Poetry contest scams

Every so often, I’ll see a little blurb in the newspaper about a local person “getting published”. More often than not, the article goes on to say the individual’s poem is included in a poetry anthology published by the International Library of Poetry.


These organizations send the writers impressive looking acceptance letters and even certificates, both by postal mail and e-mail. These letters indicate the poetry submitted was something really special, so special they are going to publish it in one of their poetry anthologies. What a boost to the ego!

What these aspiring writers don’t realize is, that organization and ones like it publish every poem they receive. They butter the authors up, lavishing praise on them about their talent. Then, they tell the participants they can receive their very own copies of the anthology in which their poetry is published…For only $49.99. Additionally, they can buy plaques and other items personalized with their poems.

It all sounds so good until you realize you are in no way unique and they’re playing on your vanity. Scams typically play on peoples’ vanity or on their desire to get rich quick; this type of scam falls in the former category. That’s why organizations like this are the dregs of vanity presses. At least legitimate vanity presses are forthright: Pay to publish, said up front.

It’s not just poetry, though. They hook amateur photographers, too. They are always having photo competitions, most notably though the notorious Picture.com website. I submitted shots years ago and — surprise surprise — all of my photos were semi-finalists! I never shelled out the bucks for the anthology or the plethora of photo-decorated goods I was offered. Instead, I did some homework and realized the website was nothing more than a scam.

Want to learn more?

Scambusters.org has an excellent article on these bogus poetry contests. To see some prime examples of junk poetry submitted on purpose, poems ultimately included in anthologies (of course!), see Wockyjivvy’s page.

I think the best link I can share is is that of Wind Publications, titled Literary Contest Caution They have dozens of links verifying the methods used by these scammers.

Who should you be leery about? Here’s a list of associated organizations

International Library of Poetry
National Library of Poetry
Poetry.com
International Society of Poets
International Poetry Hall of Fame
Watermark Press
Birthwrites
International Lib
Pegasus Press
International Society of Photography
picture.com
Arts and Kids

So, be forewarned.

Honestly, I struggle whether to say anything to people who tell me they’ve had a poem or photograph accepted, because I don’t want to hurt anyones’ feelings or burst any balloons. If someone wants to pay $50 in order to see his poem in print, I’m not going to stop him.

But, oh…This play on peoples’ want of recognition is so nasty. It really makes me sad when I hear people talking about how their work was accepted by the ILP or the photocentric versions. Yes, these organizations give away prizes, but they dupe so many people along the way.

2 thoughts on “Poetry contest scams

  1. Boo hoo bawl, you mean that all those invitations to have my wondrous works published are bogus? talk about a bubble burst! LOL and if I take the bait on the publishing I can also be publicly recognized at their annual awards ceremony. With airfare, hotel room, and free dinner it will only cost me about $3500.00 plus tax. All transportation and the hotel reservations must be booked at least 8 months in advance and placement onto the roll of winners may only be guaranteed if arrangements are made through their special travel dept.

    But I too have had to bite my tongue when someone has told me about their exciting news of being published.By that time it is too late to keep them from taking the bait so I try to just let them have their thrill last as long as possible… after all,it cost them enough!

  2. Oh, you’re kidding. Travel department??

    …Shaking head and muttering as I head to bed for the night

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