Writer Beware and “The Write Agenda”

Many of you are aware of Writer Beware, the fantastic resource spearheaded by Victoria Strauss and Ann Crispin (and supported by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, among other groups), which researches, documents and informs writers about the various scammers out there who pose as legitimate editors, publishers and agents. Writer Beware shines a light on the scumbaggery that these people do, thereby making it harder for them to separate writers from their money. So it’s not entirely surprising that some of them would try to turn the tables on Victoria, Ann and Writer Beware, and attempt — poorly — to make it look like they are somehow bad guys.

One such group is “The Write Agenda,” which gives the impression that it’s an organization of writers that impartially looks at writing information online. What it actually appears to be doing is targeting Writer Beware, its principals, and other industry pros who have gone out of their way to point out scammers and the scams they pull. If “The Write Agenda” can give the impression that it is a legitimate group, it can then cast doubt on the work that Writer Beware does for writers.

One reason it won’t work is because Writer Beware is doing what it does best: Documenting the obnoxious mendacity of these cretins, and pointing out the flaws in their logic, such as it is. While Victoria, Ann and Writer Beware were content to ignore this nonsense while it was only them targeted for this stupidity, they’re coming forward now because these jerks are now widening their targets:

… we’ve become concerned by the way TWA’s venom seems to be spilling beyond the “watchdogs” and into the wider writing and publishing community. TWA’s rapidly growing “boycott list” now includes many writers who have nothing at all to do with Writer Beware or WB’s activities; one writer is on the list for nothing more than the crime of having Victoria as a guest on her radio show (she blogged about TWA’s attempts to hijack the interview even as it was being conducted); others are included, apparently, simply because they’re SFWA members. Recently, TWA posted hundreds of one-star reviews and ratings of “boycott” authors’ books on Goodreads (see #2 on the Screenshots page for an example); these reviews were flagged by Goodreads as spam and removed, but not before they prompted some angry responses by targeted authors.

Basically, it appears as if scumbags whose cons are being thwarted by Writer Beware are trying to intimidate Victoria and Ann into silence through lies and misinformation. And, well. You can see how well it’s working.

Let me speak briefly about Victoria Strauss and Ann Crispin. Ann I know personally and have for some years now; Victoria I know through my work as president of SFWA. These two women are, clearly and unambiguously, the good guys. Writer Beware isn’t some massive machine and it’s not something these two (and a few others) do for money or for fame — there’s not any of that here. These two do it because as writers and publishing professionals they are paying it forward. They are helping out those who need help today and teaching them how to navigate through the publishing world, so that they will be able to help those who come up behind them. It’s a lot of work and takes a lot of dedication. They don’t get near enough thanks for it, although clearly they are doing what they do so well that they’ve made some especially vindictive enemies.

Unlike those who are going out of their way to trash Victoria, Ann and Writer Beware, I’m not hiding behind of phalanx of apparently fake groups, names and social media accounts — I’m an actual live person, actually working professionally in the writing industry, who actually knows Ann and Victoria and who has benefited from the hard work they have put into Writer Beware. If Writer Beware’s long and honorable history of sticking up for writers — and sticking it to scammers — isn’t enough to convince you of its good works, consider this my personal endorsement.

Returning to The Write Agenda, I’ll note that I myself am on its Author Boycott List. I could not possibly be prouder of this particular achievement of mine. As far as I can see it means that when it comes to being someone who speaks out for authors against those who would scam and deceive them, I am on the side of the angels — as are, I will note, rather a healthy number of writers and publishing industry professionals who I consider friends and colleagues. Indeed, I suspect that soon a number of other authors I know will go examine the list and be positively hurt they are not on the boycott list as well. I say: Try harder, my friends. Apparently all you need to do to get on the list is inform new and emerging writers about scammers, predators, and possibly also their deceptive front organizations. If you want to know how to get started on that, check with Writer Beware. It has some ideas for you.

124 thoughts on “Writer Beware and “The Write Agenda”

  1. Does SFWA (or other writer organizations) provide lists of sites similar to Writer Beware for their developing writers? (or are these sites targeted just at unknown/unpublished authors?

  2. W000t! Hey, I’m on their boycott list! I’m not sure it’s an honor I deserve, but man, I promise to do my best to live up to — and hopefully build upon — their dislike of me going forward.

