Have you heard about Wergle Flomp Poetry Competition? It was inspired by David Taub’s alto ego, Wergle Flomp. Despite penning the deliberately garbled monstrosity, Nicky Nacky Nu, Taub still managed to get published by the International Library of Poetry (a.k.a. poetry.com). Read David’s take on the now defunct poetry.com here.
Scams in the publishing industry have only multiplied over the years. And, the ways scammers have been conning writers and authors have become far more underhanded…and sophisticated.
WAS YOUR WORK REJECTED…OR NOT?
Rejection is one of the worst, but most crucial, aspects of writing. In-depth feedback from an editor can tell you where you are going wrong, highlight bad habits, and inevitably make you a much better writer. It’s useful and diplomatic to take each rejection by the horns.
However, some rejections are not helpful at all. Rejections that anger me are the ones full of insulting epithets or shaming. Those may make writers avoid the publication’s website at all costs in the future. However, what if your story was never really rejected at all?
I received a rejection letter from a literary publication in 1998. Thinking nothing of it, I went on with my life. Fifteen years later, while doing a Google search of my name, I found my name and poems on the publication’s website. Unfortunately, I can’t sue them for copyright infringement now due to the statute of limitations.
Despite writer’s fears, this is relatively rare. My best advice is to periodically glance at publications that have rejected your work – just in case. Sometimes, the scam publishers will even change the writer’s name to make the articles more difficult for the victims to find.
If you are scammed in this manner, don’t hesitate to:
- Demand payment AND the removal of your work
- Send them an invoice for the unauthorized use of your copyrighted work
- Report them to the Better Business Bureau website
WHEN THEY ‘RE HIRING…BUT NOT REALLY
This problem in the industry is not so much a scam, but tends to waste writers’ time. When I read something like “500 Amazing Publications That Pay You,” I get a bit cynical. Often, links to these publications are mere data dumps, without any vetting process. Writers spend time crafting pitches, only to find the publication is defunct, or has certain limitations on submissions.
I sent submissions to two websites I found through one of those lists. When I took a closer look at the firms’ websites, however, I discovered that the latest articles were from 2018 and earlier. The best way to avoid disappointment is to check the latest article published, and contact the publication.
For some reason, many publications keep their websites running even if they’re no longer in business.
FORCED “PRICING PACKAGES”
Problems concerning sites like Fiverr and Upwork have been written about a lot. One more added nuance to applying for jobs online using some sites for freelancers is that they may require tiered packaging for clients. It’s very difficult to quote a flat fee up front for writing jobs. The work and the client must first be assessed before you will have any idea of what the job will entail.
DISCRIMINATION, BUT NOT IN THE WAY YOU THINK
Finally, I was blacklisted by one publication for my political beliefs. But, they first gave me unacceptable work conditions in an attempt to make me quit. While it’s a publisher’s or editor’s prerogative on who they choose to work with, it is a good idea to avoid discussing politics in a business setting. And, if a publication is political in any way, don’t send them queries that will not adhere to their specific political ideas.
- 12 Ways To Get Quickly Rejected By An Editor By Angela Hoy
- Just Because I Rejected Your Manuscript Doesn’t Mean I’m a Racist, Homophobe, Anti-Semite, etc. By Angela Hoy
- From “Professional” Writer to Whiny Internet Troll (or, How to Get an Editor to Shelve Your Work Even After They’ve Paid for It!) – by Brian Whiddon
- Don’t Spew Venom At Editors After Rejection By Angela Hoy
- Don’t Argue With Editors After Rejection By Angela Hoy
- Has Your Writing Been Rejected? At Least Your Hand Didn’t Get Chopped Off! By B J Bassett
- Query Rejected? You May Not Have to Take No for an Answer By John K. Borchardt
- No Rejection Slips: Sub-contract Article Assignments By L. L. Star
Kerry Martin Millan is a freelance journalist from Australia. She writes about health, social justice and freelance writing. Cooking and massage therapy helps with the ebbs and flows of writing.