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Thread: Nancy Ellis Literary Agency

  1. #1
    wishes you happiness JennaGlatzer's Avatar
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    Nancy Ellis Literary Agency

    I haven't looked at the Authors Guild website in a while-- I missed this announcement from October:

    "Literary agent Nancy Ellis (also known as Nancy Ellis-Bell) has settled a suit brought against her by Authors Guild member Raymond Barnett. Mr. Barnett's suit alleged that Ellis had failed to remit to him any of a $7,500 advance payment she'd received from Tarcher/Penguin on his behalf in December 2003."

    See full announcement here:

    http://www.authorsguild.org/news/set..._questions.htm
    I am no longer here. If you'd like to visit me, please find me at www.jennaglatzer.com or on Facebook. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    Writer Beware has also gotten complaints about this agent--we've heard from clients who weren't happy with the way she marketed them and felt she was unresponsive, and I've also been told that she asks for $100 upfront to cover submissions expense.

    She does seem to have sold a good number of books. She was with LitWest for a number of years, but now is on her own.

    - Victoria

  3. #3
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    From the Authors Guild:

    Last October, we alerted members that literary agent Nancy Ellis (also known as Nancy Ellis-Bell) , formerly an agent in Litwest Group, had settled a suit brought against her by Authors Guild member Raymond Barnett. Mr. Barnett's suit alleged that Ellis had failed to remit to him any of a $7,500 advance payment she'd received from Tarcher/Penguin on his behalf in December 2003.

    We have now learned of a new judgment against Ellis, filed on April 26 in Mendocino County, California, for the wrongful retention of $19,000 of one of her client's funds. In addition, several other current and former clients of Ellis have recently contacted us claiming that she has withheld advance and royalty payments owed to them.

    ADDITIONAL INFORMATION SOUGHT: These are, of course, quite serious charges, and we've assigned an in-house lawyer to review all aspects of this matter. If you've been a client of Nancy Ellis and have not yet contacted us, we urge you to do so. Please e-mail us at staff@authorsguild.org or phone (212) 563-5904 and ask for Michael Gross.

    We will keep you informed on this matter.

  4. #4
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    "Literary agent Nancy Ellis (also known as Nancy Ellis-Bell) has settled a suit brought against her by Authors Guild member Raymond Barnett. Mr. Barnett's suit alleged that Ellis had failed to remit to him any of a $7,500 advance payment she'd received from Tarcher/Penguin on his behalf in December 2003.

  5. #5
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    Nancy Ellis

    Hi Jenna:

    Aw man...I can't believe I've just mailed my manuscript Beyond Plantation Road, on May 20, 2005 to Nancy Ellis to only find out she's a crook. I'm sick, sick, sick.

    Teena

  6. #6
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    This just in from Authors Guild:
    Last October, we alerted members that literary agent Nancy Ellis (also known as Nancy Ellis-Bell) , formerly an agent in Litwest Group, had settled a suit brought against her by Authors Guild member Raymond Barnett. Mr. Barnett's suit alleged that Ellis had failed to remit to him any of a $7,500 advance payment she'd received from Tarcher/Penguin on his behalf in December 2003.

    We have now learned of a new judgment against Ellis, filed on April 26 in Mendocino County, California, for the wrongful retention of $19,000 of one of her client's funds. In addition, several other current and former clients of Ellis have recently contacted us claiming that she has withheld advance and royalty payments owed to them.

    ADDITIONAL INFORMATION SOUGHT: These are, of course, quite serious charges, and we've assigned an in-house lawyer to review all aspects of this matter. If you've been a client of Nancy Ellis and have not yet contacted us, we urge you to do so. Please e-mail us at staff@authorsguild.org or phone (212) 563-5904 and ask for Michael Gross.

    We will keep you informed on this matter.

    - Victoria


  7. #7
    WriterPerson
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    Nancy Ellis Alarm Bells

    - One of her writers *does not mention her* in the thank-yous at the end of the novel. The book has done well and Ellis has it featured on the home page of her Web site.
    - Personal experience: she offered to edit my manuscript to get it market ready and stated that I would need to pay up front for this service. After the manuscript sold, she would deduct that amount from the advance -- or if the book didn't sell after a year, she'd reimburse me. It sounds sorta reasonable but I knew it my heart it was a bad deal. And she never talked to me about the content of my manuscript, either.

