Poetry Scam. Don’t Be A Poetry Scam Victim!

The infamous “they” say there is a sucker born every minute. What they don’t say is that every 30 seconds a scammer is born.

As a writer, the majority of scams I face are writing and poetry scams that come in the form of publishing contests.

Right now, the biggest poetry scam going can be found at Poetry.com — a fraudulent publishing company that turns 100% of the submissions into ‘semi-finalists’. Poetry.com’s poetry scam has been around since 1996 and is frighteningly still going strong. As if to add salt to the wound, the state they are based in lets them do it, despite receiving tons of complaints.

Every person who is unknowingly and unwittingly drawn into this particular poetry scam is sent a flattering letter, saying that they are a great poet and that the ‘panel of judges’ or ‘sectional committee’ strongly believes the submission is worth publishing. Then the letter asks for a $50.00 payment, or more, if the poet wishes to have a page all to him or herself.

The next catch in the poetry scam is that Poetry.com only publishes the poems written by the contestants who pay the fee – 60 books a year, with 6,000 poems per book, at $50.00 a poem, gives Poetry.com’s poetry scam over 18 million dollars a year! That’s a whole lot of scammed dough!!

Another catch: the books are sold only to the poetry scam victims!

So how does one know if a contest is actually a poetry scam? As a general rule, be cautious of contests where your work will be published online only (unless it’s a well-known website), or only in an anthology that “winners” have to pay for. A ‘semi-finalist’ letter is exciting to receive, but read it word for word, and even between the lines. A contest is a poetry scam if you must buy one or more copies of the book in which you will be published. The contest company makes their money through the purchase of such anthologies.

Also be wary of contests put on by people or companies who will profit from your work, like book doctors, and literary agencies where the prize is representation by an agent, but comes with “editing fees.”

Contests where the prize amount is determined by the number of submissions (a pro rata basis) exist only to make money for the people putting on the contest.

Here is quick poetry scam cheat sheet:

Watch out for:
*Having to pay an additional fee for publication, editing, representation or publicity.
*Contests that run weekly or monthly, where the “prize” is simply being published on an obscure, shady, or sketchy website.
*Having to buy the anthology in which your work will be published.
*Contests where everyone “wins” (no matter how crappy the work), or no one wins.

Poetry scams and writing scams are everywhere! So do your research, and be sure to read all the fine print.


14 Responses to “Poetry Scam. Don’t Be A Poetry Scam Victim!”
  1. vanessa Says:

    ha… i submitted a poem telling anyone who looked at my poem that the whole sitw is a fraud! they accepted it!!!! it was my perfect plan… i told the readers that they screwed you over… they brought it in!!! they told me that it’s accepted!!! i loved it! i was scamed by this site and i dont want it to happen to more innocent soles!!! so i helped it! i started my own fake poem, submitted it and got readers right away!! i love it!! thank you websites for stopping the stuidity of poetry.com!!!

  2. Sherien Says:

    Turn-over estimate
    The anthology that I bought (yes, I know, I had the same 20″ thick plate in front of my face) cost me $ 59.95 (excluding p+p). My estimate is (excuse me for not counting them by hand) that there are around 1,500 poems in there. Since you won’t get published if you don’t buy the book, all those 1,500 poets have bought the anthology (assuming that they won’t print two poems of the same poet in there). That would mean 1,500 x $ 59,95 = $ 89,925 for the poems. There are 325 biographies of poets in the back (I DID count them by hand), for which the poet had to pay $ 25 extra. That’s 325 x $ 25 = $ 8,125.
    Together for this anthology that would be $ 89,925 + $ 8,125 = $ 98,050.
    I first thought that they’d publish some six anthologies per year, but even I was dumbstruck that that amount should be multiplied by ten. I took the time to count the released anthologies that they have on the poetry.com website and in the year 2002, the year which the anthology that I bought was published, they released a total of 52 anthologies. In 1998, which was probably a very profitable year for them the number of released anthologies rocketed up to 78.
    So if we take the average of that, 65, and use that as the amount of released anthologies per year, you can calculate the following: 65 x $ 98,050 = $ 6,373,250 income per year only for those anthologies. That is over SIX MILLION DOLLARS! *dingdingdingding*
    And then I didn’t even count all the other @@@@ that they are offering. The awards, which cost like $ 175 – $ 250 each and the plaques on which you can have your poem printed and the audio recordings you can get from your poem and the offers for the symposia that you can visit as an outstanding poet.
    And in this matter I’m only talking about the poetry part that they have. Imagine what their turn over is if you take into consideration that they also do ‘business’ in for example photography! My dear fellow poets, this is BOOOOOOOOMING business.
    And we don’t see a penny of it. Not ONE SINGLE penny. We only PAY to see their pockets get filled!
    Doesn’t sound too fair, does it?

