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Defining “Published”

Image by Janet Gooch from Pixabay

A poet new to the Poets Online website emailed me some questions about her submission which was recently published on the site. I thought her questions might also be those of other poets submitting to Poets Online or to other publications.
Can I submit my poem on Poets Online to other places? 
That depends on the publication’s rules. Many print and online publishers now do not accept work that has been previously published, in print or online. Resubmitting poems for contests and for anthologies often waives that rule. Some publishers (Rattle is an example) do not consider self-publishing to blogs, message boards, or social media as a publication with respect to this rule. Always read the submission rules carefully for any submission.

Muse-Pie Press‘s policy is much stricter and doesn’t consider previously published poems, stating that “if a poem is posted on a blog, website, or social-networking site, or another online journal, we consider it published.”
If my poem is posted in the archive at Poets Online is it considered to be published?
As with the answer above, I would say that Yes, it is published and if included in a collection that should be acknowledged. If you’re submitting again, research the submission guidelines.
Should I copyright my poems?
As noted on the Poets Online copyright page in greater detail, poems published on the site are protected under the U.S. Copyright laws regardless of whether they are registered with the copyright office. It is not necessary for the symbol © to appear beside a poem for that poem to be protected by copyright law. All work published on poetsonline.org are copyrighted one time only and then the copyright reverts to the authors.

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