Creative Communication: Scamming a child

“Mommy, I won, I won”.  Mika rushed out of her 4th grade classroom today, paper in hand, a huge smile on her face, happy and proud of herself.  She’d won a poetry contest, she told me, almost out of breath in her excitement.

I knew immediately what it was.  I had read about poetry scams years before, understood well how they work.  They ask you to submit a poem (many advertise in magazines) for a “prestigious contest”.  Some time later you’ll hear that your poem has been selected to be published – trouble is that if you inquire further, you’ll find out it will be published in a  volume only marketed to the authors of the poems and that there is almost no selectivity as to what poems are published.  Creative Communication admits publishing about half of all the poems it gets, and does not explain how the selection process works or who the “judges” are.  They sell the book for $26.40.

I was not aware that my daughter had entered this contest at school last year.  Creative Communication apparently uses teachers to get their students to submit their poems.  I am sure that my daughter’s teacher thought it was legit.

I was torn about telling Mika that her contest was a scam, but when she asked if I’d buy the book, I asked her whether she wanted me to tell her the truth about the contest.  Mika is very mature for her age and I try to be very honest with her, but she was so excited that I didn’t want to crush her.  But she wanted the truth and she got it.  She felt bad, disappointed, taken.  She even wrote about it on her new blog and e-mailed her friend to warn her.  I hate that that slimy company got to hurt my child.  It is just unconscionable to play with the feelings of such young children, exploit their emotions and profit from the naivete.  These are children, for God’s sake!  And parents, of course, many of whom probably cannot afford the overpriced volume but will feel they’re failing their children if they don’t.

If there was a hell, there would be a special place for the owners of Creative Communication and other companies of the sort.  I will, of course, inform our daughter’s teacher (principal and school district) of this scam.


  1. Tom Worthen

    I just came across your blog concerning your daughter and my heart goes out to you. I am the editor at Creative Communication and your story is the last thing that we would ever want to have happen.There are a lot of scams that just want to take money and publish everything. We are educators. I am a university professor and also teach at a middle school. Our judges are educators or going into education at Utah State University. We are proud that we are a resource to motivate and inspire student writers. Please contact me if you have any questions. I am so sorry that you jumped to the conclusions you did and that your daughter was hurt.

  2. arianna

    this book is a classic vanity scam!everyone involved should be ashamed. they couldnt possibly care what actually goes into their”anthologies” i admit some poems deserved their place in the book but others are mediocre at best espeacily when written by 9th graders! this book is supposed to be a quality book but instead i recieved a cheaply made piece of crap wear several poems are crowded on to sheets of paper thinner than computer paper! i am disturbed that any right minded adults could take advantage of children like this its sick!

  3. Karen Manning

    As a teacher I submitted students’ poetry and essays. Not all of the submissions were accepted, and chosen poems were printed regardless of whether the parents purchased a book. I had a student win $50 for her essay, and a first grader at my school also won $50 for her poem. I do not believe this is a scam.

  4. Heather

    I don’t feel this is a scam at all. My child submitted poems and was accepted each time. But I’ve known children who did not get accepted, and classrooms where about half the kids don’t get accepted. Which leads me to this point. The author laments that half the poems get accepted….maybe she doesn’t realize there isn’t a huge market for poetry. There aren’t a lot of submissions to begin with, I’m sure. There isn’t going to be just a 5 percent acceptance rate when you need to fill a BOOK with poetry every few months and you don’t get enough submissions to support a smaller acceptance rate.

    And of course the main revenue is going to be parents!!! Who else is going to want a book full of children’s poetry?! The bottom line is that not all poems are accepted. It does teach your child to become a better writer; and that is the goal. And you don’t have to purchase the books. I did for the first poem my daughter published, but not for any of the others. She had a GREAT time doing it every time. I’m sorry other parents felt differently; and worse, disappointed their child with the experience.

    My advice to other parents would be to purchase the first book and tell your kids how proud you are. That $25 you spend can only help encourage their creative writing; and that is priceless. And if you really can’t afford it (or just don’t want to) then there’s no excuse for not encouraging them on anyway. The submissions are free and there’s no reason they can’t continue to write poetry and better their writing.

  5. Mrs. Perry

    I too, encouraged my students to submit poems. What a wonderful opportunity for children to express themselves, with words that could paint a picture in the minds of the readers. Purchasing a book was not necessary for the children to be chosen as being one of the “ printed poets.” I say congratulations to Creative Communications for giving students an opportunity to be recognized for being able to express themselves with the use of words.
    Even though all of my students’ poems were not chosen, they were all published because they had taken the opportunity to try.

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