What Stace had to say on Friday, July 22nd, 2011
Of sales, skepticism, and scams


Last night I saw a link–I’m not going to repost it here, the poor girl has been through enough–to the blog of a writer who had just self-published her novel. The link was to a new post, in which the writer announced–with palpable and understandable excitement–that Jodi Reamer of Writers House (that’s a big-name agent at a big-name agency, for those of you unfamiliar) had seen her book, emailed her to offer representation, and gotten her a deal with (if memory serves) HarperTeen. A big deal, a six-figure type deal.

Obviously people were thrilled for her, in the way so many of us are thrilled for another person–happy for them, perhaps tinged with a bit of envy, because we’re all only human and at heart most humans are, frankly, selfish, evil little beings. Socialization and morals and ethics and all of that teaches us how to deal with those selfish, evil little thoughts, but they’re still there.

Anyway. A few people were not as thrilled; they were skeptical. I admit to being in this camp. I’ve seen publishing deals happen at lightspeed–I know a few people whose agents submitted their work in the morning and had offers by the afternoon–and of course agents can offer to represent at lightspeed as well (my agent offered two days after my initial contact with him, and I’ve known people who’ve gotten offers on the same day). It does happen, sure, but to get an agent and a large deal all in a day or so is extremely unusual. To be able to announce that deal so quickly is even more–well, no, it’s not even unusual. It is, frankly, unheard of. Generally deals aren’t announced until contracts are signed, or at least until the contract stage has been reached (meaning, the fine points are agreed to and we’re just waiting for the paperwork). Lots of us wait until our deals are announced in Publisher’s Marketplace; not because we have to, but because it’s fun to be able to post the little blurb they print in there. It makes it feel real. (In fact, my agent rarely reports to PM, and did so for me because I asked him to, batting my eyelashes and all of that while I did. Okay, no, I didn’t bat my eyelashes, but I did ask, because I wanted that announcement; I wanted to see it confirmed somewhere, because so many people read PM and it’s exciting.)

But this isn’t about deals being posted or anything. It’s about the fact that apparently the expressed skepticism of some people alerted the writer that maybe she should just double-check everything. So she called Writers House.

And discovered that an extremely cruel joke had just been played on her. And not just her, either:

From today’s Publisher’s Lunch:

Writers House has learned that a series of fake emails claiming to be from WH agent Jodi Reamer have been circulating to self-published authors this week. “These emails, which contain a number of false statements, have not in fact come from Jodi Reamer and should thus be disregarded.” One easy “tell”: they advise that any e-mail from a non-Writers House address “expressing interest in representation is counterfeit.”

I cannot even begin to express how absolutely horrified I am on this poor girl’s behalf (and on behalf of the others to whom this happened); I can’t even imagine how it must feel to think you’ve accomplished something like that and to discover that no, you were simply a victim, something to be exploited for someone else’s sick enjoyment. That you were treated as if you’re not even human, less than nothing, not a person with feelings but some sort of computer construct to be toyed with. Who the hell would do something like that? What the fuck is wrong with people? Do they like to kick puppies, too, and maybe wander up to random children and tell them they’re useless, stupid little shits who’ll never amount to anything in the world? What kind of person gets their jollies from doing this sort of thing?

When did we forget that those other people, the ones on the other side of the computer, are in fact people, real people with feelings, and not Sims?

A while ago I did a post on bullies. It feels like things have gotten worse since then. No one is content to just let someone else have their own opinion anymore, and I’m sorry, but the fact that they posted that opinion on the internet does not mean it’s okay to gang up on them and call them names. You want to disagree with their opinion, fine. I personally don’t always see the point in making a big deal about disagreeing with it–I tend to just think “Huh. I don’t agree with that” and move on, unless it’s factual misinformation, in which case I still strive to be polite and respectful–but if you feel they need to hear your point, go ahead.

But there’s a difference between “I disagree with your opinion” and “Dude, you’re a fucking idiot.” There’s a difference between “This is incorrect” and “Dude, you’re a fucking idiot.” And why the hell do you care what they think, anyway? Why is it so important to you to lurk on people’s Twitter feeds and make fun of them in your own? Why do you need to send hoax emails to people just because they have dreams and are trying to accomplish something? Is that really fun? Do you even care that a human being is on the other end of that, a human being you’re being purposefully cruel to just because you can?

