Over the past few years, the rise of the scam literary agency has been both
rapid and alarming; reaching a point now where the internet landscape is
dominated not by genuine literary agents who can help you, as an author, get
published, but by con artists out to exploit writers for money, while leaving their
dreams of publication in tatters. These scams pay companies like Google and
Microsoft to appear on the first page of their internet search results, and – because
they're not technically doing anything illegal – they let them. The scams then
lure writers in with flashy websites and promises of publication, but only ever
deliver one thing: and that's bills.
In the early days of the internet there was a vision that it could be used as
a positive force, giving authors better opportunities to find the information
they needed more quickly and more easily than before – but the "clear blue
oceans" that were foreseen have been polluted by the proliferation of scams.
Much of the internet is now a sea of shark-infested waters; granting the pirates
who traverse it better and wider access than ever before to their vulnerable prey.
But firstwriter.com has been working hard to create a safe harbour where
that early vision of the internet can be realised and flourish: where the
scammers are exposed for what they are and where writers are guided quickly and
safely to the best agency for them. Our latest weapon in this fight is the
introduction this month of SafeSecurity – the equivalent of your own
swashbuckling hero, there to rescue unsuspecting writers from the clutches of
literary agent Blackbeards!
SafeSecurity is part of our new SafeSuite, currently being
rolled out right across our literary agents database. The first element you'll
have noticed is SafeAssess: a system which automatically evaluates every
literary agency listing every time it is loaded, taking into account factors
such as policies, membership of official bodies, and reports from at least three
independent sources, before providing an evaluation of positive points,
warnings, and cautions. SafeAssess allows you to see which agencies are
scams, which agencies are legitimate, and which agencies are the best.
SafeSecurity provides a quick and easy way to apply this information
to your searches. There are three levels of security you can apply: "On" (the
default option, where any agencies with any negative indicators will be removed
from your results); "High" (where only agencies with positive indicators and an
independently verified track record of sales to royalty-paying publishers are
returned); and "Off" (where all the agencies – even the scams –
will be shown).
"Why not just remove the scams from the database altogether?" I hear you ask,
and it's a common question. The reason, however, is simple: because looking for
an agent these days is like walking through a minefield – and when you're
walking through a minefield it's handy to have a map that tells you where the
mines are. firstwriter.com
is that map. You can't avoid being exposed to
these scam agencies these days. Every time you do a search on Google or
Microsoft for anything to do with literary agents you'll be bombarded by their
adverts; every time you visit a site about literary agents that carries Google
Adsense ads you'll see them. Google and Microsoft won't stop advertising these
scams (trust us, we've asked them to!), and they won't tell you that they're
scams, but even though Google and Microsoft won't protect you firstwriter.com will: giving you the ability to check out any agency you see advertised
online and make sure you're not being sucked into a scam.
All this cements firstwriter.com's
position as the best and safest place for a writer
to search for a literary agent. While other resources might give you one report
we give you multiple ones – and trust us, they don't always agree! Lots of
agencies reported on one resource don't appear on another, and sometimes an
agency which receives a positive report on one resource has concerns and
warnings elsewhere. Relying on just one resource therefore isn't going to keep
you safe – but by giving you multiple reports firstwriter.com
the full picture more quickly and more easily, and also provides you with
reports from other users who actually have experience with the agency – all
combined in one central, easy-to-search database! To try it out for free, click
Stephen Hough, of New York,
United States, was announced as the winner of the competition for
his poem "Early Rose", and wins £500 (around $1,000).
of London, wins £100 for submitting the best entry from the
United Kingdom with her poem "Mornings", and Lian
Frost of Berkeley, California, wins $150 for entering the best runner-up
poem from the United States, "Aphrodite". The winning
poems can be read online at https://www.firstwriter.com/competitions/poetry_competition/previous_winners/6thpoetry.shtml.
Issue 12: Against the Grain The latest issue of firstwriter.magazine has also
just been released, featuring quality fiction and poetry
submitted from around the world, plus your first chance to see
not just the winning story from our Third International Short
Story Contest, but also all ten Special Commendations. To
view the magazine click
here. To enter your work in our Fourth International
Short Story Contestclick
All those whose
work has been included in issue 12 have now been notified, so if
you submitted work for issue 12 and have not received
notification of inclusion then, regretfully, on this occasion
your submission was not successful. Please do feel free to try
again, however, through www.firstwriter.com/Magazine
You’ve heard about them, you’ve seen them announced; perhaps they’ve even
invaded your city. "Cons", short for "conventions". WorldCon, Norwescon, NECON,
etc. But they’re expensive, require travel, and lots of weird people go to them,
right? Why would you (a writer / poet / artist / editor / whatever) want to
I have eight terrific reasons. Fun, fun, fun, fun, fun – oh, you want eight
different reasons? Figures. After all, you are a writer. Okay, here they are
(and not necessarily in this order):
1) Workshops Many conventions have hour-long, afternoon-long, or day-long workshops, no
matter what your field is. You’ll gain helpful critiques or learn to critique
others’ work in a relaxed atmosphere. This is an especially good opportunity if
workshops aren’t normally your thing (too time-consuming, too expensive,etc.),
since they are one-shot and are included with the price of admission. Even if
you are a busy freelance who focuses on nonfiction, you can learn a lot here,
particularly if you do the workshop as a pro yourself.
