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Thread: The Lies Scammers Tell About Us

  1. #1
    wishes you happiness JennaGlatzer's Avatar
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    The Lies Scammers Tell About Us

    As you might imagine, there are a number of bad "agents" and "editors" who don't like it when we issue warnings, or allow people to share their experiences. There are many businesses that depend on writers staying in the dark and not learning about what publishing is really like, and what warning signs to watch out for.

    There are also victims of these companies who don't realize that they're victims yet, and thus see us as an enemy. ("If you're saying bad things about My Wonderful Agent, you're standing in the way of me getting my book published!" they think. Or, "If you're saying bad things about my publisher, you're the reason why bookstores won't stock my book!")

    Anyway, there are a number of us "watchdog" types, and the lies people tell about us tend to fall into a few categories, which I'll try to address here.

    1. "They're just jealous of the competition!"

    One popular refrain is that we’re worried about the competition from up-and-coming writers. If we were truly worried about competition, we'd gladly allow all writers to get stuck with lousy agents and publishers. That would clear the way for us to be the only ones submitting to legitimate publishers and agents, and thus, making all the sales.

    It's really simple to find each of our bios. Google our names, visit our websites, check Amazon. As a group, the "watchdogs" are very successful writers. Unpublished writers are not our competitors. Vanity published writers are not our competitors.

    2. “They want to keep new agents down!”

    Nope. We love new agents. We love any agent who can actually help writers. We define “helping” as: selling writers’ books to reputable publishers, never lying about kickbacks with editorial services, and never charging upfront fees. Those standards are not very hard to meet. Hundreds of agents manage to meet them with no problem.

    If an agent is unproven, that's OK with us. We're likely to point that out, but it's not a slam against the agent. Those who turn out to be successful agents typically don't just show up out of nowhere and decide to start their own agencies, however. Generally, the agent starts out either as an assistant or "junior agent," or works in another area of publishing first (as an editor or assistant editor, usually). They learn the business from others who've been there and done that.

    A new agent at an established agency usually gives us more hope than a new agent who starts his/her own agency out of nowhere, with no track record in publishing. "Making it up as you go along" doesn't work with heart surgery, and it doesn't often work with literary agenting, either.

    3. “They’re bashers! They’re naysayers! They love negativity!”

    Most of us have had to take breaks from this kind of activity from time to time, because it’s depressing. We hate the fact that there are so many schemes and scams out there designed to take advantage of unsuspecting writers, and it’s a downer to have to speak out about them. It’s an even bigger downer to have to burst people’s bubbles when you know that they have their hopes all wrapped up in a bad agent or publisher. They think they’ve found someone who really believes in their talent, and we have to be the ones to say, “Sorry, you’ve been duped.” That stinks.

    Then there are the clueless agents and publishers, and there are a huge number of them. These are people who do NOT mean to be scammers… they think they’re being useful. They are often failed writers themselves, and they think publishing is broken and they’re going to fix it. They’re going to give new writers a chance. Almost inevitably, they find out that they can’t actually make any money, though, and someone has to compensate them for this new unpaid hobby of theirs—so they charge writers upfront fees or partner up with an editing service that gives them commissions for each new writer they lure in (often convincing themselves that this is fair, and that other people do it). Or, in the case of POD publishers, they begin pressuring writers to buy their own books, or making them pay for “optional” services.

    Believe it or not, even as loudly as we have to denounce them, we often feel bad for these kinds of people. We know they’re clueless, not evil. They may really think that this is The Way and that they’re going to make big sales. Nevertheless, the result for writers will be the same: the clueless people will NOT succeed in getting writers’ books onto bookstore shelves. They’ll spout out misinformation about the publishing industry, convincing writers that real publishing is scary and impossible to break into. They’ll tie up writers’ rights, smash their dreams, and waste their time and money.

    We’ve seen enough of these cases to recognize the warning signs by now, so we feel responsible for making those signs as tall and bright as possible so newer writers can spot them. Even if that makes it look to some like we're being mean.

    What I’m saying is: We don’t want to do what we do. We just feel we have to do what we do. If no one were going to get hurt, we could keep our mouths shut.

    4. “They want to make money off you!”

    Preditors and Editors won’t take donations. I know this because I tried, and Dave would not take my money.

