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  The New Writer's Guild
by Lee Masterson

***Author's Note: As of 6th April, much of the "New Writers Guild's" site-content had vanished. This article will be updated when replacement content reappears!***


There are some awfully big fish swimming around the publishing pond these days, and it can be hard for some of the smaller fish to find a way through - especially with so many SHARKS in the waters!

Recently, one of the discussion groups Tina Morgan is a member of, received an announcement which disturbed her - and the rest of the group's members - enough to forward it to me for a little further investigation.

The message which follows was originally posted to the SciFi discussion group, and forwarded throughout several other groups, including Writers Pad on Topica. It was written by someone named Richard Michael on March 31, 2001 posted at 20:21 pst. I am including the post in its entirety - typos and all.

Hey Everyone,

Just joined the group/list and couldn't wait to share the news. If anyone need a lit agent, check out the NWG. They have an inhouse agent who accepts new writers. Get ahold of him before his client list fills uP!

The NWG is at newwritersguild.com.

Upon closer inspection of this site, I can understand why so many of the members of this group are up in arms. Let me share with you what I found.

Copied directly from the New Writers Guild site
(yes, that's correct, there is no apostrophe as far as their grammar checkers are concerned)

The good news is that we have our own inhouse literary agent. Our agent represents all guild members whose works are ready for the literary market.

There has to be a catch, right? Well, yes, yes and no. Yes, you have to be a guild member. Secondly, yes your work must be edited by our agency and ready for the market. Other than those two requirements, no, there's no catch. Simply become a guild member and work with one of our editors to polish your work. Our agent will take it from there.


(from separate page)

...Our literary agent charges nothing to represent our members. He's on our salary, and your membership fees help pay his salary.

Basically this means that, by paying the membership fees AND by paying for their editorial services, they guarantee you representation by their in-house literary agent. Sounds great, huh? Allow me to continue...

Here are the schedule of fees, posted quite prominently on their site:

Membership Fees
One-year $225
Six months $125
Three months $65
Monthly $25

Skills Development Courses
Grammar course--$65
Improving Your Storylines--$45
Character Development--$35

Register single-page poem--$5
---------Anthology--$10
---------Screenplay--$15
---------Adult/teen book--$15
---------Children's book--$10
---------Song(lyrics only)--$10
---------Play--$15

Manuscript Services
Editing--Children's book--$75
---------Adult/teen book--$175
---------Screenplay--$75
---------Poetry(per page)--$5
---------Anthologies--$75


Professional typing--$1.00 per page
Photocopying--10 pages/$1.00

The NWG offers most everything a new writer would need. We're working on opening our own online stationery store to supply even the paper and pencils



If I were to take the words posted on this website literally and add up 12 month membership registration fees ($225.00) plus manuscript editorial service charges ($175.00), I would soon learn that I would owe the "Guild" a minimum of $400.00 to guarantee myself representation for one year. Imagine if I had been told that my work also required a grammar course ($65.00) or a character development course ($35.00) or if I required "registration" ($15.00). Imagine the extra cost if the "literary agent" does not manage to sell my work within that first 12 months.

Rather expensive "free" literary representation.

For a professional example of the proposed editorial spelling and grammatical acumen, please read on:

Copied directly from the New Writers Guild site:

Check out any of those guides to literary agents, and you'll see what percent of the clients handled by most literary agents are new writers. Twenty percent, maybe. Ten percent is more likely. Zero is quite common. Why in the world then would we want to represent only new writers? If our name doesn't elicidate, then our philosophy should. Our goal is to encorage and promote NEW writers. Representing you as a new writer is the ultimate achievement of our goal.

Will our literary agent represent all new writers? You bet! Assuming we've editted your script and you've incorporated any necessary changes, of course we'll take your work to the market. It would be seriously hypocritical if we editted your work, then said it's not good enough for us to market. Some literary agents will do that, so beware.



Why, how nice of the New Writers Guild to offer such a thoughtful service...
Now if only I could find the word "elicidate" in my Oxford Concise Dictionary. Maybe I should have become an "edittor".

John Savage, an attorney quite prominently active in the
Speculations Rumor Mill, had this to say:


In no particular order:

(1) "NWG" offers a "registration" service that is supposed to help you sleep at night by preventing others from claiming that what you've just submitted to a publisher is actually their work. Yeah, right. First of all, the "service" has no legal standing whatsoever, and wouldn't even be useful as evidence. Second, there's nothing to prevent a "member" from registering someone else's work and then using that "registration" to hold the actual author's work hostage. Third, the section completely misstates both copyright law and publishing industry practices. Fourth... well, you get the idea.

(2) Look at the "membership levels" cited on the site. They should sound more than a little bit like the system used by Interplanetary Unlimited - at least, the system used before it got taken down under criminal indictment as a pyramid scheme.