  3. Any organization that is requesting books for its First Annual Book Burning is not on the side of angels.

  4. *Opens the Writer Boycott List*

    *Hits the ESC key to stop the obnoxious flashing GIF*

    *Starts spending this month’s bookbuying money*

    Unfortunately, I am morally opposed to purchasing through Amazon, so I won’t be helping the sales ranks there. Alas. Just going to have to support my local, independent bookseller.

  5. Thanks for the shout-out for Writers Beware. It’s one of the first places I send people when they have questions about particular publishers and agents. They do such a terrific job.

    Apparently I’m too milquetoast to make The Write Agenda’s list. Makes me feel like I got an “Insufficient Effort” grade.

  6. Checked out the Write Agenda site. They must be very depressed. Only 12 followers.
    I will keep the list of boycotted writers that they have listed to keep for recommendations as to what I should purchase. Too bad it’s not the same status as the banned books that “A Brave New World” and Mark Twain were on. But we do what we can.

  7. Gosh, that Write Agenda website is a pounding headache waiting to happen. They may be bullies, but their web design skills are terrible.

  8. Even better was looking at the “21 Reasons” to not trust Victoria Strauss, which includes screen grabs from FB, one of which is her talking about running. Um, we’re not supposed to trust her because she runs and has a sense of humor? Holy carp.It’s ludicrous, but sad that some folks will take these asshats seriously.

  9. After clicking on “http://thewriteagenda.wordpress.com/author-boycott-list/” my computer replied, “Malicious website blocked” …

    Computers are pretty smart sometimes.

  10. I knew there was -some- pushback against Writers Beware from the “subsidy” or “co” publishing folks, mainly due to different expectations I think, largely centered around the old “advance/royalty-paying, book-promoting publishing is being the big bad gatekeeper and self/subsidy/co publishing meets my goals” side of things. (When WB isn’t *against* these things per say, only against offering to do one thing and delivering another.)

    This “The Write Agenda” thing is … bizarre. Like… well, I don’t understand it. It really looks like a personal and fairly nasty campaign against Victoria.

    That said… I’m leery of mud-wrestling with pigs. I hope to stay out of the mud if possible.

  11. I had to poke around some more, because someone is wrong on the internet. . . .

    I looked at their documentation for refuting the “investigation” claim and realized that they never contact either the actual municipality the company is based in, nor did they appear to write to the state’s consumer protection bureau, which most of their “documentation” tells them they should do.

    Feeling weirdly validated, I now go off to write. May I someday do well enough to get on their Banned list. . . .

  12. It’s like this: when in high school, I sent a poem to Poetry.com and OMG they “picked” it for their Library of Congress deposited anthology! This would be like me, when learning about the scam, going “full psycho” because I was so enamored by being “published” that I attacked all the messengers for ruining my little party. Instead of going, “OK, well, I suppose I’d better write something better and/or just be OK with how the world really works.”

  13. The flashing GIF ALONE would be more than enough information to tell me that this site is utter rubbish. Seriously, who would be willing to trust the judgement of anyone willing to display that image?

  14. JH Stevens: THE VAST RUNNING CONSPIRACY IS HEADED BY HARUKI MURAKAMI. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. (Sorry, I know that’s going off topic. But this whole thing is so bizarre I don’t know what else to do.)

  15. I’m *delighted* to be in the same club with you, Victoria & Ann! It’s an honor.

    Thanks so much for this blog, you said all the stuff I’m feeling. Am sharing/bookmarking ….now!

    ;0) – Pat Elrod

  16. I *owe* Writer’s Beware.

    I am a VERY smalltime freelance writer who had a client who seemed… well, maybe okay, but I wasn’t sure. (It was SEO writing. No-one stone me, please).

    Things went okay for a few months until the individual was quite late in paying me for a particular job and putting me off with excuses. I went looking for my client’s name on Writer’s Beware, and lo and behold, I found out he was doing business under another name where he’d trashed his rep and owed a business partner a lot of money. He was also facing legal action. I made him aware I’d found out about this, and he paid me right away. I never did business with him again, but I do check out Writer’s Beware before accepting new clients.

    So, yeah. Go Ann and Victoria!

  17. A very amateurishly written site, by one or two people with a huge axe to grind. Proud to be on the boycott list too!

  18. Seconding Ed Quayles … my workplace blocked the site as a “proxy risk.” Too bad. The “boycott” list turns out to be what’s needed for them to fulfill their nominal mission of helping writers. :-)

  19. Looks like the targeted authors are, by and large, also members of Absolute Write Forums.

    And I’m not on the list. Must. Try. Harder.

