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Thread: Whispering Buffalo Literary Agency Ltd. (Mariam Keen)

  1. #1
    Where did I put me specs? euclid's Avatar
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    Whispering Buffalo Literary Agency Ltd. (Mariam Keen)

    Anyone have any info about this London agency?

    The web site says it is owned by Miriam Keen, was set up in 2008.
    "Company policy not to name clients"

    www.whisperingbuffalo.com/
    My web site http://www.jjtoner.net/
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  2. #2
    Still the wrong side of Saskatoon Saskatoonistan's Avatar
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    Not a lot other than Mariam Keen reps a successful author I know in the UK. I've corresponded with him and he has nothing but good to say. If she worked with Ali Gunn and Darley Anderson, that's some fairly solid experience I would think. I've subbed to her and am awaiting a response. So far, very professional.

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    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    Yes, but honestly...Whispering Buffalo?

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    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    Better than a Bellowing one. Especially on a t-shirt: http://www.ipo.gov.uk/t-tmj/journals...c/2531571.html
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  6. #6
    Their website reads, "It is agency policy not to publish client list." I wonder if that means they would be willing to name some clients if contacted directly?
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    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    "It is agency policy not to publish client list" generally means "We haven't sold any books."

    While there are exceptions, unless you're experienced enough to know who those exceptions are, you're better off avoiding those agencies as a class.

  8. #8
    Tired and Disillusioned Momento Mori's Avatar
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    Mariam Keen was at Gunn Media, which is not a UK agency that I've heard of, and Darley Anderson (which is a v. big agency).

    I put some Google-fu to use and the only author I could find who she represents is Thomas Emson, whose books all appear to be published by Snow Books (which accepts unsolicited manuscripts and doesn't seem that enamoured of agents). He's also sold Italian translation rights.

    MM

  9. #9
    Who's going for a beer? waylander's Avatar
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    Gunn Agency is an Irish Agency, I believe

  10. #10
    Where did I put me specs? euclid's Avatar
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    No. I don't think so. There appear to be 2 Gunn agencies. The one in Ireland is Gunn O'Connor.
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  11. #11
    figuring it all out Donnettetxgirl's Avatar
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    I submitted to her in the middle of December. Sent her a query, synopsis & first 3 chapters. I just got an email from her this morning. Here it is.



    Dear (me),


    Thank you for submitting (title). Whilst I enjoyed reading your work I am afraid that I am unable to offer you representation at this time as I feel that your manuscript isn't quite the right fit for our list.

    I can assure you that a great deal of thought goes into each and every decision made and in order to take on a writer I need to feel one hundred percent sure about the material to give it the best possible chance to succeed in an increasingly competitive and cut throat market.

    While your work isn't right for us I believe that you will greatly increase your chances of securing an agent if your work undergoes a general edit.


    I advise you contact Kathryn Robinson and Helen Corner at Cornerstones Literary Consultancy www.cornerstones.co.uk Please mention I advised you get in touch.


    I am sorry to disappoint you and wish you the very best of luck in securing an agent to champion your work and find you a publisher.

    With best wishes,

    Mariam Keen - Managing Director

    Whispering Buffalo Literary Agency Ltd
    97 Chesson Road
    London
    W14 9QS


    This is the first kind of email like this I've received from any agent. I've got a few partials & some fulls out to some very good agents, and I've had flat-out turn downs, but I have yet to get an email referring me to a consultant for edits.

    I have to say this does not set well with me. Add to the fact (from what I've read here), she doesn't like to list her clients or their books.

    Given, I don't know if this consultant charges (haven't bothered to call & find out), but I'd bet my best nickel she does. Since Ms. Keen asked me to let this agency know she sent me, could mean she's getting a kick-back herself.

    Just wanted to let everyone know here.

    Donnette Smith
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    www.myspace.com/storycreater

  12. #12
    Whatever I did, I didn't do it. Phaeal's Avatar
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    Agent recommends editing service in rejection letter -- that shouts DANGER, WILL ROBINSON to me. When said agent asks to be remembered to said editing service -- that shouts the above twice as loud.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phaeal View Post
    Agent recommends editing service in rejection letter -- that shouts DANGER, WILL ROBINSON to me. When said agent asks to be remembered to said editing service -- that shouts the above twice as loud.
    Devils advocate here . . . (I do like to play devils advocate from time to time) -

    I think in the USA the situation above does indeed shout DANGER!