    Writer Beware is a nonprofit organization funded by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Writer Beware won’t take your donations, either.

    Absolute Write takes donations. [Removed non-current information] The contributions that people make toward the site cover part of our hosting fees each month. I think it’s probably obvious that we don’t get anywhere near our totals in donations each month. We received approximately $120 in donations last month. The bulk of our expenses is paid by Google ads and advertisers. In earlier times, I paid all the site expenses out of pocket. My job is writing. Absolute Write has always been my labor of love, and I’ve been happy that it’s usually paid its own expenses.

    5. “They’re in cahoots with the big agents and publishers!”

    Sometimes people accuse us of being funded by established agencies or publishers. That’s… well, that’s weird. Real agents and publishers don’t need us to stick up for them. They do fine. No one’s paying us to say bad things about anyone.

    6. “They’re all working together!”

    Yes and no. We are all separate entities, and do not make any decisions for each other. Dave has his rules for Preditors and Editors, Ann and Victoria do their thing with Writer Beware, I run Absolute Write (with Jim and Victoria moderating the Bewares and Background Check board), Miss Snark runs her blog, Teresa and Patrick run Making Light, and so on—but we all respect each other’s work, and many of us are friends. (Mostly, we got to know each other because of this shared interest in scam-fighting.)

    We don’t have secret meetings, and we don’t work for the same organization.

    7. “People get paid to post at Absolute Write!”

    How cool. I wish that were true. I’ve posted more than 7,000 times. That could be a big check…

    I have no idea how to even respond to that one, because it just doesn’t make sense. Why would I (or anyone) need to pay people to post here? Sometimes I want to pay people to stop posting here, but that’s another story…

    8. “They don’t want people to revolutionize the industry!”


    Sure we do. It’s just that we already know what doesn’t work. We’ve watched people who think they’re being pioneers crash and burn again and again with ideas such as: (a) starting a bookstore just for self-published books, (b) websites to display manuscripts to agents and publishers, (c) mass-mailing services, (d) start-up publishers with no distribution who are going to specialize in “new writers,” (e) e-book and print-on-demand book publishers who think they’re going to compete with Simon & Schuster, (f) publishers who invent creative “returns” policies for bookstores, (g) vanity radio shows, (h) pay-per-click websites… the list goes on and on.

    We’re all for innovation in publishing. We just don’t want writers to be sucked into the “great new thing” that’s already failed several times before.

    9. "They were probably rejected by the company they warn against!"

    Between us, we've been published by HarperCollins, Tor, Simon & Schuster, McGraw-Hill, Penguin, Baen, and bunches of others. Do you really think vanity presses and fee-charging agents are turning us down? In nearly all cases, we've never submitted anything to the companies we warn others about. We just find out about them from people who have submitted their work. Those people wind up writing to us to ask if the companies are legit (so we do some legwork to find out), or to tell us about their bad experiences.

    10. "The naysayers expected to get rich and famous, and when they didn't, they blamed the publisher!"

    This one's not usually directed at us, but rather, at people who come forward about their bad experiences with scammers. In either case, it's bunk. Very few people expect to get rich and famous with their writing. Normally, people's goals are much more humble. They want to see their book on real bookstore shelves. They want strangers to read it. They want a few reviews.

    I've never seen a complaint that says, "I hate this publisher because I was planning on being rich and famous and it didn't happen!" What I do see are complaints that say things like, "I worked my butt off for six months promoting my book, and found out that bookstores won't stock it because my 'publisher' has terrible policies and no editorial standards, so booksellers see it as a vanity press even though they claim not to be one." Or, "The only people who have bought my book are my relatives and my next-door neighbor." Or, "I had no idea my book would be so overpriced, and full of typos."

    This is closely tied in to the "they didn't read their contract!" argument, which is silly. It doesn't say in anyone's contract, "We're going to insert typos into your book, overprice it, and make sure that we make it as unattractive as possible to bookstores so they will not ever stock it."

    11. “They’re elitists!”