Yes, sure, people shouldn’t put things out there if they don’t want others to react. Yes, people should expect disagreement and not get all butthurt because someone does disagree. Yes, we’re adults and need to take responsibility for what we put out there.

But other people’s lives are not a fucking game. Just because someone doesn’t think or feel the way you think or feel doesn’t mean it’s okay to call all of your friends to gang up on them and giggle in public. Just because that person exists doesn’t mean you have the right to stomp all over them. Does it make you feel good about yourself to reduce another person to tears, to make them the butt of your jokes? Have you proved that you’re cool, because you can take an offhand remark they made and turn it into a huge debacle, or misinterpret something they said and spread that misinterpretation around, encouraging others to pile on as well, or play a prank on them and make them think their dreams have come true? Is it really that much fun to treat other people like shit? How the fuck do you people sleep at night?

I’m sick of it, is all. I’m sick of this internet culture that makes people think that other people are simply toys for their amusement, and that it’s okay to jump all over them and keep jumping, that it’s fun to do so. I’m sick of the idea that because it’s a group of people doing it, it’s okay to join in. I’m sick of the idea that it’s open season on anyone and everyone, and that if they wanted to have feelings they should have thought of that before they logged on to the internet. I’m sick of the idea that this kind of shit is cool, and I’m sick of the way people are dehumanized, and I’m sick of the internet culture that reminds me so strongly of Christians thrown to the lions.

Next time you go to comment on something, just think for one second. Is it really necessary to share my opinion here? How much does this really matter, in the big picture? Does this person really deserve my scorn? How would I feel, if someone said this to me? Am I sure I’m interpreting their point correctly?

I’m not saying you can’t have opinions or make them public. I’m not saying you should never respond. I’m not saying you can’t gossip with your friends in email or whatever else. I’m certainly not saying you shouldn’t speak up when someone is being unjust, or that you shouldn’t alert people to that injustice and/or warn others away from it, or stick up for those who can’t stick up for themselves; I absolutely believe you should.

I’m just saying, don’t forget, that other person is a person, too. Being cruel to them, picking their words apart when they didn’t mean to offend, playing tricks on them, laughing and kicking them when they’re down, publicly encouraging others to go and pick and laugh too? It doesn’t make you cool. It makes you a fucking asshole, and I’m sick of seeing it, and I’m sick of watching people be bullied online and then told they deserved it for daring to put themselves out there.

Just saw a link to this:

Another ETA: I want to make it very clear that my post is NOT referring to any other posts written about this specific situation. Indeed, it’s not about any one blog, blog post, or specific incident; or rather, I’m very angry and upset about this situation and on behalf of this writer but when I speak of internet culture etc. etc. I’m speaking in generalities, and absolutely NOT referring to or accusing anyone of anything over this particular situation (except the actual hoaxers, of course).

Just wanted to mention that, because I know a couple of other posts have been written about this. I read those after I wrote my post, and am not at all reacting or responding to them here.

21 comments to “Of sales, skepticism, and scams”

  1. Pam
    · July 22nd, 2011 at 10:29 am · Link

    That is just cruel and unusual. I admit I thought she was pulling a promo scam, I’ve seen worse I am glad WH made an official statement. Disgruntled writer? There is nothing to gain so not regular spammers.

    • Cory (thebloodfiend)
      · July 22nd, 2011 at 10:37 am · Link

      Yeah, I thought the same. I’m glad WH put out a statement. And I hope someone is able to find whoever did this from the email headers.

  2. John
    · July 22nd, 2011 at 10:47 am · Link

    A thousand times this.

    This mindset has grown to the point where I am extremely skeptical about what goes on in email or Twitter from people I don’t know. As I should be, considering there are people this cruel. Seeing people create entire spam accounts just to degrade people and make them feel like shit is so awful and cruel that….I can’t understand it.

    I can understand a lot of things, but not the blatant need to get a pleasure from putting someone else through hell. It’s a problem that people need to stop participating in and start coming down on, because we’re getting to the point where no on reacts – acting like it’s okay, when someone is getting hurt out there for no apparent reason.