    I saw her at a conference a couple of years ago and she seemed so business-like, no-nonsense, tough and fair. She gave clear and direct answers to questions. But something has happened -- a reversal of fortune, perhaps? Health problems? -- and I feel sorry for her. However, as other writers have said on other forums, better no agent at all than a bad one.

  8. #8
    cadmandu
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    Nancy Ellis Literary Agency

    Greetings,

    Here's a heads up on a woman named Nancy Ellis. She represented one of my books a couple of years ago, and came across as a little strange (although her interest in my book is solid evidence of good literary taste.) After six months she couldn't sell my book, so she dumped me. Recently I've come across postings on internet dicussion boards that she has been taken to court by some of her clients for stealing their royalties!

    A word to the wise . . .

    Doug

  9. #9
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    Nancy Ellis (also known as Nancy Ellis-Bell) has a varied track record, and appears to have sold a good number of books. However, Writer Beware has heard from a few clients and former clients who weren't happy with the way she marketed them and felt she was unresponsive. I've also been told that she asks for $100 upfront to cover submissions expense, which isn't typical practice.

    She's been the subject of two suits for failing to remit advances and royalty payments; one of the suits was settled out of court in 2003, and the second resulted in a judgment against her. Apparently other authors report similar problems.

    - Victoria
    Last edited by victoriastrauss; 01-05-2006 at 08:15 PM.

  10. #10
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    Nancy Ellis not only engages in questionable business practices--witness the lawsuit--but has left behind her a long string of dissatisfied clients and almost-clients. Folks get together and swap Nancy Ellis stories. There have been enough complaints about her that she has been quietly "disinvited" from at least one major conference she used to attend.

    At the conference where I met her (as a total newbie), I pitched her my novel; she glanced at pages and sounded quite excited, and asked for me to send the whole manuscript.

    The next morning, it was announced that the editor I had submitted my opening chapter to for an advance read had given me the Editor's Choice Award--and also asked to see the whole manuscript. Ms. Ellis instructed me to 1) Write a nice letter to the editor thanking her and informing her that I was now working with Nancy Ellis to get the manuscript in pitch-perfect shape before submitting it, and 2) To mail the mansucript to Nancy Ellis' agency ASAP.

    I did both--and also stopped pitching to other agents who expressed interest (more fool I).

    After a number of weeks, I received a form letter from her agency informing me that they had received my manuscript and that it had been assigned a log number, but that "owing to the number of submissions we receive, it may be a matter of months before yours is reviewed."

    I wrote an e-mail to Ms. Ellis, asking what was up. She tersely replied that she had just returned from travel and hadn't gotten to her 'priority reads' yet.

    I answered that this was fine--I just wanted to be sure that I hadn't been routed to her slush pile by accident, since she had requested me to get the manuscript into her hands ASAP.

    Twenty minutes later, I received an e-mail from her assistant, reading "Nancy Ellis regrets that she cannot represent this manuscript. We wish you the best of luck placing it elsewhere."

    Wow. Fast reader.

    I whined to a few writers, and suddenly I had a whole raft of other horror stories--in these cases, from former clients. (One claimed that the agent's voice-mail said, "If you're an editor, leave a message. If not, don't." I can't vouch for the truth of this tale, but it sounds quite likely to me.) One woman had her novel half-heartedly represented for a long period, with no real results and then, when she was informed there was no market for her work, had another agent sell it on the first go-round.

    No crime in all of that--but none of us were surprised when there WAS an actual crime. And, in addition to stealing royalties from her clients, it has also been alleged by the Author's Guild that when she left LitWest to form her own agency, she 'transferred' her client list without informing the authors (though she did write to a number of the publishers to ensure that the knew they agency of record had changed.)

