Tuesday, March 06, 2007


This was a message posted by Fee Seivers on the Overloadnation listserv. What she says is entirely true. Generally, it is wise not to enter any writing competition that doesn't offer a monetary prize. This sounds mercenary, but in fact, it's a safeguard against just this kind of explotation. There are similar competitions targeting new poets.

Please read this - it is about poetry!

"This is a warning about a poetry competition targeting all
Australian schools righ now - primary and secondary. It's one of
those 'free comps' disguised as 'vanity publishing' where the
company makes truckloads of money from the anthology they produce.
It's free alright - to enter. And there is a prize. But the other
kids don't get paid anything nor do they get a free book. In fact
it's the opposite. The parents are often stooged into buying the
book for anywhere up to $100. How could you not support your child's
writing success? That's what they rely on.
They neglect to mention the huge costs till the child gets a letter
telling them they are good enough to be published. And the letter is
very persuasive. I have a copy of a letter sent to a 7 year old boy.

The competition is write4fun and the group is the Australasian
Publishing Group. They have been around for a few years now and have
been the centre of debate many times before in the Fair Trades
Commission and in NSW parliament and also warnings in the New
Zealand Education Gazette. The problem keeps getting handballed
becauue, technically, what they are doing isn't illegal. It may be
unethical and underhanded but there are no laws against this.

The website is
(not to be confused with write4fun.com which is also dodgy i believe)
and it looks attractive and teachers promote the free competition
without knowing much about it. Schools are also offered a cash prize
incentive if their student wins first prize. i am also cross with
schools for not checking things out first - many have said they just
didnt think to do that and they didnt have time to.

I have the 2003 anthology - it has over 3000 kids jammed into it. It
is a thick book with a hard cover but dont tell me they dont print
on demand. The layout is not attractive and they use Publisher
clipart throughout. Say no more! That could mean a turnover of over
$300000.00 per competition. They also run a short story and a
drawing competition. AND they run the same ones in USA - surprise
surprise! The say they are based in Qld but who would know - Qld or
USA - same place on the net really.

I hope you all spread this message to anyone with kids so they alert
their schools to this. I imagine many have already entered.
I have spoken to my local MP, Steve Herbert, who has taken on my
concerns and is hoping to get notification out to all schools asap.
There may be media coverage also. This is not the only group who
scam/sham poets and writers. There are others. So beware when
entering competitions. we all know this but unsuspecting non-writers
will have no idea. If something sounds too good to be true - then it
probably is. Nothing much comes for free these days. "


Anonymous said...

Hi Catherine
I was googling you and Dorianne and found your blog. Then i found my name on it. It's Fee from the Courthouse on thursday night. I am also the one who wrote the warning on the kids sham poetry comps.
So thanks for putting it on your blog. They're such mongrels. My local MP is investigating it so hopefully all schools will be warned by next the next comp.

I keep thinking about the last poem you read the other night - it could have been me you had written about. I would love to read it again. Is it published anywhere?

Well - it was nice to meet you and was great to hear you read. I have some of your verse novels and i am kicking myself that i didnt bring them for you to sign.

fee sievers

Anonymous said...

i forgot to say my email adddress
saidanddone@iprimus.com.au in case you wanted to say anything.
I am also an ebay addict!
fee sievers

jad81887 said...

Try this in a search engine : Write4Fun scam + Australasian Publishing Group. Raised in NSW, WA and Vic Parliaments over past eight years. ACCC has notified that it is quite content to allow "operations" to continue.
Parents need to notify schools, education bodies, newspapers and politicians. Far too much free advertising on the web by schools and newspapers.
What a large number of "winners" there are on the web.