More contests, anyone?
Thousand Dollar Poetry
There are lots of ads for poetry contests especially in the states of California, Texas, Maryland and New Mexico that claim to offer a one thousand dollar prize to the "winner".
These contests are not legit and the only people who make money are the organizer(s) of these so called competitions. Don't despair if you have been caught up in the propaganda even if you have paid what seems like an endless amount of money for entrance fees. With common sense and a phone call or two you can find out if these competitions are worth your time, energy and money.
The scenario usually goes like this: The organizers have established a "non profit" corporation and often have a 501-C3 status which enables them to be tax-exempt and means they can collect your entrance fees, usually on a fabricated sliding scale, according to the number of lines or the number of poems you submit for the competition.
For example; a ten dollar entry fee is requested for sixty lines of poetry or a twenty dollar fee for anything over sixty lines, thirty dollars for anything over one hundred and twenty lines and so on. These fees might seem reasonable if you believe your money is going into "the pot" as part of the monetary awards or you believe by sending in more money you have a greater chance of "winning" but do you really believe this? In this case, why not spend your dollars on the lottery or go to Vegas, either way you are merely throwing money into the wind.
Literary awards are not bought, but earned. If you believe in your work and want to be published, or recognized as a writer these "prize winning" competitions will impede your goal and will not impress editors and publishers of literary publications.
Think of the money you might have "invested" in these endeavors and where it could be better spent. Instead of dreaming of success, be successful. Start setting realistic goals which are beneficial to establishing yourself as a writer. Contact university presses, get involved with poetry venues and make an effort to meet successful writers. These are the people who know the nuts and bolts of publishing.
Establish yourself with local, regional and state-wide venues, start investing your money, time and efforts wisely. Instead of throwing dollar after dollar into vanity press or competitions, use your money for travel to established venues where there is an opportunity to share your work with writers, editors and publishers of respected publications.
One source for information concerning the value and esteem of any publication is your local university. Not every publication which offers a copyright, an ISBN number or an ISSN number, as an "incentive" to publish with their company or corporation, is a indication of your "success" as a writer.
If that were the case anyone who has invested money in organizations such as the infamous Poetry.com and its hundreds of short-lived subsidaries would be a successful writer and this my friend, is an absolutely ridiculous assumption.
Remember: You don't have to pay to "win".
Deborah Russell, © 2006