Is Agent Janet Reid Censoring Speech To Protect Her Absolute Write Bully Friends?

Public Figure Janet Reid on Left at Writer Conference - Note Expressions of Disdain on Faces of Onlookers
To set some background here. Janet Reid, formerly Miss Snark, and now an agent with Fine Print Literary Agency representing crime fiction, has been a collaborator with Absolute Write for at least eight years. She has possessed at least two identities on the Water Cooler forums (one being a fat shark) and is friends with the bully cabal noted elsewhere on this blog, namely Old Hack, Hapisofi, the sock puppet Stone, and others. Janet Reid has also engaged in bully slug outs more than once, so she is extremely familiar with Absolute Write Water Cooler pathology. We've known about her but never mentioned because she is just one of dozens of life's axe grinders and embittered cowards who seek a sniper vantage point at Absolute Write. What better place to fester and target enemies and berate others for reasons of catharsis than an Internet forum wherein you can be anonymous and even protected by owners like Melodi and Lisa who are just as deliberately vicious as you are?

Janet Reid is also a phony in our opinion. While pretending to care about writers and project a snarky though overall beneficent image on her blog, she is known around the U.S. as being a terrible bully at writer events. Hard to believe? Not if you've seen her in action. One of her most infamous bully foundations was at the Backspace conference in New York. She mocked and belittled one writer after another, and for some reason, was invited back for more. She's actually been ejected from conferences for her nastiness, but the writers, especially the women, are terrified of her so they keep quiet. We've known about this also, heard the stories for years, but never had an opportunity to mention it in relevant context until now.

Janet Reid's Symbol - From Her Blog
We are grateful therefore to Ms. Lesley Cameron who made an effort to contact us by posting on our blog recently. According to Lesley, she made an attempt to include her viewpoint about Absolute Write bullies on Janet Reid's blog, responding to other posters engaged in a debate on the merits of belonging to bully boards for writers, but her post was censored by Reid. But before we examine that, let's look at a portion of the letter to Janet Reid written by a fan who cannot comprehend why Janet, seemingly a good person, advocates that writers fling themselves into the jaws of a bullying forum like Absolute Write:
I've been reading your blog for awhile now and have seen you speak highly of Absolute on multiple occasions. I admit, I am biased in the opposite direction. Every time I see you tell writers to check out their writing forums, a little part of me dies inside.

Why do you like Absolute Write so much?
Every time I have posted or read and replied to posts there, I have been bullied, belittled or ignored. I always leave their forums feeling like I need to crawl into a tight space and cry, or wanting to pick up my monitor and chuck it across the room. I don't want to sound haughty, but I'm almost positive I am not the only person who feels this way. With a simple Google search of "bullying on Absolute Write" a variety of results come up where people talk about their experiences.

Now I'm sure there are gems of people out there in the Absolute Write community, but it seems like the majority like to tear new writers down in an attempt to make themselves feel better. This leaves me wondering why someone I respect (you) and go to for answers, and who seems to really care about writers trying to pursue their dreams, would advocate a place that has such strong ties to bullying behavior.
There is more, but what this perplexed Janet Reid fan doesn't know is that Janet herself is one of the bullies drifting through the forum kelp like a predator shark looking for victims. She has a dual personality, a Jekyll-Hyde thing going on. She is one persona on her blog, quite another persona on Absolute Write--like so many others!

And this brings us around to Ms. Lesley Cameron's first note to us once we contacted her:
Dear WAR Blog,
No doubt you've seen the Janet Reid blog thread on Absolute Write? Or have you? It begins with one person asking Reid why she cheers for Absolute Write all the time. Reid answers, pretending not to have any knowledge of the bullying there: "For starters, that's never been my experience at AW...This statement made me angry. I knew she was blatantly lying. I noticed also that any and all posts critical of Absolute Write disappeared about half way down the thread to be replaced by glowing reports and insinuations that complainers are weak minded or just troublesome egos. Though some of these more positive posts seemed authentic, they hardly acknowledged the widespread and rampant trashing of writers, self-publishers, and small presses that goes on there all the time. It appeared to me as if Reid might be censoring critical posts while putting out a call to sock puppets and suck-ups from Absolute Write in an attempt to prop the thread in favor of that board. See what you think for yourselves. One of the posts, "Anonymous," was written by Reid herself. I made a post supporting the people talking honestly about the bullying and my post was deleted by Reid that day.
To summarize, my post pointed out that no other website in existence has fostered the growth of so many other websites critical of it. I included a link to your WAR blog in the post as a place that displays all of these websites that expose Absolute Write for what it really is. As I said, this post was quickly deleted by Reid. This is when I began to suspect that other critical posts were also being deleted. It seemed that Janet had decided that too many negative posts were not good for business, or her relationship with business associates on Absolute Write.
Next, I posted again, and this too was deleted, but this time I saved a copy. Here is my next post on the Janet Reid blog:  
For the record, I made a long post yesterday with a link to specific instances of bad advice on AW as well as instances of moderator and owner bullying of writers and press editors, and the post was deleted. I agree with people who say AW is huge and there are opportunities here and there, cultural niches, etc. but there is a load of nasty activity associated with a club of people who affiliate with the owner; and if you are looking for top level advice on any kind of writing, a group of amateurs and board owners who are not writers are the last people whose advice you want to take.
I know a blog that proves this, but posting any links as proof will get this post deleted ... and that's another thing. All this great advice writers posting here are receiving? Well where is it? Where are the links to the specific advice?
Everyone would like to see.
As Lesley tells us, the above post was also deleted by Janet Reid. Apparently, Janet was no longer tolerating honest criticism of Absolute Write, especially not from anyone who made accurate observations and asked tough questions. But the drama doesn't stop there. Lesley wrote Janet "Miss Snark" Reid herself the following letter and shared it with us:
Miss Snark,

