Thursday, November 11, 2010

Agent/Editor Exposed--All Writers Should Beware

It's been awhile since I've posted here but a fellow author sent me a link that jolted me more than a double espresso. Now before I share that link, let's sneak a peek at The Dream.

How many aspiring authors yearn for The Perfect Agent? We dream of that shining advocate who will slay the slush-pile dragons and place our precious manuscript into the hands of the wizardly-editor who will confer upon us the supreme status of Published Author.

Yet I note that one writer friend (who shall remain nameless) struggled with a lackluster agent who did little to encourage and even less to sell (said writer actually landed the only contracts herself). When this writer sucked in a deep breath and courageously fired the agent, she was sought out by another agent—A TOP AGENT from a gloriously TOP AGENCY—a thrilling event which put stars in her eyes. "We''ll shop your series to top houses! You'll be a best-selling author in no time!!"

Wowee!! Yet here it is months and months later and guess what? The only books sold are, again, the ones the author managed to sell without any help from The Top Agent. Both agents are scoring royalties for books they did not sell. Hmmm… Really gives one pause to ponder.

Now, here's the link that prompted today's article:

In all fairness, there's no way for me to prove or disprove the accusations levied against the agent and editor in question. I have no desire to impugn anyone's reputation. Whatever the situation, we can only hope that in time the players in this drama will resolve this fairly. However one thing is clear, writers need to keep eyes wide open at all times.

Searching for publication is a perilous journey. There are many unscrupulous people lurking in the shadows, eager to assure you of success while hiding their intentions behind a smile. There are legitimate, professional agents and editors who provide an authentic service. But be warned and be careful. Always, always be wary of any who offer Your Dream Come True for a price. As with the anonymous author's story above, even legitimate agents don't always have the key to the door you hope to unlock.

Side note: I sent a preview of this to another writer friend who responded: It boils my britches to see this happen. It also makes me want to smack said writer up the side of the head and say, "Seriously, $10,000?!!? WTF were you thinking! That's my kids college tuition! A trip around the world! Hell, you could have self-pubbed the damned book for that much and a lot sooner!" You might also mention that in your post...writer beware and be smart. Hello, dude. Common sense, anyone?

Painful but true. This isn't the first such story I've heard. Anonymous literary agent, Miss Snark, famously outed one scam artist quite publicly back in 2006 in the post: Miss Snark is Damn Mad.

What do you think? All comments welcome.


Celia Yeary said...

Good to see you again, Chiron!
Since my middle name is "dubious", I'm not easily fooled. But I do have the flaw that makes me want to give a person the benefit of the doubt. (I once was told in a college course that I could never be a person in charge, because I'd be too lenient on their erros, always wanting to give them a second chance.) Contradictory? No, I see a difference.
So when it comes to agents, I just never went there. First, I always want to do everything myself, my way. So I did not want an agent telling what to do to my book for him/her to sell it. Plus I'd already heard too many stories to make me believe agents were most often more difficult than editors and publishers.
Bottom line? I'm a little fearful of agents. I won't ever get to New York, but I now have ten contracts--plus a few others for short stories--and have five released novels.
I'm as happy as I can be at this point. If I made more money, I'd be happy, but truthfully? I write for myself--to make me happy and fulfilled.
Thanks for firing up the blog again--Celia

Chiron said...

Hi Celia!


Actually, I think that wanting to give people the benefit of the doubt is a good trait. It's when it crosses over into believing in something that's too good to be true that it becomes a problem. Even then the only real problem is what's at risk.

Handing money over is something we should all be cautious with. And yes, sometimes people who claim to have your best interests at heart aren't truthful at all. *sigh*

I've heard so many positive stories about e-pubs and frankly, some of authors making more money than NY pubbed authors. A few have even ditched the e-pubs and now independently publish to the tune of %70 royalties. So the times they are a-changing.

Glad you liked the piece. Not sure I'll be posting many more articles, and if I do, it won't be until after the holiday season wraps up. I'm on a writing sabbatical for now and focusing instead on my music.

A HUGE congrats on the contracts!! *high-five* That's fabulous news. And I'm not at all surprised. You're an amazing author and your passion for writing really shines through.

Good to see you here!


Joanna D'Angelo said...

Hi Chiron:

WOW! I always hate reading about these things- writers work so hard on their manuscripts - this is why i think it's so important to talk to fellow writers - word of mouth is very impt. in this business - and it can help you avoid these kinds of situations. I think that author should become an agent! ;D

Chiron said...

Hi Jo!

I agree--word of mouth is essential. The real danger is for 'newbies', those authors who are just starting out and don't have contacts or know about the resources available.

When I ventured to Hollywood for my adventures in acting, there were similar scams, either with agents or photographers. There's always someone willing to part a young hopeful from their money. At least it's easier now with the internet to do some serious checking!!

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Sandy said...

Hi Chiron,

I'm going through the blogs I follow to see if they all exist still. Glad to see you are still here. I haven't seen you anywhere lately.

It's a sad fact of life that there's always someone around to try to take advantage of you. Good post, Chiron.

Anonymous said...

You will change nothing.

Chiron said...

Hi Sandy!

Yes, still existing here. I've pulled back from posting for awhile until I decide on a new format.

It is sad that predators exist in all fields. Always good to stay aware.

Thanks for stopping by!


Chiron said...

Hi Anonymous,

Hmmmm... Not trying to change much, just throw some awareness into the field.

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, may all your wishes come true!

Chiron said...

Thank you so much, Anonymous, for your wonderful comment!

Wishing you also a wonderful holiday season and may all your wishes come true!!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post, great ))