Another day, another poetry scam, which we're adding as a prefix to our main story...
A contributor in the US reports he was recently on stage at a reading with another poet who had won a book deal in a small press publisher's contest.
On his 5th glass of wine the other poet admitted the publisher was an academic friend who had taught him on his MFA and that they "had agreed the book deal months ago and only ran the contest to get the entry fees out of other people" to fund the book. "They didn't read any of the entries," he added!
There is an annoying tendency for trends within US poetry publications and zines to be followed in the UK – for example a number of UK titles have now introduced "reading seasons" – however a Grievous Angel contributor in the US has just alerted Urban Fantasist to what she says is becoming an increasingly common practice in the US, namely the reading fee.
Essentially literary magazines are charging writers a "reading fee" to submit their work – but then don't pay them anything even if their work is accepted and published. Or, at least the only "pay" is a copy of the magazine but you can't cash that at a bank!
Another approach is to ask for a fee if you want a response within a month – and yet others mention the fact they don't charge a fee, as if that is a big deal. The fees are generally small ($3 to $5) but it all adds up, particularly if you are a poet submitting a lot of work. And, as our contributor points out, no one's getting rich writing poems!
We know a lot of UK poetry mags only survive because they charge entry fees for their “competitions” but this takes it to the next step of charging you a fee to merely submit a poem – and with no guarantee it will be published. At least with good old fashioned vanity/pay-to-play publishing you actually get to see see your work in print!
Grievous Angel, incidentally, does NOT charge a reading fee but it DOES pay contributors – with money!