A Scam Hiding In Plain Sight

I think I may have mentioned this on Twitter awhile back, but I came across this again and wanted to post it here. Basically, a recent trend in small press anthologies have this kind of payment:

Editor's Favorites Authors of the editor's top 3 favorite stories will receive the following payment: 1st Place - $50.00 + 1 contributor's copy of the book 2nd Place - $25.00 + 1 contributor's copy of the book 3rd Place - $10.00 + 1 contributor's copy of the book

All other authors will receive EXPOSURE ONLY (no payment, no contributor's copy)

Anyone see anything wrong with that? I understand how hard it is for publishers, how there's very little money to fund a project, and if there is very little money to fund a project, maybe some of these publishers should be think twice before announcing such a project.

It's always nice to get paid for my writing, but sometimes I'm happy with taking just a contributor's copy if one is available. But why would I submit to an anthology that only pays three of its contributors with money and a copy of the book and doesn't give any of the other contributors anything? (Keep in mind that this is an anthology that will probably be read by hardly anyone else besides the contributors.) It's like the writers submitting are participating in a lottery, though not a fair lottery. Because it wouldn't surprise me if the top three stories happened to be awarded to somewhat more established writers (thought I can't imagine many somewhat more established writers would submit to these types of projects in the first place).

Basically, the horror/sf community frowns upon markets that don't pay. So some of these publishers have found a loophole. They will only pay three of the contributors, so they can still be considered a "paying market." And yet ... and yet ... writers will still submit to them.

But as they say, such is life.