Posted by: Kathy Temean | March 17, 2010

Contests to Avoid

A couple days ago, I listed a couple of poetry contests you could enter that did not require a fee to enter.  One was from Winning Writers.  While surfing their site I found a list of contests you should avoid.  I thought I would share it with you.

We suggest you avoid the following contests and organizations. Many appear to be disguised vanity publishers, whose goal is to sell you expensive personalized products and attract you to conferences. Others may charge you membership or service fees for which the benefits are questionable, or which can be obtained elsewhere for free. Winning prizes from these organizations will add little to your resume, and may even make you look amateurish to publishers and other poets.

America Library of Poetry
The Amherst Society
Cader Publishing
Circle of Poets
Famous Poets Society
Greenspring Publishing
Iliad Press (an imprint of Cader Publishing)
Iliad Literary Awards Program
International Library of Photography (aka, read public comments)
JMW Publishing Company
League of American Poets (
The National Archives
The Nashville International Song and Lyric Competition (aka Paramount Group)
Paramount Group (aka International Library of Photography, read public comments)
Poetry Institute of Africa
Poetry Laureates
Poetry Press
Poetry Revival Contest
Poetry Unlimited
The Poets’ Guild (see spoof contest entry and response; appears to be defunct)
Sparrowgrass Poetry Forum
Stamford Research
TA.TI. Edizioni
White Oak Press (aka Poetry America)

The most common pitch is to make poets buy their anthologies as a condition of publication. Publishers in this category include: Famous Poets Society, Sparrowgrass Poetry Forum, The Amherst Society, The Poets’ Guild, Poetry Press, Poetry Unlimited, The National Archives, and JMW Publishing. Others try to sell you services, such as manuscript editing or agency representation.

Vanity contests are characterized by low standards, and are willing to publish most of the submissions they receive (typically half or more). They primarily market their publications to the contestants themselves, often at high prices. Few copies are sold to independent buyers or libraries. A vanity contest is not necessarily a “scam”. It may well disclose its terms and selection procedures fully and accurately. Nevertheless, all of the contests above are a waste of your time. There are plenty of better ones to submit to, selective contests that want to promote good work to a wider audience.

Click this link to find out more about contests and a few agencies and publishers to avoid.



  1. Kathy, thanks for posting this. I remember, many years ago, entering a contest and they did the “anthology” thing. I remember it seemed like a catch, but they’re feeding on the ignorance of newcomers or those who simply want to see their name/work in print. It’s so sad we have to always be skeptical.

    On another note—tomorrow I’m finally getting around to actually ACTING on the other contests (poetry and short story ones) you posted. Here’s hoping anyone of us entering here’s some good news 🙂


    • Donna,

      It is sad that we always have to have doubts in the back of our minds about everything. I’m so glad you are entering something for the contests. It would be so cool if you won.

      Good luck!



  2. I think this happened to my daughter in the 5th grade through the teacher. She had a poem published with about half the students, and we bought the book. I understand it better now, but I was very proud then and kinda still am. Is that silly?


    • Chris,

      I don’t think it is silly. I probably gave your daughter a lot of encouragement and you have the book to pass down. I just hope it didn’t cost too much.



  3. Kathy, Thanks!


    • Mary,

      I saw your post on David’s blog about how in real life we are horrified by mice, but yet, they are so loveable in children’s books. I never really thought about that, but you are right. Thanks for making me think.



  4. […] contests are good, right? Well, maybe not all. Kathy Temean offers a list of writing contests you’ll want to avoid and she tells you […]


  5. I thought I’d let you know that Greenspring has apparently closed. Clicking on their website simply brings up a page to tell you they are out of business and that you will receive a refund.

    There are reputable publishers out there – and it’s worth the pride your child feels to have their poem published to find them and participate!


    • Raven,

      There are lots of good places to submit your childs writing. What a gift it is to give them a place where they can feel successful writing. The Young Authors and Artists Group is a good place for a child who likes to write. They help them learn the skills they need to get published and they point them towards places to send their work.



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