Eber & Wein / Poetry Nation: Another Vanity Anthology Scheme

 

NOTE: This post is updated as new information surfaces. If you’ve been solicited by Eber & Wein to enter one of its contests, please read all the way down to the bottom.

Last November, readers of, among others, Parade Magazine and Cardmaker Magazine saw an announcement for a free “open amateur poetry contest”. Poems of “24 lines or less” could be sent to a New York City address, and would then be eligible for $100,000 in prizes. A perk of entering: all poets would receive a “personal critique” of their poem.

There were warning signs. For one thing, the organization or company conducting the contest was not identified. Entering contests when you can’t verify who’s behind them is a major no-no, not just because you have no way to judge the contest’s prestige, but because you can’t assess its honesty. (Many people, unfortunately, seem to have assumed that because the publication where they found the contest announcement was reputable, the contest was reputable too.)

For another, short poems and big-money prizes are a hallmark of vanity anthology schemes. These schemes, which are legion, all work pretty much the same way: Ads announce a free poetry contest. Everyone who enters is “selected” as a semi-finalist, which qualifies them to be published in an anthology–and also to buy various of the company’s products. Sometimes publication is contingent upon purchase, sometimes it’s “optional”–but either way, author purchases are the main, if not the only, source of sales for these anthologies, which are neither marketed nor publicized, and never cast a shadow on a bookstore shelf. Because there’s no editorial screening, publication in a vanity anthology is not a real writing credit–in fact, it can be a negative writing credit, since these schemes are widely known. If you list one on your writing resume, many people will conclude that you are, at best, gullible.

Last week, poets who entered the contest began hearing back, and surprise, surprise: it’s definitely a vanity anthology scheme. Their responses came from Eber & Wein Publishing, located not in Manhattan, but in Shrewsbury, PA. I reproduce the letter in full, because it is such a classic piece of scheme-speak, complete with appeals to God:

Dear [name redacted],

Thank-you for sharing your poem with us. You’ve penned a wonderful verse, and I am excited to inform you that your poem has advanced to the semi-final round of the National Amateur Poetry Competition. Please take a few minutes to fill in the Official Contest Entry Form and return it in the enclosed self-addressed envelope. Within the next few months, we will award 126 cash and gift prizes; a list of prizes is included in the contest rules. We’re looking forward to announcing the grand prize winner of $2,500.00 and feel there is a good chance it could be you.

As a semi-finalist, you’ve earned the honor of being published in a volume of contemporary poetry called Verses and Visions, and in a few weeks you will receive an Author’s Proof. Please proofread it, make any corrections your poem, and return it to us if you wish to have your poem included in this collection. At this time, you will receive a brief critique of your poem from the editor who has been assigned to you.

Verses and Visions is a multi-volume collection of new and notable poets from around the world that will be available for sale on Amazon.com and the Barnes and Noble web site. This is a unique opportunity for you to receive a world-wide audience for your poetry. We’ve also included a form for you to tell us a little bit about yourself and your poetry; it is important to take this opportunity to tell the reader what inspired your writing. The statement will be printed directly below your poem. There is a small fee for this service; however, it is not necessary to have a statement included.

If you wish to purchase a copy of Verses and Visions now, we’ve included a pre-publication discount order form. By placing your order now you’ll receive a $10.00 contributor’s pre-publication discount. Please note we’ve selected your poem for publication because we feel it makes an important contribution to this volume. There is no need to make a purchase, and your poem may still be published even if you do not purchase a book. If you choose to own a copy of Verses and Visions and are not completely satisfied upon its arrival, then we will refund your purchase immediately.

Once again, congratulations, and may God bless your home and family. We hope you’ll continue writing and reading poetry. Today there are many option for publishing your poetry, and we appreciate that your considering Eber & Wein.

Sincerely,
John T. Eber Sr.
Managing Editor

Cost for Verses and Visions: $49.95.

At least with the established vanity anthology companies, such as the gigantic Poetry.com, the prizes really are paid out, and you can be certain of receiving the anthology (or other products, such as a plaque with your poem mounted on it) if you order it. Poetry.com, Iliad Press, Sparrowgrass Poetry Forum, The Amherst Society, and many others have been around for decades, in part because they grasp the principle that so many purveyors of literary schemes fail to comprehend: you can sucker people out of their money, but if you want to stay in business, you’ve got to give them something in return.

