004 05:45 PDT
Hello mfalicensedpoet~

As the published author of a dozen books, I agree with the editors
you've spoken with. It's virtually impossible to get a book of poetry
published by the "major" New York houses unless you are famous.
There's just no real market for poetry these days. Your best bet is to
concentrate on smaller houses, and getting published in "major"
magazines, like The New Yorker.

Good luck!
Subject: Re: How do I submit a poetry manuscript to a major press?
From: spinnster-ga on 19 Jul 2004 12:55 PDT
Use The Writer's Market, a book you can purchase at any major book
store $30.00. It includes the names of over 1000 publishers agents and
presses, each one is catorgorized. Every name in the book has a
summary of services and gives you information about royaltie payments,
rights, how many manuscripts are accepted each year and what the
submission requirements are. I use this book often. I am a published
poet and find this book very useful.
Good Luck!!
Subject: Re: How do I submit a poetry manuscript to a major press?
From: nancylynn-ga on 19 Jul 2004 19:05 PDT
Hello spinnster-ga, and congratulations on your success!

I am very familiar with Writer's Market, although I haven't seen the
last two editions of it. As I recall, there weren't any agents in
earlier editions seeking to represent poets. Perhaps that guide is now
updated with a poetry section. (I did recommend Poet's Market at
question # ://

Another good guide is Jeff Herman's Guide To Agents and Publishers. I
have the 2001-2002 edition of that (a more recent one is now
available) and there aren't any agents listed in that edition who are
actively seeking poets.

It wouldn't hurt to try agents who haven't listed poetry under "Not
interested in representing . . . " in Herman's Guide, but finding an
agent to represent a book of poetry remains a long shot.
Subject: Re: How do I submit a poetry manuscript to a major press?
From: pinkyandrexa-ga on 20 Jan 2005 17:40 PST
Thanks for including my article "The Pains of Trying To Get Poetry
Published by A Reputable Publisher," from my AuthorsDen page, in your

It's good to know that an article can be of use to others across the
world, even a couple of years after it's been added to a website.

Best Regards,

Sara L. Russell / AKA Pinky Andrexa (old newsgroup name)
Editor, Poetry Life & Times

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