Poetry Rivals To not buy a book with my daughters "winning" poem

(59 Posts)
coorong Wed 02-Oct-13 06:54:31

All of the KS2 students at my y4 daughter's school submitted poems to what they were told was a national poetry competition with a grand prize of a laptop. I was pleased. Yesterday we had a letter from the competition organisers explaining that my daughters poem had been selected for a "special edition" of poems. I would have to give permission for the poem to appear in the book, and bu the way "would I like to order a copy for £17.95".
I was amazed that she'd done so well, but then confused when my daughter explained almost all of her class, had been specially "chosen".

I rang Poetry rivals, who said 75% of poems submitted gets published, so it's not really a completion - simply vanity publishing tapping I on parents guilt.

I don't want to support this enterprise, what do I do?

Theas18 Wed 02-Oct-13 06:56:52

don't order it! we didn't. it's a scam and it is something I feel the schools should not engage in but they do..

I think we'd got a copy of the poem anyway..

MarjorieAntrobus Wed 02-Oct-13 07:00:51

Don't buy the book. If your daughter is disappointed by that, then explain the scamminess (new word!) of it to her. Maybe let her buy a book for herself from Amazon or bookshop. Also take it up with the school.

SpookyNameChange13 Wed 02-Oct-13 07:01:46

I think everyones poem is 'selected'

cashmiriana Wed 02-Oct-13 07:03:40

My DD1 has had work selected for similar publications for the past 3 years. We've never bought one. It doesn't bother her.

MyThumbsHaveGoneWeird Wed 02-Oct-13 07:07:14

What a total scam! I can't believe the school are supporting it. I would be having words.

cogitosum Wed 02-Oct-13 07:11:51

The worst thing is of 75% 'win' what about the other 25%. That's quite sad for them.

ProfYaffle Wed 02-Oct-13 07:12:07

We've had the same (though thinking about it, I don't remember seeing one last year so maybe they've stopped now) I always just ignore it, and the subsequent reminders. My dds have never really noticed. tbh I found all the fb posts from other parents along the lines of "well done to my clever dc being picked in a national poetry competition" the most upsetting aspect of it.

Pagwatch Wed 02-Oct-13 07:15:23

Oh god . I should send this to my adult neice.
She is an absoloute arse, endlessly posting what she thinks are intellectual musings and poems on Facebook.
She has the emotional depth of a cabbage and no talent.
She could get published. She'd be so happy

StillNoFuckingEyeDeer Wed 02-Oct-13 07:16:03

Don't buy the book. No one will ever read it and they don't deserve your money.

Offer to type up your daughter's poem on nice paper and frame it for her if you think she'll be bothered.

KatOD Wed 02-Oct-13 07:25:22

Come on Pagwatch, give us an example, I'm intrigued.

Btw OP it does sound like a scam. If you don't want it don't buy it... Maybe offer to let your DD choose a pretty (cheap) frame for her poem so you can put it up in the house?

DorisShuttAgainstGhosts Wed 02-Oct-13 07:38:12

I won a local poetry competition when I was young.

Totally useless piece of information and totally not place marking in case Pag posts a poem.

And OP you are NBU. Scams like this exist only because people buy into them - I'd be more inclined to buy if the school did a "school" fund raising version IYSWIM.

ThePuffyShirt Wed 02-Oct-13 07:47:21

These books are just a money making load of old tosh.

When we were naïve, we bought the book for ds1's year. So many parents cottoned on to the fact they'd been conned, the school doesn't participate in it now.

Tattiesthroughthebree Wed 02-Oct-13 07:48:30

Don't buy it. But Poetry Rivals aren't a "scam" in the usual sense of the word. They use the money they raise from this vanity publishing to provide prizes etc for the "next round". DS got through to the second round a couple of years ago, and though he didn't win the laptop he and DH had a nice day out, and met a "real" poet. The 50 who got through to the next round were all given something towards their travel costs to go the event too. (Only £20, IIRC, which didn't cover it, but still, 50 x £20 is £1000 all told.)

So the first round is vanity publishing, but the second round IME isn't.

pierpressure Wed 02-Oct-13 07:54:27

My daughter was thrilled to receive a letter to
Our home address telling her that her poem was
Selected. She was pretty disappointed to get to
School and find that everyone in her class had also
I complained about that and also that the school
Had given the company our home addresses, and
Our school stopped taking part.
Had no idea it still went on, this was 17 years ago !

