Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Avoidance Of The Excuse Of Ignorance

In many, many posts I have tried to warn, explain and otherwise make it clear about scams that seem to perpetuate and are geared for writers. I have tried to do this in a straightforward manner in posts such as When Is Being Published NOT Being Published?; and There Is A Sucker Born Every Minute; and even in my ongoing "Writing & Despair Happy Hour Series" (to which I thank all of you for the great emails I am getting - but leave a comment...sheesh!) "Writing & Despair Happy Hour Series - Part 5". (Also see Kristen King's great blog Inkthinker and the post entitled: Ignorance is not bliss; it's just ignorance)

Now while the object or purpose of Cobwebs Of The Mind is not to concentrate on scams, from time to time it is important to post information for authors who need to know that such exists. It seems though even with the plethora of Blogs out there warning and warning again about scams, there is no end to the ingenuity of scams for writers. Perhaps it is perceived that writers as an overall community are willing to pay out good money for dreams. I do not know. But in this post I am just offering the writing community a varied list of places to go and check out BEFORE you decide to put your hard earned money on the table. I hope this helps. And I hope you learn from what you read on the various web-sites and blogs posted here.
  1. Writer Beware Blogs! this should be your first stop. Period. If it is a known scam it will be listed here and discussed and search the archives. I personally have emailed Victoria Strauss twice about a request for information. She has always been fairly prompt, always incredibly nice, and always forthcoming with the information. This blog is your first and most important step to the world of writing scams. Just take a look at her recent entry, "Victoria Strauss -- The Identity of Author Identity" to see how much work and effort she goes through to make sure her facts are correct and totally right.

  2. Absolute Write Bewares and Background Check - This is your next stop. You do not have to be a member of Ablsolute Write to view these threads. You can search for a name of an agent or agency at your leisure and find out if anything has been said about them and what. This is a critical resource of information, and perhaps the most important reason for Ablsolute Write to exist on the Internet.

  3. Preditors & Editors' - Your next stop. Here I will quote from their About Page to give you an understanding of what they are about in terms of scamming. (They have other really important purposes too for writers.)

    "Preditors & Editors' sole purpose is to provide writers with information and contacts for the purpose of seeking publication of their work. Because artists, composers, and game designers often face the same challenges, they have been included in our coverage...."

    "...After considerable thought, we realized that Preditors & Editors would perform a disservice to writers, artists, and composers if it does not warn them about known scams or problems within the industry. Consequently, the policy of not criticizing any publishers, publications, writing services, or resources was changed as of 28 September 1997. A new Warnings page can now be referenced by anyone interested in protecting himself. However, most warnings are posted beside the appropriate entries in the listings so that those can be found easier. Additionally, we are very interested in learning about anyone who treats writers shabbily, even if they don't have anything to do with writing."

  4. AgentQuery - This is a place where most writers who look for reputable agents go to. Here you can discover web sites, email addresses and the like along with the fact if they are members of the AAR or another group that gives a stamp of approval for an agent. And Again I quote from their Home Page:

    "Agent Query has been recognized by Writer's Digest Magazine May 2006 Issue as one of the Best Websites for Writers. Second Year in a Row!

    Agent Query offers the largest, most current searchable database of literary agents on the web—a treasure trove of reputable, established literary agents seeking writers just like you. And it's free (not because there's a catch, but simply because not enough things in this world are free). "

  5. Backspace is also a place you may want to visit. Lots or interviews and interesting information for writers.

    "The Backspace Community is dedicated to helping writers navigate the often confusing world of Big Publishing. With over 400 members from a dozen countries and a constantly revolving line-up of guest speakers including literary agents, editors, and authors, the online forums are a virtual writer's conference that runs year round."

  6. AAR - Association of Authors' Representatives, Inc. - This is where you can discover if your agent is a member of the AAR. While not critical if your agent is listed here, you have little to worry about usually. Read their CANON OF ETHICS
There are many more sites. These though are pretty much where you will find the information you need. If you do not find it and Google produces nothing in your search for the Agent's name, then be wary. I certainly would suggest a trip over to Writer Beware Blogs! if all else fails, and an email to A.C. Crispin or Victoria Strauss.

Okay there you have it. A somewhat partial list. If you know of any more sites to really recommend please leave a comment and I will add them to the original post.

Now there is no excuse: Avoidance Of The Excuse Of Ignorance. Don't say you did not have the tools. Don't say you were not informed. Don't jump for joy until you know just why you are jumping for joy when an Agent says: "Here is my contract. Please sign it!"

Be aware. Be knowledgeable. Be smart. And avoid costly mistakes.

Don't Be Cheap! Leave A Comment Below. I Promise Not To Bite!


ORION said...

This is so useful. I find it wearying to see the same questions over and over - so many newby writers do not even do cursory research.
Thanks for doing this.
I enjoy your posts on AW


Kristen King said...

T, I blogged this post here: http://tinyurl.com/ym845x

Kristen King said...

Thanks for the link, Teddy!