Friday, May 22, 2009

Oscar Whitfield

So there's this guy named Oscar Whitfield who queries me and a whole bunch of other agents every day. The query is exactly the same, with the same email subject title and content. However, he does seem to be using multiple email addresses, which means he can escape my junk filter from time to time. 

I wrote him about a month ago, asking him to stop querying me because 1) he wasn't using my submission form; and 2) I had no interest in his work. He responded obnoxiously, telling me he was going to continue querying me despite my request, and he was going to "knock down" the doors of publishing.

It's people like this that help contribute to the negativity sometimes involved in the querying process. So my plea to you at the start of what I hope will be a beautiful Memorial Day Weekend is the following: if you know Mr. Oscar Whitfield, please ask him to stop. And if you know any other people spam querying, ask them to stop too.  

31 comments:

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

Ah yes. Is this ELIZABETH? This was discussed at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference last month. It seems every agent is going through the same thing. How sad it is that this author is known in the writing world but NOT in a good way.

David said...

Another agent (I can't remember who it was) wrote on her blog about a similar experience. That was also from someone who said he was going to keep on doing it until some agent gave in and took him on.

I wonder where these people are getting the idea that that approach will work.

ryan field said...

Don't know anyone named OW. But he sure does weaken the defense for all the unpublished writers who follow the rules and take themselves seriously.

Christa said...

He's kinda like a spoiled child.

"I'm not going to follow the rules, but if I break them long enough, eventually I'll get what I want."

Umm...yeah

stephanie said...

Does Oscar happen to use the word "responce" in his query?

Jonathan Lyons said...

Yup, this is ELIZABETH. I don't believe Oscar uses "responce" in his queries now, but perhaps he used to?

stephanie said...

I think perhaps he did. Mr. Whitfield is an unfortunate occurrence. He is, apparently, also telling acquaintances he already has "major NY representation."

Laura Martone said...

Wow. As an unpublished novelist, I've begun to embark upon the much-feared and much-discussed "agent search" - and while I fret (like many other writers) about doing something "wrong" when sending out my queries, I can at least be glad that I'm not THAT misguided.

Janet Reid said...

yup, he's querying me regularly as well.

Delete
Delete
Delete

I've heard from a pal of mine at another agency that he used to query by mail just as often!

alexandralittle said...

Jessica Faust at BookEnds blogged about this author as well:

http://bookendslitagency.blogspot.com/2009/05/please-stop.html

Lorrie said...

Ugh, this reminds me of certain online dating guys who pursue & pursue & pursue. No matter how you block them, they find a way to get at you. It's very, very creepy. And it's all about anger & narcissism & other problems you can't make a dent in.

Anonymous said...

I wrote an open letter, from one writer to another, to Mr. Whitfield. Hopefully he reads it and realizes he's hurting all other writers by his actions.
http://jasonamyers.wordpress.com

Aimless Writer said...

Isn't this like publishing suicide? I mean even if he did eventually have a good book who would want to work with such an annoying man?
Can you block him?

Anonymous said...

As annoying as this is, it's really not any different from the daily cell phone calls I get from those obnoxious people wanting me to buy a warranty for my car. It's just one of the hazards of living in a digital age where access to strangers is free and easy. My point is that I don't blame all car manufacturers for the problem, so you have to remember not to let your negative feelings about someone who is obviously quite mad influence your opinion of the rest of us (who take great care to be polite and follow the rules.)

Jodi Meadows said...

I went to WisCon over the weekend and came home to find SEVEN queries from him. Not really surprised, but... :)

Anonymous said...

Ah yes, I call him my query stalker. When I responded to tell him that he'd queried me with the exact same query word for word 8 times in 6 months and I'd responded each time, I thought he should try a different agent. He responded by telling me only 8? you WILL be queried until Elizabeth is published, and he stepped up his game. Now I get at least 3 a week. This has been for the last 2 and a half months. I've blocked all his various aliases so they go to spam, but I put them in a folder just to check periodically. I must say it's sort of entertaining. But it's hard to respect him when he doesn't even change the subject line and can't even fool me into opening one anymore.

Justus M. Bowman said...

But, Jonathan, how else can we knock the doors of publishing?! Ha ha.

David said...

Justus,

I think the idea is to knock politely on the doors rather than try to knock them down. :)

e j alvey said...

Hmm. I've had stalkers in my social worker days. I didn't know there were query stalkers, but not surprised.

Oscar, please. It's heard enough to query for the rest of us. Stop annoying the agents. Geez.

Bane of Anubis said...

As comedian Ron White opined, "you can't fix stupid."

Robin S. said...

Wow. This guy is amazingly tacky.
This would really piss me off. Sorry you're having the hassle.

Anonymous said...

This guy is not well (in a scary way--he physically threatened one agent) and this kind of attention doesn't help. I really think you should pull any reference to him as this is just egging him on. Seriously.

Anonymous said...

He is, apparently, also telling acquaintances he already has "major NY representation."

Undoubtedly one of the many branches of The Literary Agency Group (New York Literary Agency, WL Writers Literary Agency, et al.)

Anonymous said...

Every. Single. Day.

Furious D said...

Now it's guys like that who make things tougher for the non-delusional to get representation.

He claims he's going "knock down the doors of publishing" when in fact he is just putting up brick walls where doors used to be.

He's the digital equivalent of a guy who writes his queries on toilet paper, and expects to be taken seriously because in his little world, population Oscar, he's a genius.

If this is what he does to agents, imagine what he does to publishers in his door knocking quest.

Jane Bell said...

Sounds like a subplot idea to me. Mr. Whitfield as comic relief. With a heroic literary agent as the main character, of course. Should I query this??

Anonymous said...

Maybe his literary agent went to jail or something. Because we're getting a couple of these a day sometimes. I've stopped setting my spam filters because it takes too much time what with all his identities. Easier to hit 'junk'. I console myself with the thought that he spends every waking moment on a fruitless search that will never ever find him what he wants. So he's created his own little hell and has now taken up residence there...

Anonymous said...

This is the sort of writer who makes it difficult for the rest of us who are genuinely trying to be professional.

I had a hard drive crash last year while querying my book. I accidentally sent a second query to about a dozen agents and felt pretty bad.

I know it's not the same, but is an apology in order?

Anonymous said...

Maybe if all the agents complained about him to the FTC they would be able to do something about it? Isn't failing to remove you from a spam list a violation of anti-spam laws? And sending from multiple accounts using different names is, I think, also against the law. I don't think they'll do anything about individual complaints but if they got enough complaints maybe they'd issue a cease and desist?

Anonymous said...

The guy is obviously disturbed. I don't know what email address of yours he is using, but if you talk to your ISP you can block individual IP addresses (the exact "internet identification number" of his computer(s)). Also, many spam filters allow you to configure this option... I doubt he's sending from more than one or two different machines regardless of his multiple email addresses.

Anonymous said...

I don't know how often this post is still checked, but I will offer up that I am an agent who this was happening to, so I tried to offer him feedback. He responded by repeatedly cursing at me, insulting me, and threatening. He is not well, and I encourage all other agents out there to delete and not engage.