Tattiesthroughthebree Wed 02-Oct-13 07:54:28

To add - DH thinks they were given £50 towards travel costs, not £20. Still not enough to cover travel for an adult and child from any distance, but a nice gesture.

pierpressure Wed 02-Oct-13 07:58:12

Have no idea why my phone is doing that weird spacing,

PS Pag, my stepsister is similar to your neice.
She has a blog.
I won't read it but my children (quite big now)
torment me by reading bits of that and her self
Important Facebook status out loud,
Toe curling.

Whereas I am an author/storyteller, trying to work with schools to publish anthologies of students work as school fundraisers, and because of these scammers I can't get past the school secretaries.
I can't believe an appreciable number of parents part with £17.50 for these books, my research put the best price point at no more than £5.
Then again, mine's not a competition, just children working together to make a collection of stories, poems and illustrations depending where their talents are.

CeliaFate Wed 02-Oct-13 08:01:02

*She has the emotional depth of a cabbage and no talent.
She could get published. She'd be so happy*
Brilliant! grin

I got conned by one of these, only 4 children from ds' class got picked though. <preens and nurtures obvious genius son>

CeliaFate Wed 02-Oct-13 08:01:16

His poem was quite shit, mind.

diddl Wed 02-Oct-13 08:03:47

Perhaps your daughter's class could just make their own book?

When my son left primary, all the class submitted a piece of work, which was copied, collected & "bound" with a spiral & laminated covers iyswim.

All the kids got one as a memento.

Llareggub Wed 02-Oct-13 08:15:52

Inmysparetime, I went to a primary school that did this for a term. We spent a lot of time writing and illustrating out book with a poet, and then a poet recital for the parents, poor sods.

It must have been nearly 30 years ago. My best friend and I loved learning about haikus and have communicated this way on an occasional basis ever since. Best thing we ever did at primary school.

wonderingsoul Wed 02-Oct-13 08:18:25

my son had this but it wass only a handfull of people who got picked.

i brought the book purely becasue my son wanted to see his work in an actually book. which is priceless imo

i agree yours sounds liek a scam BUT your daughter was picked and ybu not to buy a copy.

coorong Wed 02-Oct-13 08:24:58

Thank you for your replies everyone. I rang Poetry Rivals and asked them how many of the poems submitted get "selected". They said 75%, which is from my understanding, all the poems with parental permission and don't have rude words get through. So there is no selection process. I have ignored the letter and offered to frame the proof they sent home - my daughter is happy with that. I also offered to buy her a book of her choice instead - much better outcome.

Tattiesthroughthebree Wed 02-Oct-13 08:33:02

IME there's no selection process at the printing stage, but of those printed, some get through to a second stage. The lap-top is awarded to the winner of the second stage. At least, that's what happened with DS.
He was invited to an event, at which he had to read his poem in front of an audience. He and DH had a great day out.

yegodsandlittlefishes Wed 02-Oct-13 08:43:09

Talk to the school and suggest it does not reflect well on them to be involved with something like this. Or at least they could do this in house and raise some funds for the school!

yegodsandlittlefishes Wed 02-Oct-13 08:46:38

Come to think of it, there is an opportunity there for someone to organise this sort of thing for schools, with each child's poem (or drawing) put in a book and parents can pre order the books...funds going to the school with a voucher for the star author and artist.

The cynic in me thinks those children whose parents buy the book have a greater chance of going through.

Glad you found a solution you and DD are happy with.

Tattiesthroughthebree Wed 02-Oct-13 09:45:18

Horry, possibly. But we thought DS's poem was good and, although we thought the purchase price was ridiculously over-inflated, they are obviously putting some / quite a lot of the money raised back into providing a prize (a lap-top) and a nice event, with a contribution towards travel costs etc.

WilsonFrickett Wed 02-Oct-13 09:48:30

I would also be complaining to the school about this. That's 17.50 that other parents won't have to spend on actual school fundraising. And I'd also be exceptionally miffed that school have passed my address on to an external company...

Spaulding Wed 02-Oct-13 09:52:08

These companies must be making a mint. This kind of thing was going on 15 years go when I had my poem published. Along with the rest of my class. My parents bought the book, myself and all my friends thought it was great that our poems were in an actual book, and none of us clocked on to the fact it was a scam. So I can understand why some parents buy these books. Gives their children a bit of a boost. But that money just allows these scams to carry on. One friend wrote on FB a few months ago how proud she was of her son for getting his poem published. A few mums commented that their children had been chosen too. They all seemed really proud and hadn't cottoned on it it being a scam. So there will always be parents willing to hand their money over.