  20. Writer’s Beware saved me from a world of hurt and possible financial losses when I was contacted by one of the worst agents ever. Before I even began to think about being published, I checked with Writer’s Beware and found the agents name at the top of list (with the research to back up their opinion!) Without a place to research that is informative, insightful, and realistic, many of us emerging writers would be easy prey. We want to be published so much that we’ll do stupid things. I am very thankful that people like Ann and Victoria exist and care about me- the unknown writer struggling to learn the businee- the real business! I’m behind them 100%, the proof is in their actions and behaviors.

  21. That is one of the crappiest looking websites I’ve seen in a long time. Apparantly P.N. Elrod has been pissing them off a lot lately. As a someday hope to be published writer, I appreciate the hell out of Writer Beware.

  22. If the Write Agenda is a website created by writers &/or editors, they fail at their intent: I have no idea what their complaint against Writer Beware is. Burying the lede, there. Perhaps a copy of Strunk & White would help.

  23. Good luck on shutting these annoying people down. Any website that does not say who posted it or give real contact information immediately triggers my suspicions and that webdesign is just so painful to look at.

  24. Sean Holland:

    Shutting them down isn’t really the goal — at least it’s not my goal. My goal is getting information out there on what they are doing (dumping on people doing genuine good for writers) and why (because they’re making it hard for scammers to scam).

  25. *Clicks on the boycott list* Definitely checking out some of these other authors (I’m already a fan of some authors — Scalzi, I’m primarily look at you! — Yay!)

    I love the fact that they’re paranoid (I guess in case they’re afraid of being defamed for being scammers??). You need passwords to get to pages like “Defamation Watch”.

  26. Not that I’m defending The Write Agenda…but I never saw any “flashing GIF” on any part of their site. Which is just as well for me, I’m epileptic and such things can trigger seizures.

    I didn’t take a very close look at their site, just close enough to determine that Mr. Scalzi and the prior commenters are correct. Looks more like a “vendetta” site than an “unbiased information” site. Thanks to Mr. Scalzi for letting people know. To paraphrase the old saying, “Scam me once, shame on you. Scam me twice, shame on me.”

  27. TWA approaches word salad. Is the idea just to have a million pages with the boycotted names on it to rise in Google rankings, or are these people really utterly incapable of communicating an idea?

  28. One day, perhaps, I shall join your illustrious ranks and be a published author on their hate list. Until then, I suppose it’s time to go off to the bookstore. I need something to read before NaNoWriMo.

  29. @ Bob Portnell 3:37
    Aside from the real reason it was blocked, I was chuckling at the various levels “Malicious” rings true.

  30. From The Write Agenda’s home page:
    We are a group of individuals, writers, want-to-be authors and inquisitive wordsmiths that
    have become “literally” numb from reading the numerous author help related blog posts.
    Did the group all become numb at the same time or was it a creeping numbness? Did their brains go numb as well? Has it lasted?

    I’m thinking their brains were affected and that it did last. So let’s go easy on them. Poor babies.

  31. I left a question there asking how I can get on the list. I’ll let you know if I get an answer.

  32. Not directly related to this, but why does WB stress “MAY NOT BE REPRODUCED WITHOUT PERMISSION” so much on their pages (at least three different pages on one alert)? I’d think that WB would prefer people to disseminate information about the various scammers and such… in addition to the fact that the restriction is probably inaccurate (certainly parts of the post may be reproduced as fair use, for example as part of a news article, or a blog post that is effectively news [such as in the above blog post...]). Did they have some issue with a site maliciously reposting their content?

  33. Jennifer Davis Ewing @ 4:23pm – I think they’re referring to the “police light” that’s on the boycott page.

  34. Author Rita Webb had a run in with them a couple months ago that she posted.
    http://afantasyfiction.blogspot.com/2011/08/write-agenda-defines-hate-groups.html
    Looks like their MO is:
    1) Hide behind anonymity
    2) Send out bogus Cease and Desist orders to people that criticize them
    3) Post 1 star amazon reviews on books of people that criticize them

    They seem like they deserve more pity than ridicule. I can only imagine how awful it must be like living in their miserable little hate-filled world.

  35. I have to agree with Sean Holland (@4:08p) that being so aggressively anonymous is a definite red flag. Which is why this quote from TWA’s author boycott list page cracks me up:

    “Upon request, we will always welcome the opportunity to review a target’s activities to consider removal from our boycott list.”

    Um, how exactly would one submit such a request? No email, no snail mail, no contact info at all, that I can find.

