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Old 09-26-2011, 01:45 AM   #1
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Post [Display site] ViralBestseller

Hello all! I am a partner of a newly formed Literary Agency with a unique approach to this business. We are looking for great material in all genres. Please drop by our website and query us. (we have not officially launched our site yet so please use the username and password below to enter)

http://viralbestseller.com/AuthorWelcome.html

User: author1
Password: author1

Thanks, we look forward to reading your work.

Last edited by CaoPaux; 09-27-2011 at 07:34 AM. Reason: restoring post
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Old 09-26-2011, 01:58 AM   #2
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I can't be reading your website correctly. You plan to put the writing up on a website and hope it goes viral? Then you'll publish it?

I feels a little dizzy ...
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Old 09-26-2011, 02:17 AM   #3
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Yes, we will be working mostly with author/writers that have been rejected elsewhere. It is an alternative and not for everyone. Thanks for your question.
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Old 09-26-2011, 03:34 AM   #4
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If you are publishing the material online, doesn't that make you a publisher, rather than a literary agency?

Please explain how you consider yourself/your agency an agent/agency?

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Old 09-26-2011, 03:38 AM   #5
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I wouldn't even put the password in because I'm too afraid it might give my computer a virus. This all sounds too shady to me, sorry.

But Welcome none the less.
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Old 09-26-2011, 03:45 AM   #6
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Okay, so you're publishing the work online? So this is a hope and pray someone wants to buy the book?

Are you charging authors to publish? What percentage of sales go to the author? How much do you expect to take home? What if author so and so never sells anything? Do you plan on charging if an authors book is a dud?

I'm sorry, just seems sketchy to me and personally if agent after agent after agent is telling me my work isn't working...I'm revising and rewriting until an industry leader is saying "Yeah, this rocks my socks off." Not publishing and saying, "Well, your advice and recommendations stink because I know everything so I'm going to go here and publish anyway." At least that's how you make it sound.
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Old 09-26-2011, 04:49 AM   #7
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Old 09-26-2011, 05:21 AM   #8
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I'll certainly grant them the "unique approach."

I checked out their website, which seems pretty typical -- complete with the obligatory grocer's apostrophe.

Their selling points to readers are that readers get to read the book in its unedited, original form, and that readers who provide reviews of the books to Viral go into a draw to win prizes.

Their selling point to authors is that they get to give away their book for free to readers who will, if they enjoy the book, tell their friends about it on Twitter and Facebook, and this will create marketplace demand. If demand is sufficient (5000 downloads in 3 months), Viral guarantees they will somehow arrange for the book to be edited and published -- or, in their exact words*, "get you that book deal you deserve".

Amazingly, of the six books they have available so far, one has already hit the magic 5000 download mark and the other five aren't far off it. However only one appears to be available for download. It has three or four reviews posted, all of which have similar syntax in the text.

Adding: The terms and conditions state that if you use the Viral site you are giving them the nonexclusive, transferable right to use, display, distribute, and sublicense your work, and to create derivative works, for no payment.


*Which sounds an awful lot like "give your book the chance it deserves."
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Old 09-26-2011, 05:27 AM   #9
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Quote:
*Which sounds an awful lot like "give your book the chance it deserves."
No. Please. No. They're not in any way connected w/.... Please. Say it ain't so.

What bothers me (among other things), is that the book is online, free for anyone to read. It's therefore published. And a publishing house would want to pick it up, pay an advance and royalties, why?
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Old 09-26-2011, 05:46 AM   #10
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Technically, it's not free for anyone to read: readers have to register an account with Viral. This may or may not fit the description of "password protected" and "limited" that allows it to remain technically unpublished.

In some cases a publisher will pick up a book that made 5000 sales via a small/self/vanity press; in other cases, large trade publishers may feel the book has already saturated its niche market. I'm not sure how Viral would prove 5000 unique downloads occurred, or whether that would generate any publisher interest. I certainly don't think they can guarantee a publishing contract.

