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Thread: A Sense of Responsibility on this Forum (Moved from BR&BC)

  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW wonderactivist's Avatar
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    A Sense of Responsibility on this Forum (Moved from BR&BC)

    How much of a sense of responsibility to accuracy do you feel when posting in this forum? To you, is this a "conversation" where you can make accusations without any experience or research? Or is it a place where we're compiling honest experiences that can be used as a starting point in investigating an agent or publisher?

    I ask because I love AW and use this forum regularly. My writer friends call me the Query Tortoise because I'm so careful that in two years I've only sent out 35 queries. And Bewares is my first stop in finding information, but a couple of times I've found inaccuracies or comments made without research or any regard to destroying an agent's or publisher's reputation. I don't think I'm the only one who feels a sense of responsibility when I post something here. I mean, I've had negative experiences that I didn't report because I honestly thought that maybe the agent was having a bad day. Would it really be fair to tarnish a reputation over this one small thing?

    So am I getting my panties in a wad over nothing, or does anyone else take this seriously?

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  2. #2
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    If you see posts you consider inaccurate I would suggest mentioning that in the thread. That is how public discussion usually self-corrects itself in the long run.

  3. #3
    Writer is as Writer does Terie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by veinglory View Post
    If you see posts you consider inaccurate I would suggest mentioning that in the thread. That is how public discussion usually self-corrects itself in the long run.
    Which is precisely what happened. So, yeah. Going on and on about it and even starting a new thread when the situation has been clarified seems like getting one's knickers in a twist over nothing.
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    practical experience, FTW
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terie View Post
    Which is precisely what happened. So, yeah. Going on and on about it and even starting a new thread when the situation has been clarified seems like getting one's knickers in a twist over nothing.
    This.

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    In Time-Out For My Sins
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    My experience on this board is that most disagreements get sorted out between the participants. Yes, there are rows and sometimes the mods have to step in. But it's way better than a lot of other boards.

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    practical experience, FTW
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    I'm not sure which thread the drama happened on, but I think everyone on here takes it very seriously. I don't post very often, but when I do, I think carefully before I say something. I've only posted something negative once about someone who poses as an agent but has had no sales ever.

    I've seen people get pretty upset about things, but I've never seen blatant lies told about an agent or publisher. There have been complaints that I thought the poster was being overly sensitive or getting upset over something trivial, so I file it at the back of my brain and I query the agent anyway.

    We have to read all the negatives and positives and then weigh whether the agent will work for us. There's one agent who is controversial because he offers a faster turn around time on your manuscript if you pay a fee. I chose to query him anyway because of the positive reviews. There's another one on here who has done some wackadoo stuff that made me cringe and I'm very thankful to know about it because I couldn't deal with that.

  7. #7
    Sophipygian AW Moderator Alessandra Kelley's Avatar
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    One of the first threads I read on this board was about a relatively new publisher people hadn't heard of. There was some speculation and divination, and then the publisher appeared. Some people asked harsh questions, and the publisher responded politely and clearly, with examples for backup. After a few pages, everyone was talking quite civilly.

    People here have a vested interest in accuracy of information.

  8. #8
    In Time-Out For My Sins
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    I've noticed that as well.

    This is a writer's board and it's in our interests to get real answers from agents and what not. And a lot of us have good bullshit detectors.

  9. #9
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    Of all AW forums, this one (B,R& BC) subscribes to serious statement back up the most, imo.

    so, all good.

  10. #10
    The cake is a lie. But still cake. shaldna's Avatar
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    I feel a lot of responsibility on this board - I've come back and updated posts that I've previously endorsed when new info becomes available.

    But I also try not to go on heresay etc, and post based on my own experiences or observations.

    I will, however, point out anything that I find which raises alarm bells and I will ask a lot of questions to any publisher or agent who appears on those threads.

    Alessandra mentioned a new publisher who responded well and was civil. Those folks are great. Unfortuantely I've found that there are a lot of folks who respond very badly - some of them claiming to be veterans in the industry. Personally I always think that how a person responds to queries in a place like this is very telling about their professional attitudes.
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  11. #11
    Tired and Disillusioned Momento Mori's Avatar
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    wonderactivist:
    a couple of times I've found inaccuracies or comments made without research or any regard to destroying an agent's or publisher's reputation.
    I'm curious, which agents or publishers are you talking about when you claim that AW destroyed their reputation with unfounded allegations?

