(*) Zirdland.com update!

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P. Barry Jones

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Jan 25, 2005, 5:45:02 PM1/25/05
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For everyone who wrote following our last post:

Zirdland.com is coming along. Soon, we'll be ready to accept registrations
for new members. It's an exciting time and the antiquated, pointless
query-letter shuffle will thankfully meet its demise.

We've added some additional features that were suggested in some of the
responses we received - so far, here's what we have:

- In addition to posting their completed works, writers can also list
works-in-progress, treatments, summaries, outlines, or concepts and receive
certified registration. We will provide legal testimony, if needed, to
prove a work or concept originated with the writer.

- Our total e-query database is up to 7,200 publishers, producers and
agents with an opt-out selection the writer can use to limit who gets
queried.

- We've enhanced the search engine capabilities based on comments we
received from editors, producers and agents. We're also designing a
standard "quick-view" format for e-queries. (Over 60% of the industry
reporting, said they would give an e-query/search engine service a try).

We also want to thank those who wrote after seeing us in Writer's Digest.
We're getting closer...

Those interested in future updates, can visit: http://www.zirdland.com

Thanks again for your enthusiasm. We were overwhelmed with the response
from both writers and the industry.

Best wishes for your marketing success this year!

P. Barry Jones

-- Zirdland.com - the literary marketplace of the 21st century.

-- Zirdland.com - the literary marketplace of the 21st century.

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little (Niki)

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Jan 25, 2005, 6:26:46 PM1/25/05
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For those who missed the connection the first time around, this is the
website for which Jami Harrah was spamming newsgroups, forums, and
individual email addresses in the last couple of months.

(Assuming you already know what a bad idea the below is, I won't bore
you with the obvious.)
--
Niki

P. Barry Jones

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Jan 25, 2005, 11:32:00 PM1/25/05
to
Well, Niki, I'm pleased that you've taken notice of our venture!

Just so you understand, Jami had no intention of "spamming" newsgroups -
she sent a similar message to I believe, perhaps 3 or 4 newsgroups - all of
which are related to writer's careers. I put a few notices up myself.
Hardly seems like spamming. Seems like, well, "news" - and what better
place for news than NEWSgroups. She also posted some announcements in
writers' forums and other public places designated for such communications.
Her goal was to evaluate market interest, gather unpublished writer's
opinions and suggestions.

I'm assuming you are already a published writer, and have no need for a
service like what we have planned. The sort of snap judgment of something
you have yet to see for yourself, is born from either the better-than-thou
attitude of the millionaire author, or the overly-rejected (ie: poorly
marketed) writer, or perhaps one who has seen these sorts of marketing
attempts before and assumes this will bear the same results...

We're putting a lot of effort, time, and money behind this effort, largely
because we know so many writers who are all struggling with the same
condition: the query-letter shuffle - where a struggling writer spends (on
average) hundreds of dollars a year mailing query letters based on dated
information in writer's guides, to editors or agents who have either
long-since changed houses, or to publishing companies that have moved or
succumbed to mergers. And the poor writer is left with obsolete market
data, in a vast vacuum of information about who may be looking for what.

I have personally seen the piles of manuscripts - stacked floor-to-ceiling,
layers deep, in offices, hallways, lunch rooms, closets - unread, unwanted.
The poor editors, agents, and producers are so overwhelmed with query
letters (and they've told us that nearly 100% are completely inappropriate
for their current needs), that they don't have time or resources to answer
them all, much less advertise what they're looking for. The only
properties in-play are the ones referred by insiders, or "found" at the
Book Expo, or picked-up after self-publishing and selling a few thousand
copies. The time it generally takes from query letter to interested
response to manuscript review and acceptance/rejection can take six months
to a year. Absurd! In any other industry, that would be entirely
unacceptable.

Of the editors, agents, and producers who answered our survey, more than
half said they were similarly frustrated by the overwhelming nature of
querying and unsolicited manuscripts delivered daily (Random House receives
25,000 manuscripts a month and countless tens of thousands of queries - an
unmanageable situation for any organization - short of the IRS).