Eber & Wein, on the other hand, does not appear to have been around for more than a millisecond in schemer time. This cached version (the original listing has expired) of its incorporation announcement reveals that it filed incorporation articles on January 20, 2009–nearly two months after the contest ad ran.

Of course, Eber & Wein may not be as new-minted as it seems. Existing vanity anthologizers sometimes expand or branch out out under new names, a la the endlessly-replicating Who’s Who operations. Right now, though, there’s no way to tell–and thus no way to judge Eber & Wein’s track record of product delivery. Of the many reasons to avoid sending money to this company, that’s one of the biggies, in my opinion.

UPDATE 6/13/12: Eber & Wein is now also doing business as Poetry Nation.

UPDATE 11/22/17: The Eber & Wein website is now mostly nonfunctional. E&W appears to have transferred all its business to its Poetry Nation website–possibly to get ahead of all the negative reviews at PissedConsumer, not to mention an F rating at the BBB. For anyone who remembers the old Poetry.com, Poetry Nation will look very familiar.

UPDATE 11/8/18: Eber & Wein has resuscitated itself as a provider of “independent publishing” services, offering Author Solutions-style book publishing packages, as well as some “marketing” services, that range in price from a few hundred dollars to over $1,000.

The poetry contest scheme is still active at Poetry Nation. Contest semi-finalists are “given the opportunity to be featured in a poetry anthology” published by Eber & Wein Publishing.

UPDATE 11/22/19: Eber & Wein seems to have folded its vanity publishing operation; its website is now a single page inviting entries into its Best Poets of 2019 anthology (per Amazon, it hasn’t published one of these “best” anthologies since 2017). Poetry Nation is still going strong, though.

Eber & Wein’s BBB rating is still F; there are now 31 complaints, most from people who entered poems and ordered books and/or plaques and never received them. The listing now also sports this advisory:

Here are some images of what Eber & Wein is currently sending out. Not stated in the contest rules: by sending in a poem, you’re giving Eber & Wein/Poetry Nation permission to publish it online and in print. You have to peruse the fine print at Poetry Nation to find that out.

149 Comments

  1. Eber & Wein is NOT a scam. There are REAL winners who receive REAL prizes. I have a friend named James Milliron and he just won this contest. He is very happy and he did receive his prize. It's only a scam if you don't READ the site. Go to Eber $ Wein's website and read through the tab labeled "Poetry Contest". Everything they do is explained and properly carried out. The only reason people think it is a scam is because:
    A.) They don't read the site.
    B.) They don't win so obviously they must have been scammed since their poem was impeccable.
    C.) They don't understand what it means to be a self-publishing company.

    All of their books are published. All of their winners are real and receive prizes. It is legitimate. James is living proof.

    You can read more about James at:
    http://www.poetrynation.com/article_detail.php?id=19

    This contest is legitimate, just make sure you actually read what the site has to say.

  2. For anyone that doesn't think it's a scam google the following:

    Eric Mueck Poetry.com
    or
    Eber & Wein Scam

    You will see various court cases with the fictitious name of Howard Ely (Howard Friedman from Owings Mills, MD's alias), poetry.com, Noble House publishing, etc. Poetry.com, National Library or Poetry, Noble House, International Library of Poetry were all formerly run by Howard Friedman, Jeff Franz and Scott Tilson, then John Herman. Eric Mueck was the operations manager there. (The web site poetry.com has since been sold to new owners). If you are OK with those google results and with Mr. Mueck's reputation and paying to publish your poem in a book that only you and others that have paid to be published will read, then go ahead. No one is stopping you. You just need to understand for what it is that you are paying. Good luck with your writing.

  3. I entered my poem online at PoetryNation.com. I received a letter from Eber & Wein in Pennsylvania. Now how did they get involved? Scam or legit, I really am a starving artist, with no money to send anyone. I was just hoping my poem might be good enough to earn some. I've sent that poem to two other places. Is anybody out there really legit? Some of the big name magazines want up to $20 for each entry.

  4. Anonymous, you got a response from Eber & Wein because it owns PoetryNation.com. This is revealed on the Contest Rules page (also, PoetryNation's web domain is registered to Eber & Wein). PoetryNation's website looks an awful lot like the old Poetry.com website.

    Poets & Writers offers a good list of contests and awards.