    That's easy to decide for yourself, if you hang around for just a few days. Consider this: If we were actually opposed to new writers in any way, why would we spend so much time with them? Look at the thread “Learn Writing with Uncle Jim” on the Novels board. Look at the decade of service Victoria, Ann, and Dave have each given freely to steer writers away from trouble. Look at the time and attention Miss Snark gives to critiquing writers’ work and Teresa Nielsen Hayden gives to detailing the publishing process.

    We are thrilled when new writers succeed. That’s why we do what we do.
    (I should also mention something—above, I’ve named the names I think of most often when I think about scamhunters, but there are lots of other sites and people who are rarely mentioned even though they’ve acted as scamhunters, too, or at least supported our efforts—Mindsight Series, Speculations, Authors Guild, C. E. Petit, John Scalzi, Charlie Hughes of Wind Publications, Kristen Nelson, Cathy Clamp, PODdy Mouth, Lauri Berkenkamp, Jim Fisher, and bunches of others.)
    Last edited by MacAllister; 08-12-2013 at 10:19 PM.
    I am no longer here. If you'd like to visit me, please find me at www.jennaglatzer.com or on Facebook. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Maybe you could have a little side-forum on A-W titled...'How to get ahead as a writer when you're paranoid'. Someone could even publish a book on the subject! LOL


    Ellie

  3. #3
    13th Triskaidekaphobe Richard's Avatar
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    If anyone's got enough time, make Bizarro AW - the forum where their claims are true as a counter-example.

    A few months should do it. A few months and a kazillion aliases...

  4. #4
    practical experience, FTW c2ckim's Avatar
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    Jenna, I think the work you guys do here is terrific. I only wish I would have found this place years ago when I was first starting out. It would have saved me time and money and maybe I'd be in print by now.
    You and the others here offer your opinion. You tell us new and not so new writers what to look for, what to be aware of and what to avoid.
    I am very happy when you guys point these scammers out. Plus you often invite the editors over to explain things from thier end. If you were really just out to stop the new agents and editors, I hardley think you would ask them over to clarify or answer question we might have.
    And think of the many writers you've helped not fall into some scammers traps.
    I just wanted to offer my two cents. Thank you for all the work you do
    www.roguephoenixpress.com 3/25/09 The Darkness Within July 25, 2009
    Meghan's Legacy- Sept.1, 2009; Shadow Chaser- Jan 2010- Witness- Feb 1, 2010 ;Legacy of Murder- April 2010; Secrets and Lies, July 2010; The Prophet out in Oct- Bucks County Publishing; The Unknown Son- Rogue Phoenix Press- out in Oct.
    Avalon Books- No One To Hear You Scream coming out Dec 2010
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  5. #5
    practical experience, FTW Tsu Dho Nimh's Avatar
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    Anyone who thinks that professional writers don't want newbies to succeed should go see the "I'm stoked" thread. Newbie gets a request from a REALLY FAMOUS agent at a REALLY SUPERB agency ... and is being deluged with dancing Snoopy dawgs, flying roise petals, and virtual hoistings of the glass.

  6. #6
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Join the conspiracy! Make big bucks! Keywords and phrases on scammers' websites that help you identify them as what they are:

    A brief note on linguistic markers

    More linguistic markers

    The four kinds of agents:

    On the getting of agents

    Why your book was really rejected:

    Slushkiller

    (Note that "conspiracy to keep new writers down and destroy the careers of independent agents" isn't one of the reasons no one bought your book.)

    More places to go for info:

    Caveat Scrivener

    Publishing scams (at SFF.net)
    Last edited by James D. Macdonald; 10-28-2006 at 04:46 PM.

  7. #7
    Behaving kitty cat SuperModerator alleycat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JennaGlatzer
    7. “People get paid to post at Absolute Write!”

    How cool. I wish that were true. I’ve posted more than 7,000 times. That could be a big check…

    I have no idea how to even respond to that one, because it just doesn’t make sense. Why would I (or anyone) need to pay people to post here? Sometimes I want to pay people to stop posting here, but that’s another story…
    You mean, we don't? But Ray said . . .

    Uh, oh. Hold on, I've got to make a call to my Porsche dealer.
    .