Something has to be done to change this business, or there will be nothing
by "Harry Potter and the Vengeful Writer" and "The DaVinci Code Deciphered
for the Nth Time" on the shelves alongside the 14 other top-selling
writers-of-all-time rehashing their same plots for the masses.

So, as a group of writers and production company execs ourselves, we
gathered our own resources to develop Zirdland.com into a "Google" of sorts
for the literary community - so writers can specify what they have, and the
industry buyers have a central place to enter their preferences and receive
only the queries that are CURRENTLY applicable to their needs. Everyone
saves time. Forests are spared. The literary "gene-pool" gets larger.

There is good work out there awaiting discovery - and with the state of the
industry now, it's a game of luck - a literary lottery. As intellectual as
this business is, it's a wonder no one's gathered the collective together
and decided "enough!" We're hoping we can make some meaningful
contributions here, perhaps get some otherwise obscure writers noticed, and
bring some important works to market.

Frankly, I don't see a downside. And neither do the hundreds of writers
who have pre-registered on Zirdland.com, or the dozens of bestselling
authors who have written notes of encouragement to us, or the industry
execs who offered a hearty pat on the back and are waiting, ever-hopeful
that this will offer some relief for them.

If you have suggestions for how we can NOT make the mistakes of sites past,
or you'd like to ask specific questions about the nature of this new
venture, please feel free to e-mail me directly. Once the site goes up,
I'd very much like to hear your opinion for how we can make it even better.
As for baseless criticisms, well...I think we all get enough of that in
our daily lives.

Best wishes for your continued success,

PBJ

On 01/25/2005 15:26:46 "Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little (Niki)"
<syqpw...@SNEAKYsneakemail.com> wrote:

> For those who missed the connection the first time around, this is the
> website for which Jami Harrah was spamming newsgroups, forums, and
> individual email addresses in the last couple of months.

> (Assuming you already know what a bad idea the below is, I won't bore you
> with the obvious.)
--

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little (Niki)

unread,
Jan 26, 2005, 12:06:48 PM1/26/05
to
P. Barry Jones wrote:
>
> Just so you understand, Jami had no intention of "spamming"
> newsgroups - she sent a similar message to I believe, perhaps 3 or 4
> newsgroups - all of which are related to writer's careers. I put a
> few notices up myself. Hardly seems like spamming. Seems like, well,
> "news" - and what better place for news than NEWSgroups. She also
> posted some announcements in writers' forums and other public places
> designated for such communications.

Pardon. After seeing her notices in my email, in a bunch of my friends'
email, and every darn forum I frequent, it sure started looking like
spam to me.

Would you pass the word on to her that the NaNoWriMo Municipal Liaisons
are, for the most part, not pleased with her email harvesting
techniques? As you can no doubt see for yourself:

http://www.nanowrimo.org/modules/newbb/viewtopic.php?topic_id=23826&forum=162

> I'm assuming you are already a published writer, and have no need for
> a service like what we have planned. The sort of snap judgment of
> something you have yet to see for yourself, is born from either the
> better-than-thou attitude of the millionaire author, or the
> overly-rejected (ie: poorly marketed) writer, or perhaps one who has
> seen these sorts of marketing attempts before and assumes this will
> bear the same results...

Right the third time, sir.

Rather than rehash the argument here, you can read what I and others had
to say about it elsewhere:

http://p197.ezboard.com/fabsolutewritefrm11.showMessage?topicID=680.topic

Please do feel free to chime in, in your own defense, on that
AbsoluteWrite board link. I am sure that the knowledgeable regulars
there would be happy to elaborate on their reasoning. They are quite
used to having non-recommended agents and publishers show up and protest
their non-recommendations there.

--
Niki

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little (Niki)

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Jan 26, 2005, 12:13:07 PM1/26/05
to
Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little (Niki) wrote:

>
> http://www.nanowrimo.org/modules/newbb/viewtopic.php?topic_id=23826&forum=162

And just in case you don't feel the need to follow the links from this
discussion to elsewhere, I would like to personally recommend this one:

http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/005555.html

Just because what she describes sounds very much like the language you,
Mr. Jones, were using here.