    The purpose of this Forum is to ask questions and raise potential issues that writers need to think about. Ideally, writers should think about those issues before they submit to a publisher (or, say, a writing competition) rather than afterwards. In my experience, most of the heat that gets turned up on the Forums comes when a writer decides to ask those questions after they've already started getting involved with a publisher and don't want to be talked out of it.

    wonderactivist:
    I don't think I'm the only one who feels a sense of responsibility when I post something here.
    I don't know why anyone else posts here but I do it because I want to help authors avoid foreseeable mistakes and to give the information they need to decide what's best for them and their writing.

    6 years ago when I started here, I'd have advised against self-publishing, but now self-publishing is often a better option for writers who have either exhausted all of their options or are going into it fully aware of the work involved. Certainly it's often a better choice then a lot of these so-called 'indy publishers' who in many cases that I've seen are little more than the blind leading the blind but taking a cut of your money for the privilege.

    wonderactivist:
    Would it really be fair to tarnish a reputation over this one small thing?
    Firstly, I think you're giving AW too much credit. If this Forum was the be all and end all for publishers and agents then PA and Babs Bauer would have been out of business years ago.

    Secondly, I think that the genuine agents and publishers are either too busy getting on with their job to worry about what AW has to say or they're happy to come here and answer questions and address concerns because they recognise that authors are integral to their business model.

    wonderactivist:
    So am I getting my panties in a wad over nothing, or does anyone else take this seriously?
    Yes you're getting your panties in a wad over nothing and yes other people here do take this seriously.

    MM

  12. #12
    practical experience, FTW
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    Every now and then I've cringed at posts about certain publishers and agents and thought, "How unfair!" Then I gained more experience in the business part of this whole business and came to my senses.

    I don't always like the way some posters phrase things. Sometimes, I think certain posters are far too confrontational when that kind of tone is unnecessary. But the mods are very good at separating out the legitimate complaints from the silly or vindictive ones, putting comments into perspective and validating information.

    The information that results is invaluable and I have yet to see an agent or publisher get a red flag who didn't deserve one.

  13. #13
    Hapless Virago IceCreamEmpress's Avatar
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    You didn't like the way another poster framed her critique of WAMM because she mentioned PublishAmerica. I also thought that PublishAmerica was irrelevant to her critique, but she made other perfectly valid points in her comment.

    Then two mods suggested that the comparison to PublishAmerica wasn't appropriate and that those words were poorly chosen. What else do you want? The poster who made the ill-advised comparison to be court-martialed? Looks to me like the system is working fine, so yeah, I think you're getting upset about something because it's hitting close to home.

    The responsibility all of us have is to tell the truth as we see it, and to make it clear when something is our opinion rather than a fact. That's the only responsibility we have. We don't have a responsibility to care for the reputations of agents, publishers, editors, printing services, publicists, book distributors, or anyone else in the business; that's their job.

    And if telling the truth about someone destroys their reputation, good. Fiat justitia ruat caelum.


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    Quote Originally Posted by IceCreamEmpress View Post
    The responsibility all of us have is to tell the truth as we see it, and to make it clear when something is our opinion rather than a fact. That's the only responsibility we have. We don't have a responsibility to care for the reputations of agents, publishers, editors, printing services, publicists, book distributors, or anyone else in the business; that's their job.
    I can't say I agree with this.
    We all have the responsibilty to fully examine what we believe is true and to give some kind of evidence of that truth (for instance, our experiences) before we post it rather than simply posting opinions. Otherwise, what's to separate the information here from gossip?
    Even opinions need credibility.
    These are people lives we are dealing with and failure to recongize that would be selfish, cruel and irresponsible. Often, AW is the first site to come up when I Google an agent. AW does carry a lot of weight and with that weight comes responsibilty, which I think most folks take very, very seriously. I am certain that the mods take it seriously.

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    practical experience, FTW Nugus's Avatar
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    I read through this thread and the thread it originated from.
    Now lets not crucify anyone for having an opinion or being passionate about what they believe in. Isn't that what writing is about - passion and opinion. I think that most of us here know when to be responsible and we also know fair play. Wonderactivist is great at defending what she knows to be true. So lets leave it at that.
    This is one of the fantastic things of this forum - although we may not always agree on things, we all continue to learn and it brings us to better realisations and experiences.
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    Mushroom Polenth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wonderactivist View Post
    How much of a sense of responsibility to accuracy do you feel when posting in this forum? To you, is this a "conversation" where you can make accusations without any experience or research? Or is it a place where we're compiling honest experiences that can be used as a starting point in investigating an agent or publisher?

    I ask because I love AW and use this forum regularly. My writer friends call me the Query Tortoise because I'm so careful that in two years I've only sent out 35 queries. And Bewares is my first stop in finding information, but a couple of times I've found inaccuracies or comments made without research or any regard to destroying an agent's or publisher's reputation. I don't think I'm the only one who feels a sense of responsibility when I post something here. I mean, I've had negative experiences that I didn't report because I honestly thought that maybe the agent was having a bad day. Would it really be fair to tarnish a reputation over this one small thing?
    If someone has a negative experience with an agent or editor, I want to know. It may be they caught the agent/editor on a bad day and everyone else had a good experience. I'm perfectly capable of figuring that out if it's the case, because there will be one negative comment and a lot of positive ones. But it might also be the agent/editor pulls stunts like that regularly and everyone was too polite to say anything, until the first person posted about it.

    When I'm looking into an agent or publisher's history, it's irrelevant whether people had an argument over a minor wording choice. I strip out the facts I need and leave the rest. The argument in the posted thread about whether it's okay to say PublishAmerica is something I'd consider irrelevant, and I'd skim until it got back on track.

    People are not being less honest because they disagree with you. It's important to remember that what we consider to be the truth is filtered through our own experiences. Threads need those different perspectives, so that people can make an informed choice.
    Last edited by Polenth; 05-03-2012 at 08:18 AM. Reason: Spelling
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  17. #17
    Hapless Virago IceCreamEmpress's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by happywritermom View Post
    We all have the responsibilty to fully examine what we believe is true and to give some kind of evidence of that truth (for instance, our experiences) before we post it rather than simply posting opinions.
    I agree that people need to be thoughtful in posting in every situation. My apologies if my post somehow implied anything different.

    "That site looks unprofessional to me; here are three reasons why" is an opinion, sure, but it is detailed and substantiated and it is founded in the truth of that person's experiences, and as such is a useful opinion.

    "I hear that that publisher is sleazy and authors don't like them" is probably not a useful opinion if it is based on second-hand or third-hand information (whereas a link to Mary Roe's weblog where she talks about a negative experience with that publisher would be useful).

    "That agent charged me a reading fee of $125 and then never responded to my emails" is an experience that needs to be shared truthfully, though the heavens may fall.


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    practical experience, FTW wonderactivist's Avatar
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    Thanks, y'all for sharing your thoughts. You know, one of the main reasons I moved my concern out of the WAMM thread was because it had to do with more than one comment on that thread and with other comments I've seen on other threads as well. Plus I didn't think it was fair to hold this discussion on any agent or publisher's thread.

    My point is that authors USE this forum as if we took our posts seriously. Yet sometimes I see posts that seem to quite cavalierly pass judgement on some agent or publisher they don't have direct experience with.

    Maybe I'm old-school or something, but I consider a person's reputation to be invaluable. Polenth, I also want to know when someone has a bad experience, but I don't like reading hearsay or 'okay, I looked at their website for three seconds and can tell they're irresponsible.' That is NOT useful. I think it's contrary to the reason this forum was founded.

    Throwing out negatives that aren't based in any personal experience is just something I think of as being irresponsible. If folks find that offensive, sorry.

    Have a great evening,

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  19. #19
    Cultus Gopherus MacAllister SuperModerator Medievalist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wonderactivist View Post
    My point is that authors USE this forum as if we took our posts seriously. Yet sometimes I see posts that seem to quite cavalierly pass judgement on some agent or publisher they don't have direct experience with.
    Report the post.

    Quote Originally Posted by wonderactivist View Post
    Maybe I'm old-school or something, but I consider a person's reputation to be invaluable. Polenth, I also want to know when someone has a bad experience, but I don't like reading hearsay or 'okay, I looked at their website for three seconds and can tell they're irresponsible.' That is NOT useful. I think it's contrary to the reason this forum was founded.
    If someone like Old Hack or Memento Mori or Hapi Sofi or Victoria Strauss notice a problem on a Website, you'd be wise to pay attention.

    People who have extensive experience and expertise have a reputation for a reason. They know stuff.

    It's not hard to figure out who knows what they're talking about, and who doesn't.

