It is always exciting to find on Goodreads.com a new rating for one of the anthologies that contain some of my short stories: Unlocked or Ménage à 20. Especially when that rating includes a review. Good or bad, I like to know what my reader’s think, and since this one was a 1-star rating with a review, I was especially excited.
The review was simple: “This author is on our banned list.”
To me, that was really exciting, but I was at a loss to figure out why we should be banned. Okay, Unlocked has some material that a few readers called racy——one character is an assassin; there’s a lot of violence, an off-stage sex scene, some strong language, references to a rape, a song about a "roll in the hay," and some racial slurs by a kid who thought he was being funny (but he did learn his lesson). Nothing worth banning over.
Curious, I went to the reviewer’s profile where I discovered hundreds of 1-star ratings, all with the same banned-author review.
Note: The rating & review had been removed (I’m assuming someone reported them to Goodreads), but The Write Agenda re-added the rating without the review. Now there are 944 ratings with a 1.31 average. Only 8 of them have reviews with a generic statement about not liking the characters or plot.
From there, I traveled to the related website and discovered this hate list.
Notice the name of Gwen McIntyre, who is a co-contributor to the anthologies Unlocked and Ménage à 20. What did she do to get on this list? Is she banned for her bad story writing or racy plot lines? I mean, most banned writers have written material that question our morals or beliefs that we hold dear or stories that offend our sensibilities in some way.
No, Gwen only exercised her right to freedom of speech by posting this quote from another blog, “The Write Agenda: The wrong company to keep. Word to the wise: a new outfit calling itself The Write Agenda has been taking potshots at Victoria Strauss, Ann Crispin, Absolute Write, Writer Beware, Preditors and Editors, SFWA, Atlanta Nights, and other entities that give newbie writers helpful information about the scams and nogoodniks that prey on them.”
Her opinion. Her right to express it.
But for that, The Write Agenda retaliated by:
(1) adding her to their banned list
(2) putting 1-star reviews on all her works
(3) adding her words to their collected list of Critics of the Write Agenda.
Dig deeper and you will see a correlation between the ratings on Goodreads and the banned list and hate postings. Agenda? Certainly the group has the right name.
On The Write Agenda site, you will find find a Defamation List, which you can’t access unless you are a member, and a lot of information attacking anyone who has publically disagreed with The Write Agenda or sided with groups like Writer Beware, SFWA, and Predators and Editors, groups that seek to keep the public informed on the business practices of publishing companies and literary agents in the hope of protecting people from being scammed.
What you won't find on The Write Agenda's site is a comprehensive list of useful information about publishers and agents. On their About Us page, they claim that they have no problems with people trying to protect others from scammers, but that the information given by Writer Beware and such groups is erroneous if not outright lies.
So here’s my problem with The Write Agenda:
#1. A book review and rating is on the book, not the author. Collect your hate lists & banned lists all you want. Attack writers on your web site. But it is wrong to post bogus reviews for books you didn't read just to hurt a writer’s ratings because they disagree with you. It’s hard enough being a writer as it is.
#2. Nothing on their web site helps me make informed decisions about publishers and agents. IMO, the information they provide is unhelpful; 95% of the information I read attacked people who have said something bad about The Write Group. I encourage you to read their site and make your own opinion.
#3. The Write Agenda hides behind anonymity. I find that very suspicious.
#4. After reading their site and articles, I have come to the conclusion that The Write Agenda spends a lot of time trashing other writers and attacking people. IMO, it's a hate group. Nothing more. I formed this opinion based on their banned lists and articles.
I'd love to hear if anyone has any further information.
UPDATE 8/3/2011: After posting this article, I found that the reviewer's profile has been removed from Goodreads. I am assuming that Goodreads removed their profile as they obviously posted their ratings & reviews with an agenda to attack and harm the authors of those books.
UPDATE 8/4/2011: In response to this post, The Write Agenda has added me to their (1) Critics of The Write Agenda page, (2) Propaganda Watch list, and (3) their Author Boycott list.
UPDATE 8/26/2011: I have been given a cease & desist order by The Write Agenda. I am combing my post to verify that nothing I have said could be misconstrued as defamatory. Some statements I have no proof on, so I have reworded to show that they were opinion. And I removed any statements of conjecture.