  36. The thing I find most entertaining is that it’s so poorly written. You’d think that “a group of individuals, writers, want-to-be authors and inquisitive wordsmiths” would include at least one person who was familiar with proper word usage and would have informed them that, even had they become ” “literally”
    numb,” one does not use quotes for emphasis?

  37. The “responses” link doesnt load for me. Goes 404.
    The “angry” like right before it works fine.

    Maybe I’m not clicking on it correctly??? Or I didnt mumble the correct magic word before clicking??? These internet spells always confuse me.

  38. Kevin, because they’re actually con men. People who can actually write (and know things like not to use grocer’s quotes, and the meaning of the word ‘literally’) aren’t really their target market.

    But I ‘spect you know that.

  39. If you look at the comment thread on today’s Writer Beware post (‘The Agenda of “The Write Agenda” ‘), you can see a fine frothy anonymous rant in full Wall-o-Words style from a TWA sock puppet, complete with appalling punctuation, vague implied threats, and puffery. It’s followed by another gem: a signed anonymous post by another sock puppet.

    I wonder — if I signal-boost them, can I get on their boycott list despite having nothing to boycott? I’ll have to try!

  40. Thanks for the support, John and everyone who has commented so far–it’s really, really appreciated. (But I think there should be more ridicule. Much, much more ridicule.)

    snoopy369 asked, “Not directly related to this, but why does WB stress “MAY NOT BE REPRODUCED WITHOUT PERMISSION” so much on their pages (at least three different pages on one alert)?”

    A couple of reasons. First, Writer Beware is semi-frequently plagiarized. That notice is something I can point to when I contact the plagiarizer or send a DMCA notice to their web host (with a notice, it’s harder for them to claim they didn’t know they weren’t supposed to borrow). Second, we update our information on a fairly regular basis (for instance, new info was added to our Alerts page a couple of weeks ago, and I just created a new section on the Literary Agents page about agents who become publishers), and we don’t think it’s good to have oudated copy-and-pasted information floating around.

    We encourage links, and we’re fine with fair use quotes. We just don’t like it when people copy-and-paste big chunks or entire pages from our website onto their own websites or blogs. (By the way, “may not be reproduced” appears only on the main Writer Beware website–not on our blog. Not that I’m any happier when people reproduce my blog posts in full.)

  41. > Victoria Strauss Drops F-Bomb, Ann “A.C.”Crispin Thinks it’s OK: How Publishing Watchdogs Demonstrate Their Arrogance and Supremacy for Standards

    Say no more! I shall drop the S-Bomb.

    (“What is the S-Bomb?” I hear the dubious characters whisper.)

    SO WHAT?

  42. I knew someone who was delusional, heard voices, saw things that werent there. Reading the “The Write Agenda” website reminds me of conversations with delusion. Even if I didnt know anything about publishing and even if I didnt have direct knowledge of the people they are trying to insult, there is something about the style of that site which feels delusional. Everything is framed as the tip of some massive publishing conspiracy iceberg. And the ‘proof’ boils down to the most mundane thing, on par with putting their left sock on first when everyone knows that you should always put your right sock on first.

    It may be that con men or con women are behind the site, but it would not surprise me in the least if they also happen to believe the publishing industry is one grand conspiracy. or that they wrap their toothpaste in tinfoil to keep the gornshibs out of it.

  43. Thanks John, as a reader I am only standing at the sidelines but it is always nice to stay informed.

    Someone should send them a link to some writing and design classes. I assume they are trying to make an argument somewhere, but their text structures are such a mess I cannot start, body or conclusion.

  44. That boycott list is a pretty good example of how NOT to be persuasive. I don’t see how any random passer-by would be convinced to boycott anybody there.

  45. As for Victoria & Ann, let me remind y’all, in slight paraphrase, of Grover the Good’s presidential campaign slogan: “We love them best for the enemies they have made.”

    :>)

    JJB

  46. Wow, what a messy site, with messed up ideas. As a psych nurse, if a patient spoke that way I would probably suggest a tentative diagnosis of psychosis, possibly paranoid schizophrenia. They are obsessed with certain people, even though they make no sense in explaining WHY they hate these people. I read a few pages out of curiosity, just trying to figure out what they had against Victoria and Ann. I couldn’t figure it out at all. Their froth has no substance other than vague libelous bull. Definite disorganized thinking, another symptom of psychosis. Paranoia, delusions, perseverations, these people are freakin’ NUTS. If I were the people they are most focused on, I’d have a restraining order by now because they sound really scary. Of course, that would require knowledge of who the heck they are. But seriously, if the threats continue, people might want to get the police involved if they aren’t already. Paranoid delusional people can do some seriously irrational acts.