    THANK THE LORD THAT I FOUND THIS WEBSITE. POETRY.COM JUST DISGUSTS ME. ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTING. I AM APPALLED AND ENRAGED THAT THEY TAKE ADVANTAGE OF WRITERS WHO ARE JUST TRYING TO GET AHEAD. I GOT MY LETTER SAYING I WAS GOING TO BE PUBLISHED IN ‘IMMORTAL VERSES’. THEN I GOT A LETTER SAYING I WAS SOME AMBASSADOR AND HAD WON THE EDITORS CHOICE AWARD. ANOTHER POEM I SUBMITTED WAS ALSO “AWARDED” THE EDITORS CHOICE AWARD AND WAS TO BE PUBLISHED. YOU CAN IMAGINE HOW THRILLED I WAS. IN FACT I WAS GOING TO FILL OUT MY ARTISTS PROOF AND SEND MY MONEY TODAY. BUT NO IT WAS FATE. GOD WAS WATCHING OVER ME. I FOUND OUT OF THIS SCAM AND WAS JUST SHOCKED. PLEASE EVERYONE BEWARE. DO NOT GET FOOLED!

  3. Sue harland Says:

    I have just purchased a book of poems which was not titled Immortal Verses” but is called Collected Whispers. My poem was put on page 1 which is easy enough for a printer to do. I have paid in full so know I won’t get a refund if I sent it back. I hope these scam sites cannot say you haven’t paid and try to put you under collection and ruin your credit rating . Any comments on that side of things will be appreciated. It is still nice to have the book but I’ m glad I wisened up rather than order a plaque etc.

  4. Richard A. Buechler Says:

    I too was published in “Collected Whispers” and yes, lo and behold, my poem and profile were in the very front. After performing a few google searches, i have read some blogs by other poets who were published in the same book… and they all say the same thing. Every one of them is stoked that their poem is in the front of the book as if they think that it is legitimate.
    Also, i have thumbed through my copy and cannot find any of their poems or names, another aspect of the scam. that is how they get away with dubbing every poem as a semi-finalist and what not, by cycling all of the poems through different copies of the collection. Which also mean that our poems are not in every copy of the book. We may even be the only ones who have copies of our own poems. And I’ll bet my sanity that the pages in my copy are different from yours.

  5. chelo Says:

    My poem was published in “collected Whispers” I put $20 on the book, they sent it to me. My poem is in the very front of the book and boy was I flattered.I will return the book for a refund and I will demand that they take it off the website.

  6. Cyndi Says:

    My name is Cyndi and I was also scammed expecting to receive Immortal Verses and never even received it. I am upset cause I believed I even had copyrigts and now my poem is just lingering out there for someone else to recieve credit for. Poetry.com needs to be shut down. I feel disrespected and I want everyone to know what a fraud poetry.com is. Your book is only meant for you and not for others to see.So please don’t send any money to this fraud company cause I didn’t even recieve a book.

  7. anthony beernal Says:

    U know what screw it!! im 13, as I said, and I got published!! I didn’t get screwed, I accomplished something that people work for for their whole lives. All of you should see that.

  8. anthony Says:

    Dudes, I got published I dnt care. I did something people work for in their whole lives!!

  9. kris Says:

    well sounds to me like a lot of ppl got scammed but look at all the comments and tell me you cant take this to court there is a lot of crimes made while “publishing” this book. i how ever was not a victim but my clase friend was and i know it has to hurt and suck…so like that julia girl sed…lets do something about it.!
    you have how many witnesses and victims and many differently published books that there was no need to pay for.

  10. Tracey Says:

    I too was scammmed. Fortunately at the time, I was younger, didint have the money.

  11. Kathleen Says:

    I sent an email to Lulu poetry which seems to have taken over poetry.com and asked for my poems to be taken off their website,about 2 weeks later I got an email telling me they were changing email system and were working on my request,2 weeks after that I received 6 books I had ordered over a year ago plus 6 books with another poem I had had published and had already received my copy of.I was not charged as my banking details are now not the ones they have.Interesting that the name of the sender was poetry.com and not Lulu poetry.

  12. Heath Says:

    I had a Poem supposedly published in Collected whispers, but i did not pay for the book so i guess that my poem is now ou tthere floating someplace but i was smart and saved the paperwork that stated it was mine. I would like ot know how to get ahold of this company so that u may demand thay take my work off the site. i did not know that they were running a scam but i contacted the library oof congress and had them look up the original title and thats how i know that it was titled Collected whispers. i had submitted 2 poems at the same time if anyone can tell me how to gat ahold of these lyers then let me know plz

  13. Chi Says:

    I had my poem published in the “Collected Whispers” book and I don’t see why people are making it out to be this huge scam. It’s cool to see your work published in a book, with your name and even a short autobiography entry to it. So what if it costs $50.00? I think it’s a cool idea.

  14. Loleta Snow Says:

    I too was a victim to this scam back in 1996. I actually still have the plaque on my wall, dang, I am bummed out now. So for the last 15 YEARS I have thought that I was something when it came to writing because I had been published in the book titled Whispers or Collected Whispers, I was 18, was just graduating high school and I thought I was going places because I was now a published writer. It saddens me that it has happened to so many wonderful people with probably some exceptional talent. How can this be legal? How can we stop this? Surely there is a away.

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