  3. Julie Leto
    · July 22nd, 2011 at 11:02 am · Link

    This is horrible. However, it’s a cautionary tale about authors putting themselves and their work into the marketplace before they know how publishing works. If so, she would have seen the scam for herself. Not BLAMING her…just saying that writers who think once they finish something, they should jump into publishing–even self-publishing–put themselves at risk of being exploited by some of the nastiest scammers around.

  4. Lindsay Smith
    · July 22nd, 2011 at 11:28 am · Link

    It is outrageous and disgusting–so much so that I feel like it almost HAD to be more than someone trying to wring a laugh out of the expense of some poor group of self-pubbed authors. Surely there was an agenda–financial, most likely, as almost all scams are. Trying to get SSNs, bank account info, SOMEthing. Have you seen info that indicates it really, truly was nothing more than a disgusting prank? Like, has the jerk wad come forward anonymously or something?

  5. Karen Mahoney
    · July 22nd, 2011 at 11:30 am · Link

    Such an awesome post. I really can’t add anything – you’re absolutely right on all counts. I’m feeling pretty sickened by some of the stuff I’ve seen online and I, too, feel it’s getting worse.


  6. Mary
    · July 22nd, 2011 at 11:31 am · Link

    I think what was done to her and the other writers out there was cruel and it happens way too often. It’s heartbreaking how many scammers victimize people, we get calls at work all the time from little old ladies who fall for various scams and can’t afford medications, rent or even food anymore because of it.

    I think the internet is amazing in so many ways and I also think it’s given a lot of people the anonymity to act on character traits they might not have if they had to do it face to face.

    Julie while I understand what you’re saying and I agree we should all educate ourselves in whatever industry we’re going to be a part of I respectfully disagree with what you’re saying.

    To me that’s like saying the child who dresses differently from everyone in school should know they’re going to be bullied for being different and should have educated themselves on how everyone else dresses before going to school.

  7. Tori
    · July 22nd, 2011 at 12:07 pm · Link

    Next time you go to comment on something, just think for one second. Is it really necessary to share my opinion here? How much does this really matter, in the big picture? Does this person really deserve my scorn? How would I feel, if someone said this to me? Am I sure I’m interpreting their point correctly

    Well said. More of us need to take a step back and ask ourselves those very questions before commenting.

    As for the young writer caught in the scam. How horrible for her. I hope this doesn’t stop her from writing and submitting her work for publishing.

    • Michele Lee
      · July 22nd, 2011 at 5:30 pm · Link

      This. This is why I don’t look around blogs and comment like I used to back in our Ms. Snark days.

      But I think Julie has a point, this does once again reiterate the need to educate yourself about what is normal behavior in your job field and what isn’t.

  8. Ems
    · July 22nd, 2011 at 12:13 pm · Link

    I feel for the poor people who were victimized with this. I’m an aspiring author myself and I know how I would feel if this happened to me. It’s cruel and just plain evil. No one deserves to be the subject of a cruel prank, no matter who or what they are.

    • Julie Leto
      · July 22nd, 2011 at 12:32 pm · Link

      I can’t even use the word “prank” for this. Prank implies that it is somehow funny. This is messing with someone’s heart, hopes and dreams. It’s beyond the pale.

  9. Foz Meadows
    · July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16 pm · Link

    Yes. This.

    I can’t even begin to imagine how that girl must feel; the whole thing is appalling. And re still being able to talk about injustice, to have issues and complain, but be aware that the other person is, in fact, still a person: YES. In so many ways yes. Something that really bugs me is when people go all destructo about blog posts or comments or whatever and their response is to go almost totally ad hominem. And it’s like, dude. If there’s a problem there, and particularly if there’s no clear, definitive evidence that the speaker meant to be offensive, or if you just think they’ve done things badly? Attack the PROBLEM, not the PERSON. Because every time I see some poorly-written, angry rantfest of an article denouncing what some other person said that contains next to no discussion of the actual issue and about a bajillion paragraphs explaining why the other person is a douche and a heretic and, like, soooo stupid, I just want to PUNCH THE INTERNET.