    My dealing with Ms. Ellis left a very bad taste in my mouth; and, while I was waiting for her to 'work on' my manuscript, the editor who requested it had changed jobs to a position where she no longer handled my genre. But all-in-all, I feel lucky that in her tiff about my having the nerve to contact her directly she blew me off. I now have a good NY agent with a great sales record; I could be signed on with Ms. Ellis, wondering why I never heard any good news.

    Oh, and as a fun bonus, until recently I was receiving e-mails inviting me to an expensive writing workshop she runs in Northern California. Imagine! A chance to get detailed feedback from a real agent (and, it is subtly implied, a chance at representation)!

    WriterPerson may feel sorry for Nancy Ellis. I don't.

  11. #11
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Hello,
    I'm wondering--did she actually work hard to place you work, or was she stringing you along? My friend is one of her clients, and it doesn't look like she's doing what she promised to do. He notified the Author's Guild. Did you?
    Judith

  12. #12
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    shoot the agent

    Hi friend,
    You've just written the story of my experience with Nancy Ellis. Courted at conference, lured away from other suitors, seduced, and put on the shelf to dry...forever. How to get out of this bad relationship? Will another agent even look at me if I'm still in a contract with her? The elusive Ms. Ellis is in NY right now. I don't know what she does there, but she sure doesn't do anything to expose my work--at least, there's nothing she's willing to state in print by letter or email. She says all sorts of optimistic things on the phone, but she puts nothing on paper where it can stand the test of verification. I'm pretty worried. Scared that now I'm stigmatized, andother agents won't want to deal with me for fear of getting mixed up in contractual complexities. Any advice?
    Thanks,
    JG



    Quote Originally Posted by UrsusMinor
    Nancy Ellis not only engages in questionable business practices--witness the lawsuit--but has left behind her a long string of dissatisfied clients and almost-clients. Folks get together and swap Nancy Ellis stories. There have been enough complaints about her that she has been quietly "disinvited" from at least one major conference she used to attend.

    At the conference where I met her (as a total newbie), I pitched her my novel; she glanced at pages and sounded quite excited, and asked for me to send the whole manuscript.

    The next morning, it was announced that the editor I had submitted my opening chapter to for an advance read had given me the Editor's Choice Award--and also asked to see the whole manuscript. Ms. Ellis instructed me to 1) Write a nice letter to the editor thanking her and informing her that I was now working with Nancy Ellis to get the manuscript in pitch-perfect shape before submitting it, and 2) To mail the mansucript to Nancy Ellis' agency ASAP.

    I did both--and also stopped pitching to other agents who expressed interest (more fool I).

    After a number of weeks, I received a form letter from her agency informing me that they had received my manuscript and that it had been assigned a log number, but that "owing to the number of submissions we receive, it may be a matter of months before yours is reviewed."

    I wrote an e-mail to Ms. Ellis, asking what was up. She tersely replied that she had just returned from travel and hadn't gotten to her 'priority reads' yet.

    I answered that this was fine--I just wanted to be sure that I hadn't been routed to her slush pile by accident, since she had requested me to get the manuscript into her hands ASAP.

    Twenty minutes later, I received an e-mail from her assistant, reading "Nancy Ellis regrets that she cannot represent this manuscript. We wish you the best of luck placing it elsewhere."

    Wow. Fast reader.

    I whined to a few writers, and suddenly I had a whole raft of other horror stories--in these cases, from former clients. (One claimed that the agent's voice-mail said, "If you're an editor, leave a message. If not, don't." I can't vouch for the truth of this tale, but it sounds quite likely to me.) One woman had her novel half-heartedly represented for a long period, with no real results and then, when she was informed there was no market for her work, had another agent sell it on the first go-round.

    No crime in all of that--but none of us were surprised when there WAS an actual crime. And, in addition to stealing royalties from her clients, it has also been alleged by the Author's Guild that when she left LitWest to form her own agency, she 'transferred' her client list without informing the authors (though she did write to a number of the publishers to ensure that the knew they agency of record had changed.)