Sorry Tatties I didn't mean it to sound like they wouldn't judge the ultimate winners on merit, just that if they are starting with eleventy squillion poems they might be tempted to bin the ones that hadn't bought the book as a kind of first filter, on the grounds that those parents would be more likely/able to afford costs associated with later rounds such as travel etc.

Gatekeeper Wed 02-Oct-13 10:00:59

We did this a couple of years ago and didn't bother again. £17.95 for a very amateurishly printed book and £2.95 for bloody postage!! They didn't even send it direct to me but sent the whole lot in a box to the school to be handed out there. Complete rip off

puds11isNAUGHTYnotNAICE Wed 02-Oct-13 10:03:15

I remember my sister being published in a book like this although it was for prayers.

Her prayer was thanking god for her hamster confused

Tattiesthroughthebree Wed 02-Oct-13 10:06:23

This is the website. www.poetryrivals.com/under-16s/

When they say "provides an opportunity to be published" it means "guaranteed publication in a pricey book" but the Slam Final is real, as are the prizes.

Tattiesthroughthebree Wed 02-Oct-13 10:13:35

I get your point, Horry - I wasn't offended! And we bought TWO copies of the book - one for Granny as well as one for us!! Guaranteed place in the final!

For us, it was great. DS practised a lot as he was nervous about speaking in front of an audience, and he got a lot out of the whole experience.

I hadn't heard of the "well-known" poet on the judging panel, but I googled him and he was a genuine poet.

Aniseeda Wed 02-Oct-13 10:37:52

We were sucked in by this once and bought not one, not two but three, yes three copies so that each set of GPs could have one (I think they were more like £12 each as it was a few years ago but still!!)

My son wasn't picked for the next round sad


The idea of schools making their own books for fundraising is a great one. I'd have much rather paid a fiver for a book with poems by children I actually vaguely knew (of course my own DC poem would have been the best!) and the money gone direct to school funds.

DeWe Wed 02-Oct-13 11:40:07

Is this that Writers thing under a different name? Certainly sounds like that.

quoteunquote Wed 02-Oct-13 13:10:08

How mean, so 75% of a class get picked and 25% of the class don't just to keep up the illusion of a competition.

Ask the school to stop exploiting the children.

and look into self publishing and do a class book.

amazing that these companies are allowed near children.

MmeLindor Wed 02-Oct-13 13:14:41

You could ask the school if they would consider putting all the poems onto a Class Blog. Not for a prize, but just for the fun of it.

exexpat Wed 02-Oct-13 13:15:52

I'm amazed that schools are still doing this, but I would guess that somewhere along the line they get a cut of the proceeds or some kind of reward in the form of equipment, books etc that makes them do it.

I think it's a complete rip-off, and schools would do much better putting together their own anthologies on lulu.com or similar, and selling them for a fiver each at the Christmas fair.

exexpat Wed 02-Oct-13 13:16:46

(I'm a mean mummy who refused to order the books, by the way - I explained to the DCs how it worked, and they weren't bothered)

Tattiesthroughthebree Wed 02-Oct-13 13:37:31

The books are a total rip-off; there's no way the books are worth £17.95. And Poetry Rivals should be a lot more up-front about the fact that the prizes are funded by vanity publishing.

But it is a real competition - one of the entries will win the lap top. I'm glad DS's school took part, because DS and DH had a really nice day attending the final.

I don't know if schools get a cut of the proceeds or not, but this is what the web-site offers as an inducement to take part - prepared lesson plans.

CloverkissSparklecheeks Wed 02-Oct-13 14:50:34

Oh how funny, my particularly boastful friend put this on facebook about how her son had been selected for this (to go in the book not the selection bit after). Sorry I know that sounds mean but she does drive us insane with her FB boasting about her DS.

CloverkissSparklecheeks Wed 02-Oct-13 14:57:54

Young writers anthology is the other one, same sort of thing. There was a thread on MN a couple of years ago where they actually responded to explain what they did.

MissStrawberry Wed 02-Oct-13 15:03:25

Years ago my poem was picked for a book to be sold in Waterstones. I had believed it was picked because it was good. I have 3 copies of he book on my shelf (mine, DH's late Nana's copy). sad


CloverkissSparklecheeks Wed 02-Oct-13 15:21:24

Oh Miss Strawberry, I am sure yours was picked due to your amazing writing talent!!!

whois Wed 02-Oct-13 15:27:34

Oh me and my parents got conned by this at school many years ago. You know what though, it WAS a dam good poem. And I still like that it is in a book. Think it was 'spellbound' or something that was doing it back then.

Tavv Wed 02-Oct-13 15:58:13

YANBU. How about the school making a book of children's poems to raise funds for the school, instead of lining the pockets of the vanity publishers?