    One last petty note- their web design is crap!

  47. I have just posted the following on “Write Agenda’s” website, though my message doesn’t seem to have shown up there:

    Hey ! Why am -I- not on your BOYCOTT list!

    I served as president of Novelists, inc., an education and advocacy group for writers. And since trashing writers who volunteer in such endeavors seems to be your raison d’etre, I am deeply offended that you are not boycotting me! NINC is a national organization and I worked my butt off for it for two years. How DARE you neglect to boycott -me- when you’re boycotting current and past SFWA officers!

  48. Good grief, that boycott page was put together by a twelve-year-old. Not only badly written; what are the numbers on the right? What’s up with the asterisks? Why does the individual/entity column only have individuals in it, when there are so many entities one column over? What’s the difference between those, and the ones who get special mention above? Why are so many authors “affiliated with” Facebook? I had no idea! And what does it mean exactly that the Nielsen Haydens are affiliated with each other?

    I’m not so much surprised that they’re bad writers, but it’s always a little surprising to see such bad con artists.

  49. The Write Agenda site asks people to ‘keep an open mind and review all the facts’, so when looking at the boycott list, I tried really hard to figure out the purpose of the boycott…and I’m rather baffled.

    They said, “Our efforts are intended to be professional in nature and focused on persuading thousands, perhaps millions of book readers, book buyers, bookstores, libraries, book reviewers, literary agents, publishers and book enthusiasts to help in these boycott efforts.”

    So, let me get this straight…their efforts to boycott are intended to persuade folk to make an effort with the boycott? But why?

    They also said, “Boycotts, regardless of why they are initiated, can make sense…” I’m noting the word ‘can’, used here. It rather suggests that this one doesn’t, don’t you think?

    Then I noticed that the reason one person was on the list appeared to be about a comment he made on facebook about a bad experience with a publisher. That’s a reason to boycott people now?

    So, I kept an open mind, reviewed the facts, and The Write Agenda is clearly a load of rubbish attempting to undermine people with undeclared purposes and reasons which just don’t make sense.

  50. On an interesting side note, I tried to follow through the link that goes to the The Write Agenda’s banned author’s list, and McAfee came back with a warning page stating that the site has been flagged for suspicious activity. As if it wasn’t already obvious that it’s being run by scumbags. . .

  51. It’s surprising anyone would even try to take on Writer Beware on the internet. I guess if you haven’t heard of them, you could be biased against them, but they have such a firm reputation in every circle in which I travel. They certainly do valuable work. Thank you for standing up for them.

  52. Good for you. You may be amused (or disappointed!) to know, however, that when I clicked on your link to your name on the Write Agenda website, Trend Micro, my security software, blocked the Write Agenda site as potentially dangerous. This tells me that either there are some ugly worms lurking in that site, or Trend Micro is an sf writer in disguise. Possibly both.

  53. Wow, that Barbara Bauer is a piece of work. I didn’t know that she tried to sue a LINGUIST who did nothing more than use text from AW as a corpus for a paper on parody language! My gods. Some people need to lose access to the courts. Orly Taitz, anyone?

  54. VIctoria @ 6:10 pm: Thanks for the information! As I said on your blog, if I could get my espresso to froth like that, I’d be impressed.

  55. Isn’t it interesting how people who bitch the loudest about being defamed and lied about have a dire tendency to… well, selectively elide easily checkable quotes, draw conclusions not in evidence and make allegations that are *cough* not entirely wise from a legal standpoint?

    Jus’ saying.

  56. I’m at home on the desktop now:

    “but not before they prompted some angry responses by targeted authors”

    the link under “responses” doesn’t work on my desktop either.

    I assume its a bum link.

  57. As I look into this, I see that sock-puppets for “The Write Agenda” (and this “BB” person) are quite aggressive. I am surprised that they have not yet appeared here. Or… have they appeared here, and they are being filtered out?

  58. Had a look at “The Write Agenda” website and wish I hadn’t. Yech. What puzzles me is that anyone could take it seriously.

  59. Y’know, it’s a good list. You’re in some mighty good company there, but it’s not a great list.

    How can we get Neal Gaiman and Terry Pratchett on that list?

    @Victoria: Y’know, when I see ‘frothy’ and ‘scatological’ in the same sentence (well, paragraph, in this case), I immediately think of the word ‘santorum.’ I propose that ‘santoral’ should be the adjective form, eg: “I recognize the santoral style of her comments.”