  5. I feel stupid. I was trying to find creative ways to get money for college along with applying to a lot of scholarships, so I sent in a poem to Eber and Wein…. I was so excited when I got a letter saying my poem would be published and that I had a chance to win some money. I hope these a-holes get caught. This isn't right.

  6. I RECIEVED THE LETTER AS WELL. WENT THROUGH THE WHOLE PROCESS I FELT SOMETHING JUST NOT RIGHT ABOUT THE WHOLE THING AS WELL. MY NEW AGE NRSERY RHYME WENT INTO THEIR 'FROM A WINDOW BOOK'.I REALLY DID'NT BELIEVE ANYONE WON THE MONEY. JUST A WAY OF PUBLISHING BOOKS USEING OTHERS MATERIALS FOR FREE. FELT LIKE I WAS SCAMED ASWELL. BIG LESSON LEARNED.BUT PUBLISHED MY OWN WONDERFUL KEEPSAKE BOOK "VOICES", TO BE RELEASED IN A FEW WEEKS.THAT EXPERIENCE JUST MADE ME THAT MUCH MORE DRIVEN.

  7. How can I get my money back? I paid the 70 dollars for the book but only because I was under the impression that it was a realy contest and I could win prize money. Any advice?

  8. I went through the whole process. First letter (semi-finalist). Second letter (Author's proof). Sent in $49.95 plus $20.00 for the footnote at the bottom of the page. Just received my book today. The only thing that bugs me thus far is no winners list. On the upside, I got my work published. On the downside, I would have liked to feel like it was a competition. The book is available on Amazon (I checked) but not yet on Barnes and Noble.

  9. My composition, "The Darker The Danker The Better" was also named as a semi finalist. I did not purchase the book but chose the plaque instead. Still awaiting word. Are there "finalists" or who won?

  10. Poetry semi-finalist. My letter was dated 02/18/14 for the Multi Volume Series "Across the Way". I have not purchased anything yet. It stated they have not yet chosen the "Award winners". In the rules sheet, it said that 60 to 70 percent of the entries become semi-finalists which are used in the anthologies and in the letter that the book sales are what support the contest. I checked and have seen some of their previously published series on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, although not a huge amount of them were available. I guess some could consider this a cheap way to go in with others and self publish. The price of a book is way less than trying to publish your own, which some just can't afford to do in this economy. The contest part remains to be seen. I think the fact of the matter is that most of the people that enter want to see their name and work published in a book, and we all don't expect to be picked up first time by a top tier publisher and become a household name on the first try. If you have the money? Self publish a whole book full of your writings, and try setting up a book tour yourself. You can do anything with the right resources. This may be a good alternative to others. Buy one for your local library, and donate it. Others will have access to your work. Will you be compensated? No, but your work could be seen. Anyway, just my two cents, to be taken or left.

  11. I to was told my poem would be published in the "across The Way" book. I have not heard a thing since that last letter stating that I could send in another poem with yet another entry fee. wow, how stupid do they think I
    we are?? I know a scam when I see it and this is definitely a scam!!

  12. I entered this particular contest with a very special poem dedicated too my niece and her unborn child who died/ this is so sad to hear because we honestly thought that running the Ad in the Parade flyer would be of a success / you just let me know that all of my hard work and heartfelt sympathy for her loss was stolen through false advertising

  13. Hello, I am a mom of a 15 year showing much talent in writing. I am looking for some advice on where and what to do. Any and all help appreciated. Thank you

  14. My mother is 98, blind, and in a nursing home. A friend sent in a poem of hers and my mom received the letter and was in tears because she was so happy. We cannot tell her that it's a scam and we did order the book for $70 because she was telling everyone about it. Now she's wanting us to call the post office to see where it is and is wondering when she will get the prize money! Eber and Wein, you should be ashamed of yourselves…

  15. I feel so betrayed. I sent in a poem I wrote for my husband's memorial service – it was the last poem he ever read before cancer took him from me. Is there any way to keep them from using my writing? It makes me cry just thinking that they could use my poem when it was written with my heart in the lowest point of my life.

  16. Hi everyone I called eber and wein today they told me that the 2014 winners were supposed to be posted today and I found out from them that they did send most of the books and plaques out through these past weeks. They also say that some of the books and plaques usually come later like 4 to 6 weeks after they announce the winners. I still haven't seen the list on their website yet, but they also told me they will email everyone the list of the winners. You can call them at 717-759-8065 Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm.They are for real and they did tell me it takes them awhile to get everything done because it is a nationwide contest so there is a lot of poems they have to look at and they all have to pick which poems that sound real good for the book. So basicly it is a lot of work they got to do.