You've been on the water cooler for many years and you hang out there with the worst bullies on the forums including the phony Macallister Stone who as everyone now knows isn't a writer at all, just a horse farm owner! For you to make a statement like "For starters, that's never been my experience at AW ...," immediately following a post by a victim of Absolute Write who was clearly bullied on their forum, is disingenuous in the extreme. In fact, it is a lie. It has been your experience, Janet, because you've been involved in the actual bullying. You've been witness to it many times. You can't lie to everyone and expect to get away with it 100%. I know better.

You censored my first post on your blog that was critical of Absolute Write. I pointed out that no other website online has so many forums, blogs, and other sites railing against it for nastiness and bullying, and I provided links to prove it. You prohibited that post. At a certain point in your thread, about half way down, you decided to only allow posts that were leaning towards positive. Who knows how many other posters with negative experiences have been censored also? You also censored my final post that asks your followers to provide a link proving their contention that Absolute Write is giving them great advice about writing.

By the way, Janet, I've been to the Backspace conference in New York and I've seen you in action. You take pleasure in humiliating people in public. I've never seen the like anywhere else. You are a bully online and offline. I was told by one of your deluded followers at Backspace that you were a good Catholic. That is just plain funny, and also somewhat predictable.

I'm going to relay your censorship to the websites that tell the truth about Absolute Write and your bully friends.

Best Wishes,

To this date, Janet Reid has not responded to the above letter.

Thank you, Lesley! This touches on a lot of the points we've been making  here at WAR about the bullying and hypocrisy on the part of AW owners and moderators (not to mention quite a few members). When you look at Janet Reid's resume, it's hard to believe that a professional like her has a darker personality that dons a disguise and participates in the degrading others, but as we can see, Janet is transcendent. She also revels in the degrading of others in public. Perhaps, the more successful she becomes, the more entitled she becomes to rake writers over the coals?

And if you're out there, Janet, does your abominable attitude which displays itself when convenient have anything to do with the fact that you might just be a frustrated writer?

Our advice to you, is to get serious therapy. Learn to live with your limitations and stop taking out your inferiority complex on innocent people.


  1. Thanks to Lesley for sharing this important information. It just shows you that people you might never suspect of being closet cyberbullies are capable and willing of engaging in these behaviors.

  2. I've been to Backspace. I've seen Janet Reid humiliate writers. I was shocked by it. Most people nervously laughed it off, but some, like me, found the spectacle of it cruel and hard to accept.

  3. I just posted some fair questions on the blog of Victoria Strauss. Let's see if she has the courage to answer them without sidestepping or dishonesty.

  4. To the moderators:

    Regarding the charges that the moderators of AW run their own stable of sock puppets, has anyone thought of doing textual analysis for similarities of syntax, grammar, etc.? If it's good enough to determine which scribes wrote which parts of the Bible, it ought to be able to provide good enough evidence to discredit the AW site if it clearly demonstrates sockpuppetry.

    Just happened randomly on this site, got disgusted by what you guys are complaining, thought I would offer this suggestion. Best of luck.

    1. Hi, Lisa. Everyone: this is Lisa Spangenberg, the admin at Absolute Write. Her specialty is textual analysis.

      Lisa, we don't recall any charges of AW running a stable of sock puppets, but in all honesty, no one has a grip on every single comment here. I don't believe it's our belief that AW is doing this, however, AW is filled with sockpuppets, beginning at the top with Macallister Stone, the sockpuppet for Melodi Sherman, the real owner.

  5. On the AW writer resources page, which is very sparse, they nevertheless maintain two plugs for Janet Reid:

    They are pretending they don't know she was Miss Snark.I'm posting anonymously here because I might run into Janet at a conference and I don't want her killing me. She's a notorious tyrant.