The poetry contest scams have been around for many years, but continues to make money for unscrupulous publishers.
The contest is advertised where the winner receives either a cash prize or publication. The contestants are required to pay an entry fee [this is how the publishers make their money!].
The contestants are advised that they didn't win the cash prize but they did win publication.
This may mean getting published in a book that all the contestants will be published in [because all contestants receive the same prize notification], or it may mean you need to pay to have your work published on their website.
If you want a copy of the book that contains your work, you will have to pay for it.
And the cost of the book is usually very expensive!
It is possible that somebody could win the prize money, and it is also possible that the winner could be a friend of the publisher. You will never know if the prize is awarded to a genuine contestant unless you win it.
In terms of 'publication' as a prize - it may mean just putting up the writer's work with hundreds of other unwitting contest entrant's work on a website that doesn't attract any real traffic or have any credibility with real publishers.
Sometimes reputable publishers do run contests however they usually don't charge entry fees, or if they do, it is only in the order of $5. Remember the reputable publishers make their money from selling books, not taking contest entry fees.
This type of contest attracts hundreds of hopeful authors who eagerly send in their work, or a sample of their work and unfortunately are destined to lose money, rather than achieve fame and fortune.
When considering whether you are about to be taken in by poetry contest scams, remember that reputable publishers don't charge an entry fee, or if they do, it is very small!
Some contests advertise that you could be their next best seller and the prize is a publishing contract. it would pay to send the contract to an attorney as the wording is usually lengthy, confusing and full of contradictions.
They are hoping it will never get read by the contest entrants.
The following wording was extracted out of a contract supplied to us:
"This is an agreement to enter into competition/judging process for the sole purpose of procuring a publisher for a work of fiction".
That disclaimer should ring alarm bells in any contestant.
Read our page on
poetry contest scams that highlights some of the red flags in poetry
contest scams as well as other publishing scams.