Another scam targeting writers?

Well, maybe “scam” is too harsh a word.

“Shady,” I can hear one of you saying. “What about ‘Shady,’ Dayton?”

Yeah, we’ll go with “Shady.” For the moment, anyway.

So, I get this email over the holiday weekend:


best-story-award-Dear Dayton,

I hope you’re having a Merry Christmas! My name is [redacted], I’m from the NY Literary Magazine.

Congratulations! You have been nominated for the “Best Story Award”.

Visit this page to submit your entry: [link removed]

Submission period ENDS on December 31st, 2017.

Happy Holidays!

The NY Literary Magazine

PS: You can now add to your bio and credentials that you are a Best Story Award 2017 Nominee.

The NY Literary Magazine is a distinguished print and digital magazine.

“The prestige of such literary awards is immense for an author…awards drive up sales” – The NY Times

“Can do wonders for your writing career… one of the best ways to get your writing noticed!” – Writer’s Digest


Holy dogshit, Private Joker! I’m a winner! They like me! They really like me, don’t they?

Wait. Hold on a minute. Let’s unpack this a bit.

Congratulations! You have been nominated for the “Best Story Award”.

Um…’scuse me? Hello? There seems to be something missing here. Hang on…it’ll come to me. Just give me a sec to think about it. Oh. Right!

The email didn’t list which story of mine had been “nominated,” or offer any hints that they meant “novel” or “short story” when they said “story.” This would seem to be a an important nugget of information at this juncture, don’t you think? I mean, *I* kinda sorta thought it might have a bearing on the direction of the conversation, and so on and so forth, but what the hell do *I* know?

Strike one.

Visit this page to submit your entry: [link removed]

Being the suspicious curious sort, I opted to click the link and see where it took me. Sure enough, I found myself at the oh-fish-eeee-al website of the NY Literary Magazine. What was waiting for me? The chance to submit a story to one of several categories they’ve identified. There are “only” 200 such “submissions” accepted each month, in each category, so I really needed to ACT NOW IF I WANT TO CLAIM MY SPOT.

Oh, and did I mention there’s a submission fee?

$14.95 a throw. Boom.

Now, there are some legit literary contests and journals that charge modest reading fees – a few bucks or so – to help offset the actual costs of running such competitions. However, assuming these folks get their 200 entrants for each category every month, and there are (at least) eleven categories, that’s a tidy little haul–almost $33,000–every 30 days or so, just for “reading fees.”

Oh, and that $14.95? It was the super dooper special Christmas discount price.

Strike two.

Then, just for giggles, I Googled those quotes listed in the email, like that one from The New York Times. You know, this one:

“The prestige of such literary awards is immense for an author…awards drive up sales.”

I’m happy to report that the quote is legitimate…..albeit from 1992 and pertaining to a completely different thing. So far as I can tell, the NY Literary Magazine‘s available online “archives” stretch all the way back to July 2016, so you know…hmmm…..

Strike three.

With all that said, I can’t come right and tell you conclusively that this is a scam. At best, it looks shady as fuck, and my Spidey sense was tingling the whole time. I therefore opted not to submit any story (duh), and I don’t think I’ll be adding “Best Story Award 2017 Nominee” to my CV.

Oh, and just to tie all of this up in a nice, neat bow, I saw on Facebook and Twitter that a whole lot of people got hit with this same email, which…if you think about it…would seem to sorta dilute the whole “exclusive” nature of the thing. Of course the email’s originators got roasted on those platforms and elsewhere. Meanwhile, a check of the “magazine’s” website now reveals this new message:

Due to technical issues, we are suspending further contest entries till we can resolve them, once our technical support is back to work from their holidays. Apologies, please email our support via our website contact form if you wish to be notified when entries are functional again.

Oh, those pesky “technical issues.” It always amazes me how they’re able to crop up at the most convenient worst possible times. Dang, y’all.

Strike four. Because I’m not the biggest baseball fan, that’s why.

So, if you got one of these emails or something like it from someone else and are understandably suspicious curious, my advice is to avoid this sort of thing with the same determination and zeal you’d exhibit if a horde of fire ants was bearing down on you and trying their damnedest to plant their flag on your taint.

But, I happen to like my taint unsullied by opportunistic fire ants. YMMV.
Write on, boys and girls.
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