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Thread: Ruben Literary Agency (Eric Ruben)

  1. #26
    Angelic Muse AngelicaRJackson's Avatar
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    Now represented by Eric Ruben!

    (please note: there's an update to this down in #37)
    I announced yesterday that I'm now represented by Eric Ruben, and here's the timeline:

    EQ: 10/14/2013
    Request for full: 10/29/2013
    Panic-inducing phone call while I was in the locker room, which then led to an offer of rep after I called him back: 11/6/2013
    Accepted his offer: 11/12/2013
    I terminated our agreement: 1/20/2014

    What he likes about my YA UF: it's funny, the relationships are true to life, the voice. And he used the words "sex positive", which is when I knew he "got" it.

    FYI, he says he's not a heavily editorial agent--which suits me fine since I have fantastic beta readers, but others might wish to have that info ahead of time.
    Last edited by AngelicaRJackson; 02-03-2014 at 05:46 AM.
    Angelica R. Jackson, Writer and Photographer

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  2. #27
    Mildly Disturbing Filigree's Avatar
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    Congrats!

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  3. #28
    Angelic Muse AngelicaRJackson's Avatar
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    Thanks!
    Angelica R. Jackson, Writer and Photographer

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  4. #29
    Frustrated Pluviophile seaaircarol's Avatar
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    Way to go, Angelica! What a great agent.
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  5. #30
    Angelic Muse AngelicaRJackson's Avatar
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    Thanks, Carol! BTW, he has a preliminary list of where and when he's taking pitches, and speaking on panels, on his website if anyone wants to see him at a conference.
    Angelica R. Jackson, Writer and Photographer

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  6. #31
    Totes Legit Author Becca C.'s Avatar
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    Wow, he looks like a fab agent. Definitely going on my list for when my WIP is query-ready. Congrats Angelica!
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  7. #32
    Angelic Muse AngelicaRJackson's Avatar
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    He's closed to unsolicited queries, btw, until further notice. Details on his website.
    http://www.rubenlaw.org/contact/
    Angelica R. Jackson, Writer and Photographer

    Crow's Rest, a darkly funny young adult urban fantasy, forthcoming from Spencer Hill Press in May 2015
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  8. #33
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    I wanted to share my experiences with Eric. Full disclosure. I was signed with him and I left after a month. I got a sense of him before I approached him for rep and it was all really great. He's very active on twitter and very helpful and I had gotten to know a few of his clients so I decided to approach him. I got a referral and he offered very quickly. He said he only read 50 pages but really loved the writing and he "got" all the things that were important to me. Once I signed, I became more and more uncomfortable with the fact that he didn't plan on reading the book before it went on sub. I don't want to bad mouth him, but I was just really uncomfortable with it. Its genre was hard to nail down and I really didn't want it pitched one way, but it was hard to tell how he was going to pitch it. I started to search more about him online (AFTER I had signed--which does not seem a good omen) and I was sort of disheartened that no one on this forum had similar doubts to me. I finally had a few uncomfortable conversations with his clients to get a sense of what I was experiencing was the norm and it seemed it was. Other clients weren't happy with where he was subbing, or how little they knew about where he was subbing, and even raised some questions about his professionalism--which I can't speak to personally. I ultimately decided that I wasn't comfortable with an agent who wouldn't dive into my manuscript 100% and who didn't WANT to read everything his clients wanted to sell. He was upfront about not being editorial and he gave me his list of sales when I asked, but the more I thought about it the less confident I was that he would find a good home for the book. It also felt like he was taking on a lot of new clients (including acting clients) and wouldn't be able to give me the time I felt my 15% would warrant. I do not wish him ill at all, and I think there may be those out there who would be comfortable with how he works, but I was not one of them. It was so difficult to hear that he "got" my work and then to ultimately leave him, but there you have it. My advice is to ask super nitty-gritty questions about his level of involvement and his plans to sub before you sign with him.

  9. #34
    Oh, the humanity. Giant Baby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SavvySharky View Post
    Once I signed, I became more and more uncomfortable with the fact that he didn't plan on reading the book before it went on sub.
    An agent offering rep before finishing the manuscript is a concern. An agent going out on sub without ever having read the manuscript is bewildering and a very good reason to walk away, in my opinion.

    Quote Originally Posted by SavvySharky View Post
    I was sort of disheartened that no one on this forum had similar doubts to me.
    I met Eric a couple of years ago. He's a very nice guy. I enjoyed talking to him, but I opted not to send him requested material after our meeting. It didn't seem worth mentioning before now, but it falls in line with your experience, so I'll add it.