  8. #8
    practical experience, FTW
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    I've been seeing this more often now than ever before! People are so paranoid and think AW or other websites hate for authors to ask questions on publishers or their practices, it's unreal? If you don't ask questions...how do you ever learn? I've seen some comment that "You will know when the time comes and if you read your contract." Or..."If you were smart you'd have figured it out already." I think some people believe if you ask questions and their answers are odd or sound alarming, then you should just go with it and not question it more. Some even go as far to say that "They believe the publisher is having personal problems and it will all fix itself within a week or two.

  9. #9
    Socialitest Bravo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JennaGlatzer
    7. “People get paid to post at Absolute Write!”

    How cool. I wish that were true. I’ve posted more than 7,000 times. That could be a big check…

    I have no idea how to even respond to that one, because it just doesn’t make sense. Why would I (or anyone) need to pay people to post here? Sometimes I want to pay people to stop posting here, but that’s another story…
    next youre gonna try to tell us that our rep points cant be traded in for cash.

    this was a cute lil dog and pony post jenna, but ive been onto you since the beginning.

    nice try though.
    Last edited by Bravo; 10-28-2006 at 07:43 PM.
    RIP

  10. #10
    practical experience, FTW janetbellinger's Avatar
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    My rule of thumb is nothing good comes easily. Reputable agents and publishers, as veterans of AW keep pointing out, are not exactly out looking for new clients, and they certainly don't advertise for them on the internet. I think hearing back too quickly would raise a red flag. I have learned that nothing is going to fall into my lap and to keep making my novels better, and not to get discouraged.
    Janet


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    Voltaire


  11. #11
    A work in progress Saundra Julian's Avatar
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    Kind of makes you want to gag, doesn't it my friends?

    One good thing is they all grouping together on one site and that will make it easier to debunk the nonsense they're spouting!

    "The “watchdog groups” are trying to make sure a new author doesn't get published???"



    Anyone who believes that needs a serious mental health check-up!

  12. #12
    banned as an incurable tosspot
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    Thanks for the laughs, Jenna.

    I've read some bad things about Absolute Write on one site. Need I mention that what was said had a strong taste of sour grapes?

    This site does a terrific job of informing, helping (and comforting) writers. Are the nay sayers able to offer anything that comes remotely close? It's easy to put someone or something down. If the downdickies can't offer me something better, I ignore them.

  13. #13
    Requiescat In Pace Requiescat In Pace
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    Great article, Jenna!

    I wish some of those poor PublishAmerica still-faithful would read it.

    -Ann C. Crispin

  14. #14
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Another common lie by scam agents/publishers: They never submitted anything to us. How can they possibly know anything about how we do business?

    The answer is: We know. We've seen the same game played out a thousand times. We recognize the signs.

  15. #15
    Sockpuppet Hunter MartyKay's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JennaGlatzer
    We don’t have secret meetings, and we don’t work for the same organization.


    Well... if you TOLD about the meetings, they wouldn't be SECRET would they!!!

    Is there a secret handshake??
    Be Wery Wery Qwiet, I'm Hunting Sockpuppets
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    to use the internet |

  16. #16
    glad to be here Lilybiz's Avatar
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    I listened to the Barbara Bauer podcast that Miss Snark linked to today. It made me think it's time for all writers who care to stand up with Jenna, Dave K, Anne, Victoria and Miss Snark.

    If you've got a website, isn't that a great opportunity to help other writers by educating them about scammers?

    I don't have a website yet but I'm in the process of getting one. Posting links to information about scammers is one of the first things I want to do on the site.

    Am I crazy? Doesn't it seem that if there are more than five voices crying out in the wilderness (say, a few thousand), a lot more newbies can be saved some grief?

  17. #17
    Still Here! Alan Yee's Avatar
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    Of all the subjects we discuss on AW, I feel most comfortable talking about scams, of all things. I've been reading all the watchdog websites and participating in the NEPAT for well over a year, and yet I still get tired of watching scammers try to smear people like Jenna, Ann, Victoria, DaveK, Miss Snark, Jim, Teresa, and Patrick. In fact, for some reason, when I do blog (which isn't often), it's generally about scams. It's become sort of my neutral topic when I don't want to talk about anything. I guess it's my way of paying back all the people above (besides buying their books, of course ).

    Oh yes, and I decided to link to the Top 20 Worst Agencies List in my signature. I'm stubborn like that.