  17. They did the same thing to my young son. I've tracked the President of the company down. She has a young son also. I might take a road trip to see her and give her a piece of my mind! and my money back for the book that I ordered and never received.

  18. I submitted a poem, got my letter telling me that it would be included in their anthology titled Beyond the Sea. I did not have to send a penny to have it published. If I wanted to purchase the book, I could, and I was given a $20 discount. I decided to get the book, and was very pleased with the quality. Very well put together. You do not have to purchase anything if you choose not to.

  19. It does not cost anything to get your poem published in Eber & Wein's book and not every poem gets published. Whether there is a real winner to the contest or not, everyone who gets their poem published in the book is a winner to see their poem in print. You don't have to buy the book and if you wait you get the book for half the cost it sells for from Barnes & Noble.

  20. I too sent them money for the books. I received the books. I ordered the cds and plaque. They claim they have no record of my payment. My poem was published.
    What's weird is that the winner did not want his poem published in the book. I agree, it is a scam. I did however talk to someone at Eber and Wein at lindie@eberandwein. She showed excellent customer service, considering she works for a scamming organization. Thanks for posting, everyone. Live and learn!
    Some lessons cost more than others.

  21. My boyfriend works for Eber & Wein and I can confirm, it's 100% a SCAM. There's no quality control whatsoever and they're really just taking money from people who believe they're a part of a legitimate publication.

    Even the people there KNOW they're scamming people, and even make fun of them everyday. >:(

    AVOID AT ALL COSTS.

  22. how do I communicate with poetry nation .com to receive my login if the wrong email address was attached to my contest entry.

  23. Thanks for the warning! I just sent in my poem a few days ago, then I started wondering how a company that i never heard of can afford 50,000 dollars in prizes twice a year. Then thankfully I looked it up and found your blog, I feel so stupid for not recognizing a scam. I don't want them to have any rights over my poem, is there any way I can stop them from using it?

  24. I've enjoyed being a part of the Eber and Wein poetry contest. I now own three different poem collections that were published containing poems of mine. Had that not been, I may not have continued with writing my first book. I also plan on having them as my publisher for that. 1). Price 2). They have always shipped anything I've ordered. 3). From nicely wooden made plaques to the delightfully inspiring books of amateur poetry, I guess some people just aren't into that sort of thing:(

  25. They might publish my poem in their book they said. I guess it's nice to get your work out there. I won't send them any money though.

  26. A girl from Mackay,Queensland, Australia "won" one of these 'competitions'. She had her photo in the paper (The Daily Mercury)and no-one told her it was a scam.

  27. Sounds to me if you get the book you paid for then it is not technically a scam, it's just misleading, better yet an outright lie, in the way the letter is worded.

    If the letter said, "congratulations your poem is in the top 100% of the contest! Would you like to split the cost of printing it in a book with the other 99.9% of entrants and also pay us to do it?"

  28. If so many are scams what ones are not how are you supposed to enter your poem if you don't know how or who to send it to without getting taken advantage of I have lots of poems one for sure that I think would win please let me know thank you

  29. The poem I entered into the contest was the first thing I ever had published. I was so excited ,I payed extra to have my edits sent in priority mail. Then I looked up the company and realized what they are. Now I can't submit that poem to reputable places since it's previously published. Does anyone know what rights they have when they publish your poems? I was too young and experienced at the time to ask.

  30. I entered their contest, it was my fault for not looking at their background throughly. I was insanely excited when I received my letter, seeing as how I want to be an author I took it as a big step. I only now discovered it’s all a scam, but my question is, what happens with my poem? Does it belong to them now? On the contest rules it states I am still 100% the owner, but I’m really unsure now. Am I really the owner? And what can I do to have my poem pulled, I don’t want to be associated with them in anyway.

  31. I entered as well without knowing what was going on in the background of this contest. Now, 5 months after the contest ended, I haven't heard from Eber & Wein, and haven't even gotten the copy of the book my poem was supposed to be in. It is a total scheme, and I say that this contest should just disappear.