    My dealing with Ms. Ellis left a very bad taste in my mouth; and, while I was waiting for her to 'work on' my manuscript, the editor who requested it had changed jobs to a position where she no longer handled my genre. But all-in-all, I feel lucky that in her tiff about my having the nerve to contact her directly she blew me off. I now have a good NY agent with a great sales record; I could be signed on with Ms. Ellis, wondering why I never heard any good news.

    Oh, and as a fun bonus, until recently I was receiving e-mails inviting me to an expensive writing workshop she runs in Northern California. Imagine! A chance to get detailed feedback from a real agent (and, it is subtly implied, a chance at representation)!

    WriterPerson may feel sorry for Nancy Ellis. I don't.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Judith Gofor
    How to get out of this bad relationship? Will another agent even look at me if I'm still in a contract with her?
    You need to terminate your contract with her before another agent will take you on. Your contract may outline what you need to do to end the business relationship; if not, just send a registered letter stating that you're terminating it. If you can get a list of where she's submitted your work, excellent (handy for your next agent)--but it sounds like that may be difficult with her.

    Better luck with your next agent.
    Last edited by Aconite; 02-28-2006 at 05:52 PM.
    Winner of Uncle Jim's Whoo Hoo Super Writer Award and Nomad's Most Use of Vowels in a Screen Name Award as well as Maryn's Only Person on AW Whose Name Anagrams to "I, Octane," "Act I (One)" and "Nice tao" Award in addition to batgirl's Culpeper Award for Botanically Erudite Screen Name plus awatkins' AW's Most Creative Srounger [sic] of Rep Points Award not to mention azbikergirl's Arizona Most Awarded Writer Award and also Dawno's Most Interesting Signature Line Award

  14. #14
    practical experience, FTW chicagogal's Avatar
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    Unhappy more nancy ellis horror

    I am so glad that I "tuned' in this evening as I have been haunted by the nancy ellis fiasco I lived through for two years. I was sure it was my fault that my projects did not catch an editor. this ellis woman made appointment after appointment with me at times when she came into L.A. and i put everything on hold as i always(naively) believe that when someone makes an appointment it is meant to be kept.nancy and I became very chummy and I was privvy to talk with her about the new house she and her husband were building. all in all in the two years of being led down the garden path, she held onto about three viable projects and I am certain that she never sent them out to anyone. although we discussed changes in one, I had an idea that something was wrong in delaware(my personal take on her). eventually when I put the screws to her, she admitted that she had exhausted avenues for my material(probably filled with dust in some drawer or other) and then had the audacity to tell me my material had been returned to me. HAVE YOU SEEN IT? well I haven't. having read the comments on the site tonight, I finally feel that I am not a nuerotic paranoid, but had her pegged right almost fromt he start. this will teach me to listen to my little inner voice. it never fails. now I am once again floundering for an agent. HAPPY FULFILLMENT TO US ALL.

  15. #15
    One Hit Wonder? Kasey Mackenzie's Avatar
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    So sorry to hear about your bad experience, chicagogal. Don't be too hard on yourself. Some of these scammers are quite clever at what they do. Best of look in finding a new, reputable agent who will work out much better for you.
    Good things come to those who wait...and work their tails off!!!


    Coming Soon on Kindle: Reborn in Fire

  16. #16
    Hagiographically Advantaged AW Moderator HapiSofi's Avatar
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    I see no reason why another agent would reject you just because you'd been screwed over by Nancy Ellis. Break off your relationship with her and go on with your life.
    Winner of the Best Drycleaner on the Block Award.

  17. #17
    practical experience, FTW
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    What you should try to find out...

    HapiSoft is right that no one will turn you down because you've been with Nancy Ellis.

    But if you're going to be trying to sell the work that already sat in her clutches, the very first thing you need to try to do is get info on where, if anywhere, she sent it.

    In a lot of ways you are better off if she didn't send it anywhere. Agents are less likely to want to rep it if Ms Ellis already "pissed in all the ponds," as they so charmingly put it.

    Write her an e-mail and ask nicely for the submission history.

    And meanwhile keep in mind that it is quite likely she lurks on this thread. Wouldn't you visit one that's all about you?
    Last edited by UrsusMinor; 04-13-2006 at 05:16 AM.

