There’s more than one type of scam in the publishing world. Sure, there are crooked “publishers” but there are also other cons to beware of. Contests. There are a TON of contests out there, for any kind of writing you can think of. And that’s well and good, if they’re on the up and up.
Some contests exist only to gather the fees an author pays to enter. Others are sneakier. They contact you and say that your submission was great, but didn’t win. So, since your work was so good, they offer to put it in an anthology. Great! But then they tell you that if you want a copy, you’ve got to buy it. And if you want your profile included, you have to pay even more. And if you want to buy copies for your friends and family, you can do that. At a slightly reduced price.
Don’t fall for it. It’s a scam. The only reason for the anthology is to get you, the author, to pay for books that it cost them nothing to publish.
Contests are a fine thing. They can help an author get notices, and wins look good on a resume. I’m not saying to avoid all of them. I’m just saying to research them. Google’s a good start, but the internet is a big place. It can be overwhelming.
Instead of chasing down each and every contest to see if they’re legit, it’s better to start out with a resource that lists the ones that are legit. I suggest The Writer’s Market. You can find it in the resources section of your local library, or you can subscribe online. It comes out every year, with invaluable information. They list agents (and tell you what they represent and how to approach them), legitimate publishers and how to approach them (most won’t talk to you without an agent, so that’s probably the best section to start with). They give you the contact information for magazines in which you can publish your stories and poems to get a foot in the door.
And they have a whole section of nothing but contests you can enter. What style (poem, shorts, etc), what genre (fiction, horror, erotica, lit fic, YA, etc), how much it costs to enter, and how to go about it.
Be careful, people. The publishing world is a wonderful place, but it’s not without its potholes.
Source: Beware the Con Artists