2) Panels You can visit panels on editing, writing, art techniques, the internet
influence on publishing, genres, and roundtables on all sorts of subjects.
Usually pros (both professionals and amateurs with experience) conduct the
panels, opening subjects to questions and general discussion. You’ll get loads
of useful information when you bring a notebook and an open mind. As you become
more experienced, you may also participate on panels, sharing tips and ideas
with other hungry minds. Also, when you participate in programming, you’ll get
into the Green Room / VIP rooms and mingle with others who are accomplished in
your field, without fan intervention.
3) Networking Nothing beats meeting others who are involved in your craft. Editors meet
others who have more experience and tips, and offer advice to those just getting
started. Writers get together and compare ideas (poets and writers, too). You’ll
make contacts in the field or simply meet others within your range of interests.
Certainly you already do this through your craft, but face-to-face meetings
cement relationships that the US mail may not.
4) Readings / viewings
Pros and amateurs alike have opportunities to read their works in progress and
show their creations in Art Shows. You’ll see how an audience responds to your
fiction or poetry, or if your artwork generates interest. You’ll also learn a
lot just by attending readings and hearing the style and content, and by
visiting the Art Show where canvases, sculptures, models, and all manner of
creations inspire your own creativity.
5) Kid-friendly Many conventions have a kid-friendly atmosphere; some even have an inner “KidCon”.
This means you can network and join folks in the hotel café while your kids can
hang out with folks their own age and feel like they’ve escaped the parents.
You’ll want to check with upcoming conventions in advance to find out if there
is a KidCon, what the rules are, what the price breaks are, and even if there
are special panels for younger family members who are exploring writing.
6) Dealers’ Room Otherwise known as the Huckster’s room, the wallet guzzler, etc. Whether
you're a pro or amateur, writer or writer, bookseller or fan, the Dealers’ Room
has booths for you to visit. You’ll find rare and signed copies of your
favourite author’s books, prints of the art in the Art Show, special Con-theme
related crafts, costuming items, and more. Bring lots to spend, because prices
range from reasonable to “I have it and you get to pay”, but mostly because
you’ll want just about everything there. The great thing is the books – many,
many exciting books, including books by attending
Meet the fans This goes hand-in-hand with networking, but meeting fans,
wannabe writer / writers, and people who like SF/F/H can be as refreshing as
meeting your peers. A lot of fans go in for costuming, gaming, filking (folk singing) and convention planning areas, but you can get an idea of
who’s viewing your work and target your audience a little more accurately.
If you write nonfiction, you can pick up ideas for articles. Even if not
participating in the Masquerade or contests, guests’ children can also dress
up in costume.
Circulation Don’t isolate yourself! It’s easy to consider work and your
writer space as enough to boost your creativity and productivity, but you
can pigeonhole yourself if you don’t get out and see something of the
industry and genre-related events. Okay, you don’t have to attend every con
in your area or affordable range, but one or two a year really offers you a
refreshing new perspective. You need to circulate (and have fun, fun, fun...).
Eight great reasons to visit cons. Actually, there are many more (cool
costumes, dances, the Hospitality Suite). Cons don’t have to break the bank
if you budget well and start close to home. Check one out and see what you
get out of it. You’ll have an unforgettable experience and will come away
with a wider perspective of your craft, peers, and audience.
About the author
L.J. Bothell is a graphic designer/writer who lives and freelances in
Seattle, Washington. Visit www.studiobast.com.
Bridport Prize 2008 opens The Bridport Prize for 2008 has opened to entries, with prizes totalling £14,000 (nearly $30,000), including first prizes of £5,000 (around $10,000) in both the poetry and fiction sections, making it the richest open competition in the English language.
The 2008 competition will be judged by Helen Simpson for short stories and David Harsent for poetry.
program for first-time novelists Adventures in fiction is subsidising five apprenticeships with professional writers for first-time novelists of commercial and literary fiction, including one for crime and one for fiction for children and young people (9+).
The placements have an individual value of over £2,750, and in its first two years the programme has already resulted in one publication and four referrals to literary agents.
Writers In The Sky Literary Agency closes As of January 23, 2008, Writers In the Sky Literary Agency has closed. The shock announcement was made to agency staff with no prior warning, with owner Mark Straley citing financial problems as the reason for the move.
Former Author Liaison for the agency, Pam Crowley, has wished all authors previously involved with the agency the best in their future literary endeavours.