Aspiring writers are hard workers. Our main goals
vary from a desire to gain notoriety through publication to build a
resume, or simply to explore ourselves. Whatever the drive behind it,
entering contests for writers is often a popular avenue. However, contests
for writers are not always on the up and up. In this Edition of Moondance,
learn the Top Ten Things to Know About Contest Scams for Writers.
- The best and easiest way to differentiate a true and respectable contest
from a scam is to note the direction of money flow. Contest scams don't
pay you for the right to publish your work, you pay them. Respected
professionals in the literary field understand that writers are to be
paid for the work they do. The common goal of all contest scams is not
to promote or highlight featured talent, but to gain as much profit
as possible from unsuspecting aspiring writers who are willing to pay
to see their work in print. If you've entered a contest and are being
asked for money, chances are that contest is not legitimate, and you
are being robbed not only of your work and money, but your integrity
- Most poetry contest scams can be identified by their offers to sell
you your own work in the form of anthologies, certificates, plaques
and/or audio cassettes with recordings of your poem set against background
music. Winners are asked to pay miscellaneous fees for awards, certificates,
books containing their work and other "benefits" of having their work
"selected" as a semifinalist or finalist. Contest scams typically
want "winners" to pay $45-$50 for an anthology book (generally of poor
quality,; printed on copy machine paper), $20-$25 for your biography,
typesetting is another $25, $25 more for certificate of achievement,
and $33 to have your work recorded on audio cassette, for an estimated
total of $158.00 per entrant per contest. Of course, these are just
estimates based on an average. Actual costs vary.
- Relatively few libraries or bookstores carry the anthologies mentioned
in these contests that claim they are "highly acclaimed" or "widely
read." Generally speaking, the only people who purchase or peruse these
anthologies are the authors who are in them and perhaps a few of their
friends and family members. An average anthology publishes between five
and ten poems per page and is, on average, a couple hundred pages in
- More than ninety percent of poems entered into any fraudulent contest
are accepted as finalists or semifinalists, as long as the author is
willing to pay for their "awards," certificates, and rights. Most contest
scams don't actually have any judges or judging system. Even intentionally
poor submissions are accepted because there are no judges or editors,
only billing technicians.
- The most recognized poetry contest scam is the International Library
of Poetry, operating on the Internet as poetry.com and poets.com. Affiliations
include National Library of Poetry, International Society of Poets,
International Poetry Hall of Fame, and Watermark Press.
- Listing semifinalist or finalist status in these kinds of contests
on a resume or query to professional publishers can hinder a writer
more than help them. Placement within a contest exposed or presumed
as being a scam does not credit a writer with any kind of ability or
talent. On the contrary, it can make them look naive and amateurish.
- Not all contest scams are related to poetry and anthologies. The most
popular ways to scam writers out of money are 1. Services to writers
-- from editing, through organizations, to agenting 2. Education for
writers -including correspondence schools 3. Publication - including
contests and "prizes." One literary agency advertises a contest where
the prize is agent representation. This representation is offered to
everyone who enters, but it comes with a hefty editing fee attached.
Another agency uses an alias for their contests, wherein entrants are
told their work is "superb" and "referred" to the agency. Of course,
the agency charges an upfront fee. There are also contests running where
the prize is a book contract for which the winner has to pay publication
and printing costs.
- The Writer's Center provides an online "test kit" for scams. If you
suspect that you are being scammed, this quiz could help you find out
if you're right. To take the quiz, visit
In addition, The Writer's Center also provides resources for fighting
scams, found at
- Not all contests are scams. Some contests can prove beneficial in
promoting aspiring writers. For more information on which contests are
scams and which are legitimate, visit Poetry Contest Scams and Rip Offs
- You may find that you have a safer journey with better luck by submitting
your poetry and short stories to literary magazines for legitimate publication
instead of entering your work to "win" contests. For more information
on how to get started submitting your work to literary magazines, visit
Author Bio: Wendi L. Cali has had
a fascination for and a dedication to the written word since early childhood.
Currently, Wendi holds the titles of Content Director for Cenicola-Helvin
Enterprises, the Editor In Chief of a web community called RITRO.com (based
on Real Insight Through Raw Opinion), and will now be representing aspiring
writers as the editor of Rising Stars. Wendi's writing projects range
from picture books to historical fiction to freelance and inspirational
A collection of literary terms compiled by the
Rising Stars staff for the benefit and ease of beginning writers. These
words and definitions are the foundation for a writer's vocabulary. Understanding
these terms and being able to use them enables a writer to better understand
responses to their work, which is vital in revising a piece as well as
improving general writing skills.
In this prolific poem, Angela
Tourond-Hrechanyk describes soaring Heaven bound, wing tip to wing
tip, in the spirit of togetherness.
shares her poetic memory box, filled with hopes, dreams, and potential.
Pride is an all-consuming, all empowering, unbelievable
gift, according to high school student, Melissa Benscoter,
in her enthusiastic essay, "Proud to Be Proud".