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[YADS] Authors Seeking Agents Wish List

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VeryBigBeard

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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.

Wonderful, he's installed a basic comment moderation plug-in. Welcome to Wordpress.

The thing is, if someone could actually develop an app (I'd go app, not site, for a variety of reasons) that would effectively tag queries for agents, that could be useful. The problem is a.) usability (no small thing), and b.) market adoption. Also, moderation--because what you really need is a way to make sure that John Q. Author who's written a horror western a.) knows that he's written a horror western and to label it as such, and b.) doesn't falsely jump on YA or upmarket or something because he feels that's where the sales are. In other words, the same problems that cause people to query agents who don't rep a genre would also plague any display site.

Funnily enough, AW is the best place I've seen for such a system because it has an active community and an active mod team. So you post a piece on SYW and most of the time it goes in the right sub-board or gets moved there. And queries, by and large, get labelled by genre and such. Doing that algorithmically, like most start-ups want to do these days, is much, much harder. And there's no money it.

None of this is a defense of YADS. More like, when YADS pops up, these are the questions the founder(s) has never, ever managed to answer. Because they're not easier questions. There are flaws with the query process, but it's a process that works and it's a process agents have more or less decided to use en masse. That's worth something.
 

Sage

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because what you really need is a way to make sure that John Q. Author who's written a horror western a.) knows that he's written a horror western and to label it as such, and b.) doesn't falsely jump on YA or upmarket or something because he feels that's where the sales are. In other words, the same problems that cause people to query agents who don't rep a genre would also plague any display site.

Ah, like how 90% (my estimate) of authors who ever queried a magical realism novel were really querying fantasy novels, but they thought "magical realism" sounded better, matched a trend better, or was another name for contemporary fantasy?

One thing I do like about this site is the wide variety of "genres" (they're not all genres) available to tag your book. I was fascinated by them, and saw magical realism, and wondered how many MR books would be on there. It was the first thing I searched for (before investigating the requesters). 5 magical realism novels. 2 were also tagged "urban fantasy," and it can't be both UF and MR. One was waaayy super fantasy but only tagged as MR. One was time travel (possible I saw that novel discussed on AW or in a contest once). One might've been what a non-Latin-American writer might consider MR (not enough details to tell).

An agent looking for MR would be just as disappointed on this site as they would in their inbox. And an agent looking for a fantasy like the one that only called itself MR would never find that book on this site because they'd be searching in fantasy. But in the inbox, that fantasy-called-MR would show up and surprise them, even though they'd prolly give a little chuckle at the genre. So now, both the agent and author are missing out.
 

eqb

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Interesting update: Someone named Jeff sent a DM to my agent, calling me "a twitter bully who has inexplicably attacked another author on Twitter." He also mentioned my publisher in the message, which makes me think he sent them a DM too. Jeff's Twitter account was created yesterday. He has a total of 5 tweets, mostly about ASAWL. Gosh, I wonder who "Jeff" could be?

ETA: "Jeff" is now posting comments on ASAWL's blog. If ASAWL's owner is reading this thread, please stop digging yourself deeper into that hole.
 
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VeryBigBeard

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Granted, I've run across more than a few agent MSWL pages and blogs that seem somewhat unaware about the exact specs of MR as a genre, too. It's not the easiest genre to define.

But yeah, that's exactly the problem. Also, genres change, at least in their colloquial use. See the discussion not that long ago about what exactly "grounded fantasy" should be taken to mean, or even what exactly makes a fantasy urban (where some people have very different standards). That's all part and parcel of discussing books, but for querying purposes it's often best to go with the broader genre anyway, and then make the book's particular quirks more apparent in the query.
 