I've no idea who Viral is or isn't associated with; I just mentally noted the similarity of word choices (and, yes, shuddered).
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Old 09-26-2011, 06:12 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Candance View Post
Yes, we will be working mostly with author/writers that have been rejected elsewhere. It is an alternative and not for everyone. Thanks for your question.
The only authors I know who haven't been "rejected elsewhere" are the ones who never sent anywhere.

I'm guessing that what you really mean is that you're targeting authors who've been rejected over and over again and would rather go with a newbie publisher/agent than attempt to write something that an agent will represent?
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Old 09-26-2011, 06:28 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katrina S. Forest View Post
The only authors I know who haven't been "rejected elsewhere" are the ones who never sent anywhere.

I'm guessing that what you really mean is that you're targeting authors who've been rejected over and over again and would rather go with a newbie publisher/agent than attempt to write something that an agent will represent?
This!!! Rejection is just part of the process...
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Old 09-26-2011, 06:40 AM   #13
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I do think one of their 'more popular' book titles is misspelled.

I think. Not sure.
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Old 09-26-2011, 09:40 AM   #14
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Hi guys, sorry for the incorrect spelling and thanks for bringing it to our attention. "Codz" has a Z intentionally and is just an example book, as are all the books except one for now. See # 3 at http://www.viralbestseller.com/AuthorWelcome.html

I will do my best to answer all of your questions from the above posts in this response. We are busy too so please be patient. We have not launched yet, many of your questions are within the first couple paragraphs of the link I posted above (here it is again: http://viralbestseller.com/AuthorWelcome.html
User: author1
Password: author1) or on the Author link on the nav bar to the left of each web page. Please feel free to read the entire website for greater clarity as well.


We are not publishers, we are agents. Allowing others to view an authors work in an effort to establish a fan base is not considered commercial publishing. After a fan base is developed we will work on a commercial publishing deal with the author.

This agency’s target is a writer that has exhausted all means available to them, “they have not been successful in landing an agent or in publishing their book”. There are many diamonds in the rough, we want to find them, develop a following, and then work on landing a book deal for discouraged but talented writers.

There are no guarantees and there are no fees unless we sell your book to a publisher or if your book takes off and you want to begin selling your eBook online (this has been changed for clarity on our website to ensure we aren't misrepresenting anything.)

I hope this helps and thanks for the questions.
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Old 09-26-2011, 09:59 AM   #15
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Candance, thanks for the further information.

FWIW, the website is really hard to read in Chrome. It looks ok in IE and Firefox, but Chrome isn't handling the frames and text as well.

For the record, you say you are agents, not publishers. But once you put that work out their for the public to read? You've published it.

Now, as a place for writers who want to support your venture, and invest in their own career by doing so, by showcasing samples of their work, say small stories, excerpts, etc. this might be a very cool concept, much as an ezine would work and would help you identify promising potential clients.

But this?
Quote:
3. If we agree to post your work on our website, you "the author" must sign a one year exclusive agent agreement with ViralBestSeller.com as your sole agent.
If you believe in your concept in the way that you are promoting it, would you consider signing as an agent for just the work you published? I'm not sure a writer would buy into even that, but it certainly sounds more equitable.

Again, thanks, and welcome to AW.
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Old 09-26-2011, 10:30 AM   #16
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The whole point of 'viral' (or 'instantly sharable' to be more accurate) is that the material is, well, instantly shareable.

Imagine I see a funny video of a cat falling off a chair. I just click a couple of times and it is sent off to my friends. My friends watch it and presumably do the same thing.

With your site, my friends have to fill in a form containing 12 different pieces of information before they can read the 'instantly sharable' content?

Seriously? If someone sent you a funny picture of a cat - but before you could view it you had to fill in a form containing your name, phone number, full address, genres of cat pictures you were interested in, etc .. would you go through the process?

A roadblock like that is the very thing that will stop content being 'viral'.

Good luck,

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(PS: BTW - As a matter of course everyone just fills in fake information anyway. Why would you expect anything different? So why insist on it?)