  60. Pip, “BB” is Barbara Bauer, the fake literary agent who’s been suing everyone, and whom we suspect of being behind TWA. That’s TWA as in Ye Twa Corbies, not as in the new TV series and old airline.

  61. I thought you’d probably be on top of this development, John, so here I am.

    Julie Barrett alerted me earlier today that a sockpuppet posing as “Karen Blocker” [sic] posted an anonymous comment to the Writer Beware blog in support of TWA. This is interesting, because 1) I know how to spell my own name and 2) I never heard of this alleged group until today.

    Since I’m not a SFWA member and have no published novels to boycott, I’m assuming that the use of my misspelled name was intended as a minor bit of mischief in retaliation for my involvement with the BB Wikipedia article five years ago. Back then, I tried to find positive, factual information to add, such as evidence that she’d made any actual sales on behalf of clients. (We found two titles, IIRC.) That’s the only reason I can think of for the comment from pseudo-Karen. A brief, fraudulent endorsement from me (or, barely possible, a real one from an almost-namesake) isn’t going to win anybody over to TWA’s side of things.

    Karen Funk Blocher

  62. The TWA website looks like it was originally written in Russian and badly translated into English. The syntax and sense of the writing is just “off”.

  63. There are two links to the TWA site in the post. The first is just to their front page. The second, to the boycott page, is set up to run through a redirect. The redirecting site is the one triggering all the flags for malicious behaviour, and is incidently responsible for screwing with TWA’s site design. (They won’t win awards for design, sure, but not all the ugly is their doing.)

    So if anyone wants to see the site without all the crud, just pick the first link.

  64. I love that the authors of The Write Agenda have become ‘literally numb’ from reading critical blog posts. I’d call a doctor if that happened to me.

  65. Why is it that no one on the internet today can remember that it takes SEVEN layers of tinfoil before the hat works?

    I looked for the animated angel-kitty gifs, but they weren’t there. Strange. Natural habitat and all.

  66. Just another note: my work firewall has these no talent assclowns blocked as malicious as well. So I’m guessing venomous, incompetent AND computer pox-ridden. And I can’t witness the joy of seeing their list of the good guys.

  67. After reading the TWA Boycott list, I have to say that despite TWA[1] being incapable of stringing words together in coherent fashion, their choice of targets is downright uncanny. One wonders: just how they do they achieve such submediocrity in writing while correctly identifying so many great writers and editors?

    ________________
    [1] Due to my age, I will always first associate this particular three-letter initialism with the former world-renowned airline; only later, if I traverse my disambiguation-of-initialisms stack to near its bottom, will I recall The Write Agenda – another outfit that will never fly (not that it ever could).

  68. Old Leatherneck says: October 4, 2011 at 2:23 am: I love that the authors of The Write Agenda have become ‘literally numb’ from reading critical blog posts. I’d call a doctor if that happened to me.

    Sounds like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome to me. They should practice better ergonomic hygiene.

  69. I remember a few months back when they got noticed by Making Light, and the TWA posts got *really* specific really fast about Yog’s Law (“money flows towards the writer”; that seemed to peeve them for some reason, hmm?) and such. Good to know their hatred is more spread out now.

  70. They stole their flashing GIF from Matt Drudge! I didn’t read through the entire screed on the frontpage but this caught my eye:

    “be careful what you post . . . it’s getting litigious out there! Lawsuits and Cease & Desist Letters against authors are on the rise. Loyalty to some self-proclaimed publishing ‘watchdogs’ may have a price.”

    Wow.

  71. ah yes, a missing “ell”. I feel left out. I want to publish a book just to get on the banned authors list.

  72. I’d put myself in the new writer category. Thank you for this information. I always assume scammers are out there, but it’s good to have at least one known organization to watch out for.

  73. I liked how there was a link on the “Write Agenda” webpage asking for donations for their “First Annual Book Burning.” If that doesn’t tell you all you need to know about that site, I don’t know what will.

  74. I have been fans of Ann and Victoria (and the others who contribute) for a number of years now. The value of their work can’t be overestimated. They investigate, analyze and offer opinions on every shady, questionable or downright illegal practice brought to their attention, and they publicize all the information they uncover so that all of us may be forewarned. To the best of my knowledge, none of this work is paid, and a simple “Thank-you” seems sadly inadequate.

    Not only that, but their site and their associated blog is always entertaining reading.

    As for their detractors-of-the-moment, it saddens me that The Write Agenda will probably view the resulting uptick in their site stats as some kind of positive.