I've approached schools, with worked pricings showing how much goes on printing costs (40%) how much goes to school funds (20%) and my cut for the workshop and helping the children edit it all together (40%).
They've all been burned by the scammers and won't go for it, even at £5 a book and no "competition" aspect.
It's a shame, because it's a good idea but the greed of companies like that means the schools are missing out on potentially hundreds of pounds of fundraising opportunity without the need to fleece parents.

Pawprint Wed 02-Oct-13 16:36:50

There are various poetry competition scams. In general, they tend to offer large prizes, such as lap tops etc. Most genuine poetry competitions could not afford to offer big prizes.

Nothing wrong with vanity publishing, as long as it doesn't pretend to be what it isn't. Beware of any poetry organisation that boasts about big prizes or which asks you to buy expensive copies of the 'books' it sells.

There is a poet called Peter Finch who has worked for years to expose publishing scams - he once randomly chose some words out of the Yellow Pages, sent them off as a poem and received a letter praising his 'work' and offering him a publishing 'deal' that was, in fact, a scam.

Nothing wrong with self publishing - lots of poets and writers do this and it can be great fun, as long as it isn't too expensive.

I am a published poet and have earned practically nothing in monetary terms - most poets earn very little from their writing. The Poetry Society is an excellent resource for addresses of genuine publishers.

It seems particularly odious, to me, that these scammers are targeting children. If the poem is, in fact, publishable by a reputable magazine, but is published by a scammer, then the poem usually won't be accepted by a genuine publisher.

propertyNIGHTmareBEFOREXMAS Wed 02-Oct-13 16:43:59


Tattiesthroughthebree Wed 02-Oct-13 21:22:56

Pawprint you say "There are various poetry competition scams. In general, they tend to offer large prizes, such as lap tops etc. Most genuine poetry competitions could not afford to offer big prizes"

It's precisely because of the vanity publishing of all entries that Poetry Rivals can afford to offer lap tops as prizes.

HooverFairy Wed 02-Oct-13 21:54:38

Aw we fell for this a few years ago, we entered year 7 into a poetry competition and the same thing happened. Luckily, a quick thinking colleague had photocopied all of the entries so when they wanted to charge parents for a copy of the book we decided to offer an alternative. We created a little book with all the poems in and 'sold' it for a voluntary donation - we used the funds towards little 'prizes' for the students (I think that first year it was an engraved pen or something). We felt truly terrible for the children because we'd really hyped it up as a chance to be a professional writer and the company were just a massive scam. Horrible behaviour.


Pawprint Thu 03-Oct-13 03:36:36

Tatties yes, that is what I meant. These organisations charge high prices for cheaply made books, so can offer big prizes.

Walkacrossthesand Thu 03-Oct-13 04:30:32

We bought the book when my daughters poem was 'chosen' 10 years ago, and I/she still gets a letter every year or so now, inviting her to submit a poem to the next 'opportunity'. Routinely ignored - but I hadn't thought of the data protection aspect of the school passing on our address.Glad that schools are realising what this is about and refusing to engage.

gamerchick Thu 03-Oct-13 05:00:41

My teen had stuff printed a couple of times but I refused to buy the book until it was a couple of quid on amazon. The other book is still a silly price a few years on.

The books are cheaply made looking come to think of it.

fuzzpig Thu 03-Oct-13 07:06:50

YANBU. So glad my DCs' school doesn't participate in this shite - it's infants though so will be on the lookout for this in juniors. £17.95 indeed hmm - you can do one off self-publishing online for less than that AFAIK, if you really wanted to see your child's work in print - you could club together with other parents.

The only "buy your child's work" thing the infants school has done was one piece of artwork, all the children did a very special themed piece (is not just random painting/drawing), and they had them all framed cheaply and held an art exhibition in the school hall for a week which we could browse after school. You then bought your child's painting for a tenner. That was brilliant, and DD's picture is still in pride of place smile I hope they do it again (I have a feeling they do it only once every 3 years so each child only does it once)

Tattiesthroughthebree Thu 03-Oct-13 07:32:41

Pawprint, from my point of view, as the parent of a child who was one of the 50 finalists a couple of years ago, it was a "real" competition. DS didn't win the lap top, but getting through to the Poetry Slam was a great experience for him. He loves writing, and Poetry Rivals was a good thing for him.

We had a good look at the website before we bought the books, so we knew what it was. Although they don't use the term "vanity publishing" on their website, it's not hard to see exactly what the deal is - they publish the lot, and use the money raised to fund the thing. I'd be surprised if they were actually making much money out of it.

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