(PPS: The 'Reader Signup' talks about access to exclusive e-books, but the agreement with the writer is clearly a non-exclusive one. Therefore the promise you are making to the reader on signup is false - there is no reason to believe that the e-books here are exclusive.)
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Old 09-26-2011, 11:58 AM   #17
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There are all sorts of reasons why I'm not going to sign up with this website.

On the welcome page, points one to five are invisible to me (I'm using Firefox) unless I highlight the text there: it looks like someone's set it as black text on a black ground. That's just not helpful.

Then there's this:
Quote:

Have you ever wondered what kind of story the book you just finished read like in its original, uncut version? Did you know that when you finally get to read a published book, editors have probably changed it substantially? We’re not saying this is not a necessary part of publishing, but what if you got to see inside the writer’s truest intensions, better yet… help decide whether or not a book should be published?


Please note: editors do not make any changes to the work that they edit. They suggest changes, and the author then makes those changes or doesn't. Further, this isn't done just because they can: it's done to improve the book and make it far more readable and enjoyable.

The implication here is that your first draft shows your "truest intentions", and that all subsequent drafts are somehow inferior. That's just not true.

I read enough unedited slush when I was an editor, and it was depressing. I don't want to do it for fun. I'm passing.

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Old 09-26-2011, 12:10 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Viral Bestseller
We’re not saying this is not a necessary part of publishing, but what if you got to see inside the writer’s truest intensions, better yet… help decide whether or not a book should be published?
What the hell are "intensions?" (And is that grinding screeching noise Wimsatt and Beardsley?)

And if I'm going to read slush, I damn well better be paid up front, in advance.
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Old 09-26-2011, 04:34 PM   #19
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Quote:
ViralBestseller Website:
We are a new Literary Agency, but NOT new to the publishing, editing and fascinating world of literary and performing arts. We invite you to read the About Us page later.
I did check out the About Us page and I'm not seeing where your experience is to suggest that you can successfully represent books.

Chris Saxon Koelker's experience seems to lie in documentary film making (including documentaries for a text book publisher). That does not equate to agenting experience.

Candice Barley's experience apparently lies in acting (although for someone who apparently has has "major roles in film, television, commercials, print advertising and live performances", a quick search on imdb.com turned up zip. Regardless of that though, acting experience does not equate to agenting experience. I'm also concerned that her information on the About Us page says that she's keen on reading screenplays as there's no immediate evidence that she would be able to sell one.

Quote:
ViralBestseller Website:
We are taking a very different approach to this industry. We don't expect everyone to understand our methods.
If you're taking a different approach to publishing and you want people to believe that you can pull it off, then you do need people to understand the reason for your confidence.

Quote:
ViralBestseller Website:
Prior to launching, we will unveil our facebook, twitter and other social network platforms we will be using to get you recognized. We have chosen to keep our website as quiet as possible until our official launch.
How does using social media platforms in (presumably) the name of ViralBestseller get its authors recognised? There are many, many agencies out there that use social media, but they use it to promote authors' books following publication.

An agent still needs to have contacts within the industry to be able to sell their clients' books. If ViralBestseller is planning to just talk in cyberspace, then I don't see how it will be able to attract attention from all the other stuff out there.

Quote:
ViralBestseller Website:
If you're worried about posting your work before you've landed a book deal, don't be and don't let the agency world that has ignored you thus far tell you that this is the wrong approach.
Erm, speaking as an English qualified lawyer, you absolutely should be worried about posting your work before landing a book deal. If your work has been widely disseminated in full on the web then it has technically been published, which means you potentially exhaust your first publishing rights. At the very least, ViralBestseller should specify how much work it is intending to put up for general information.

Quote:
ViralBestseller Website:
New musicians play at venues prior to getting a record deal; writer/directors make movies that feature in film festivals prior to getting distributed. Point is, their lyrics, sound and films are in the public eye well before they've signed deals.
Performance copyright is different to copyright in words and music and film is very different to publishing. This is precisely why I am so concerned by the complete lack of publishing experience that the two founders of this "agency" seem to have.

When writers/distributors take their work to festivals, they are showing them to industry professionals for the purposes of wider distribution. The act of showing the film does not affect the underlying intellectual property. Similarly, when a group puts their performance up on the web, they are not losing their performance rights or copyright in the lyrics.