  75. Checked out the Write Agenda site. They must be very depressed. Only 12 followers.

    Nine of whom are sockpuppets, and two more of whom are just people keeping a wary on them.

  76. I do want to thank them for the boycott list, which gives me not only a handy reference of authors I should be sure to check out, but also a neat suggestion list for our library.

  77. I find it illuminating to look at the obfuscation and misdirection employed on their site. Their first link is to one claiming that WB is a lying liar and that there was no investigation into the one bookseller. I’m assuming, from the odd phrasing, that they are moving goalposts somehow (though I haven’t looked too closely at the initial charge and WB’s response summed up that it’s not really the issue at hand).

    What I find amusing is how they post about 8 pages of scanned letters from different Utah agencies saying they have no case on file…and each one points to another agency. One points out that they’re a local police department and they wouldn’t handle such a case, go to the state attorney. The state attorney points out that they wouldn’t handle this, the Utah consumer protection bureau would. Then several more police departments and the FBI, at least two of whom say this isn’t in their jurisdiction. But I can’t help but notice that they skipped the Utah consumer bureau…the one that the attorney general said they should go to. It seems pretty clear to me that they intentionally sent letters to groups they knew wouldn’t have any involvement as a false appeal to authority.

  78. At one point, I disagreed with Writer Beware because it seemed to be lumping Lulu and CreateSpace in with vanity/subsidy presses, and I thought that was wrong. It’s since been changed. I’m finishing up a book on micropublishing (things like family history where the potential “market” is one to 50 copies total), to be published by Information Today, Inc. (*not* a subsidy publisher!)–and Writer Beware is pointed to in the bibliography and in the text as the first place to check if some outfit appears to be an alternative to Lulu (and CreateSpace) as a zero-up-front service provider (NOT publisher). I regard Writer Beware as a great resource. [The Librarian's Guide to Micropublishing, ISBN 976-1-57387-430-4, out very late 2011 or early 2012.]

    WB sure sounds like a sock puppet for one particular subsidy publisher (oh, I’m sorry, “traditional” publisher that has you pay $880 as a returnable deposit…). And any “writer’s” site that urges people to boycott other writers automatically sends my BS-meter up to 11. (The centered text–really?–and flashing cop light are just frosting on that nasty little cake.) And as for encouraging libraries to boycott certain writers…really? Does WB know anything about libraries at all?

  79. I’ll be linking your post in my Sunday Links column on my blog with a tad of my own commentary. I hope this is enough to get me onto the list of those being boycotted, but since I’m not an author or agent, perhaps there’s no percentage in it. Still, one lives in hope.

  80. Hi, “Whatever” Readers:

    Re: the accusations on The Write Agenda that Writer Beware or Victoria Strauss created the “investigation” of American Book Publishing and C. Lee Nunn by the authorities out of whole cloth…not so. Last night, over on WB’s blog, Victoria entered links for archived posts from the old Speculations site that document the Utah investigation of C. Lee Nunn and American Book Publishing. Writer Beware cannot breach confidentiality for any reason short of a subpoena, but reading these archived posts should provide convincing proof that the police were indeed contacting victims and other witnesses as part of some kind of investigation, or perhaps a preliminary investigation, into C. Lee Nunn and her vanity press. It’s too bad that they decided not to pursue it, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Speculations was a public site, so WB felt comfortable posting those archived links. We will NOT, however, compromise WB confidentiality to provide our actual correspondence with the authorities. Besides, those Speculations links pretty much tell the whole story.

    Someone above mentioned donations, I think…(or was that on Writer Beware’s blog? I’ve read so many posts that I may be confusing the two). But, to set the record straight, Writer Beware is made up of volunteers, and we DO NOT SOLICIT, NOR ACCEPT DONATIONS FROM INDIVIDUALS for our work. Writer Beware is funded by SFWA, with assistance from MWA, and we’ve also received some help occasionally from RWA. (But if someone is grateful, and wants to say “thank you” for what we do, they might consider buying one of our books.)

    If anyone has questions about how Writer Beware operates, or our history, please feel free to ask. Victoria and I will be happy to answer, though we do stick to our promise of confidentiality, and never reveal our sources without express permission.

    Thank you for your support.

    -Ann C. Crispin
    Chair, Writer Beware
    http://www.writerbeware.com

  81. I’ve read all of this, as well as attempting to make sense of The Wrong Agenda’s wordpress site – Jim Worrad pointed me this way from SFFChronicles – and I’m staggered by the vitriol these chumps are trying to pour onto WB. I’d call them muppets, but I LIKE the Muppets. Book-burning? Idiots. And I can say that with my real name – which they, apparently, cannot.

