This blog is NOT owned by the PNWA (in case you mistakenly got that impression)

Dear readers –

I have been asked to make an announcement, one that I had previously believed to be self-evident: I own this site, and the opinions expressed here are my own. I pay for the site myself, and my opinions are — as indeed I have always presented them — mine.

I sincerely doubt that anyone seriously needed to be told this, but a board member of the PNWA sent me this extraordinary e-mail today, implying otherwise. I reproduce it here, because, frankly, I find it hard to believe, even though it is sitting in front of me:

“Anne,
It seems that a few agent/editors have found inaccuracies in your blog entries about them, this year and last, and are annoyed. I know you don’t want to piss off agents!

Also, some of your comments about PNWA seem a bit mean spirited (sic) to me, and since the PNWA really, really wants to be inclusive of all writers, is there a way to “make nice” (sic) a bit or not appear to criticize?

Many, including me, love your frank observations. If you are an instructor at PNWA, however, your opinions might appear to speak for the organization, and that is the rub.

For your own reputation, I really {sic) really (again) suggest you get the facts right about these agents, because we all know what a small world theirs is.

In short- {sic) 2 things. Be accurate in your agent (sic) editor bios and know that they are reading them, too.
And
Be (sic) clear that you are expressing your opinion and in no way is this the opinion of anyone but the very wise Ms. Mini.

OK?”

I have to say, I don’t find this okay at all — and that’s DOCTOR Mini, by the way, to strangers — but let me waste a day’s post in making every point raised here clear enough that no one could possibly mistake it in future. (Normally, I would not do this, but my reputation has specifically been threatened.)

For the record, I OWN THIS SITE. No one at the PNWA or any other organization has a right to tell me what I may or may not post on MY website. I hope that no one has ever thought otherwise.

About the accuracy of the profiles, I have done a grand total of ONE this year. Ginger Clark, if you feel I have misrepresented your work, kindly post any corrections on THIS website — you know, the one I own, not the PNWA’s.

But frankly, I doubt that Ms. Clark has so little to do, or that she considers the opinion of someone she has never met so important, that she would have taken the time to find my blog within the last two days, read it, track down the PNWA (who, in case anyone is still confused on this point, DOES NOT OWN THIS SITE), and complain.

Suffice it to say: if there have been ANY complaints so far this year, I have not heard about them. From anyone. However, if I am sent proof that I have been mistaken on some specific point — or, more likely, that the sources I combed extensively to glean this information were somehow tainted — I shall be delighted make changes.

On to last year. I did not receive a SINGLE complaint from ANY agent or editor at last year’s conference — nor did ANYONE affiliated with the PNWA suggest until today that there had been any complaints. In fact, many of agents and editors THANKED me for the profiles.

If the PNWA did indeed receive complaints about my write-ups, it did not pass them along to me in the intervening year, as surely it had an ethical obligation to do. Which implies a certain lack of vim on the part of the insulted, at best.

If there have been any actual complaints, please, anyone who has heard them — even as vague rumors — post them as comments on the appropriate profile. I’m sure anyone researching these agents will like to hear about anything I’ve misreported.

Since I habitually do EXTENSIVE research for each profile, if I have actually posted anything inaccurate, it means that there were inaccuracies in the standard databases, articles, etc. that I read to formulate these profiles — please, if anyone knows of any specific inaccuracies, let me know, so I may inform these other sources. (Which, incidentally, were by and large the same sources that anyone researching agents and editors would have used.)

My impression, based upon what the agents and editors actually said to me, was quite the opposite. At the PNWA conference last year, one of the editors even sought me out at the Pitch Practicing Palace and told me (in front of a witness) that she would not have attended if she had not seen the profile I had done of her on my blog. (Presented, of course, as my opinion.) She had been scheduled for two back-to-back conferences, and was coming down with a cold, so she had intended to cancel her trip to PNWA. Then she saw my post on her, and thought, “Gee, if they’ve gone to all the trouble of tracking down all this information on me, I guess I should go.” She said, in fact, that she had been forwarding the link to other people.

That was 100% MY work, boys and girls. Not the PNWA’s. I’m sorry if anyone was confused about that.

Furthermore, the agency that represents ME sends an agent to PNWA every year. Last year, I profiled this agent, along with the rest. After the conference, I specifically checked in with my agency to find out if there had been even a BREATH of discontent amongst the pros about ANYTHING I had written about the attending agents or editors. No one had heard anything.

And, as my correspondent above points out, agenting is a small world.

On the subject of accuracy. As I have said in each and every blog on the subject, my information has always come from the standard industry databases, books, and asking people in the know. I do as thorough a search of all the publicly-available information as I can find. I have literally NEVER reported anything for which I did not have solid evidence. When I cannot find information, I say so.

In both EVERY blog on the subject this year and EVERY blog on the subject last year, I SAID that what I was giving was only my opinion; frankly, I think that no one who actually read the blogs in their entirety could think anything else. I’m an opinionated gal — which is, correct me if I am wrong, considered DESIRABLE in a blogger. I do not, therefore, believe that this critique is being leveled by anyone familiar with my writings on the subject.