P. Barry Jones

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Jan 27, 2005, 4:19:51 PM1/27/05
to
Niki - In retrospect, I suppose having two of us trolling the seas for
writers opinions and perhaps even promoting our venture with unbridled
enthusiasm, may have over-saturated those who have been the subject of so
many marketeers in eras past and present.

The majority of responses we received (over 90%) were excited, helpful, and
waiting in great anticipation for yet another "opportunity" to showcase
their works - can there be too many opportunities for self-promotion these
days?

We will more carefully select our targets from this point forward. We will
not approach the NaNoWriMo groups, of course, though if any of those folks
have opted-in on writer's marketing lists (as are available from list
managers and publications), they may receive future announcements and news
from us in strict accordance with the new FTC anti-spam regulations, which
we are abiding by. Hopefully they will soon clarify some of their more
controversial points on what exactly constitutes spam versus "news" and we
will adjust our marketing accordingly.

But fear not, we will not infringe on your private community, though we're
open to having anyone and everyone join us for the adventure...wherever it
may lead.

It is the "non-recommended" among us that seek out the only opportunities
available to them. Zirdland.com might be that opportunity for some...but
we certainly respect that others may not perceive it the same way.

So, I'll end my little soap-box speech here and wish you and your friends
the greatest success in your writing endeavors.

Best,

PBJ

On 01/26/2005 09:06:48 "Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little (Niki)"
<syqpw...@SNEAKYsneakemail.com> wrote:

> P. Barry Jones wrote:

>> Just so you understand, Jami had no intention of "spamming" newsgroups -
>> she sent a similar message to I believe, perhaps 3 or 4 newsgroups - all
>> of which are related to writer's careers. I put a few notices up myself.
>> Hardly seems like spamming. Seems like, well, "news" - and what better
>> place for news than NEWSgroups. She also posted some announcements in
>> writers' forums and other public places designated for such
>> communications.

> Pardon. After seeing her notices in my email, in a bunch of my friends'
> email, and every darn forum I frequent, it sure started looking like spam
> to me.

> Would you pass the word on to her that the NaNoWriMo Municipal Liaisons
> are, for the most part, not pleased with her email harvesting techniques?
> As you can no doubt see for yourself:

> http://www.nanowrimo.org/modules/newbb/viewtopic.php?topic_id#826&forum 2

>> I'm assuming you are already a published writer, and have no need for a
>> service like what we have planned. The sort of snap judgment of
>> something you have yet to see for yourself, is born from either the
>> better-than-thou attitude of the millionaire author, or the
>> overly-rejected (ie: poorly marketed) writer, or perhaps one who has seen
>> these sorts of marketing attempts before and assumes this will bear the
>> same results...

> Right the third time, sir.

> Rather than rehash the argument here, you can read what I and others had
> to say about it elsewhere:

> http://p197.ezboard.com/fabsolutewritefrm11.showMessage?topicIDh0.topic

> Please do feel free to chime in, in your own defense, on that
> AbsoluteWrite board link. I am sure that the knowledgeable regulars there
> would be happy to elaborate on their reasoning. They are quite used to
> having non-recommended agents and publishers show up and protest their
> non-recommendations there.
--

Ray Haddad

unread,
Jan 27, 2005, 1:40:33 PM1/27/05
to
On Thu, 27 Jan 2005 13:19:51 -0800, I said, "Pick a card, any card"
and P. Barry Jones <jo...@zirdland.com> instead replied:

>Niki - In retrospect, I suppose having two of us trolling the seas for
>writers opinions and perhaps even promoting our venture with unbridled
>enthusiasm, may have over-saturated those who have been the subject of so
>many marketeers in eras past and present.

You call it marketeering and some call it theft of an e-mail address
from a private source (NaNoWriMo) and an intrusion of privacy in the
form of unwanted messages from you.

>The majority of responses we received (over 90%) were excited, helpful, and
>waiting in great anticipation for yet another "opportunity" to showcase
>their works - can there be too many opportunities for self-promotion these
>days?

Really? Over 90% of your messages earned a reply? No, I see it now.
Over 90% of those who bothered to reply didn't chew your head off
for sending them bulk e-mail.