  10. Julie Leto
    · July 22nd, 2011 at 12:26 pm · Link

    No, that’s not what I meant. Let me clarify…this new wave of self-publishing has meant that a lot of people who don’t really know how publishing works are jumping in with both feet and as a result, they are getting hurt. I HATE WHAT HAPPENED TO HER. Knowledge is power and I wish that the message got out there more to all these unsuspecting authors that their dreams can be crushed if they don’t do their homework first. I do not think this person deserves what happened to them in any way, shape or form…I just hope that others take the situation and ARM themselves with information before they put their work out.

  11. Julie Leto
    · July 22nd, 2011 at 12:30 pm · Link

    Mary, let me match your metaphor with what I really meant…first, children shouldn’t be in publishing or business…it’s a world for adults.

    Now, what if an adult goes outside in 20 degree weather and decides to wear shorts and a t-shirt instead of listening to the weather forecast…well, then will be cold and have taken a chance at getting sick or worse, frostbite. They don’t deserve it…but a little knowledge might have helped them avoid it.

  12. Adam Renn Olenn
    · July 22nd, 2011 at 1:28 pm · Link

    Well said, m’dear. Couldn’t agree more.

  13. Crystal
    · July 22nd, 2011 at 1:34 pm · Link

    God, how awful…I, too, hope that the girl you’re talking about doesn’t let this cruelty stop her from continuing to work on building a writing career. I know from personal experience how trying to make it in any artistic business can really, really just… gut you. To add scammers like these into the mix just makes it that much worse. As for internet bullying, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seriously considered just calling it all a day – shutting down my blog, twitter account, facebook account and everything and just never going near the Internet again except for perhaps e-mails. It’s getting ridiculous and needs to stop. :-(

  14. BernardL
    · July 22nd, 2011 at 3:33 pm · Link

    Wow, that’s a rough one. What ever doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, but that prank had to hurt.

  15. Tina R
    · July 22nd, 2011 at 3:44 pm · Link

    That’s terrible!! Beyond my comprehension why someone would do something so pointless. :( Of course, I don’t see the humor in giving someone one of those “fake” scratch-offs and making them think they won a bunch of money and say ‘Psych!’

    On the sunnier side, I’ve add a new word to my vocab “butthurt”. 😆

  16. Betsy Dornbusch
    · July 23rd, 2011 at 9:32 am · Link

    Bullies are alive and well in RL, as well. I’ve experienced it often since I was a small kid and there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight.

    I am so sorry for this poor writer. I hope it results in a million sales of her book.

  17. Karen
    · July 23rd, 2011 at 7:26 pm · Link

    It’s not just the internet – bullying. It’s in schools. In work places. In general society. I think its our culture. It seems like we’ve forgotten compassion, acceptance, kindness and tact as we’ve grown into a huge global society where most of us communicate through devices like phones and computers.

    Back in the 60’s, when I was a kid (yes, I’m aging myself proudly), society was very different. People lived in one general area. They married locally. They were around the same people from the time they were children until the day they died. When society is that closed, you have to get along with people. You knew your neighbors, the grocery clerk, your kid’s teachers – hell, they might all be the same person…you know what I’m saying? Now, we’re a global culture where we might live thousands of miles from the town we were born in, work long hours so that we never see our neighbors, go to multiple grocery stores, and meet our kid’s teachers once. We’ve lost something important and its not a good thing.

    That poor girl. To be messed with by some jerk and then attacked by a bunch of mean spirited people. It’s not right.

    My mother always said “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Its advice I try to live by, even on the internet. It’s easy to be mean. Being kind takes work.

  18. Michelle Auricht novelsontherun
    · July 24th, 2011 at 4:38 am · Link

    Oh , what a cruel thing to do to somebody. Makes you feel quite ill. I have been on the receiving end on a ning chat site and this one person took it upon themselves to be a cyber bully. I’m not even sure why? But, I still chat to the other girls, seriously what gives that one person that power that they feel it is ok to be such a dick and old enough to know waaaaayyy better. Is it jealousy…?? I am a total believer in good Karma , positive energy etc… I don’t understand this type of hurtful person. We can all put our foot in our mouths and think ..oh crap did that come out right?? but these type of people are a whole different species. Kindness is powerful stuff…being a shitty person, where is the reward there?




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