|Quid quid latine dictum sit, altum videtur|
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D Mervin Ffingir writes, and having writ, moves on:
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
On Caferati's message board, and in our email, every now and then someone posts gleefully about having a poem accepted by poetry dot com (yes, deliberately not clickable), or about the contests that site runs.
And then one has to go about the sad task of letting the person know they've been conned. So, we thought, being a lazy sod, we might as well put all the gunk out here, thus saving ourself the trouble of having to search-&-cut-&-paste every time.
How does it work?
You send in an entry, and after a respectable interval, you get a lovely glossy mailer telling you that you are a semi-finalist. It will enclose an Artist's Proof of your poem for you to sign. The mailer will also tell you that you can buy a copy of the thick cloth-bound book that will contain the best entries in the contest.
It's a "benign scam," you see. The ILP (International Library of Poetry, aka Poetry.com) and others like it operate by preying on the desire so many of of us have: to see our verse in print. You DO get a book. A large coffe table book crammed with poems. For which you pay a whole lot of money. It's cheaper for you to do a vanity printing, with only your verse in it, and give them to your 50 closest friends.
How do we know it's a rip-off? We sent in a poem once* (we were so much younger then), and were flattered to find we were a "semi-finalist." We immediately checked out the bank balance and thought to ourself, hm, perhaps this is worth a shot. Lucky for us, we first asked a few friends and e-contacts more worldy-wise than us. And were gently told that we should, ahem, perhaps, er, reconsider.
Poetry.com (a.k.a. the International Library of Poetry, the National Library of Poetry, and many others), is a vanity anthology scheme that draws in poets through free contests, and then solicits them to purchase the anthology in which they will be published, plus a variety of other merchandise and services. The contests, in which all entrants are declared "semi-finalists", are bogus; and while the company portrays itself as a viable and even prestigious poetry market, the complete lack of editorial gatekeeping and the resulting poor quality of most of the poems means that publication in one of its anthologies is not a professional credit.Someone did the math. Here's Exhibit Two:
Turn-over estimate[Read the whole thing.]
Here, from the same page, is a poem by the person who wrote the analysis above:
Poor VictimsThis was published, s/he says. :)
Here's another Semi-finalist:
FlubblebopThis, by the way, inspired the Wergle Flomp Poetry Contest
Oh, here's a few more links. Google will give you about 42,100 results for "poetry.com scam" in case you'd like to try it out (and another 595,000 for "literary scam").
A few to get you started:
http://www.windpub.com/literary.scams/ (good list of scams)
* Can't link to it, because the site pushes you back to the home page when you enter the search results. If you really want to read it, you could search for our name, then pick the poem titled "Old Diary" from the search results.
Um. Correction. Still can't link to it, but we did a little R&D so we can now at least make the search a little easier. It was written somewhere in 2001, if we remember right, but the site apparently keeps the copyright updated! And the book in which we could order it, as well as the scheduled release date, keeps changing too, to just a few months after the time you make your search. The site notes, if you click through to the Order Book page, that "Actual title and cover photograph may differ."
Note: [*] = The site linked to requires registration.
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