    But if you go to the cornerstones website, you'll see that they are not an editing mill. they have workshops as well that help authors learn how to write. And then if you go to some of the authors websites who have used Cornerstones, and had success thereafter (Big success), several of them specifically site the weekend workshops they attended as being influential in their professional development.

    Finally - if you go to some of the agents sites where these now-published authors are represented (good agencies), you'll see that Cornerstones actually is a respected business.

    What I'm saying is - Agents recommending you hire an editor to edit your stuff is, indeed, a red flag. BUT - It would be worth looking into before you pass judgement. To have this knee-jerk reaction that A+B = BAD is not necessarily accurate.

    It's quite possible that in this case the agent thought that the idea was solid, but the author needed a bit of honing to perfect the delivery. Perhaps by "general Edit" he meant, "go take the weekend workshop at cornerstones and then give your manuscript a general edit." It is equally possible that the "tell them I sent you" part is so that Cornerstones contacts them first, before other agencies that deal with them - if they choose to accept that particular manuscript for that program of theirs.

    Now - that said - It is also possible that they get kick-backs and that every author they reject gets the same letter - if that's the case, I'd avoid them (and cornerstone, too, for that matter). But since I don't know if that's the case, I will wait to judge. And of course, if they don't have req. experience or sales, I'd avoid them too.

    That's my 2 cents.

  14. #14
    Still the wrong side of Saskatoon Saskatoonistan's Avatar
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    True - things are a bit different in the UK.

    My Website. Twitter.

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  15. #15
    Old Hand in the Biz Barbara R.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Donnettetxgirl View Post
    I submitted to her in the middle of December. Sent her a query, synopsis & first 3 chapters. I just got an email from her this morning. Here it is.



    Given, I don't know if this consultant charges (haven't bothered to call & find out), but I'd bet my best nickel she does. Since Ms. Keen asked me to let this agency know she sent me, could mean she's getting a kick-back herself.

    Just wanted to let everyone know here.

    Donnette Smith
    www.freewebs.com/romanceauthor
    www.myspace.com/storycreater

    I'd be highly suspicious. If Ms. Keen knows anything about this business, she must know that the vast majority of first novels don't sell, whether professionally edited or not. It's usually a very poor investment to pay for a private, professional edit of your own novel; chances are you'll never earn back your investment...and I say that as an editor myself.

    Barbara

  16. #16
    Such a nasty woman SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    Cornerstones is a well-respected editorial consultancy here in the UK: I know a few people who have used it, and considered it very useful. I don't consider a referral to Cornerstones to be a red flag, and suspect that Ms Keen was trying to be helpful, rather than trying to grab a commission.

    I could be wrong, but that's my gut reaction to this particular case.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barbara R. View Post
    I'd be highly suspicious. If Ms. Keen knows anything about this business, she must know that the vast majority of first novels don't sell, whether professionally edited or not. It's usually a very poor investment to pay for a private, professional edit of your own novel; chances are you'll never earn back your investment...and I say that as an editor myself.

    Barbara
    Would you please contribute to this statement about the debut novels not selling? Because I am hearing about quite few getting published actually. In fact, over the past year, more than before.

  18. #18
    Shakespearean Fool DreamWeaver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by simplyaven View Post
    Would you please contribute to this statement about the debut novels not selling? Because I am hearing about quite few getting published actually. In fact, over the past year, more than before.
    Perhaps it would be useful to define terms. I'm reading this as first novel = first novel written, while debut novel = first novel published. AFAIK, the two are not necessarily the same thing, right? Or wrong?
    Last edited by DreamWeaver; 04-04-2010 at 01:24 AM.
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  19. #19
    figuring it all out Donnettetxgirl's Avatar
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    Maybe it is an acceptable practice in the UK. But what bothers me on top of her referring me to this consultant is this agency doesn't have any solid record of sales that I can find. And I would never pay for editing, ever. In my view it is nothing but a waste of money. Writing classes is one thing, but paying for editing service is another entirely.

    The novel I queried her about isn't a first novel for me. And what I've been discovering about agencies is that different agents can view the same novel very differently. One agent who requested the first 3 chapters later passed because she thought the pace was too slow for a thriller. Another agent who requested the first 3 chapters loved it & asked for the full based on what he read.

    So, I imagine it all depends on the different tasts of agents. But a referral to an editing consultant? No way. My gut reaction when I read her response was: there's something going on here behind the scenes.

