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[YADS] Authors Seeking Agents Wish List

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Sage

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Found this website: ASAWL.com It's a website set up for authors to pitch their novels in 100 words to agents and publishers.

The owner clearly thinks they have reinvented the wheel (home page says, "Welcome to the revolution") and that agents and publishers have ample time to search a website for pitches, rather than dealing with the queries in their inboxes. That's not to say that some legit agent or publisher might stumble in there and check things out. I've gotten a request from QLH, so sometimes agents do look at different pitching places. If they can take time out every once in a while to check out #pitmad, they may also check out a site like this from time to time.

My biggest fear at looking at a site like this is that the owner is throwing authors into the path of agents/publishers without experience or who even have bad intentions, rather than the good ones. I came across it while researching the twitter feed of a new (possibly sketchy) publisher who has been discussed here lately. The owner of the site tweeted at her to check it out. Sure enough, she is one of two publishers who have commented, requesting from the authors. Under the 8 YA titles on the site so far, she has requested 7. The other publisher is reported as having a bad contract here on BR&BC.

There's nothing wrong, per se, with an author joining a site like this (and I see at least one AWer on there). My problem is that the site has absolutely no language on it--on the homepage, the FAQ, the rules, or the blog--about authors doing their due diligence in researching agents and publishers who request from it. Likewise there's no attempt to vet the agents and publishers who join and request. It's much too easy for an inexperienced or scammy agent or publisher to prey on authors there.

And it raises a red flag to me when the owner is specifically recommending inexperienced publishers check out the site.

ETA: Wow, the owner (@RaucousWriter) is quite a little twitter spammer
 
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tiddlywinks

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Hadn't seen this one, Sage, so thanks for bringing this up. It kind of smacks of "if you build it...they will come," doesn't it? I think I still prefer the old-fashioned way: do my due diligence, research the agents that make sense for me and put in a little elbow grease, aka query.

Also? Random tweeting @ people to get them to join or promote the site...it makes my day-job sensibilities wince.
 

Robots

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Interesting find, thanks for posting. Guess I might check it out (albeit with great caution...)
 

Sage

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When asked whether he vets agents and publishers, the owner tells me that he indeed makes sure that they are part of a real agency. Me thinks he misunderstood my question.

ETA: Now he's told me that it's a double standard that he should have to vet agents and publishers when Twitter pitch parties don't have to, and that it's up to authors to report fraudulent agents and pubs to him. I don't think he gets it.
 
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Sage

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Well, despite saying he appreciated my feedback, the guy blocked me on twitter. So I guess he doesn't really appreciate feedback.
 

mrsmig

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Well, despite saying he appreciated my feedback, the guy blocked me on twitter. So I guess he doesn't really appreciate feedback.

Stupid goes way, way deep.
 

Sage

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His tweets show up on his site. Here's what he says about me:

Very interesting that the only person who has been negative about the http://ASAWL.com site doesn't even i.d. as a writer and isn't registered on the site unless under a fake name. http://ASAWL.com welcomes new agents, new publishers and especially new authors.

I registered as A Sage, my twitter is Sage Collins, and my profile talks about tweeting about writing (plus...I tweet about writing). I mean, I suppose he could connect the dots, but it's more fun to just claim some non-author had some ulterior motive.

If you're not registered on the site, you can't see pitches or responses to them. How would I know that only 2 publishers have requested, if I wasn't registered? But whatever. He has his narrative about the big bad ??? who thought he should vet the agents and publishers he individually approves for the site and not outright invite publishers who have a month's worth of experience. But he welcomes them, so :Shrug:
 
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Gillhoughly

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My biggest fear at looking at a site like this is that the owner is throwing authors into the path of agents/publishers without experience or who even have bad intentions, rather than the good ones.

Nailed it. This is like setting up a deer feeding station and the scammers have only to watch and wait for innocent fresh meat comes by.
 

carrie_ann

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His tweets show up on his site. Here's what he says about me:



I registered as A Sage, my twitter is Sage Collins, and my profile talks about tweeting about writing (plus...I tweet about writing). I mean, I suppose he could connect the dots, but it's more fun to just claim some non-author had some ulterior motive.

If you're not registered on the site, you can't see pitches or responses to them. How would I know that only 2 publishers have requested, if I wasn't registered? But whatever. He has his narrative about the big bad ??? who thought he should vet the agents and publishers he individually approves for the site and not outright invite publishers who have a month's worth of experience. But he welcomes them, so :Shrug:

That's funny because I saw that tweet and your response, recognized your name from here, followed the link and saw you registered. You are clearly represented as yourself and I don't know you!

I thought it was a great idea, but opted to watch with caution before registering. Thank you for your dilligence vetting the guy not vetting!
 

novicewriter

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Well, despite saying he appreciated my feedback, the guy blocked me on twitter. So I guess he doesn't really appreciate feedback.


:Jaw: Oh, wow. Just for asking a question and being concerned about his website attracting scam agents? That's not professional.

His tweets show up on his site. Here's what he says about me:

I registered as A Sage, my twitter is Sage Collins, and my profile talks about tweeting about writing (plus...I tweet about writing). I mean, I suppose he could connect the dots, but it's more fun to just claim some non-author had some ulterior motive.

If you're not registered on the site, you can't see pitches or responses to them. How would I know that only 2 publishers have requested, if I wasn't registered? But whatever. He has his narrative about the big bad ??? who thought he should vet the agents and publishers he individually approves for the site and not outright invite publishers who have a month's worth of experience. But he welcomes them, so :Shrug:

My first thought was that perhaps he thought Sage wasn't your real name, but now, I'm thinking it might've been a dig at you, completely ignoring and side-stepping your legitimate concern, where he thinks he's pointing out ironically that, even though you were concerned about scam agents, you declined to use your full name on his site. But you're not an agent and had a right to not use your full name on his site, as it clearly has a flaw in that it sounded as though it could be unsafe for writers.

I'm sorry to hear he banned you for that. Thanks for pointing out the flaw of his site.
 

Robots

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Well, that he blocked Sage just for offering sensible, slight criticism/caution is a major red flag imho. That's unfortunate...
And by the way, I immediately saw Sage's name on that website, it was pretty obvious.
 

Sage

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What's funny about the name is that I used A. Sage, and later thought I probably should've used a fake name...but even though it said I successfully changed my name, it still shows up as A. Sage. Also, I'm still the "newest" author on there. As long as he's letting sketchy pubs on the site, I'm happy to know that there aren't many people signing up. The last novel pitched on there was put up a week ago.

I thought it was a great idea, but opted to watch with caution before registering. Thank you for your dilligence vetting the guy not vetting!

I don't think it's necessarily going to give anyone an edge because I don't know how many legit agents or publishers will happen upon the site, but I also think it doesn't hurt to have another way to pitch...as long as someone somewhere is doing vetting of any requests. Most AWers, I'd hope, would know to research any agent or publisher who requested from them, but there are so many authors out there who don't know about the scammers and the problems with inexperienced agents/pubs. Even if he vetted, some bad eggs might get through. Who would've said no Mark Gottlieb or Danielle Smith a few months ago? But it'd be good to have some sort of guard up front, when it's most likely going to be the most vulnerable authors who join and the least desirable agents and publishers who request. He talks on his blog about some agency who (according to QT stats) have only requested 1 full in the past 90 days. What are the chances that that agency will even stop by, much less request off this forum. Probably nil.

OTOH, as long as an author doesn't count on this as the single way to pitch, and they're doing research on those who request, having one more way to pitch the book and having one more place to put it that doesn't exclude querying an agent personally wouldn't be a bad idea. The guy running it, though, seems to feel that this is meant to replace querying. Luckily, he doesn't get to make those decisions for authors.
 

RolandWrites

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From the FAQS from the website there's a question "Do you vet agents and publishers" and the answer is: Yes. When an author registers, I receive an e-mail telling me who it is. When an agent or publisher registers, I also receive an e-mail but must affirmatively approve them before they are allowed to access the site. Before I grant the access, I research the agency or publishing house. The purpose of this extra step is to reduce if not eliminate fraud.