  18. #18
    Shiny! SuperModerator Dawno's Avatar
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    aertep, I couldn't agree with you more. Quite a few blogs have been posting about IILAA - if you do a blog search on Google for IILAA you'll see quite a few pages. I've submitted Victoria's blog to DIGG and there's a Technorati Tag for IILAA as well...so folk are trying to get out the word.

  19. #19
    glad to be here Lilybiz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dawno
    aertep, I couldn't agree with you more. Quite a few blogs have been posting about IILAA - if you do a blog search on Google for IILAA you'll see quite a few pages. I've submitted Victoria's blog to DIGG and there's a Technorati Tag for IILAA as well...so folk are trying to get out the word.
    Thanks, Dawno, that's excellent.

  20. #20
    Shiny! SuperModerator Dawno's Avatar
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    You're welcome! I enjoy blogging about this stuff, makes me feel like I'm doing something worthwhile since I usually post about cats in sinks and Roomba costumes...

  21. #21
    Barbershoppin' Harmony Whore BardSkye's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aertep
    If you've got a website, isn't that a great opportunity to help other writers by educating them about scammers?
    You're Absolutely Write. (Sorry, couldn't resist.) I've got spots on both my website and the associated forum telling writers to check the Bewares threads before agreeing to anything. And since I work mostly with teenagers, I can hopefully get them in that habit before the scammers can get their claws in.

  22. #22
    glad to be here Lilybiz's Avatar
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    Most excellent, BardSkye! I think a movement is happening.

  23. #23
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    To say that I love this place, would be an understatement.
    A very big thank-you to all who've shared their knowledge, optimism, and good spirit within these forums.

    Declan.

  24. #24
    I *am* Catwoman...and Gini Koch WPR Dominatrix JeanneTGC's Avatar
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    I echo Declan's sentiments!

    Also, I can't agree enough that all those with blogs and websites should link here, P&E, Miss Snark, Writer Beware and to any and all other watchdog sites. I've mentioned in another thread that I stumbled upon P&E by accident, and stumbled here by an even larger accident. I have been to 6 writing conferences and have read many blogs and websites, but never knew that these kinds of watchdog sites were both out there and FREE to anyone who needed help. I'm very sure that I'm not alone in that, either.

    I also had NO idea that just because someone was listed in the NSSW and/or Jeff Herman's guide that this didn't mean they weren't necessarily legit. I took those books, and the other published writing reference guides out there, as being "blessed" and safe to use, since they would surely only have legitimate agents, publishers, etc. listed in them, no?

    No.

    So, again, thanks for all that you guys do here. It's greatly appreciated by those you're trying to protect.
    Jeanne

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    Coming December 2017, Aliens Abroad -- Preorder NOW!

    --Click the covers to go to my website for details & more!


  25. #25
    practical experience, FTW
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    Quote Originally Posted by JennaGlatzer
    7. “People get paid to post at Absolute Write!”
    I don't think I've ever heard that one before. For as many times as I posted under my old username (more than 2,000 posts) I would love to be able to earn some money for every one of those posts.

    That's like, wow. The word 'stupid' would be an understatement....but then again, we are talking about scammers here.


    9. "They were probably rejected by the company they warn against!"
    I was accepted by PublishAmerica, and yet I still warn against them, now as I did when I used my real name. So, where do these individuals get this information from? A Cracker-Jack box?

    10. "The naysayers expected to get rich and famous, and when they didn't, they blamed the publisher!"
    I don't know about most authors, but when PublishAmerica said on their site that they did everything the big boys did with their authors, I expected them to be telling the truth.

    It was only after realizing that they were not really what they were implying themselves to be, that I began warning people about them.

    11. “They’re elitists!”
    That's why AbsoluteWrite and other sites like it are around: so that we can shun new writers. Why would anyone think that a site that presently has several thousand aspiring writers within its ranks, is elitist? That's a plain lie, pure and simple. They don't want authors to get wind of the fact that they've been scammed. They want people clueless so they will continue buying their own books and paying oodles of money to get nowhere in the business.

    The people who say "The Naysayers are elitists" are saying stuff like this to keep you, a hard working writer, from making it big so that you can fill their wallets. It's as simple as that!


    Jenna, thank you very much for creating this thread. I think a lot of people will find it enlightening and informative.

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