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  20. #20
    Mushroom Polenth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wonderactivist View Post
    Throwing out negatives that aren't based in any personal experience is just something I think of as being irresponsible. If folks find that offensive, sorry.
    What I can tell you from my personal experience was I tried to warn some internet acquaintances about a new publisher who had some red flags. They didn't listen to me, because what did I know? I'd never worked with the publisher. The editor was a lovely person and I was wrong. An author with a big six contract tried to warn them off more sternly, and was rewarded with a public post about how evil and elitist she was. What scum, daring to be cautious about the most amazing new publisher in the universe.

    About a year later, the publisher fell apart, the owner disappeared without a trace, and the authors lost money and rights. It had all been rainbows and kittens in public, so more victims had signed up, even after the trap started closing. Yet the warning signs had been on the website from the start, for those who'd seen similar publishers collapse.

    Outsiders may not get everything right, but they're in the best position to point out if a website is poorly designed, a contract has dubious language or the owners have no experience. They can compare publishers to previous examples, and use it to predict what might happen. Insiders don't do those things very well, because they have a personal interest in the publisher succeeding. We need outsider perspectives too, even at times where we're sure they're wrong (and especially at the times when we're sure they're wrong).
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  21. #21
    but appreciated anyway... Unimportant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wonderactivist View Post
    Maybe I'm old-school or something, but I consider a person's reputation to be invaluable. Polenth, I also want to know when someone has a bad experience, but I don't like reading hearsay or 'okay, I looked at their website for three seconds and can tell they're irresponsible.' That is NOT useful.
    But sometimes you can look at a website for three seconds and know what's up. The same way you can look at an email for three seconds and know that the grammatically challenged gentleman in Nigeria who wants to give you millions of dollars isn't for real.

  22. #22
    practical experience, FTW wonderactivist's Avatar
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    But sometimes you can look at a website for three seconds and know what's up.
    Unimportant, I respectfully disagree. This website didn't have misspellings and DID have books for sale in paper and e-formats. It wasn't flashy.

    If this is going to be the type of place where we pass such judgements and destroy reputations over not caring for a person's sense of design, then I wouldn't want to be part of it. Medievalist, I doubt that the very people that you mentioned as 'knowing stuff' would want to take on that responsibility. Nobody here or anywhere knows everyone-and-everything about the fast-changing publishing industry. If someone says they do, run.

    This is supposed to be a place where we share experiences, ask questions, and check backgrounds. It is supposed to be based in truth.

    Yet when someone asked about a new publisher, we first mislabeled them as an e-pubber--without researching it. Then we said they were not serious--without asking them. And when a person who had actual experience with them came forward to share something positive, we dissected their words and compared the company to the most fraudulent one in the industry--for no reason other than wanting to be contrary (as stated by the author).

    I'm embarrassed for us. This forum means too much to a whole lot of authors for me to just sit and watch us destroy our own reputation. And no, I don't care if it makes me unpopular. I do totally appreciate y'all's opinions, and hope more people will join in.

    I think we need to discuss a standard of accountability. Maybe it could be an honor system, but maybe before their first post, a person should have to acknowledge that they are basing their posts in experiences or in our shared quest for information. Maybe just taking a moment to agree on that will get people to think twice.

    Lucie
    Last edited by wonderactivist; 05-03-2012 at 10:19 AM. Reason: added the standard of accountability
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  23. #23
    Cultus Gopherus MacAllister SuperModerator Medievalist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wonderactivist View Post
    I think we need to discuss a standard of accountability. Maybe it could be an honor system, but maybe before their first post, a person should have to acknowledge that they are basing their posts in experiences or in our shared quest for information. Maybe just taking a moment to agree on that will get people to think twice.
    Better idea: Report the post.

    Or, alternatively, report the post.

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  24. #24
    'Twas but a dream of thee El Jefe MacAllister's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wonderactivist View Post

    I think we need to discuss a standard of accountability. Maybe it could be an honor system, but maybe before their first post, a person should have to acknowledge that they are basing their posts in experiences or in our shared quest for information. Maybe just taking a moment to agree on that will get people to think twice.

    Lucie
    I'm actually pretty happy with our standards and our accountability -- being as I'm the one who ultimately gets held accountable.

    If you have a problem with a post, report it.

    That's not a promise that management is going to agree with you, or take the action you WANT us to take -- but that's how things work here. And that's how things are going to continue to work for the foreseeable future.

    What we aren't going to do is hash out entirely new policy for a system that's been working extremely well for a number of years, just because this time on this one thread about a specific publisher you didn't like that someone used PA as an example, to make a point.

    And with that, we're all done here.
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