>We will more carefully select our targets from this point forward. We will
>not approach the NaNoWriMo groups, of course, though if any of those folks
>have opted-in on writer's marketing lists (as are available from list
>managers and publications), they may receive future announcements and news
>from us in strict accordance with the new FTC anti-spam regulations, which
>we are abiding by. Hopefully they will soon clarify some of their more
>controversial points on what exactly constitutes spam versus "news" and we
>will adjust our marketing accordingly.

You never should have harvested the NaNoWriMo groups and you
certainly should not have included their name in the message you
wrote. That was an attempt to imply an endorsement from them when
none existed. Your dishonesty in that one regard has placed you into
the category of "never contact" in my personal ledger. Now, by your
own admission above, you are going to use e-mail addressed harvested
commercially. Oh, joy. Have you any idea where they come from? They
come from the same dishonest harvesting that you did. You can't
legitimize spam just by paying for it.

>But fear not, we will not infringe on your private community, though we're
>open to having anyone and everyone join us for the adventure...wherever it
>may lead.

Of all the places where harvesting approaches legitimacy, this
newsgroup has to rate among the highest. You see, this is NOT
private, as you mention. It is public and voluntary. No one is here
by subscription (in a traditional paying sense). Putting one's real
e-mail address here is a blatant abrogation of one's expectation of
not receiving mail from sources that see this group.

>It is the "non-recommended" among us that seek out the only opportunities
>available to them. Zirdland.com might be that opportunity for some...but
>we certainly respect that others may not perceive it the same way.

Had you simply come here and placed a notice, you would have been
welcome as one more source for the blooming writer. As you did it,
you became a mockery before you even arrived. What you probably
missed was discussion threads here which noted your theft of e-mail
addresses from NaNoWriMo.

>So, I'll end my little soap-box speech here and wish you and your friends
>the greatest success in your writing endeavors.

You may have cut off a large portion of potential clients by your
actions. You now have a much harder job of winning any support from
the people who feel violated by your contact. Whether you intended
this result or not, that's the one you are getting.
--
Ray

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little (Niki)

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Jan 29, 2005, 3:18:01 PM1/29/05
to
Ray Haddad wrote:
>
> You never should have harvested the NaNoWriMo groups and you
> certainly should not have included their name in the message you
> wrote. That was an attempt to imply an endorsement from them when
> none existed. Your dishonesty in that one regard has placed you into
> the category of "never contact" in my personal ledger. Now, by your
> own admission above, you are going to use e-mail addressed harvested
> commercially. Oh, joy. Have you any idea where they come from? They
> come from the same dishonest harvesting that you did. You can't
> legitimize spam just by paying for it.

Wow, Ray. We actually agree on something. The stars must all be aligned,
or something. :-)

All you're saying about spamming is totally true, but even beyond that
there's a problem. You touch on it when you talk about implying an
endorsement from NaNoWriMo. By harvesting the Municipal Liaison emails
and then sending out messages asking us to "congratulate your authors
and pass this along to them," they insinuated that I would be a willing
shill for this "adventure," put my personal stamp of legitimacy on their
invitation and tell my fellow Boulder-area writers that they should hop
on board this ill-fated vessel.

Now, they're not "my" authors. I am not some sort of shepherd with a
flock. Goodness knows I have yet to have a novel published, and it's
been more years than I'm happy with since my last short fiction
publication. But I *do* happen to know something about the publishing
industry. This is not the case for everyone who participates in
NaNoWriMo. It isn't even the case for every NaNoWriMo ML.

Many NaNoWriMo participants are utter newbies to the literary
marketplace. They might not even be considering a writing career. Often,
they take on the 30-day dare just to see if they really do have a novel
inside waiting to jump out onto the page. At the end of November, having
written their 50K words by the deadline, they're thinking, "Wow, I did
it! I wrote a lengthy work of fiction! I wonder if I could actually get
this published?"

This is a dangerous time. The heady rush of enthusiasm upon writing the
words "The End" combined with a general lack of industry experience
makes them tempting targets for both malicious scammers and well-meaning
but clueless startups. Excited but ignorant new writers might fall for
lines like "revolutionizing the marketplace" and "you won't have to pay
one thin dime to get published" and "it's expected that you sell your
own books out of the trunk of your car; Grisham did it and look where he
is now."

