Friday, October 13, 2006

Scammers At The Gate

STATUS: Fridays always make me happy.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? The line up begins again on Monday.

To give Publishers Weekly their due, they allowed the dubious purveyors of the Sobol Awards to air their opinions about their contest in the Soapbox section of the Oct. 9, 2006 issue of the magazine. It’s entitled Barbarians At The Gate? Scammers at the gate more like.

Here’s the link if you think it worth your time to peruse. I think your time could be better spent.

First, have you noticed that legitimate organizations and contests (those above approach because they actually are operating with a writer’s best interest in mind) have no need to defend themselves?

Second, I find it curious that Ms. Weeks actually didn’t address any of the issues raised by Miss Snark and others about why this contest is a scam.

In her 60 seconds Soapbox, Ms. Weeks basically says that the Sobol Awards provide manuscript critiques for so many writers who otherwise would never get any feedback at all. (Huge eyebrow raise here because really?)

It’s my understanding that there are lots of venues for writers to get wonderful feedback and critiques for their writing without paying a dime. They are called critique groups.

And there are other organizations with minor membership fees (fees that are then used to actually advocate for their members) where writers can join the various local chapters to get their manuscript read and critique. Organizations such as Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America and that’s just to name a few.

And yet, according to Ms. Weeks, it’s the Sobol Awards who will raise those deserving writers out of the unknown by getting them representation by Sobol Literary Agency, which actually hasn’t sold anything. Sounds like some prize.

My favorite part is when she says, “You'll notice they [the winners] are not locked in the dungeons of Castle Sobol for the balance of their careers. They take their checks, their published novels and then can pick among the many agents anxious to represent an author whose value has already been proven in the marketplace.”

That includes some interesting assumptions—such as any winner of the Award would actually get their book published to start. Considering the track record of the agency (which is nil) that will represent the winners…seems like a big IF to me.

And for better reading, check out what Preditors & Editors has to say about Sobol Literary Agency.

Basically, it still comes down to the fact that the only ones benefiting from the Sobol Awards are those who profit from the “registration” fee.