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Writing Tips for Fiction Writers!


2 free books from!
  Winning With
by Lee Masterson

(Summary copied from
Summary: We have received dozens of complaints about this firm. They make it look like a big honor to "win"...and then you have to pay for the book your poem appears in. Then they send additional offers to try to get you to buy other things with your poem on it. One of our readers sent in a fake poem of gibberish to them and was accepted.

At about the same time I saw this summary on, I read these posts from The-Write-List on yahoogroups:

Bobbi (from writes:
Is there anything so bad that even Poetry.Com rejects it?
To test this theory, I dug out a limerick I had written in the third grade, and entered it.
Low and behold, what should arrive in the mail today? A letter from Poetry.Com informing me that my poem was selected for publication "because of its unique perspective" and my "artistic vision." What's more, they believe it will "add to the importance and appeal of this edition."
Okay, so what's the piece of literary gold that has the Poetry.Com guys so excited? Feast your eyes on "Golden Fried":

I was sitting by the window side
When I heard my sister who cried
She was cooking that day
When the ceiling gave way
And I found her braids golden fried

Need I say more??
Sandra writes:
I don’t really have a horror story about, but it was my first disillusionment in the publishing world, and a valuable lesson on vanity publishers. I submitted a poem for a contest some time ago.

The poem I submitted wasn’t even a favourite of my not very good poems, so I was very surprised, and a little excited, when I got a letter informing me that my poem was a runner up for the ten thousand dollar prize, and would appear in their anthology, “Sold in all the better book stores.” They offered to sell me the anthology, of course, but said my poem would be in it, whether I bought it or not. All I had to do is sign a release for them to publish the poem. I sent the release, but not the order form for the book.

I sent in another poem, and, lo and behold, it was runner up too!! I ignored the letter. A couple of weeks later, I got another letter from regarding the first poem I submitted. They informed me, once again, that my poem was runner up, and would appear in the anthology, if I just signed and returned the release, which I had sent weeks before, and I didn’t even have to buy the book. I threw it in the trash. I guess they would have sent the same letter over and over, until I buckled and bought the book.
Heather Froeschl writes:
Oh boy, I can beat that story! A writer friend of mine and member of my live writers group, put those folks to the test as well. She composed various poems (horrid examples) and sent them in, in the names of her horse and her dog (about being such animals, no less.) They both were honored and were invited to attend the "gala". Now wouldn't that have been interesting...a dog and a horse being presented with the books they paid dearly to be in.

These anecdotes simultaneously amused and alarmed me. After all, isn't this the site which promises more than $58,000 in prize money to poets from around the world? And isn't the home of the famous $10,000 poetry contest?
I thought it would be a curious exercise to learn a little more about this site for myself...

My German Shepherd dog's name is Cooper. He just became a VERY bad poet, using a brand new email address I created for him with Hotmail. (I wonder if he's the only email-receiving net-surfing poetry-writing dog in the world??) I am eagerly awaiting Cooper's "prize notification". I'm sure he'll be thrilled. And you can be sure I will post an immediate update right here, so you will all know what happens too.

 While I was submitting Cooper's monstrosity/debut, I took the liberty of "borrowing" some of the information from their site - to save you the bother of searching through it yourself, of course!  

For the privilege of publishing a book of my own poems, the pricing amounts listed on are as follows:

For a 60 page book of your own poems:
100 Copies for $1049.95   (plus $30 p&h)
For an 80 page book of your own poems:
100 Copies for $1129.95   (plus $35 p&h)  
For a 100 page book of your own poems:
100 Copies for $1209.95   (plus $40 p&h)
These prices include typesetting and color cover

For those prices my book-package would want to include a naked life-sized bio-degradable inflatable replica of Oded Fehr and a trip to Europe too!
But back to the pricing guide...

Contents: Title and Copyright pages must be the first 2 pages of your book. A page is one side of a sheet. Your book must be between 60 and 100 pages. Books exceeding chosen length can be edited, or can be ordered at the higher page count. (Example: a 70-page book can be edited down to 60 pages, or ordered as an 80-page book.   I want my book professionally edited before I receive my first proof. I understand that I can make any changes I want after this is done. (Please add $100)

If you choose to use your own Cover Design (Enclose camera-ready art and $20)
(If using a photograph as your cover design, you only pay for the photo as indicated below.)
____ b/w or color photographs on the back cover (add $20 each)
____ b/w or color photographs on the front cover (add $20 each)

Optional Illustration Charges
Please fill in the number of illustrations inside the book.
____ illustrations provided (add $10 each)
____ Artfind: illustrations we find for you (add $15 each)
____ your own art (add $12 each)
____ your own color or black and white photos (add $15 each)
(Color pictures or photos inside your book will be reproduced in black and white.)

Also available on the site, you can order your very own sweatshirt or mouse pad or greeting cards, all printed with your poem on them, all for a nice fee, of course. Now, if they had offered a doggy-dinner dish...

So far it sounds like a rather expensive exercise. On the site, I read with horror lots more stories from people who had had dealings with From one of these, I learned that once a poem has been accepted, it is usual for the operators to strongly suggest that the author attend a course to 'strengthen' his or her writing.  

I took the time to read and re-read the course outline, and nowhere on the curriculum does it detail the operator's credentials. But here's the fees anyway.  

I understand that my enrollment fee in this course--$329 plus $12.00 P&H ($329 plus $27 P&H for non-US residents)--covers everything . . . all modules . . . all study guides . . . all tapes or CDs . . . the personalized evaluation of my work by my instructor . . . the final exam . . . everything I need to graduate . . . and, upon successful completion of the course requirements, my Laureate Certificate, mounted on a walnut-finish plaque. I understand that my satisfaction is assured by your 30-day money-back guarantee.  

For more 'stories' about from actual authors who have had dealings with this company, check this out:  

We received so many complaints about that we forwarded info. directly to the Maryland State Attorney General. They wrote right back to us and asked all individuals who have complaints about this firm to contact them directly here:

Tara B. Letwinsky
Mediation Supervisor, Consumer Protection Division
Office of the Maryland Attorney General
200 St. Paul Place, 16th Floor
Baltimore, MD 21202
Phone (410) 576-6304
Fax (410) 576-7040

I will end by reminding anyone who reads this that the golden rule among all writers should be this:

Money Flows TO the Author - Never the Other Way Around!

And watch this space for the update on how Cooper's poetic debut fares on  


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