  18. #18
    Hagiographically Advantaged AW Moderator HapiSofi's Avatar
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    Don't worry where she sent it. Odds are she didn't send it many places, if any; and if she did, I doubt the recipients paid all that much attention to it. If a publisher recognizes it and asks, tell the truth. You haven't done anything wrong.
    Winner of the Best Drycleaner on the Block Award.

  19. #19
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    Not to defend Ms. Ellis or her business practices, but she has a good-sized track record of legitimate sales, and is actively selling. I don't think it's safe to assume she didn't send a ms. out, or that if she did it wasn't looked at.

    - Victoria

  20. #20
    Hagiographically Advantaged AW Moderator HapiSofi's Avatar
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    Okay, so what's the worst that can happen?
    Winner of the Best Drycleaner on the Block Award.

  21. #21
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    Well, assuming the writer decides to tell the truth about having been repped before...I should think that if Nancy Ellis did send the ms to a bunch of publishers and it got rejected, this might make the writer less attractive to a new agent, depending on the genre of the book and the publishers that were approached (for SF/fantasy, for instance, if you get rejected by three imprints you've tapped out a good percentage of the market).

    If the writer doesn't 'fess up...I dunno. Maybe no one ever realizes that the ms. has already gone the rounds (a title change might help with that). Or maybe the ms. lands on the desk of an editor who's already seen it and she gives the new agent an earful and the new agent isn't happy that the writer didn't provide full disclosure.

    - Victoria

  22. #22
    practical experience, FTW
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    Honesty is the best (insurance) policy

    Quote Originally Posted by victoriastrauss
    If the writer doesn't 'fess up...I dunno. Maybe no one ever realizes that the ms. has already gone the rounds (a title change might help with that). Or maybe the ms. lands on the desk of an editor who's already seen it and she gives the new agent an earful and the new agent isn't happy that the writer didn't provide full disclosure.

    - Victoria
    Exactly.

    You need to go agent searching armed with whatever facts you can gather. Nancy Ellis DOES sell things--or at least she used to--and that means that at least some of the time she sends things out.

    One thing I can tell you based on horror stories from her former clients: Nancy Ellis is erratic. She may never have sent the book to anyone. She may have shopped it all over America. She may have throw it hard and high at a select few to see if it would stick.

    Make no assumptions. And if you can't get any info from her, then when someone else offers representation, be honest about your situation. Don't let someone elses's poor ethics contaminate your own.

    Victoria is right (as usual)...and there's nothing wrong with changing the title, just as a little extra insurance.

    It would be nice to see what Miss Manners would advise about this...but being as she has little little experience as an agent, I would suggest that we invite that other expert on gracious living, Miss Snark, to contribute her views on how to handle the situation.
    Last edited by UrsusMinor; 04-14-2006 at 11:03 PM.

  23. #23
    Hagiographically Advantaged AW Moderator HapiSofi's Avatar
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    Miss Snark is reasonably knowledgeable.
    Winner of the Best Drycleaner on the Block Award.

  24. #24
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Honesty is the best policy. I recommend it to everyone.

  25. #25
    Hagiographically Advantaged AW Moderator HapiSofi's Avatar
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    Look, let's say I have a submission from an agent. Then I hear that agent's parted ways with that author. At that moment the submission's dead. If I'm nice, I send it back to the agent, though it could be recycled just as well from my office as from theirs. Whether or not I get it resubmitted to me by the new agent is up to the new agent.

    It would only be a little bit different if I'd read it and loved it and gone through the whole whoop-te-do and rigamarole of selling it to my house. It'd still be a dead submission when the author broke with the agent, but I'd more passionately hope the new agent submitted it to me. I might even be Forward and Immodest about asking for it.

    If I'd decided I didn't much like it, but hadn't got round to writing the letter yet? The changeover wouldn't much matter.

    I'll grant, absolutely, that it would be a good thing to find out what Ms. Ellis did with one's manuscript. I just don't think it's an insuperable barrier.
    Winner of the Best Drycleaner on the Block Award.

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