    Idiots, and cowards.

  82. I’m just another writer that Victoria has helped over the years… taking her (unpaid) time to reply to a question of mine. I’m one of thousands out here, I suppose.

    Apart from waving my supporter flag, is there anything else I can do to help WB? Every real writer knows they’re an invaluable resource for us all.

  83. Buy their books, Vic! Boost the signal, if you have a bog or do the Twitter. Victoria and Ann have also helped me (answering an email), and I’m glad, as always, that they are on our side.

    As to TWA – book burning? Seriously? Yeah, that’s professional. And not creepy at all. Way to convince, um, anyone. I mean, one-star reviews are merely sophomoric bitchiness. But burning books? Anyone else feel like going Godwin on their asses?

  84. I’m one of the people on the list. Victoria has, in the past, linked to my blog when I was going after David Boyer (plagiarist) and a scamming publisher, Blu Phier. I believe that is how I ended up on their list. I did not see whether anyone had noted this, but the numbers on the far right column is the sales ranking on amazon for those authors named.

  85. What a bunch of pillocks these people are. Crazy, and quite nasty, pillocks, but still, pillocks. Whether any of them are actual writers who don’t like being told they’ve been scammed, or whether they’re all sockpuppets for scammers, they’re impossible to take seriously due to the aforementioned pillockry.
    Hey, can I get on their boycott list now? Pretty please? Here’s my name, look > Gaie Sebold. Yes, that’s me. Try and spell it right, TWA guys, ‘cos, you know, I can use the publicity of being in such good company.

  86. Their books at smashwords are just copies of what they have on that page. I don’t know that anything will come of it, but I notified Mark Coker (owner of smashwords) about it and reported them to wordpress for libel.

    Janrae Frank

  87. Well done and bravo! As a novelist–and a former consumer columnist–I frequently direct writers dealing with questionable publishers and agencies to Writer Beware and Preditors & Editors. You provide an invaluable service to many, and you should be proud. Those attacking you should hang their heads in shame, and anyone spreading their lies should wise up. My writing friends are sharing this post of Facebook, and I plan to do the same on Twitter too.

  88. Two things came to mind when I had a look at their ‘boycott list’.

    The first: grow up.
    The second: thanks for giving me a list of authors to try.

    Their arrogance is staggering but pointlessly ineffectual.

  89. Couldn’t resist leaving this on their book-burning page – shame it’s in moderation, because it’ll never see light of day. So, here’s the copy…

    “Sorry – you say you are writers? But you are burning books? No, that simply does not compute. This is something the KKK would do. Or nutcase creationists in denial about the whole shebang. You clearly do not love the written word. Perhaps what you do love is scamming and fleecing would-be authors. I say this, in the open, with my real name attached to it. I defy you to respond with your real name.”

  90. Dagnabbit, I’ve written openly in favor of Writer Beware over the years, I was a SFWA officer, I wrote a scathing comment about TWA over on Ann’s blog and I STILL can’t get on their banned list.

    Grump. I’ll try Twitter again. Maybe that will catch their attention (admittedly, most of my writing about writing is on LJ, no longer the “hot” social medium, or on even less obvious blogsites, but still…have they no research capability over there?

  91. Hmmm … this is the sort of thing that makes me think about firing up Speculations and The Rumor Mill again.

  92. All I know is that Neil Gaiman is going to be heartbroken he’s not on the boycott list. He’s the first person I knew of who recommended WB on the internet. Poor guy. Thanks for all the good work everyone at WB…it helps and it’s appreciated.

  93. The Wrong Agenda is clearly having a toy/pram interface failure. They can’t answer the simple questions – “Who are you people? Why do you advocate burning books?” – and they certainly can’t answer the slightly more ‘difficult’ ones that WB is asking, so they’re just wiping the walls with their own excrement in the vain hope that everyone will go away. Tough. Idiots. (And still cowards, too.)

  94. The gloves are off. The publishers are starting to act like thugs in the automobile or tobacco industries. Though this looks all too much like a hit list.

    I brought up the “Agenda” and looked at Ms. Crispin’s page — if you scroll down to the pic it is immediately obvious what they’re all about! https://thewriteagenda.wordpress.com/ann-crispin1/ They are stupid to tip their hand; it’s just ad hominem venom.

    Thank you so much, principled people. This planet would be hell without you.

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