It appears that Author Salon has made good on its boast to be more than just a YADS (Yet Another Display Site). Or has it? One of the site admins, Rebecca Kaplan, talks to Writer's Edge about the drama and labor associated with working to replace the agent query.
WE: Rebecca, tell WE readers, what do you believe clearly separates Author Salon from the YADS crowd?
RK: First of all, we don't publicly display the writers or their work. All content related to projects on AS is viewable only by members, or business professionals who have site logins. Second, the designation of YADS implies the point is only to display writers, and that the act of mere display is ultimately pointless, but AS avoids that definition entirely because it serves as an ongoing and effective bridge between its aspiring authors and professionals in the business, actively reaching out to major editors and literary agents to promote a variety of projects each and every month. Finally, our peer-and-pro critique delivery, our tough critique rules and criteria have been developed with the assistance of these same professionals, our goal being to guide all our writers through the project development process in a realistic and methodical manner with publication as the goal.
WE: The agent query process can be very frustrating for a lot of writers, so having a professional source that not only guides the writer through project development but also handles the query process when the time comes is almost too good to be true. Can you tell us more? Specifics?
WE: How does a writer know if he or she is amazing enough? Who decides? Just other writers or ...?
RK: Agent moderators, faculty editors, and admins all play the pro role in our Editor Suite forums, selecting and editing ... and to a lesser extent in our In Production I forums for new members.
WE: The pro review aspect of Author Salon singles it out from the YADS types, but aside from the internal editing process on your end, what else accounts for these successes?
RK: Our method of showcasing the work to professionals. We use a format similar in many respects to the format agents use to pitch work to publishers. The emphasis is on presenting the work in its true high concept light, and other market-relevant information is also included, writer platform, credentials and so forth.
WE: And how difficult to get accepted into the Author Salon community?
WE: Grandiose comparisons?
RK: Comparing work to a cross between Jules Verne and Carlos Fuentes with a side of Jodi Picoult thrown in for good measure. If Carlos Fuentes had written 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea with the sensitivity of Jodi Picoult.
WE: [whooping laughter] Are you joking?
RK: No, not at all. In some way, I wish I were. Writers like this need help, desperately, and we just can't allow this low level of knowledge into the community. They need basic mentoring, beginner workshops, whatever.
WE: The comparables sound so crazy it actually might rate a read.
RK: [laughter] I have to admit, I would at least read the first page!
WE: By the way, are you still offending writers? The last time one of your site admins, Connie Chenowith, spoke with WE you guys were suffering an attack of Offended Writer Syndrome.
lived up to stereotype, posting a lot of melt down and paranoid volcanic noise on AS because their projects were not included in the Literary Showcase. No surprise there ... And a few writers whose AS applications were rejected have gone off to snark and snipe around, but that's predictable too.You just can't avoid it. But we're actually relieved since their excessively juvenile behavior is proof we made exactly the right decision in the first place.
WE: It might also be a form of career suicide? If AS is on the radar of the publishing industry and--
RK: They phase into a false identity, step number one, disguise who they really are online in the belief that people in the business can't pick them out from the general blather and paste them onto the literary no-fly list.
WE: Literary no-fly list? Are you kidding?
RK: Yes, I'm kidding. The first rule of the literary no-fly list is that there is no literary no-fly list.
WE: Scary ... Anyone we know on the list?
RK: [laughter] What list? Who in Larry David's name has the time? ... Better to focus energies on more productive things, don't you think? I love Curb Your Enthusiasm.
WE: We all love Larry, who doesn't? And good luck on Author Salon with keeping the case load down to zero!