Although of course, that’s only my opinion. I could be wrong.

Also, for the record, I am NOT scheduled to be a presenter at PNWA this year; as I have already mentioned here, I am in negotiations to reprise my PRE-conference pitching class from last year (although I was not paid for last year’s class), as well as to bring a sharply scaled-down version of the Pitch Practicing Palace back to the conference.

You know, that service that so many of you said on your evaluation forms was the best thing about last year’s conference.

Therefore, I don’t think any sane person would take my opinions — which, as I have said, I have been very careful to present all along as MY OPINIONS — as those of the spokeswoman of an organization with which I am only marginally affiliated at this point.

Everybody clear on that? Did any of my regular readers think otherwise, even for a second? Do I actually have to cancel my membership in the PNWA in order not to confuse anyone?

On to the issue of whether I have been mean-spirited, I was honestly surprised by this. For the moment, let’s leave aside the issue that anything I have said has been ON MY OWN BLOG, which exists solely to express MY opinion. (Clear on that yet?) But, by that same token, this blog does not exist to promote the PNWA, nor is it reasonable for that organization to expect that it should.

I have tried to be impartial, in fact, which means I call ‘em as I see ‘em. Given my relationship with the PNWA last summer, not coloring those opinions with my personal experience has required something very close to saintliness to pull off. (Or was that a too mean-spirited thing to say, because it’s true?)

As some of you know, I was formerly the Resident Writer of the PNWA, blogging (as a volunteer activity) for their website and providing virtually all of its content for 11 months in 2004-2005. My blog there was very popular, by everyone’s admission. During that time, no one on the PNWA board ever commented to me about my blog, even once; I had no reason to believe that any of them had ever read it. But I had tangible proof that it was helping the membership, so I continued to write it.

On the day following last year’s PNWA conference, I logged to their blog and found that my password had been cancelled and all of my content had disappeared. With no warning, and with no explanation. Since this happened immediately after I had organized the HUGELY successful Pitch Practicing Palace, which heard more than 350 pitches over three days — again, for free; none of the PPP staff were paid — I was, to say the least, surprised.

I am mentioning this now because, as those of you who were reading the blog at the time already know, I did not talk about ANY of this on my blog at the time — nor, indeed, about any of the other rudenesses to which I was subjected.

Why? Because I didn’t want to trash the PNWA, that’s why. Because it’s an organization that has helped many writers over the years, and I have respect for that.

Since I believed the blog to be helpful to many aspiring writers, I scrambled, with the very generous assistance of webmaster Brian Tanaka and Suzanne Brahm, to get a new blog — UNDER MY OWN NAME, and AT MY OWN EXPENSE — up and running within a week, so as not to leave my readers in the lurch immediately after a conference, when they might conceivably be sending out requested materials. It seemed a better use of my time and energy than responding to how I had been treated.

When contest time approached this year, knowing that many of my readers were planning to enter the PNWA contest, I spent A MONTH of blog time prepping people for it. As I have heard from many far-flung readers since, they would not have entered that particular contest had I not being discussing it here. Thus, far from harming the PNWA, I have every reason to believe that my website has been promoting it.

I considered not doing agent and editor profiles this year, and if you will recall, I posted it as a question last month. Those who responded did want me to do them, so I have. Believe me, they are no fun to do, because of the EXTENSIVE research involved, and I only took on the task again because I believed them to be helping people.

And why did I think that? Because literally all the feedback I received last year told me so.

In fact, many readers told me that my helping to demystify the agent- and editor-selection process was part of the reason they chose to attend the PNWA conference, as opposed to any other. Which, correct me if I’m wrong, was helpful to the organization.

However, I now think I’ve been too generous — or perhaps misguided — to gloss over what happened last summer. And maybe, just maybe, it was not a good idea to promote one conference over any other on this site, even if I was planning to be available to my readers at that conference this year, as I was last.

So: I’m not going to finish the agent/editor series this year, except to profile the agent coming from my own agency. Because that way, I can get permission directly from the source, and no one can come to me a year from now and imply otherwise.

I am going to leave the category at the right up for a while, though, to make it easier for people to find THIS post. Because I wouldn’t want anyone to get confused.

My deepest apologies to those of you who were looking forward to these profiles. But I’m extremely busy, and I’m tired of being unappreciated by people for whom I have done great big favors in the past. I would much rather expend my volunteer energies helping my readers — and if I can do that best by never mentioning the PNWA here again, that is what I shall do.

For the record, I don’t actually believe that anything I have ever written about any of these agents or editors could possibly harm YOUR chances with these people — that, after all, would be really, really passive-aggressive, not to say childish. But if there is even the slightest chance of any aspiring writer’s being harmed by indirect aggression at me, as the message above implies, it’s just not worth it. (Especially since doing the EXTENSIVE research underlying the agent/editor profiles is a TREMENDOUS amount of work for me — in part because I took the time to verify with independent sources that everything I was saying was true.)

Thanks for your patience with this announcement. I’m very, very sorry if anyone was skimming my posts so quickly that they became confused about who was speaking. It shan’t happen again. But if someone’s ever in doubt, all she has to do is to raise her eyes a couple of inches to the masthead.

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