Just caveat, I did a search for these key words and came up blank, so I apologize if this particular agency has been discussed before.
I did a shotgun blast of sending out my short story to many literary agents. After several rejections, I finally get one interested: Southeast Literary Agency of Sharpes, FL, represented by Ms. Debbie Fine.
Their commission rate is only 10%, but they want a one-time fee of $175 up front for "expenses." I know everyone here is going to immediately chant: "Money should flow to the author, not from." However, I'm not against making a small investment. Is this $175 too much to ask?
In their letter to me, the agency listed a few titles that they represented and got published. I looked them up on Amazon:
Florida: The War Years
The Girl in the Red Cadillac
Your Turn in the Sun
I have no idea how to tell if these books are successful or not, or if they're satisfied with thier representation. Can anyone offer a better way for me to research the agency?
I also did some internet searches on the "authros beware" websites, and this particular agency was listed. Not because they are a scam, but simply because they charge a fee (the sites don't differentiate regarding the amount, they just put "beware" if any fee is requested). However, the more research I did, the more I discovered that many agencies do request a one-time up-front fee. Is this becoming less and less abnormal?
Do I persue this at all? Do I at least call the agency and talk to Debbie Fine? Do I ask to hear her side of the story? "Why are you listed on the 'Stay Away!' sites, and what is your response/defense?"
To be honest with you, I didn't write my story to become the next big children's author, or to become rich. I wrote it because I felt inspired, and I wanted to see it published (for real, not self-published), just to be able to say "Hey, look what I did!" If I pay $175 and it does get accepted by a publisher, thanks to this agency, maybe it's not too much to pay to say "Hey look, I'm published."
I'd really appreciate some candid advice from y'all regarding this. Thanks in advance.