(3) A little detective work has disclosed some data about the probable founder. I think his counsel and I are going to have a little talk. Or, if he chooses, he can have his counsel talk to someone else I intend to point at his site.

Folks, even if the substance of what this joker claims about publishing was true - and it's not even close - the structure is still that of a pyramid scheme.



After reading some of this activity on the discussion groups, one member decided to email the New Writers Guild to see what kind of response would be received.

Copied directly from an email received by "Craig"
Dear Craig,

Thanks for contacting the NWG, and congratulations on being a writer!!! It's difficult being a writer but even more tough just starting out. It seems as if no one will believe you're serious about your choice to become a professional writer.

In answering your concerns, I'm "assuming" that you visited our site at newwritersguild.com. I'm only asking, because we had two previous sites that turned into nightmares. The search engines couldn't find either site, and none of the emails worked.

Your two main questions are who our literary agent is and what type of material we as writers have written and published. I believe honesty is always the best policy, even if it means not saying what people want to hear. Our literary agent's identity is known only to our members. We've answered this as one of our "frequently asked questions" on our site.

We hope that you'll understand that finding an agent who will even communicate with new writers is a rarity. Since our current site hit the Web, we've received 100's of emails per day from writers wanting to get in touch with our agent. We simply must protect our agent's sanity and only allow members whose works are ready for the market to contact him.

As our site clarifies, being represented by our agent is guaranteed. The only conditions are that you must be a member of the guild and have your work polished by one of our editors. Our agent's sole responsibility is to represent writers. His time is too limited to answer questions or any concerns involving works that aren't ready for the market.

Your second question is rather complex. The NWG is a membership quild for new writers. Our guild members have not published any works. The main requirement of becoming a member is that you cannot have had a major work published or produced. Some of our members have published minor articles, stories and poems, but we don't maintain records of such. The best way to find out who's written what would be to drop into one of our online chat clubs. I'm sure that anyone who has had even a two-line poem published would be proud to share the news.

Our script registration fees are somewhat lower than the WGA's. The service is a necessary evil, and we're not out to overcharge anyone. If you do drop into our site, the "cart" may or may not be working. If you'd like to register a script, you can either print a copy of the Schedule of Fees and circle what you're paying for, or email us and we'll send you an invoice. We can work out how and when you pay. The important thing is that you get your scripts registered before someone else gets ahold of your story idea!

Richard Cook
NWG President



Interestingly, another member, "Lyne" received this response:

Copied directly from an email received by Lyne

Dear Lyne,

Thanks for contacting the NWG and your persistence in sending the email. If you only knew the nightmares we've had getting our sites and emails to work!

Of the 100-plus emails I received today, yours presents the most complex questions. I've forwarded a copy of your email to our literary agent, who will answer the issues more appropriate for him.

I believe in complete honestly, even if it sometimes means not saying what people want to hear. If some of my answers aren't what you expect, bear in mind that they come honesty and not with false pretenses.

The NWG is a membership association. We don't publish anything or submit works to anyone else. We do employ a literary agent, but he works independently from the guild. I have asked our agent to answer your concerns, but bear in mind that he normally works with guild members whose works are ready for the market.

The NWG does maintain web space on which members can "publish" their works. Two of these sites are "view-only", and we update them monthly. Recently we've added two newsletter groups. Members can post their own works to the newsletters and automatically send them to everyone in the group. We don't buy any rights, first or otherwise. We're simply providing writers with a channel through which they can share their works with other writers.

NWG membership services include participation in our two online writers chat/support groups. We also offer free participation in our newsletter groups and posting of select works to our view-only Websites. Our most valuable service is our guaranteed literary agent representation. The agent is on retainer to the NWG and represents all members whose works our editors feel are "ready for the market".

As a membership organization, we don't maintain a public businessfront. Our editors and office staff don't meet with writers or have any reason to do so. I believe you were referring to "meeting" our literary agent. He'll be contacting you separately to address this concern as well as your others.

My POP3 server just flashed a warning that they're about to do unscheduled maintenance. Email you again, soon!

Richard Cook

NWG President



I am not going to pass any form of judgment on a "literary" site such as this - I will let you judge for yourself - but I will say this:

Before sending any money to anyone for any form of service, always take some time to do a little homework first. Check
Preditors & Editors to see if they have any information on the agency or company you wish to deal with. Failing this, at least ask the kind people on the "Ask Ann" topic of Speculations. If something looks a little "too good to be true", then it usually is, so please be careful.

I will end by reminding anyone who reads this that the golden rule among all writers should be this:

Money flows TO the author. Never the other way around.


****
You can read what others have had to say about the "New Writers Guild" at:
Speculations

And keep an eye on
Preditors & Editors for their take on the same site!


 

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