So there's that. And he thinks this site will replace query letters because "Control of the process. If you’re an agent who really wants to find an Amish horror story set in the 1700s, then search for it instead of reviewing 100s of queries in your inbox that are unresponsive."

I just think this site is largely not worth anyone's time. Both the publisher's on the site aren't great ones, and he seems fine with it.
 

mrsmig

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And he thinks this site will replace query letters because "Control of the process. If you’re an agent who really wants to find an Amish horror story set in the 1700s, then search for it instead of reviewing 100s of queries in your inbox that are unresponsive."

If an agent wants an Amish horror story set in the 1700s, all said agent has to do is state it on their website or better yet, Tweet it. They'd be inundated.

I don't think this guy understands the way agents work.
 

Sage

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#mswl is part of the reason he thinks this is the better way. He thinks their requests are either too specific or too vague to be helpful. Whereas, I find that an agent who wants something like that might also be interested in (although they didn't ask) a fantasy novel set in Amish country, a historical horror novel, an Amish mystery set in the 1700s. If someone is searching for the keywords of "amish" "horror," they won't find a book that they still might have liked. It also ignores the gems that an agent doesn't know they want: the fairy book that enchanted the agent even though they swore they'd never read about fairies; the portal book that transported them even though they said portals were over with; the witch book that cast a spell on them, even though they're so sick of queries about witches. They wouldn't #mswl those or search for them on a site like this (or a twitter pitch party) but they might find one in their inbox and request.

He added that to the FAQ after we initially spoke, Roland. He also stressed to me that he wanted authors to report fraud to him. I still think that fraud might cover the Mark Gottliebs and Danielle Smiths, but it doesn't cover the inexperienced publishers who don't know what they're doing or who expect authors to buy their own books to sell or who ask the authors to pay for their own covers or who have bad contracts for authors, but all are completely legal and following a contract the author signed. If anything, I think that language is dangerous because it suggests to authors that he is vetting the agents and publishers he allows on the site. After adding that to the site, he still made it clear that he had no intention of researching the agents and publishers beyond making sure they were really agents and publishers, and that he shouldn't be held to a higher standard than twitter pitch parties. He kept pointing to them, claiming it was a double standard that they don't have to vet (which is impossible), and he should have to (when he is the administrator of his site), so it was clear that he doesn't intend to do more work than that. But his language in that FAQ suggests he is looking out for authors. That's more dangerous than not having any language about it at all. And he still has no language about authors researching the agents and pubs that request, even after being told that the two on his site requesting are questionable.

The cynical side of me thinks that he's so desperate to show that the site works that he's afraid he won't get any agents or pubs who are more legit than those two pubs to actually request. While he might not think in those terms exactly, the wave of invites he sent out to authors shows that he does want to prove his site works with more traffic to it. He said at some point something like, "The more authors we have, the more agents and publishers will come to request." It's impossible to see whether he invited more legit agents and pubs, since he has hundreds and hundreds of author invites in his twitter feed, but the ones I saw were all small publishers (not necessarily bad ones, though obviously those were there too). I saw no attempt to get any big name agents interested in his site. If he's scared of critical feedback, maybe of agents saying, "That doesn't work," and disproving his claim that the site was useful for authors, so he's only going to invite smaller pubs for now, he might be afraid to have to deny access to some of them and have nothing to show for his site. Like if an author only queried questionable or inexperienced agents because they're more likely to get a request and up their query stats. :Shrug: Only it's other authors' novels he's playing that game with.
 
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Robots

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He's continuing to insist you aren't a writer and that you're "hiding" behind a Twitter handle. Which...is your name. *rolls eyes*

https://asawl.com/setting-the-record-straight-how-asawl-com-vets-agents-and-publishers/

O.M.G.

Way to go with your aggressive and unfounded accusations, Saco ! :D

No seriously, I don't like the (sometimes passive) aggressive tone of his tweets and blog posts. He recently also tweeted something like, anyone who has doubts about the website should take a five-figure number of his own money and try to make a better one...it all comes across as very arrogant and unpleasant.
 

Kjbartolotta

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...

