My last post on the Zoo Press affair

Bookslut links to Daniel Nester’s response to concerns raised about the defunct Zoo Press fiction contest (oh, and don’t miss the separate post in which Nester compares the “contestation contestations” to “right wingers’ arguments against arts funding”):

So in regard to Zoo Press, are are we talking about a) consumer fraud; b) failure to read fine print; c) sour grapes that something isn’t suitable for a publisher; d) lack of respect and/or knowledge of publisher/editor instead of contest judge as initial “arbiter of quality” as opposed to superfamous contest judge; e) antipathy to unintelligence; f) zealous litigiousness; g) sense of entitlement; h) uninterestedness in getting free poetry books; i) being uninterested in getting backlisted free poetry titles; j) lack of understanding of how the non-profit or non-profitable publishers are run; k) frugality, and/or; l) non-gender-specific novelist machismo over how hard-earned their money is; m) general bad attitide that perhaps is n) part of writerly persona; o) starting a ruckus to start one; p) messianic tendencies; q) specific lack of understanding regarding editorial processes, printing costs, editing, publicity; r) willful ignorance for sake of rallying truly ignorant troops; s) specific hatred of researching specific publishers; t) inexperience in submitting to contests?

I’ve emailed a response to Nester, and here it is:

Leaving aside the obvious existence of unintelligence (ya can’t fight genes), sense of entitlement (because I personally have so much to gain, given that I didn’t enter the contest), machismo (oops, I forgot to wax my moustache again), and general bad attitude, it must be (p), messianic tendencies.

Rapture to follow.

I’ll grant you that it may be the practice of small presses to: announce a contest; use the entry fees to promote the contest; continue to collect entry fees and pretend that there will be an outcome of the contest when it is clear that there will not be; fail to pass along a single entry to the named judge although the named judge has not only expressed continued willingness to read the entries but is surprised and concerned that he has not been given the opportunity to do so; and then announce that the contest has been called off and no fees will be refunded.

It may also be the practice of some small press publishers to promise writers money for their work and not pay them, to incur debt and default on it, and to leave a mess for the next guy to clean up.

While we’re at it, it was the practice of Ford to continue manufacturing the Pinto even after it became clear that a certain number of consumers would be killed when it exploded due to a design defect.

Accused witches were drowned once. Segregation and lynching was once practiced in the South.

And it seems to be the practice of the press not to question our current president.

Yes, these examples are disproportionate and loaded, but they illustrate something worth keeping in mind: the fact that a practice exists does not make it right.

If encouraging people to inquire about the legality of a contest they paid to enter and believe to be unfair is a sign of litigiousness, then obviously I am litigious.

Here’s the bottom line: $25 is a fair amount of money to some people who entered the contest, even if it doesn’t seem like much to you. They have a right to look into the ways their money has been spent and to ascertain whether it was spent in a legal manner.

But thanks for the aspersions.

And here’s Nester’s response to me:

Dear Norma Rae:

It’s obvious you’re riled by my post, Ms. Messiah. Good. I’m sure your allusion to Pintos, witches and segregation, and the press’s treatment of the current president works on some people — perhaps the attorneys general you are urging people to write to?

I think I’ll go for macho/messiah/and, yes, unintelligence.

Keep fighting the good fight,


See also, this post, in which he reveals that he fancies himself an expert in legal concepts, but fails to explain their application to the present matter.


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