    Another agent I knew had been talking me up over drinks at a conference and he asked me to send him the book. All well and good, but he hadn't asked me anything about it. We were probably at the bar another hour or so after he'd requested it, and he still never asked what the book was about. There was no reason for him to believe it would be something he'd like or could sell, another agent's endorsement seemed enough for him. I didn't send it. Much as I wanted out of the drudgery of querying, I knew I wasn't going to be comfortable with the situation if he offered, so why go there?

    Quote Originally Posted by SavvySharky View Post
    I ultimately decided that I wasn't comfortable with an agent who wouldn't dive into my manuscript 100% and who didn't WANT to read everything his clients wanted to sell.
    Agreed. Best of luck with your next representation!
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  10. #35
    Totes Legit Author Becca C.'s Avatar
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    It definitely seems weird that an agent would put something on sub that they hadn't even read all the way through. I'm not even sure what to make of that.
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  11. #36
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Not the first time I've heard that

    A number of clients of his have had the same experience; he spends a lot of time tweeting from Whole Foods and doing blog interviews, but not so much reading his own clients' work. He recently took his client page off his website; that may not be surprising since a number of them have left in recent months. He looks sterling on Internet, and I vetted him carefully before signing on, so I'm glad to see some cracks are appearing as a forewarning for others. Most of us (some who have left, others who are still hanging on) have been too afraid to say anything, but I feel some responsibility to let others know of my experience; I wish someone had warned me. I wasted far too much time hoping that he'd get something done with my work, but after months of no action and unfulfilled promises, I've moved on. If the charming, funny man I found online and in our first conversation had actually been the agent I signed on with, things might have turned out better. Instead, I got the big rush and lots of karmic positive talk with zero follow-through. Beyond disappointed.

  12. #37
    Angelic Muse AngelicaRJackson's Avatar
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    If anyone follows the link to my blog post above, where I announced I'd signed with Eric, you'll notice that it's now updated to read:

    I have since parted ways with this agent; although we like and respect each other, it turned out our business and communication styles did not match up. I sincerely wish him and his clients the best, and am leaving this (slightly edited) version of this post up because it represents an important part of my writing journey.

    The recent comments in this thread certainly helped me make my decision, but were not the deciding factor in themselves. I do want to say that in our conversation this morning, he was professional and immediately provided me with details on where (and to whom) he had submitted my work when I asked him to do so. I feel that we've separated on good terms, and if we're ever at a conference together I'll gladly share a drink to catch up with him.
    Angelica R. Jackson, Writer and Photographer

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  13. #38
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    I wanted to add to this.

    I signed with Eric last January. About a month later, a rumor went around regarding a certain matter, and based on the rumor, he wanted to amicably part ways instead of helping me...so, that is what we did.

    I was understandably upset by it, especially because I enjoyed his personality so much, and because I was excited to move forward with him just to have it crushed by a baseless rumor.

    Seeing these posts above makes me feel a little less upset by the experience. Eric is a very nice man, and I still love reading his twitter feed, but he's also a very busy man, and I'm not sure how he would have had the time to devote to my career along with his three other careers. Others have been successful with him, though. I, in no way, want to make it sound like I'm bashing him...but I did want to put my experience out there.

  14. #39
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Another former client of Eric's chiming in. I was represented by Mr. Ruben for about a year: he offered based on one of my books, and I sent him a second book about six months later. Over the course of the year, he submitted two books to approximately nine editors -- which is very, very few.

    I ended up terminating my contract with him for a variety of reasons. The first, and biggest, is that he didn't read my second book. (Of course, I don't know whether or not he read my first book, either.) Regardless of professional reasons why an agent SHOULD read his clients' work, that spoke to me of a certain lack of enthusiasm for my work. It's always seemed to me that an agent should be a writer's greatest advocate (they're selling our work, for crying out loud!), and Eric just never had that much enthusiasm for me or my novels. The second reason, in simple terms, was that I found him very difficult to communicate with. He rarely initiated contact with me, leaving me feeling unsupported and in the dark. He's rather terse over email, but over the phone, he's extremely personable and supportive. I would call feeling frustrated and very alone, and hang up very reassured... but nothing would come from these phone calls. This leads us to reason number three, which is that I felt like he wasn't an active enough advocate of my work -- I would request additional submissions, and somehow they never really happened. In the end, I felt like I could find an agent who liked me, my novels, and our interactions enough to actively promote them.

    A few other clients love him, and he does show significant public (and apparently private) support for certain individuals. But in my experience? He's perhaps not the best agent for a debut writer. Please, please keep our experiences in mind when querying him.