Quote:
ViralBestseller Website:
ViralBestSeller.com and our agency has been created for writers who have received scores of rejection letters from Literary Agents and Publishing Houses.
From an advertising perspective, you might want to rethink this. It reads to me as "hey, no one else wants you but we might take you on!".

Quote:
ViralBestseller Website:
We’re confident that there are best sellers out there that have been passed over because you’ve had to undertake the tremendously difficult task of summarizing an entire novel in a one page query letter. That being said, we’re excited to see your entire manuscript.
This misunderstands what a query letter is. It is not necessarily a summary. It is a couple of paragraphs aimed at selling an author's book via the premise. Now, I agree that there are some very good books out there that don't have great query letters. That's why most agencies will ask authors to submit the first few pages of their novel with it so they can see what the writing is like.

Speaking from experience, my own query letter was adequate but not thrilling. What got me my agent was the fact that she liked the written pages that accompanied it and asked for more.

Quote:
ViralBestseller Website:
The only difference in our manner of operation is that your work must be submitted by someone other than yourself.
Say what now?

Quote:
ViralBestseller Website:
It’s important that your writing has been reviewed by someone other than yourself. This is what we refer to as your "editing partner". Certainly, we’re anxious to give you a shot at being read. We know you believe your work is great, possibly even outstanding. The first step to having your work released to a waiting public is to have it proofread and endorsed by your editing partner. Your partner can be a professional editor, a fellow writer/author or a well-read enthusiast who would be willing to partner with you. There are many discussion and writer support groups out there that will trade stories with you... use them to get your work in front of readers anxious for the next incredible story! We don't expect you to pay fees to anyone during this process. If you're serious about your writing, you'll be able to find someone who will proofread your work and give you feedback. Your work must be publishing-ready or darn close. There's just no way of getting around this step in our process.
I don't even know where to begin with this.

Yes, it is a good thing to get other people to read your work so that you can work to improve it. However, not all critique partners are equal and in my experience, not all critique partners agree on what needs to be changed.

The fact that ViralPublishing appears to be relying on critique partners as some kind of filtering process is truly bizarre. I've heard of agencies encouraging people to get their work critted before, but never as a condition for review by an agency and to be honest, I can't see how this is going to work in practice other than on the "honour system".

Quote:
ViralBestseller Website:
But please don't expect us to post anything that has serious grammatical issues, does not have a professional voice, cannot get the point across or that would embarrass you or our organization.
This would carry more weight if there weren't so many embarrassing grammatical mistakes on your website. I acknowledge that it's currently in beta format and not yet live, but if you're soliciting people to go and take a look at it, then it had better look professional. There are mistakes on every page and that speaks to a lack of professionalism.

Quote:
ViralBestseller Website:
We require that you include the copyright "©" symbol, the year you began writing your book - through the current year to date - and your author pen name (or legal name) on the title page and at the end of your manuscript. (Example: "© Title of Book by: Jane Doe 2009 - 2011").
Copyright runs from the moment your work is complete - not the moment you started writing it. By making this suggestion, you are actually compromising an author's copyright protection period (i.e. if an author started writing a book 10 years ago, you're knocking 10 years from their copyright protection). My suggestion would be to get a US qualified publishing lawyer to advise you on this and quickly.

Quote:
ViralBestseller Website:
If it goes viral, this ensures it's ready for printing and protected as your own work that we are then in the position to sell for you.
The fact that a book has gone viral does not mean that it's ready for printing. Things go viral for many different reasons, including that they're just bloody awful.

Also (and to repeat the point), assuming that you've put a complete work up on the web, by having it go viral there's an excellent chance that you have exhausted your potential sales market meaning that it is less likely a publisher will want to publish it. (And before someone mentions it, I do know about the viral campaign behind Go The Fuck To Sleep, but that had already been acquired as a title).

Quote:
ViralBestseller Website:
If you do not have a book cover designed, and we’re interested in posting your book, we'll design one for you
Why? It's an extra expense and the work should surely stand or fall by itself.

Quote:
ViralBestseller Website:
If we agree to post your work on our website, you "the author" must sign a one year exclusive agent agreement with ViralBestSeller.com as your sole agent.
So your work could potentially be up on the web for a year without sale? Not a good deal for an author.

Quote:
ViralBestseller Website:
If we're ready to post your work, and you want this to be a successful venture, you'll need to get yourself, your editing partner, and as many friends motivated as possible to help "shout out" the introduction of your newly published eBook on social networks like Facebook, Twitter or your favorite social media sites.
Okay, so what are ViralBestseller doing while all this is going on? And why does an author need them to do this? Surely an author can do it all by themselves, release the book in ebook format for a price that they set and at least make some money out of it?

Quote:
ViralBestseller Website:
Most books become best sellers by word of mouth - yes it’s true. A book only makes it to the "New York Times Best Seller" list after it’s had proven successful sales that has been tracked for several weeks - or even months - at retail store-fronts and through online sales outlets. Those sales are only impacted minimally by advertising in trade venues, magazines, etc. Word of mouth is the key to making a book sell! Even if a big five company publishes your book - the author still has to do the sales themselves unless they have already proven themselves as money-makers. Most of the promotional push comes from readers and their excitement to tell friends about a story they’ve discovered! We’ll give you the platform, and together we’ll “shout out” your work!
Yes, but the NYT bestseller list deals with sales to the public. ViralBestseller is claiming to be an agent, which means that it needs to sell a manuscript to a publisher. Under the model as explained, it looks like they're relying on making a manuscript free to the public to try and generate excitement such as to make a publisher buy it. It makes very little sense.

Quote:
ViralBestseller Website:
If your work goes viral, the chances increase that we can get you a deal that will take your manuscript into the stores as a printed book. With a minimum of 5,000 (give or take a few) followers worldwide, there's far less risk to publishers.
Nope.

Firstly, how do you determine whether someone has 5,000 followers worldwide? Do you need those people to be following you on Twitter or Facebook or is it something else?

Secondly, publishers do deals on a territory by territory basis. What they care about is how many books they can sell in that territory. 5,000 copies worldwide is not going to be financially attractive to them.

Thirdly, followers do not equate to sales. If an author had self-published a book and said they'd made 5,000 sales in a month, then a trade publisher will probably take notice of that. However here ViralBestseller is making work available for free, so there's no way of determining whether someone has written something that the public will pay for. Anyone will read something for free or which is very cheap.

Quote:
ViralBestseller Website:
Once your work goes viral (reaches 5,000 verified downloads accompanied by at least 2,000 positive reviews within approx. 90 days), we’ll begin to charge a standard eBook fee for download sales.
Firstly, ViralBestseller claims to be an agent, but if it's charging fees then it's operating as a publisher.

Secondly, if you're only charging after 5,000 downloads, then the chances are that you've tapped out the market.

Thirdly, what have 'reviews' got to do with anything?

The whole thing seems very poorly thought out to me.

Quote:
ViralBestseller Website:
In some cases, if we feel strongly enough about a writer’s work, it’s possible we may be able to interest a traditional publisher regardless of your manuscript’s viral status.
If you're claiming to operate as agent, then your first priority should be to get the interest of a trade publisher. That's where you should be making money for you and for your authors.

[QUOTE]ViralBestseller Website:
Technology has remade the traditional publishing industry in the last five years. There are literally millions of readers who want to experience your book.[/QUOTE]

Technology has opened new markets for trade publishing but the structures remain basically the same. There have always been millions of potential book buyers out there. The trick has always been getting your book in their hands.

Quote:
ViralBestseller Website:
If your book is downloaded at least 5,000 times within 90 days (give or take a week or two), we'll work on getting you that book deal you deserve!
If you're only giving a book 90 days to go viral, why do you need a 1 year exclusive contract? What happens at the end of 90 days if my book hasn't gone viral? Does the contract expire or can I terminate it?

