Advanced search

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?

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.

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)

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

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


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.

InMySpareTime Wed 02-Oct-13 16:09:03

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.

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?

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.

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

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

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 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.

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.

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.

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)

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 or similar, and selling them for a fiver each at the Christmas fair.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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

This is the website.

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.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now