  15. #40
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Same Here

    A veritable mirror image of my own experience. There's a pattern here, people--these aren't the sour grapes of a single disgruntled ex-client, but the common experiences of far too many writers who had their hopes dashed and their realistic expectations unmet. I think we can all agree that Eric is a nice guy with a lot going for him, but if he's not willing or able to give 100% to each and every client, he shouldn't be taking them on. My hope is that he'll take this feedback to heart and make some serious changes in the way he approaches agenting. It's clear from his recent flurry of twitter posts about reading various clients' work that he's aware of this thread. Too little too late for us, but I sincerely wish him the best and a better experience for his existing clients.

  16. #41
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    I'm really glad to see other people chiming in. I am not a bitter person. I just think it is really important to re-emphasize that it's hard to turn down an offer and harder leaving, even though I was only signed with him for a couple months. I'm glad these comments exist, because if they had when I was considering I might not be in this position. And I certainly would have felt more validated in my concerns once I had them. So I appreciate everyone who has left comments recently.

  17. #42
    Totes Legit Author Becca C.'s Avatar
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    I really applaud you guys for sharing your stories. It just goes to show that an agent doesn't have to be a scammer or shady in any way to be a bad fit for some writers, and when that happens it's totally legit to say "this doesn't work for me" and walk.

    I wish you guys the best of luck moving forward.
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  18. #43
    Okay, I guess it's time to come forward. I also fired Mr. Ruben, just before the new year.

    My situation was a bit different; I didn't deal with the unresponsiveness because I was a "favorite." He does play favorites. I heard every complaint he had about every other client. I know because he told me that he didn't read their work. He "just didn't have time for that." I also knew who was getting fired before they did, and I knew he hadn't and wasn't going to talk to them about their options or their career. He was dumping them because they weren't making money fast enough.

    I signed with him, naively, even after he admitted to only reading part of my manuscript. He told me he didn't need to read the rest because he was in love with my voice. Little did I know, he said the exact same thing to at least four other clients. He gave me special treatment though, so I quashed my doubts.

    Even though he seemed more enthusiastic about my work than the work of other clients, there were always these nagging things that suggested he hadn't read it. He forgot main character's names and missed entire, very crucial plot points. But again, I ignored it because I was sure he was just too busy. I was sure other agents did the same thing.

    Things got worse when I started to actually voice my doubts. He got very defensive and volatile. Eventually, I couldn't even disagree with him without him melting down. I reached out to some fellow writers who were dealing with him, and sure enough, everyone was having problems; bad communication, unsatisfactory submissions, and more than one told me they'd found out he lied about where he'd sent their work. I'm still in the process of finding out if any of my writing was actually in the hands of the editors he says it was.

    This brings me to another point. Mr. Ruben doesn't come up with a submission strategy and talk it over with you. He doesn't write a pitch letter. According to him, he calls editors up and pitches them over the phone. I have a couple problems with these things. One: I don't think most editors take pitches over the phone. Two: I did all of my own research and decided who I wanted him to sub to, because he didn't do any. I'm not saying I don't want to do any work, but one of the great things about having an agent is having someone on your side who has personal relationships with editors, knows what they're looking for, and can get you in front of them. Mr. Ruben doesn't have a lot of contacts; he told me he didn't know most of the editors I'd chosen. But miraculously, I had a 100% request rate with his cold calling strategy. I do not believe this is true. Lastly: he doesn't do much in the author's best interest. I specifically told him I didn't want my manuscript subbed at a certain house. It was a very small house, and even if they offered, I wouldn't take the deal. He sent it there anyway because he was friends with the editor. I don't think that kind of trustless relationship is good for anyone.

    Look, guys. I'm not trying to badmouth anyone. I'm not even sure what Mr. Ruben thinks he has to gain from all this. He's not charging anyone money. I think he just wants someone to do all the work so he can toss a few lines out, and if a deal happens to go through, make a fast 15%. I also think this is why he often signs writers with a deal-in-hand, without reading the work or talking to them about future projects. He isn't interested in building long term relationships; he's interested in negotiating his 15% of an advance.

    So, there it is. I shouldn't have signed with him, but I did. I knew I shouldn't have stayed, but I did. I was afraid of being agentless again and jumping back in the trenches. But let me say this, guys: ALWAYS trust your instincts. No agent is better than a bad agent. And if you leave your bad agent, you can sign with a fabulous one who will love and champion your work.
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  19. #44
    What a terrible situation, Brilliance. But kudos to you--and all of Mr. Ruben's former clients--for coming forward (and being brave enough to walk away in the first place). That takes a lot of guts.

    I just wanted to point out that agents can and do pitch over the phone all the time. That's the only way my agent, Kate Schafer Testerman, pitches (unless she's meeting with an editor in person), but I have writer friends whose agents only pitch via e-mail. So it's an either-or kind of thing.

    The rest of his behavior, though, is bumbling at best, downright shady at worst.