Sage

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Okay, since he wants to set the record straight, I posted a comment to that blog post. It hasn't shown up yet, so I don't know if he has to approve it. It is also very long, so it's possible it disappeared into the aether, but I didn't receive an error. This is what I wrote:

Well, if we're going to set the record straight, let's do it, shall we? If an author has been part of a watchdog site for 13 years & honestly cares about the well-being of other authors, she might register on a site like this for 2 reasons: 1) curiosity about her own pitching & the site's effectiveness, & 2) concern about whether the site throws authors into the path of agents and publishers who they'd be better off avoiding. What I found was that there were only 2 people requesting off this site so far. One was a publisher who opened a month ago. One is a publisher who is reported by the owner of Writer Beware to have a bad contract (the report is on Absolute Write. It's easy to figure this out with only 2 publishers to research). It is ridiculous to suggest I was not registered on the site, when I had information you could see only after registering, or that A. Sage wasn't clearly Sage Collins (or, for that matter, that any author couldn't use a pseudonym on either twitter or while pitching their books in any fashion).

At the time I asked the question, the owner had no language on here about how agents and publishers are vetted or about how authors should research anyone who requests. He added the former during our conversation and more detail about it here. He added the latter after 600 words ranting about...me. But the important point you should take from this, authors, is to research any request you get better than he is doing.

There are 2 publishers requesting on here. It would take about 5 minutes each to find out why I warned against them; less, considering I told him to check out AW, and he's been linked to it many times in the past few days. Checking out the WB thumbs-down list is a good start, but that only has the worst of the worst. It doesn't even have some of the biggest agency scandals happening now--frex: an agent who has been sending out novels to publishers before he tells the author he wants to offer rep, spams editors so nobody will work with him, and makes up false contracts so authors will sign with a self-publishing assistance house, thinking it's a publisher. He's not on the thumbs-down list, so he would be approved for this site (to be clear, I'm not saying he currently is). Authors, do your research!

I'd hope a publisher with a bad contract is obviously not one you want to sign with. Let's talk about inexperienced agencies and publishers. An author gets 1 shot at first publication rights. An inexperienced publisher is, first of all, an unknown. They might do everything right, somehow, but you can't know that because they have nothing out there to research. But publishers who come in with no experience (notice, I'm not talking about new houses with people who have experience in the publishing business) are likely to have poor editing, poor distribution, & poor marketing. Once your book's published, you've lost those rights forever. Why not go with a publisher with experience and a track record you can see, and know what you're getting into? As for an inexperienced agent, if they're not working with an experienced agent, they will almost certainly not have any connections to good publishers (trade or small press). They also might not be versed in what a good contract looks like, and do damage to the author's book and career. Why would an author want to sign with an agent who couldn't do more than they could themselves?

It's hard to put that into a tweet, but surely someone who is developing a "better" way to pitch to agents & publishers would be interested in protecting those authors from experiences that would be bad for their novels. They wouldn't point to other pitching places as examples of why they shouldn't be responsible for that, right? They would want to research a publisher before literally inviting them to use the site, right? They would want to do the research into each individual approval themselves, right? Especially when there are only 2 publishers right now, requesting from the site. Seems easy enough to research. And then on a one-by-one basis as agents and publishers sign up. That have to be personally approved by the administrator. Wouldn't approving them seem to....approve of them?

Of course, unknown bad eggs might slip through. A few months ago, there were no reports of a few bad agents who recently came to light, including the one I talked about above. (I don't name him here because he's not known to be connected to the site, & is litigious, and I wasn't looking to get the site shut down). Even if the admin was diligent about protecting authors, authors should also be diligent about researching anyone who requests. Even a good agent or publisher might not be the right one for you.

Upon pointing out ways in which an agent or publisher might be bad for authors that aren't considered "fraud" (and I lament that it's on the authors to be subject to fraud before the admin will do something about protecting the next author from anyone but the most extremely bad agencies and publishers), I was blocked from the admin's twitter feed. So while he claims to want feedback, apparently only to the extent where he can add a line to the FAQ and call it done. Anything more is "aggressive" and, according to the comment above, "bullying."

Perhaps this comment will never show up. Perhaps I'll be blocked from the site. That's the admin's right. He owns the site, & it's his to display only what he wants to allow to display. But it would speak volumes to *me* about where the priorities of the site are, if that were to happen.

