13 warning signs of a bad poetry contest
Are you or your children interested in entering poetry contests? It’s easy to fall prey to a slick scam, so hang onto your doubloons and watch for these warning signs.
13 Warning Signs of a Bad Poetry Contest
The main goal of a bad poetry contest appears to be extracting money from poets rather than honoring excellence. Bad contests typically show several of these warning signs. When in doubt, Winning Writers offers a list of contests to avoid.
- Unusually large number and size of cash awards (e.g., $58,000/year)
- Contest sponsor tries hard to sell you products that incorporate your work, such as vanity anthologies.
- Contest is free to enter, but ‘winners’ have to pay a high price for own copy of book
- Contest turns up on “Scam Warning” pages when you search for it with Google
- Hard to contact sponsor with questions – responses are slow or evasive
- Low standards – not choosy about who gets published
- Name is close to that of a prestigious contest but for a small difference
- Prize is not money or publication, but ‘agency representation’ or something you must pay for
- Hard to find the work of past winners to judge their quality for yourself
- Small prize relative to reading fee (e.g., $5 fee for a $50 top prize)
- Advertised in mass market magazines (Parade) and newspapers (Sunday comics) unrelated to poetry
- You win a prize – but have to pay to attend a convention to receive it
- Only short poems (30 lines or less) are accepted – the better to pack them into an anthology
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