Since I'd spent a day of vacation cleaning up my subscription lists to better manage my email, I didn't just discard this, I took a closer look to see why I'd subscribed (I didn't remember this company at all.)
You can imagine my annoyance to find out this was one of those pay to play services designed to "help" authors and agents by avoiding the slush pile. "Let an agent find you" is their tag line.
All for the very very low sum of something or other.
Here's the first page of the newsletter
The reason there's a gap is that I didn't post the password that was included. (Yes, I thought about doing that, but decided to avoid that particular fecalfrenzy)
Obviously these guys don't have a clue that most agents already take email queries and thus "keeping the industry green" isn't a problem we're trying to solve at the query letter level.
And of course, it completely overlooks why a query is important. I wasn't surprised to find out the creators of this site are authors. Most authors would love to avoid writing queries. Sadly, that's never going to happen. At some point, you have to be able to tell someone what the plot of your book is, and where it goes in a bookstore, and how many words are in it.
But this is just mere annoyance.
Where the steam started coming out of my ears is here: the list of agents
These scallywags make it sound as though all these agents are reading manuscripts from their site.
I checked with every agent at FinePrint and NONE of them knew anything about this site. They'd all gotten emails with the newsletter password. They all had "access" but that is not the same as actually using the site to find materials. We're not. I haven't asked any of my colleagues in other agencies if they are, but I have a feeling we're not the only ones listed like this.
In other words, they're using our company's name and appeal to sell their services. Without our permission. (you can now understand why I thought about posting the password)
From a writer's perspective this is worse than the slush pile: you have no idea who has seen your work, and who hasn't. This is worse than no-response-means-no; here you don't even know which agent on this list (if ANY) have seen your work.
But the final absolutely unforgivable straw is this on the FAQ:
(image no longer available!)
So, they're going to take your money, convey the impression that real agents will read your work, but they don't actually vet the agents with access to the site? They don't even make sure they're legit, let alone any good?
I know what their goal is: making money.
I know what my goal is: advocating for writers.
I know that this is a website that solves a problem that doesn't exist, and is text book Let The Buyer Beware.
Save your money for a good writing conference. First3Chapters.com is hogwash, pure and simple.
**At 7:28pm I clicked the list of agents link again, and guess what: the list is gone.
So, now they aren't trading on our name, but what they're doing is even worse from your perspective. That is they want your money and they won't tell you BEFOREHAND who is reading your stuff.
My opinion not only hasn't changed, if anything it's more adamant: HOGWASH