Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Short-Lived Excitement

Remember when I told you about the one agency that asked for my full manuscript to read? Well, I got an email today saying that they liked my manuscript and wanted to represent me. I then did a search on the agency, because as part of signing the contract, they wanted me to pay to have a critique done of my work. They can make a recommendation, or I could use a third-party of my choosing. Turns out, the critique company they recommend is one of their subsidiaries. All over the writer boards there are BEWAREs and STRONGLY NOT RECOMMENDED.

Well, crap. I fell into a scam. I did send them back some questions that the Author's Representative group suggested you ask any agent that offers to represent you. We'll see what they say, if anything. I'll keep you posted.

Because the agency isn't legit, I'll post their name so other writers can be helped.

Thank you for everything that we have received from you thus far. Our review team believes that your work has commercial potential and we would like to proceed by offering to represent you. We feel that your concept and writing thus far has potential and that if polished and presented properly, we can sell it. To take the next step, please let us take a minute to tell you a little bit about how we think and do business.

To take the next step, please read the information below and follow the instructions at the end of this email.

Best regards,
Sherry Fine - VP Acquisitions: New York Literary Agency

P.S. We apologize in advance for the length of this email. This is at the behest of our lawyers. They like it when we say it the same way every time. If this email appears truncated at the bottom, please let me know.

INCUBATING TALENT: We are willing to develop new, fresh talent.
We did see a few improvements are needed in your work, but don't worry, we receive very few 'ready-to-go' manuscripts. Most manuscripts that we receive need some level of polishing before we can submit them to buyers. Over the years, we've learned that it is worth our time and effort to do what it takes to develop new talent. We've learned that incubating new talent makes good business sense.

We'd hate to lose a good writer by not accepting someone who is willing to improve. There are very few literary agencies that will take the time to develop talent. Most barely return emails. We've answered every email you've sent us, and we've kept our promises regarding turnaround times. We hope that you will acknowledge that our level of communication and professionalism already far exceeds that of other literary agencies. We pledge this same level of professionalism and courtesy in all
subsequent communications should we work together.

You don't know us, and we don't know you. We like your work, and hopefully so far, you appreciate that we have treated you professionally and efficiently. Yes, we use forms, but that's so that we have more time to answer your questions about specific problems or nuances. We are looking for authors that are reasonable in their expectations and in their own evaluation of their work. We don't want prima donnas.

If we were in your shoes, we believe you should be looking for a professional relationship with professional people who will ultimately benefit your writing career, whether your work is sold or not. We never promise a sale. However, we do promise that we will work with you on a professional basis and do what we can to promote you and your work to our buyers.

What do we mean by "Polish your work"?
We are very concerned about what we present to our buyers. At a minimum they
expect the mechanics of punctuation, grammar, spelling, and format to meet or exceed industry standards.

I think you can agree that your work needs some level of polishing. However,we don't think you should take just our word for it; we would like to have an independent review of your work that shows you where the improvements can be made.

This step is equal to an investor trusting a certified public accountant; if there is an independent review on the table, we can each relax and trust each other, and spend our time strategizing marketing, not arguing over whether the work is ready to present or not.

What we have learned over the years is that nothing is more invaluable than having an unbiased, critical review of an author's work as a roadmap for bringing the work to market. In writing circles this is called a critique. We want you to have a critique of your work. You might already have one, or you may need to get one.

HAVING A CRITIQUE PROTECTS YOU from unscrupulous agents. Having a critique protects US from egocentric writers who think their work is just fine like it is. If the critique says, "Green light--good to go" then we can start marketing immediately. If the critique says, "Some improvements can be made in grammar, punctuation, etc," then we can pause with you while those changes are made.

On and on, blah blah blah. (Slap my head) DOH!

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At 11:58 AM, Blogger Warren said...

Your not the only one to fall for this one. Don't feel discouraged and keep plugging away. Eventually you'll find a legitimate agent or publisher who responds to your work!

At 9:06 AM, Blogger glimpsing gal said...

I had the same experience with this same agency, except in their inspirational division. Like you, after a careful search, I did not respond in ANY way to the email. I did not send anything, not even a line.

However, about four weeks later I received yet another form email from them thanking me for the full manuscript but saying, "It's just not within the scope of what we're looking for right now."

Uh-huh. Whatever.

I'm a bit wiser now because of this experience.


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