  32. "Poetry Nation / Eber & Wein Publishing" are another American poetry website to stay clear of. For 2 years I've been trying to delete my account but there is no way to. I decided to delete my account after they put my poetry in print more than once without my permission. Then I started noticing complaints against them accross the web. There is even a website dedicated to filing complaints specifically against Poetry Nation/Eber & Wein Publishing. I've tried to be civil with these people but they are refusing to respond. I have contacted Poetry Nation/Eber & Wein on 3 separate occasions to delete my account, but they are not responding to me for some reason? I also found some dirt on this website. It's in the link below. Alot of pissed off people being stolen from by poetry nation/Eber & Wein Publishing. Not to mention accross the internet. Including facebook. On facebook there is a page dedicated to filing complaints against them. Thats how bad it's getting. I have renamed my poetry nation page to "Let me go Poetry Nation".

    https://winningwriters.com/the-best-free-literary-contests/contests-to-avoid

    https://www.complaintsboard.com/complaints/eber-and-wein-publishing-c323424.html

  33. I hate to see all these terrible experiences with Eber & Wein. I have had nothing but great experiences! I have had two poems published, both books mailed to me and a plaque for my last one. Yes, it is not delivered immediately, if you read all the rules, deadlines, when the contest ends, etc. It also tells you that when to expect the book to be published. You have to take account the time it takes to publish and get those books out. I deal with Eber & Wein directly and have never had any issues. The time frame of publishing and book mailed is as expected and what was told when you entered the contest. Honestly, if you have ever published a book you should know that this is a normal time frame. These are a lot of old comments 2009 I see, but not sure about the other sites named through Eber & Wein. All I know is Eber & Wein always responds to my emails etc. Just contact them and inform them of concerns if its more then 6 months past the end of the contest deadline. Keep in touch with them, don't let it go months with no interaction. I asked for a receipt of my purchase the first go around because it took so long, and I was given one, plus an expected date of the book to be mailed, and it was just as they said! I am currently waiting on a new book that I was personally asked to contribute to their best poets of the 2018 edition. The results of this will be announced February because a contest was run with the selected individuals around the world. If I have any issues I will be back to update! Thanks for leaving all the comments for me to read so I can be more cautious! So anyway, my poems are available to read at http://www.the411addict.com on my blog. I have a tab at the top that takes you to me All Poetry site!

  34. People this is a scam.I feel really angry.I actually sent my poem to them.And the mailing money was just wasted.

  35. They told me I'd be published whether I buy a book or not , what is everybody pissed off about , I don't care if they publish it or not. I didn't send money, no loss , no gain maybe

  36. I should have read this before creating an account right now I can't log-in and deactivate my account, I wanted to deleted my entry 🙁

  37. I am honestly astounded by all of the comments and discrediting accusations towards the publishers. Several writings from my own hand have went to them since the age of twelve. The first one sent received a ceritifcate, that I did get through mail, for editor's choice award. Also, you can easily Google the work I have done, and find it plain as day. Eber and Weinn Publishing offered to fully publish any novel I would complete and send in. Up to $5000. I don't believe they ever asked for any money from me for the book. I never purchased my own work. It's all free-lance and it is clearly stated.

  38. Everyone just hang in there I to was sent the info and paperwork and I sent in money to have a plaque, book, and etc. it took a year and a half to get results but two of my poems were published and put in the book called Threshold Upon Arrival. I did not get a plaque or onology like I was told put both my poems came out in the poem book, and for that Iam pleased, I just entered another contest, My true feeling are I think they have good ententions but the company
    and associates need more knowledge in making a good co. better Thanks

  39. I was chosen as a semi-finalist I received two books with two of my poems in it. two months later I received my plaque. they are legit it just takes a while for them to follow through, be patient. I was not afraid to spend a little $ to see my poems in a book or get a plaque, It paid off. don't give up !!!
    Judy

  40. It's a scam all right, with all the telltale signs.

    I immediately suspected something was amiss when I saw the Poetry Nation Website. It looks obsolete.

    Folks, don't fall for such schemes just to seek approval. Let your work speak for itself. Never feel vulnerable- the decision is solely yours.

  41. Im back with the rest of my story I just received my plaque aof one of my poems and its on my fireplace mantel. so blessed. so they did sent all that was due to me, and all they promised with two of my poems in the book Threshold Upon Arrival I wikll not or never say a negative word against Eber & Wein My true opinion Yes let your work speak for yourself, maybe you all better get better at wwriting, Blessings

  42. I have entered a poem for the last few years and every poem is published. I am very proud and excited to get my next book that has my poem in it, published by Eber and Wein.

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