Lots of love,
Sage, aka "Saco," aka Sage Collins, aka A. Sage

ETA: Some time today (I can't say whether it's before or since I sent in the comment), he's updated his FAQ to finally include information about authors doing research, as well as going into more detail about his vetting process (though he leaves it open as, "include, but are not limited to," which could mean anything from, "I don't do anything more" to "I completely research every agent and publisher who enters this site;" I still worry that this gives the impression that he does more than he actually does, since those two pubs are still on the site, but maybe he will do more in the future). He also added to the FAQ about blocking people who don't follow rules, "I also reserve the right to block individuals who exhibit bullying behavior." That'd be what commenter Jeff called me and EQB asking questions about protecting authors. I expect to be blocked pretty soon.
 
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novicewriter

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...He also added to the FAQ about blocking people who don't follow rules, "I also reserve the right to block individuals who exhibit bullying behavior..."

:Wha: It was such "bullying" behavior that he changed his FAQ after you mentioned your concern about certain things?
 

Sage

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TBF, the admin hasn't blocked me yet. They called me "aggressive," but they haven't used the word "bullying" about me themselves. Only commentator Jeff has.
 

novicewriter

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TBF, the admin hasn't blocked me yet. They called me "aggressive," but they haven't used the word "bullying" about me themselves. Only commentator Jeff has.

Oh. I thought he was also including his Twitter account in that rule, too, not only his site.
 

Sage

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It specifically says "block me from using the site" on the FAQ. The twitter blocking does say something about the admin, but with regards to the FAQ, it's talking about the site, and, to the best of my knowledge, they haven't personally claimed I'm a bully.
 

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I remember others over the years creating sites like this for authors to upload their info and agents to look through, I don't think any of them worked.

Personally, I don't like using sites where there is not an About Us page that provides information about the owner/CEOs of the site and their background, etc. Not sure why anyone would need to hide that info if you're on the up and up. Also, I don't like that anyone who has an account, besides an agent, can peruse through other author's pitches and info. Just my 2-cents and why I'd likely not use it.

Edited to add something I just thought of: I think one site where this type of functionality would work is QueryTracker since they already have an amazing presence in the writing/publishing community. I'd use that if Patrick ever did something like that. :)
 
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VeryBigBeard

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I remember others over the years creating sites like this for authors to upload their info and agents to look through, I don't think any of them worked.

Indeed. That's why we have a special name for them: YADS. Yet Another Display Site.

I think you can find them in the Index going back pretty much to the beginning in the early 2000s. My guess is they've been around longer than even that.

They never work for anybody.

Edited to add something I just thought of: I think one site where this type of functionality would work is QueryTracker since they already have an amazing presence in the writing/publishing community. I'd use that if Patrick ever did something like that. :)

I had QueryTracker, as well as sites like MSWL.com, in mind earlier, too. None are display sites, exactly, because given the incredible variety of authors and writing out there, it really makes a lot more sense for agents to post profiles and for authors to do what is really not a difficult amount of basic research. And even on those sites, it's wise to cross-reference and check. Just because an agent is listed on QT or a publisher on Pub Marketplace or Writer's Digest doesn't mean they're a good agent or publisher. Different places do different levels of vetting. Some do none at all.
 

Sage

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Is that what a YADS is? I thought it was for displaying the actual story, not for pitching. Huh. Should I change the title of the thread to say "YADS"?

I had a realization today about why the admin has seemed so offended--even after changing the FAQ (and the script) thanks to my feedback. You know how sometimes authors feel like it's a sign that their novel was awful, if they admit they've signed with a bad agent or publisher. Of course, it might not be a sign that the novel is bad, just that the author didn't protect themselves from the bad agent/publisher. That agent/publisher would've taken on any good, bad, brilliant, or disastrous novel that came their way. But the author defends the agent/publisher longer than they should because otherwise, in their mind, they'd be saying the book shouldn't have been repped or pubbed at all.