They might not know why literary display sites, such as Zirdland
proposes to be, are not a good idea.

So I'm mildly offended by this invitation to participate in a scheme
which is at best uninformed, and at worst a bid to take advantage of
first-time writers' ignorance. I'm not 100% sure which side of the
malice/ignorance line Zirdland falls on, but given that these people
harvested NaNoWriMo ML emails as opposed to, say, contact info from a
board where the experience level could be expected to be higher, makes
me very suspicious of Mr. Jones's and Ms. Harrah's intentions.

--
Niki

Ray Haddad

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Jan 29, 2005, 3:53:56 PM1/29/05
to
On Sat, 29 Jan 2005 13:18:01 -0700, I said, "Pick a card, any card"
and "Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little (Niki)"
<syqpw...@SNEAKYsneakemail.com> instead replied:

>Wow, Ray. We actually agree on something. The stars must all be aligned,
>or something. :-)

You'll probably find that we agree on a lot more than you suspect.

I've long opposed SPAM in general, Nicole, as an insidious intrusion
that seemed at first glance to be something that we must accept
along with the ability to send a message around the world without a
postage stamp and in an infinitesimally small amount of time.

While we do agree, I take it one step further in that Zirdland's
techniques border on theft rather than simply being an annoyance. In
my opinion, not only did they steal the addresses of participants
but they also stole some of NaNoWriMo's legitimacy by directly
implying association with them.

None of this was the least bit 'clever' to the careful reader. As
you point out, the more vulnerable among us may have been the prey
of Zirdland. No matter how noble their intentions were, they gave
themselves and impossible path to recovery from such a dishonest
start. I don't even believe their dishonesty was done with any
thought to it being dishonest. It just looked to them like an easy
harvest ripe for the plucking.

They lack experience in this industry and probably in life itself.
If they're genuinely concerned for authors, it's too late for them
to become reputable without a huge effort.
--
Ray

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little (Niki)

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Jan 30, 2005, 2:22:45 AM1/30/05
to
Ray Haddad wrote:
> On Sat, 29 Jan 2005 13:18:01 -0700, I said, "Pick a card, any card"
> and "Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little (Niki)"
> <syqpw...@SNEAKYsneakemail.com> instead replied:
>
>>Wow, Ray. We actually agree on something. The stars must all be aligned,
>>or something. :-)
>
> You'll probably find that we agree on a lot more than you suspect.

Funny old world, ain't it.

> As
> you point out, the more vulnerable among us may have been the prey
> of Zirdland.

Does that "we" that you were also playing along at home this past November?

> I don't even believe their dishonesty was done with any
> thought to it being dishonest. It just looked to them like an easy
> harvest ripe for the plucking.

You are richer in benefit of the doubt than I. Maybe I'm just too damn
cynical. I didn't see them come post at AbsoluteWrite.com, where some
very industry-savvy people hang out. Seems to me like they deliberately
targetted a community largely made up of newbies.

But the important thing is to warn newbies away from being guinea pigs
in the experiment, and educate them as to why it's a bad idea,
regardless of what I suspect Zirdland's intentions to be. Onward!

Ray Haddad

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Jan 30, 2005, 2:47:27 AM1/30/05
to
On Sun, 30 Jan 2005 00:22:45 -0700, I said, "Pick a card, any card"

and "Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little (Niki)"
<syqpw...@SNEAKYsneakemail.com> instead replied:

>Does that "we" that you were also playing along at home this past November?

Yes, but a crunch project came up that diverted me for too many days
to catch up. I received an e-mail message a week or so after I saw
the warning here on MW. I had no idea what was being discussed until
I got mine. I probably got as incensed as you did.

I truly despise SPAM and junk mail. Ok. I allow Pizza coupons but
nothing else. Oh, and magic catalogs. Jeepers! I also look forward
to the woodworking catalogs and the model airplane stuff and model
railroad information and . . .

All right. I admit it. The mail box is different. I am selective
about junk mail there but want no SPAM in my e-mail box.
--
Ray

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