Author Salon Offending Writers Daily - the 24/7 Writers Conference Takes No Prisoners

With all due respect to other writer conferences, Writer's Edge has been obsessed with running a good story on a new and controversial website stepping like a giant onto the Internet known as Author Salon, especially ever since our staff writer, Chris Stewart, discovered it, and Author Salon itself sent us a press release.

According to Author Salon's Writers Who Benefit page, they're looking for writers with thick skins, writers who can take a tough love sloshing for the sake of developing a publishable manuscript. But is it all that tough or does it depend on the writer's attitude and receptivity? Author Salon says it does. Below, Connie Chenowith, one of the admins at Author Salon, talks to us about tough love, giving offense, getting published and other things.

WE: You gals and guys at Author Salon say you're out to offend writers. Are you succeeding?

AS: Most definitely. We've managed to offend about a half dozen so far and we're just getting started.  We believe that by the end of 2012 we will have angered hundreds.

WE: Do you have a goal in mind?  Any dream number you would like to achieve?

AS: Yes, ten thousand by 2020. It's a rallying cry around the office, so to speak.

WE: What is the point of trying to be a Tasmanian devil?  

AS: [Connie laughs] Actually, giving offense isn't intentional, it's just a matter of course with certain types of writers, the thin skinners. If you squirm angrily or feel attacked when a fellow writer or a professional tells you something about your writing or story you don't wish to hear, then you are certainly offended. If you react with rage and seek to smear or punish, then you have what we call Offended Writer Syndrome, or OWS for short. But our critique is based on specific rules and we keep it sane and polite. Critique from professionals can be firm, of course, but it's fair and well informed.  Not everyone can handle that.

WE: Has anyone had an attack of OWS since you're opened your doors?

AS: Oh, yes.  One went out with a vow to wreck havoc. Bring us down, so to speak. She assumed various pseudos and began rage posting, making us out to be a pack of moronic hateful lions roving the boards and looking for blood ... oh, and we also we sent her unprofessional mails loaded with typos and grammatical mistakes, you know, whatever she could think of, and so forth. Classic OWS, classic! [Connie laughs] How did Kipling put it?  If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools? ... Her first diatribe was posted directly on the site following a good critique she despised. One of the mods removed it and asked her to please refrain from posting inflammatory and inappropriate rants in a member's crit topic, then of course, deprived of that catharsis, she went on to greater ballistic achievements. And naturally, since we deleted her mouth from the forum, that turned into a theatrical howl on the evils of censorship. After all, the poor baby was only trying to give us good advice ... and then it went viral. Ahhhhh, it never ends.

WE: Wow, that's ... wow. It makes my head mushy. It's like watching a horror movie. I'd call it, THIN SKINNER, make it into a series. A psychotic thin skinner kidnaps editors and locks them in a basement, and they regain consciousness on a bed of sharp pencils.

AS: [Connie laughs] But we accept this kind of nonsense and move on because for every one case of OWS we have 50 writers working hard to hone their skills and projects. We have a very large percentage of talented writers with high concept projects, and the act of detailed and methodical critique makes them behave like picky editors, and that helps them grow also.

WE: So Author Salon is out to set writers up with publishers and agents?  How is that going so far? Well enough to justify the horrors of OWS?

AS: Yes, well enough! We're still  in beta test at this moment, but we already have three projects under development with a film production company in Los Angeles, a number of projects in various genres already requested by major agents and New York publishers, and we're planning a Literary Showcase Week soon. We'll display to a select group of editors and agents a number of high concept projects by good writers in all genres.

WE: But do really busy agents and editors have time to hunt around Author Salon for the gold?

AS: With the exception of young and hungry agents actively looking for clients, they don't for the most part, so we go to them.

WE: How so?

AS: We create the Literary Showcase pages and direct them to that, and we also keep them looped on projects via email. We do have several roaming the site.  As Author Salon grows and gains more rep, more will come.

WE: Alright then, Connie, thanks for this interview.  The Writer's Edge wishes you and Author Salon the best.  The site looks fantastic and some of the craft advice, like the six act novel structure, appears original.

AS:  Right, we're a think tank also. We're always mulling over the possibility of new tools to provide our writers. We love our writers.

WE: Thank you so much, Connie!

AS: Thank you. 

The Author Salon video: