Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Victoria Strauss -- Queen for a Day

A couple of posts back, I blogged about the efforts of certain agents on Writer Beware's Thumbs Down Agency List to defend themselves against criticism of their nonstandard business practices.

Not all Thumbs Down listers are so straightforward. Take, for example, Michele Glance Rooney (charges various kinds of upfront fees, does business under a number of different names, direct-solicts writers, and to Writer Beware's knowledge has never sold a book despite having been in business at least since 2002). Ms. Rooney has come up with an interesting alternative to self-justification and/or direct attack:

Fake blog posts.

Ms. Rooney kicked off her blogging adventure on November 1 of last year. Posting as herself (Blogger handle: Literary Sage), she describes A Million Dollar Lesson in Persistence. "It's a wonderful day in the literary life of Michele Glance Rooney!" the post begins, Mr. Rogers-style. "One of my favorite clients received their first book offer today for a first-time novel...This was not a slam dunk sale. I did a lot of hand-holding with this author. I endured the sting of rejection from some very prestigous New York publishing houses. But did I give up? No, I prevailed. And therein lies the essential difference between victory and defeat."

Huzzah! Just one thing is missing: the name of the publishing house. Not to mention the name of the author.

But wait. Could this be a clue? Also posted on November 1, 2006, by RomanceWriter: Nancy Has Scored Her First Book Sale. "Thank you God! Thank you fans! And special thanks to my literary agent Michele Glance Rooney for helping to motivate me to keep going when the going got tough!" rhapsodizes the surnameless Nancy. "Michele Glance Rooney...may not always tell you what you want to hear, but she will tell you what you need to hear and need to know to get your book published. Michele Glance Rooney is an agent who knows what it takes to sell a romance novel."

Er...that's great, Nancy, but who's your publisher? What's your book title? Why does your blog have only one post?

Moving right along, we arrive at April 29 of this year, and another one-post blog. Claims Bestseller in the Making: Michele Glance Rooney Just Sold My Book! "Next to the day I gave birth to my blessed Jasmine," avows this nameless future literary star, "this must surely be the happiest day of my life." Oh joy, oh rapture! Oh why are the publisher and the novel as nameless as the blogger?

April 29 was apparently Say Nice Things About Michele Glance Rooney Day, because encomiums are offered by yet another lone-post blog. No book sale this time, but Super Writer is happy to describe how she (or he) Was Motivated By Michele Glance Rooney. "I had the good fortune of seeing Michele Glance Rooney speak at a writer's convention, and I feel newly determined and dedicated to finishing my book project...I am half-way through chapter 8 and I've figured out how the hero is finally going to excape [sic] from the wrath of Mr. Bunstable." (No, no, not Mr. Bunstable! Please...I'll do anything...AIEEEEEE!)

Now, obviously I don't have direct proof that Michele Glance Rooney is the author of all these posts. But unless her fairy godmother is familiar with Blogger, it seems like a reasonable assumption.

The author of the April 29 posts--whoever s/he is--doesn't seem to have realized that if you create more than one blog under a single identity, you'll show up as the author of all of them. In this case, the identity is Author Extraordinaire, whose profile reveals yet a third blog: Washington Resume Service. Which, though discouragingly short on content, may shed light on how Ms. Rooney is actually making her living.

22 comments:

Nicole G said...

Wow, that's a lot of work to suck in writers. Good job Victoria.

--E said...

How do people just not get that nothing can hide on the internet. The boys at Google have made searches laughably easy. Anyone with half a clue knows to check IP addresses.

I suppose if these people had actual savvy, they woudn't be scam agents.

The Quoibler said...

I agree with Nicole G!

It seems as if this would-be literary agent should really have had a better plan.

Blanket some message boards, hire some writers to ghostwrite "fake" blogs, have a system. Scattershot approaches just don't work.

I mean, if you're going to be a scumbag, be a realistic, savvy scumbag, for goodness' sake! Take some pride in your evilness. S

Sheesh. Even scammers have gotten lazy these days.

What is this world coming to?

Anonymous said...

I like how they all sound the same anyway, what with mention of huge celebrations involving champagne, etc.

B.E. Sanderson said...

I'm always amazed at how much effort some people will put into avoiding effort. Reminds of when my child was small and she would go through elaborate rituals to avoid cleaning her room. I always told her if she put that much effort into cleaning it, she'd have it done in half the time. Imagine how productive this chick could have been if she'd used her efforts for real agenting.

Anonymous said...

I love it! The best part, though, is that people don't seem to be sucked in enough to click through. The Literary Sage profile had only been viewed 8 times (probably by people who stopped here first!), as had RomanceWriter's. And the Edit-Me link on Glance's blog goes off to no-man's land.

Did Washington Resume Service actually have ANY content when you visited? It didn't have any posts at all when I clicked over.

Guess that "wonderful day" doesn't happen too often for Glance if she hasn't made another sale since Nov '06. ;)

Peggy said...

Those have to be created by people who have heard of this whole blog thing but have never actually read any. A single post? Not very likely. And I've never seen an author with a book deal whose blog doesn't discuss the title of their book (not to mention showing a cover and a link to pre-order on Amazon).

David said...

Snarf!

Nice detective work.

Naomi said...

But ... but what of Mr Bunstable?! Enquiring minds needs to know how the hero escaped!

Do you think Michele could be persuaded to write a follow-up post?

catherine said...

Yikes, those are almost painful in their blatant display of the "author's" stupidity.

Robert M. B. Fletcher said...

OOOHHHHH!

You just burn me up with your reports that I'm a scammer! How can you be so terrible!
I have to make a living and my physician says that I'm allergic to real work!
Did you know that I'm 3 payments behind on my Ferrari?
Did you know that Margaret is threatening to leave me if I don't make some money soon?
How can you be so cruel?

Sincerely,

Robert M. "ByteAudio" Fletcher, Ch.E

P.S. I'll sue you with my fancy lawyers, just wait and see!

Kim said...

I should think that after their first sale, a blogging writer would add the little details - like a publisher... And I'd have to wonder why there are no progress reports :)

Such a shame - but judging by the (lack of) page views, her little plan fell sorta flat.

bjh said...

Victoria, how can you be so suspicious? Obviously, the one-post bloggers don't want to advertise their books lest someone buy them and the writers ... er, um - have to pay taxes! Yeah, that's it! Shame on your nasty doubts!

Actually, the whole thing is hilarious. If some of these scammers and their tricks were put in a work of fiction, it would be rejected as too unbelievable.

Anonymous said...

What an excellent plot for a book this would make! Mr. Bunstable's Scam Adventures. What do you think Ms. Rooney? Would you like to represent it for me?

Carol Burge said...

I know that I'm late getting in n this post, but I just had to add my .2 cents...this is hilarious! When I saw all of the blogs listed under this profile, I cracked up.

I'm a "newbie" to this business, but even I know when you have a first sale (or last, or twentieth sale), you shout it from the rooftops! Who wouldn't?

Thank you, Victoria, for exposing this so called "literary agent" and keeping us up to date with her shenanigans. I could have very easily been sucked into her web of deceit.

Victoria Strauss said...

I think Michele may not have realized what would happen when she recently changed her Blogger profile in order to set up a number of self-promoting blogs under her own name: she'd also show up as the author of her fake blogs. Here's an example.

Busted!!

Anonymous said...

Ugh. How depressing. I just got an e-mail from this random literary agent. I will obviously not be working with her.

Thank goodness I googled. Thanks so much for the warning.

maggie, dammit said...

I'm so grateful you wrote this. I was just contacted by this Rooney lady today. It's a bummer, but I really appreciate you taking the time to amass this information. Can't thank you enough.

Michele said...

Michele Glance Rooney must've been very busy today. I got one of her messages today, too.

Thanks for posting this!

Anonymous said...

Me four. E-mail arrived yesterday.

Good thing it won't affect my work.

Anonymous said...

I found her originally in the "Writer's Market" in 1991. Her name was then Michele (Glance)Serwach. Her former husband doesn't seem to have anything nice to say. I queried her with a very difficult book to sell. She requested a copy along with a reading fee, which I reluctantly paid. I did not expect results with this book, but my second book should have been an easy sell. She did not charge me a reading fee on it. A few months later she requested more money for office expenses related to querying publishers for me. I terminated the relationship suspecting predatory practices. A few years ago she contacted me again. Since when do real agents look for writers? Hmmm. I just sent her another query to see if she is for real. I've written many books and screenplays and have a good feel for the market. I emphasized works that she could sell easily and let her know I would pay for nothing but would provide whatever copies necessary and post to whoever she says to using her return information. Let's see if she's real or a fraud. : )

Anonymous said...

I found this lady in 1992 in Writer's Guide (or something like that). Paid up-front fee (then $85 or so). She read my novella, sent me some critique and advised she was ready to sign a contract as soon as I did corrections. After that she just stopped answering my calls.