    Best of luck to you. I'm sure you'll find that awesome agent who will love and champion your work.
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  20. #45
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    My experience: before I signed with my agent, she read my manuscript no fewer than six times. I was shocked to learn that Mr. Ruben makes a habit of not ONCE reading his clients' manuscripts.

    I'd of course like to hear his side of the story, but as it stands this is incredibly upsetting. To all of his former clients posting here: I am so sorry this happened to you.

    Mr. Ruben answers a lot of questions on Twitter and is perhaps queried more than he would be otherwise because of his activity on social media. I'm a little surprised that this information hasn't gone beyond the AW forums.

  21. #46
    Frustrated Pluviophile seaaircarol's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Becca C. View Post
    It just goes to show that an agent doesn't have to be a scammer or shady in any way to be a bad fit for some writers, and when that happens it's totally legit to say "this doesn't work for me" and walk.
    Well said.

    I, too, am surprised by this. I've been following him now for a while on Twitter and queried him with my last manuscript (he declined).

    I would also like to thank those of you who spoke up. It's very, very helpful.
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  22. #47
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    Eric Ruben Client

    I’m a current client of Eric Ruben's.


    I was previously represented by Mitch Douglas of ICM. Upon Mitch’s retirement, I discovered Eric.


    Eric has read my manuscript fully. The work is presently on submission.


    To date he has been attentive to my inquiries. When contacting Eric online asking that we discuss issues, my phone rings within minutes with Eric asking how he can help.


    Other present clients who witnessed the disgruntled posts here, have remained with Eric. As in any artist/representation relationship, which is equivalent to dating, I needed to get to know Eric and his process. Eric needed to get to know me and my process.


    He signed me based on my voice and my prior published work of which he has a signed copy. (Eric and I still don’t know where on my national book tour I signed his copy.)


    The first manuscript I submitted to Eric that he didn’t read past 60 pages needed work. I hired an editor of my choice through my connections. The manuscript was greatly improved. Eric fully read the revised version. As he read he kept me informed of his progress.


    I do not know if the work will be sold; it doesn’t fit neatly into a single genre. Only my words can sell the book; not an agent (I sold my debut non-fiction to Random House on my own without an agent.)


    Having worked with artists for nearly three decades— I caution this: expectations must be tempered with reality, not entitlement borne from a frustration endured that is the glacier-like journey of publishing.



    My best,
    Paul Russell
    Last edited by Paul Russell; 05-25-2014 at 10:01 PM.

  23. #48
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    I have to chime in now that I've had some space to reflect. I think that if one is comfortable with how he works and feels he deserves the 15%, that is totally your prerogative.

    I have recently signed with a new agent. Started from square one with a new manuscript. She read it twice before offering and was very clear on her vision for the book and asked how it meshed with mine. She read it one more time and had readers in her office look at it before sending me an in-depth edit letter. I can already tell that my book is in much better shape and that I'm workings with a professional who knows books, knows he industry and loves working with authors. It's now my sincerest hope that everyone gets an agent who works like this. The comparison has made me feel 100% confident that I made the right decision.


    And I feel I've done my part moving forward to not bad-mouth Eric. But I am an open book about my experience if anyone asks. Instead I have done as many blog interviews as possible to show what I believe is a good agent/client relationship and to share those questions you should be asking during The Call.


    I'm glad for everyone who has chimed in.

  24. #49
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Ah, Paul, or Bundles 917, as you previously logged in as--how nice that you've had a change of heart, but for those of us who were privy to your original Bundles posting (subscribers receive email alerts of new postings, FYI), your change of perspective is astonishing. You're entitled to do a 180, or 360 or whatever, but to characterize the rest of us as "entitled" is gratuitous and, quite frankly, assholian. For those of us who read your original post (before you deleted it and replaced it with your "heavy sigh" posting, now also deleted) about the rudeness, inattentiveness and annoyance you encountered from Mr. Ruben, it's hard to reconcile that posting with your currently gushing post. Hooray for you that you've had a more positive result, but how dare you dismiss our experiences with such condescension. Sure, the pace of publishing is glacial, but an agent who is doing his or her job correctly is a help, not a hindrance, to that process. There are far too many of us to write off as merely disgruntled writers with unrealistic expectations. I, for one, did my homework and research, and had these postings been on AW before I signed, I would have run as far away as possible from Mr. Ruben's offer--and undoubtedly saved myself much heartache and wasted time. We've done other writers a service by sharing our stories--and while your own story may be genuine, I question your agenda and motivation, especially given your original complaints. Shame on you, Bundles/Paul--and believe me, my expectations were realistic and my attitude was hardly "entitled."

  25. #50
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    In future, please use the report post button, or PM the forum mod if you have a problem. I'd rather investigate quietly than have members tossing around allegations—and I have access to data that members don't.

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