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.
For far less money than Airleaf is charging, you can hire an assistant to help you schedule readings and network with booksellers, if you don't have time to do everything yourself.
Pick up a copy of Carolyn Howard-Johnson's for some creative ideas.
We suggest you avoid the following contests and organizations.
Many appear to be disguised vanity publishers, whose goal is to sell you expensive personalized products and attract you to conferences.Publishers in this category include: Famous Poets Society, Sparrowgrass Poetry Forum, The Amherst Society, The Poets' Guild, Poetry Press, Poetry Unlimited, The National Archives, and JMW Publishing.Others try to sell you services, such as manuscript editing or agency representation.Moreover, their critique fee (reported to be as of October 2006) is suspiciously high, especially when it's not obvious that the staff has any literary (as opposed to marketing) credentials.High-Priced Book Promotion Services Poets and other small press authors should be on the lookout for marketing schemes that charge high fees for book publicity services of dubious value.Some online contests require you to post an entire book-length manuscript for reader votes; this may prevent you from shopping the manuscript elsewhere if it does not win the contest, because it would already be considered "published".Other contests assert the right to publish all entries without notice or compensation, which is not a good deal for writers and not a normal practice among reputable contests.Vanity contests are characterized by low standards, and are willing to publish most of the submissions they receive (typically half or more).They primarily market their publications to the contestants themselves, often at high prices.We'd like to think so, but poetry books that aren't written by pop stars or ex-presidents rarely achieve that level of commercial success.The total mismatch between these extravagant promises and the type of book being promoted makes us very suspicious of Airleaf's claim that "we have invited a very select group of authors and are accepting just the first 25." More likely they generated a letter like this for everyone on their mailing list who had a book out.