Similar to the online forums mentioned above, some of these self-publishing companies will sponsor "free" contests that are really lead-generation devices for aggressive marketing campaigns, or worse.
Copyright your manuscript before submitting, to reduce the risk of piracy.
"We recently discovered and we believe it has the potential to be a national bestseller.
Your book comes highly recommended and is precisely the kind of book we have had the most success selling." Well, gee.
Also be wary of contests that assert derivative rights over all winning or submitted entries, such as the right to make and distribute audio/video versons or translations.
Reputable contests may ask writers for a license to reproduce their work in other media, but it should always be clear that the writer retains creative control over the end product and the right to terminate the license.
The Poets Literary Agency - Avoid We feel this site is a bad deal for poets because it misrepresents how the poetry publishing market works.
Reputable publishing houses use contests and open submission periods to find new poets. The trade shows and mass mailings that Poets Literary Agency mentions may be valuable for commercial nonfiction, but are not a normal publicity channel for poetry.
Winning Writers newsletter editor Jendi Reiter, author of the poetry collection !
", the letter purported to be a "special invitation" to participate in a national publicity campaign, including television commercials, full-color glossy newspaper inserts, interviews on local radio shows, and telemarketing calls encouraging bookstores to stock her book. While overpriced publicity services are nothing new, we felt this personalized letter crossed an ethical line by creating a false appearance of selectivity.