Fake poetry contests cheat authors out of $10 million per year. It’s the lure of big money prizes and the chance to be published that convinces a lot of honest folks to hand over their money.
There are many legitimate contests but hidden among them are sponsors who only care about making a quick buck. They care little about writing or authors.
They exist solely for profit through so-called writing or poetry contests. Many times you’ll find these “free” poetry contests advertised in your local newspaper. Before you consider entering any free on-line literary or writing contest, do yourself a favor. Inform yourself about these unscrupulous people and study how they operate so that you can avoid being one of their next victims.
Prospective victims are sent flattering letters, saying that they are great poets and that the panel of judges’ or ‘sectional committee’ strongly believes their submission is worth publishing.
The scammers may even go so far as to state that you have been nominated for the ‘Poet of the Year’.
They will attempt to appear legitimate by quoting credible sources and previous “winners” of their international contests.
Q. How do you know if a contest is actually a poetry scam?
A. A contest is a poetry scam if you must buy one or more copies of the book in which you will be published.
Here’s a run down of signs indicating that you may be someone else’s prospect for their poetry scam.
Scams often have huge numbers of winners. They make money by publishing books of poetry that are bought almost exclusively by the “lucky winners”. In other words, they publish YOU because they expect you to buy copies of the book. These books contain many hundreds of poems in them. This way they can charge as many people as possible. Besides the book, they may offer to publish your poetry on a plaque, an audio CD or even a web site… for a fee of course.
Huge Prize Offers!
Unfortunately, contests with unusually large prizes are probably not for real. If you can win thousands of dollars or more, chances are that you’ll shell out more money than you’ll be getting.
Reading and Entry Fees
Many contests make money by charging you to enter or charging to read your poems. DANGER WILL ROBINSON! These are contests you should be very cautious about entering. Contests that charge an entry fee are either funding the prizes with the fee or funding the prizes and pocketing the difference. Either way, it’s not a good deal for you. Legitimate poetry contests generally have small prizes and no fees. If you enter a contest with a fee, be aware that you are paying to compete with other poets.
While it’s flattering to be asked to read your poetry in front of a gathering of fellow poets, be careful if a contest selects you as a “winner” and then tries to sell you a trip to a gathering of poets or writers. If it’s going to cost you several hundred dollars out of pocket, and they’re the ones getting the money, then you’re probably being scammed.
One of the all time favorite scams is that you will be selected for special poetry writing classes. The scammers tell you that your poem is very good, but that you could benefit from lessons conducted by one of their teachers. There’s nothing wrong with you taking poetry classes to improve your skills, but it is misleading to disguise advertisements for classes as a legitimate poetry contest.
For novices and those trying to make a living by writing, poetry scams are a disappointment to say the least. Don’t let poetry scammers squash your dreams.