I might be getting a little obsessed with this. Thank God I burned down my Twitter account & have nothing constructive to add. The dude seems to go from "Great question, wow!" to a flaming ball of man-rage and Sage denialism so fast.

I've been on this site a minute, have no reason to believe the people I interact with are fake/reptilian-shapeshifters posing as human to give bad writing advice. But it seems to be a commonly registered complaint.

I am I real? Or simply part of the conspiracy? :foilhat:
 
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Sage

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LOL.

I can't see his tweets, but I can show you my side of the conversation. He had a tweet that invited feedback, so I started with:

Do you do any vetting of agents and publishers? I notice that you have no language on your site about authors researching the agents and publishers who request.

He told me he did check to make sure that agents and publishers were in companies and that he'd add that info to the FAQ. The tweet was similar to the FAQ item Roland quoted.

I said:
When I say "vet" I don't mean "Make sure they're really part of an agency or publishing house." I mean, "Make sure that they're experienced, don't have any warnings on AW or Writer's Beware, aren't vanity publishers, aren't scammers."
&
My concern is, in your rush to get people to your site, you *invited* an inexperienced publisher, who's 1 of 2 requesting right now. The other is reported by the owner of Writer's Beware to have a bad contract. Who's looking out for the authors you've mass invited to your site?
I don't know what it says on WB, but on AW, Victoria Strauss reported that publisher has a bad contract back in January. The other opened her publishing house a month ago.

He pointed to twitter pitch parties and asked if that was a double standard and asked if I thought agents should also be experienced. This might be where he asked which pub was reported on WB (I mean, there was a 50/50 shot). Since I was answering on a break, I never looked up if they were actually on WB, but I knew the info was easy to find. We seem to have two different definitions of "mass invite" too. Mine was more like "spam" since he had sent out hundreds of invites to authors on different authoring hashtags with the same message, but I was being generous.

I addressed the twitter part:

Twitter pitch parties aren’t individually okaying agents & publishers to use their site. They also tend to have warnings to authors to research any likes, which is all they can do, as they don’t run twitter. You are the facilitator of your site. You can do more.
&
Twitter pitch parties don’t mass invite. They don’t @ authors saying “come join my great site.”

&, yes, I mean agents as well as pubs. Right now only 2 people have requested off your site. They’re both questionable pubs.

He continued on about Twitter pitch parties, said something about authors reporting fraud, and that he does vet agents and pubs. At no point did he say he even so much as looked on WB for them to me, but we know that WB is excellent but also waits to build up a base of information before reporting. They also probably don't report on the dangers of each inexperienced publisher as they open.

Me:
Twitter pitch parties have nothing to do with your site. Wasn't your site supposed to be the "better" way? Your site okays each agent & pub. You say you vet, but you also say you only make sure they belong to an agency/publishing house. That's not vetting.

Reporting fraud doesn't cover agents who only submit to the smallest (or self-) publishers. Doesn't cover agents who have no connections to publishers. Doesn't cover publishers w/ bad (but legal) contracts. Doesn't cover publishers who expect you to buy your own books to sell

Doesn't cover agents/pubs that opened yesterday & have no experience in the biz. Doesn't cover publishers who expect authors to pay for copyediting & cover art. Doesn't cover publishers who market to authors, not to readers. These are things you can find on sites like AW & WB

And then he blocked me.

You can let me know if I made aggressive or unfounded accusations. I can take it.

I appreciate that he finally has language somewhere on the site about authors doing research into anyone who requests. Too bad it comes after a 600-word rant about...well, me :e2seesaw:

Oh, and thank you to whoever stuck up for me :e2flowers
 

Kjbartolotta

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Oh no, I read it. And reread it full of mirth and bile. You were typical Sage, helpful/clear/respectful/kind-of-scary-but-in-a-good-way. Dude doesn't strike me as a scammer, just thinks he's built a better mousetrap and utterly unable to take any criticism (because he's sunk a lot of money into it, apparently). I control my store's Twitter and kinda wanna jump in, but the Paladins of AW have already ridden jumped in valiantly. It's sorta amazing the dude RT'd the conversation, not a good look.
 

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