Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Short Story Scam, the Poetry Con

I will now prostrate myself before all of those aspiring short story writers and poets who must endure the bunko game of trying to get published in little magazines so they might, might, one day see a book in print that might, might sell 1,000 copies. It's a mighty honorable pursuit, considering that even if they get published in a respected University quarterly or some such, they will be paid squat a year later (or better yet, recieve five copies of the magazine in lieu of payment) and find a very captive audience in their parents.

That's if they get lucky. What mostly happens to these noble strivers is they become prey to one of the biggest scams on the planet - vanity publishing. The Oxycontin trade has got nothing on the vanity publishing jip, which is a ripe forum for all kinds of used-car salesmen to take advantage of desperate artists with nasty pay-for-play scams.

Case in point: A few months ago I submitted a short story to a few magazines (this doesn't happen often, mind you) and shortly thereafter, I started getting the most odious spam in my mailbox. The following is a small taste of the kind of crap that desperate writers find waiting for them along with their morning coffee and rejection letter placemats:

Dear Marc,

Ever wonder what other people think about your poetry?

Do you have the artistic ability to emotionally affect others with your words?

Would you like to get highly personal and honest feedback that will help you improve your craft?

Would you like to make lots of friends with whom you can share stimulating discussions about your poetry?

Would you like to win actual physical awards with real monetary value for your poetic efforts?

Start getting highly detailed and personal reviews of your poetry within minutes!

Now your poetry can be published on The Poets' Workshop--where, within minutes, you can receive feedback from other poets and writers on the quality and character of your work. Honest, forthright and helpful reviews that will help you hone your craft, and will quickly move you into the ranks of world class emerging poets with solid critiques behind their works.

Get started for FREE! (it takes about 10 seconds).

Please do not reply to this message. If you no longer wish us to notify you of poetic events that we believe may be of interest to you, please click here, or go to http://www.poetry.com/nl/stopemail.asp.

The Poets' Workshop * One Poetry Plaza * Owings Mills, MD 21117

3 comments:

Elizabeth said...

When I was in high school I was up late night and saw that informercial that tells you that you might be a great artist and they would send you an 'art test' to find out. You know, the one with the turtle you color in. Unfortunately, I signed up and I never got my art test in the mail. I think im still getting spam snail mail from that phone call I made.

In that documentary about Harry Crumb, his really crazy, creepy friend who sleeps on a bed on nails and eats string, signed up for the same test. I was thrilled to see that he got his hands on one. I think he said someone came to his door with it. What he did to that turtle was one of the most memorable visual experiences of my life. If i remember correctly, he said it freaked out the guy who came back to collect it. Not that that has anything to do with vanity publishing.

MW said...

ah yes...the vanity art con! i remember that cute little skunk well ...it was on the back page of every comic i read as a kid!

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