    Donnette Smith
    www.freewebs.com/romanceauthor
    www.myspace.com/storycreater

  20. #20
    Old Hand in the Biz Barbara R.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by simplyaven View Post
    Would you please contribute to this statement about the debut novels not selling? Because I am hearing about quite few getting published actually. In fact, over the past year, more than before.
    I should temper what I said before with a bit of hope. Agents and publishers love first novels: they're a fresh start, a chance for a breakthrough. The author's have no sales history, which means that stores may keep an open mind about how many to order, instead of basing orders on sales of the last book. Reviewers pay a lot more attention to promising first novels: everyone loves finding a fresh voice.

    So everyone's on the hunt for first-rate premiere novels, and it's possible (though I know of no evidence for it) that more got published last year than the year before. But more out of how many? I was an agent for about 12 years, and in all that time I think I took on maybe 3 brand-new novelists; all the rest of my fiction clients had published before. I'm sure the agents' blogs that many here follow reveal the same tale. Lots of people aspire to write fiction, but very few succeed in publishing their first novels.

    Even among published writers, most of them have an unpublished first novel in their drawers...sometimes more than one. I knew one writer who wrote seven novels before finally selling one. Most people would have given up long before that, right? It takes time to learn to write, it takes incredible perseverance, and IMO, it takes some degree of talent. That combination isn't so common.

  21. #21
    Old Hand in the Biz Barbara R.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DreamWeaver View Post
    Perhaps it would be useful to define terms. I'm reading this as first novel = first novel written, while debut novel = first novel published. AFAIK, the two are not necessarily the same thing, right? Or wrong?
    No, they're not necessarily the same...in fact, since most published novelists have a "practice" novel or two in their drawers, they're usually not the same. When I said "Most first novels don't sell," I was referring to the first one written. Writers who go on to write additional novels, having learned from the experience of writing the earlier unpublished ones, are people with the perseverance and crazy drive common to most published writers. If they also have some talent and a good story to tell, they're more likely to attract an offer.

  22. #22
    practical experience, FTW HJW's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Hack View Post
    Cornerstones is a well-respected editorial consultancy here in the UK: I know a few people who have used it, and considered it very useful. I don't consider a referral to Cornerstones to be a red flag, and suspect that Ms Keen was trying to be helpful, rather than trying to grab a commission.

    I could be wrong, but that's my gut reaction to this particular case.
    I just want to back up what Old Hack is saying here. Cornerstones has a very good reputation and has helped a lot of writers to go on to publication. Sarwat Chadda is a recent example. And the recent winner of the Times/Chicken House children's fiction prize mentions them.

  23. #23
    aka Sadistic Mistress Mi-chan M.R.J. Le Blanc's Avatar
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    That may be so, but the whole 'tell them I sent you' is still icky to me, even if referrals like this are more common and accepted in the UK. Saying 'go here, they can help you' is helpful. Saying 'go here, they can help you out. Make sure you tell them I sent you' smells of kickback.
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    Tired and Disillusioned Momento Mori's Avatar
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    I know some people who have done editing services for Cornerstones and so far as I am aware, Cornerstones doesn't pay kickbacks for referrals to it. If anyone has differing information, I'd be glad to see it.

    However, I equally know that Cornerstones have in the past forwarded particularly good manuscripts to agents with whom they are very familiar if they think that the manuscript would be a good fit for their list or otherwise of interest to them. There's been some discussion in some other forums I belong to as to whether this is best practice and good for the authors.

    It could therefore be that the reason Whispering Buffalo advise telling Cornerstones that they sent you is to make them more visible to Cornerstones. This is however pure speculation on my part and it could equally be down to a poorly worded standard rejection slip.

    The main point to take from this is that to date there still don't appear to be any sales for this agency. I'm also interested to see that they advertise themselves as specialising in book to film adaptations. Perhaps this is where Mariam worked at Darley Anderson.

    MM

  25. #25
    Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. kaitie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by M.R.J. Le Blanc View Post
    That may be so, but the whole 'tell them I sent you' is still icky to me, even if referrals like this are more common and accepted in the UK. Saying 'go here, they can help you' is helpful. Saying 'go here, they can help you out. Make sure you tell them I sent you' smells of kickback.
    My first thought would be that the person who recommended you has a personal relationship with one of the people (i.e. knows them well) and it might carry more weight. It's never struck me as potentially anything nefarious at all. Agents do this sort of thing fair often, and I think in a lot of cases it's actually beneficial because if the person you're being referred by is highly respected in the other guy's eyes, they're going to look more highly on you.


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