4 Tips For Self-Publishing A Mixed-Genre Book Of Poems, Stories, And Essays | Self-Publishing Relief

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Hey, writer—mixology isn’t just for craft cocktails! Mixing genres is becoming more and more popular each day. At Self-Publishing Relief, we know it’s not easy to traditionally publish poetry books and short prose collections, so self-publishing offers an excellent alternative. But what about books that include two or more different genres in a single collection? Many writers pen both poetry and prose, and with the growth and increasing acceptance of the self-publishing industry, there’s no time like the present to get your mixed-genre book out there. Here are some ideas on how you can succeed at crafting the perfect mix:

Tips For Self-Publishing A Mixed-Genre Book Of Poems, Stories, And Essays

Group the various works within your collection.

The pieces you decide to include will dictate the best organizing principle for the collection. For example: Do the poems, stories, and essays fall into thematic categories? If so, consider grouping them by theme. If there are no discernible thematic links among the works, organizing by genre may be best. Grouping the pieces chronologically might also provide an interesting structure.

Make the most of a unifying theme.

If you’ve chosen these particular works because they share a single overarching theme, think about how to arrange them to best articulate that theme. Organization by genre might make the most sense, but you could group them by subtheme instead, ignoring the constructs of genre.

Choose cover artwork that makes an impact. 

Choosing an effective cover for your mixed-genre collection will be a particular challenge. Readers of poetry collections expect cover designs that reflect a unique poetic spirit, while prose readers might be drawn to a book cover that hints about storylines or characters.

Many factors will go into your decision about the best cover for your particular mixed collection. For example, if you have chosen works with a single shared theme, choose images and design elements that evoke that motif. If the contents are arranged to show how your writing has changed over time, consider communicating that idea in your cover art and design. 

Acknowledge prior publication of individual pieces.

If any of the poems, stories, or essays included in your collection have been previously published, be sure to acknowledge the original publisher, either on your copyright page or in a separate Acknowledgments page. Check your contracts or the submission guidelines to see if the literary journals request a particular form for such attributions, and follow those directions.

The idea of publishing a single collection that features works in two or more genres is not a new one, but the option to self-publish has certainly made it easier to bring collections of all sorts—including mixed genre—to your fans and readers. Here are some examples of published books that bend the single-genre rules:

William Carlos Williams, Spring and All (1923)

Jean Toomer, Cane (1923)

Anne Carson, Autobiography of Red (1999)

Tyrese Coleman, How to Sit (2018)

Why not consider adding your collection to the list?



QUESTION: What’s your favorite mixed-genre collection?

1 Comment

  1. Wendy

    This question didn’t answer the biggest question of all in writing mixed genre: What BISAC do I give it?!?!?!?!?

    (And in a related vein, I tried to figure out what Dewey section of the “new books” shelf at my library I should watch to see if they got my Edmund Fitzgerald book. I couldn’t find anything to help someone decide what Dewey number a book might be assigned. Wouldn’t it be easier to get my book into libraries if I could offer suggested Dewey numbers for it?)


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