Thursday, September 04, 2014 your money-UPDATED**

I was working my way through the backlog of email yesterday morning when I come across "a newsletter" from an outfit called

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. 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


middle grade ninja said...

Ew. How scammy:( Thanks for the heads up!

french sojourn said...

..." is hogwash, pure and simple."

Yeah, but to be fair; it is keeping the industry green.

...or their pockets, great post and welcome back.

Cheers Hank.

Kitty said...

I would think a "cease and desist" letter is in order.

B. DuBois said...

I agree with kitty. Were I an agent, who's worked hard to build my reputation, I wouldn't want to risk tarnishing it by being associated with this site.

With well over 100 submissions in 25 genres. . .wow. So, on average, 4 submissions per genre, let's say? I bet that *would* make agents jobs easier. You probably already get that many queries (or more?) in a week. Here, they've assembled for you, all in one place, the writers who haven't done enough homework. It must be tempting to log in. . .

Looking Forward said...

Yuck! Lazy writers who can't handle a few 'No' query replies.

Thanks for the heads up!

Becky Mushko said...

From the "Who We Are" section of that site:
"Margaret Belle is the author of two digitally-published fiction novels. . . ."


Anonymous said...

I like the picture on the "author" page. how many glasses does he need beside his typewriter? f3c must really think we're blind.

Alexandra (Ola) J. said...

Welcome back! You've been missed.

And, regarding the First3Chapters site: Gross. :\

Mr. Christmas Closet said...

I'm sitting here wondering about the elements for a claim of consumer fraud. Not sure if they're met here, but sure seems worth considering. Great post, Janet. I despise cons against those desperate to pursue their dreams. Thanks for exposing.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Thanks for looking out for us. Don't mess with the shark.

Elissa M said...

I wish more writers would do their homework and learn about the industry, so scammers like these people have much less to feed on.

If I were an agent, I would definitely look into getting my name taken off their list. Yeah, it says something like "have access to" not that any of them read it. It doesn't change the fact that these people are definitely implying the listed agents endorse the site.

Stephanie Bittner said...

Thanks for speaking up about this. It always makes me angry to think that some new author might fall for one of these services and then never get their book published as a result -- because the agents never see it.

Anonymous said...

My agent's listed in here too - and I bet, just like the rest, he's completely unaware.

Good thing you're back trolling the publishing waters and being such a good, helpful shark.

A helpful shark. Who knew?

Dana Breann said...

". . . and children's book." So they have exactly one children's book? Or the missing space between that period and the following sentence means they are missing an editor. Seems very legit. How do I throw my money at them as quickly as possible? Do they accept PayPal?

MNye said...

I recently heard a pitch about them. I will certainly pass this info on. I seem to have gotten on a list, possibly from old contest - circa 2007. There's a lot to learn and beware of...Thanks.

Lance said...

Does the change mean they're reading your blog? And they still did all this? Incredible.

Bill Scott said...

I'm holding out for First4Chapters. I hear they have magic beans.

Ardenwolfe said...

Wow. This is beyond sleazy. Thanks for getting the word out.

France Rants said...