I think this is how the admin interpreted my advice. Instead of taking it as it was meant--that based on the pubs they invited onto there, better vetting was needed in the future and some language should appear on the site to remind authors to research any requests to further protect themselves--they saw it as, "These two pubs are bad ones, so it completely invalidates your site." Thus, they cling to those pubs, the only two who, still, so far have requested, claiming that it would be discriminatory to exclude brand-new publishers and that any claims that one of them has a bad contract is "unsubstantiated" despite being pointed towards the report in different ways. Because to admit that they're wrong, would be to a) lose the only requesters on the entire site and b) would suggest, to them at least, that something is wrong with the site. So I'm "accusatory," "aggressive," and "trashing" the site...even as he changes the site and his story to reflect my advice


I'm pretty sure Jeff is a sockpuppet for the owner, and he has called both of us bullies.

I mean, without proof, I don't want to say this is a certainty, but it is awful suspicious looking. Guy comes onto twitter: "This is my first tweet." "I finished a book and am starting querying." "Hey, look at this cool new site I found. The vetting process there is totally great." Then immediately gets caught up in bad-mouthing EQB to her agent, her publisher, and his 7 followers, and bad-mouthing me on the ASAWL blog. I mean, it seems like a pretty weird thing to get obsessed about on your first day on twitter/querying unless you have a connection to the site. And since he's not signed up on there (or at least not with the same name, which the owner thinks means you're hiding something or not a real writer), one wonders what connection he could possibly have.

ETA: Oh, hey, that is what YADS stands for. I found a Writer Beware article about them, linked from the AW dictionary FAQ: https://accrispin.blogspot.com/2006/01/victoria-strauss-more-dubious-writers.html
 
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VeryBigBeard

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I think YADS is officially for story display sites, but I feel like this is close enough. It's a query display site. Same idea.

CaoPaux is the authority, here. But I'll settle for Writer Beware, too. :greenie
 

CaoPaux

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YADS is as YADS does. :hat: IMNSHO, if it claims "agents and publishers will find you!!1!" then it's a display site. Doesn't matter if it asks for whole work, excerpt, or what. And should it ever ask for money too, then, well, that's a whole 'nother level of Bad Idea.
 

Sage

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Just popped my head onto the ASAWL site after seeing that one of the two publishers who had requested the last time I was on has potentially gone out of business (and is ghosting her authors). New entries have definitely slowed up since the summer, although there was a new entry as recently as 2 days ago. However, I see no evidence that anyone other than those same two publishers has ever requested from the site. The other publisher last requested 2 months ago.

Probably not the response the site's creator expected, but hopefully it means few people are being preyed upon by bad or inexperienced publishers.
 

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I see he put up a blog post, whining about a comment I made on Twitter. Saying I didn't even research his website. Eyeroll.

I did a short thread awhile back with my querying stats, and my process for finding an agent through cold querying. He jumped in, unasked, and invited me to use his site. He obviously didn't read the thread, or would have realised I was talking in retrospect.

Now I'll be mildly annoyed all day. At least he's blocked.
 

Sage

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I saw that blog post and thought it was ironic since the last discussion we had on here before that was whether it was a YADS or not.

Any sort of criticism rates the need for a blog post, I guess.

I just like that he keeps touting it as "the first of its kind with no predecessors or competitors," when the WB link I added in here (from 2006) about YADS proves that it's really nothing new.
 

Sage

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Something reminded me of this site today, so I thought I'd check in. I don't know if this was always true, but it turns out that because I have a Wordpress account with the same e-mail I signed in with, I can see all the comments ever made on both the blog and the entries. Therefore, I can see that those 2 publishers (both questionable) are still the only ones who have requested, and no agents. Since the above, only 2 comments have been from one of those publishers, and the other 6 comments were spam. Still, people have been pitching up to a couple weeks ago. Of course, it doesn't hurt to pitch. Just as long as nobody is taken in by a scammer or a questionable agent or publisher.
 

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