Quote:
ViralBestseller Website:
Authors, this is not a slush pile site we expect our readers to wade through. As a result, we won't post more than twenty five great books per specific genre at a time.
If you're putting up 25 books under each heading, then that sounds awfully like an author mill to me. In fact, when you go and have a look at all of the categories that you seem to be contemplating here:

http://viralbestseller.com/eBooks.html

You're potentially putting up thousands of books. That's a slushpile.

Quote:
ViralBestseller Website Terms and Conditions: (BOLDING MINE)
For clarity, you retain all of your ownership rights in your Content. However, by submitting Content to ViralBestSeller.com, you hereby grant ViralBestSeller.com a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the Content in connection with the Service and ViralBestSeller.com's (and its successors' and affiliates') business, including without limitation for promoting and redistributing part or all of the Service (and derivative works thereof) in any media formats and through any media channels. You also hereby grant each user of the Service a non-exclusive license to access your Content through the Service, and to use, reproduce, distribute, display and perform such Content as permitted through the functionality of the Service and under these Terms of Service.
I'd want this clarified. By submitting my work to you for consideration, I am not automatically granting you the right to publish and disseminate and you should have no rights with regard to the same unless and until I enter into a further agreement (on negotiated terms) giving you such rights.

The effect of this wording is to give ViralBestseller a right to use and reproduce your work before they've actually accepted it.

Quote:
ViralBestseller Website:
The books you discover here can’t be found on Amazon, any other bookstore online or, for that matter, anywhere else in the world because they haven't been published yet, and are being featured here for the very first time.
No, they're being published on the website.

Quote:
ViralBestseller Website:
We don't have anything against editors... our co-founder is a talented editor herself! But, for example, how exciting would it have been to be one of the first 5,000 readers to read Twilight in all its unedited glory?
You're kidding, right?

On the one hand, you seem to be saying that you want books to be well written. On the other, you want books that still need further work.

Quote:
Candance:
We are not publishers, we are agents.
No you're not. Agents focus on selling books to trade publishers. You seem to be some kind of display site/ebook publishing hybrid that won't actually be charging for content until you hit 5,000 downloads.

Quote:
Candance:
Allowing others to view an authors work in an effort to establish a fan base is not considered commercial publishing.
A fan base consisting of people who haven't paid for the content is a fickle thing. Amanda Hocking got her deal because she was selling her work and generating word of mouth so publishers could see that there were sales to be had. You guys are just throwing stuff up there for free on the basis that you might possibly be able to get a commercial publishing deal (even though there's nothing on your site to explain how this will happen).

At least with self-publishing, the author makes something. I honestly can't see how your business model is supposed to work either for you or for the author concerned.

MM
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Old 09-26-2011, 05:06 PM   #20
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Codz wasn't the error. It was something else, since corrected, but it still would have been better to call it the 'Courier.'

You also misuse the apostrophe on your home page.

One would think a publisher or agent (or whatever this is) would be able to properly use the English language, or hire someone capable.

P.S. Please add me to Momento's fan club.
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Old 09-26-2011, 05:09 PM   #21
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Old 09-26-2011, 05:27 PM   #22
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This sounds like a bad idea from every angle and I would give it a wide berth.
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Old 09-26-2011, 06:07 PM   #23
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Interested to see if Candance comes back to respond to the points Momento made.
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Old 09-26-2011, 07:25 PM   #24
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Hi all. Thanks for your input. As I said from the beginning... this is not for everyone (more for those that have exhausted all means and have shelved their work "given up" and have wonderful stories to tell). I'm sure that could change as the world of publishing does (eBooks, ePublishing, etc...) If you still have a dog in the traditional fight, then fight on... thanks!

However, we will clarify these points with greater emphasis to establish clarity moving forward. I will answer more when I have time today.

Thanks again.
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Old 09-26-2011, 08:46 PM   #25
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Candace, our concerns with your scheme don't arise from us being involved with trade publishing: they arise from the problems your business plan has, and from the many and varied mistakes you've made on your website: it's full of punctuation and grammar errors, it's clear that you have no idea how publishing works, and it's clear that you have no idea that you have no idea how publishing works.

I am going to give your service a very wide berth, and I suggest that everyone else does too.
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