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Thread: Middle West Literary Agency / Ocean Sound Pictures (John M. Bolger)

  1. #1
    It's a trap! geekyMary's Avatar
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    Middle West Literary Agency / Ocean Sound Pictures (John M. Bolger)

    So I went to a wonderful writers' conference at University of Wisconsin and signed up to pitch to Denise Little from Ethan Ellenberg. Unfortunately, she got sick that weekend, and I pitched to a replacement. (I was later able to pitch to her via email, which was very nice of her)

    The replacement liked my pitch and asked for the first three chapters. When I hadn't heard back, I followed up and he said he was behind on reading (leading me to believe he hadn't read my chapters) and asked for the full ms, plus an author bio and picture.

    I'm really kind of conflicted.

    On the one hand, awesome! I have a literary agent interested in my work.

    On the other hand, he doesn't have any science fiction clients, isn't on any list I've seen, and, judging by his site, I wouldn't have queried him in the first place. I just wound up with him because of the circumstances.

    So is this kismet, or a bad match? Or do I not worry about that yet? I just don't want to commit to someone who I don't know will be able to sell my work.

    What do you think? Am I paranoid?
    Last edited by geekyMary; 06-25-2011 at 02:48 AM.
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  2. #2
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    He doesn't seem to list any sales?
    Emily Veinglory

  3. #3
    It's a trap! geekyMary's Avatar
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    I'm sure he's not scamming me or anything, but I don't know if he's going to have the connections to sell my stuff.
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    "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly upon our point of view." -Obi Wan Kenobi
    Current WIP: WW2 Murder Mystery
    Complete and submitting: Reluctant Gods, SF Novel

    MFA from Seton Hill University, Writing Popular Fiction
    (it's an awesome program--ask me about it!)

    Read my stories:
    "Fairy Tell" Space and Time Magazine Issue #127
    "Debugging Bebe" Futuristica Vol. 1
    "Limbo" Selfies From the End of the World

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  4. #4
    Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. kaitie's Avatar
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    Okay, my honest first thoughts.

    I went to the website, and I have a few thoughts. First, I don't see any actual experience in publishing listed whatsoever. Usually not the best sign, and that alone makes me a little wary.

    Second: He lists clients, but no sales. When I search on Amazon, I find only one book and that one looks self-published. Again, not a good sign. I'd never sign with an agent who didn't have sales in my genre.

    Third: He lists a wide array of things they're willing to look at, including poetry which most agents won't take because they know there's no money in it. Makes me think he doesn't know as much about the industry. He also says they'll represent other artistic endeavors. What makes a good agent a good agent is contacts. You don't just randomly say "If you have something I like I'll take it and find someone to send it to." You say "I know these editors and know what they're looking for and I'm going to find things I can send to them." This, again, looks to me like someone who doesn't have much experience. Heck, on the contact page he even offers to take books of short stories.

    Fourth: Even all that withstanding, he wants works that represent the Midwest. Does your sci-fi book do that?

    In summary, my thought is no. If he requested more, I'd kindly say that I couldn't send it to him, personally. If you are still interested, I'd make it a point to ask for his clients and a list of sales. His website has been up since 2006. That's more than enough time to have at least a few sales.

    Here's the thing. If your book is great, someone else will request it and show interest. It's better to have no agent than an agent who doesn't know what he's doing. Even if he did submit your work, if he doesn't have the contacts and doesn't understand the industry, he won't be able to serve you well and then your book will have a harder time if you ever want to leave and find a new agent.

    If there is ever a question, go with your gut and say no.


  5. #5
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    No sales listed, none of the listed clients appear to have commercial books published, nor does Dr. Bolger (nice and enthusiastic as he no-doubt is) seem to have any background in commercial publishing. The agency seems to be very new--it isn't even listed at Preditors & Editors.

    Two or three rules may click in here:

    1) A useful agent has sold books you've heard of.
    2) There's no such thing as a stealth agent.
    3) "Agent" is not an entry-level position.


    See also: Not An Official FAQ and On the Getting of Agents.

    You know your own situation best. Let your conscience be your guide.

  6. #6
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    I was at the same conference with a friend and we both pitched to Jon as well (and have similar reservations). FYI - neither of us have heard back from him yet, either.

    The person who was supposed to pitch after me didn't show up, so I ended up sitting and chatting with Jon for almost half an hour. He seems like a really upstanding, honest guy who's just starting out and trying to find his niche. Michelle from 3 Seas came in to talk to him while I was there and they discussed mutual contacts and how they can keep in touch more to help each other.

    So, yes, he's new and that can put up some red flags. But if he requests more from me, I know I'll send it to him, see where it goes, and then strike up some truthful conversations about my work and how we can help each other at that point.

    Good luck!
    i'm one half of erica and christy. we blog. http://lynneawest.blogspot.com/

  7. #7
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    Thing is, he's not new. http://www.bolgerlegalgroup.com/serv...ellectual2.htm

    Ocean Sound Pictures (sound warning, natch) is the script/film side of his business, and is also registered 2006.
    ICAO
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  8. #8
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    The clients page is no longer linked from the site, and still no sign of sales.
    ICAO
    ---------
    Achievers strive for excellence. Perfectionists drive themselves to extinction. -- A Grapple A Day
    I've never known any trouble that an hour's reading didn't assuage. -- Charles DeSecondat

    II 2016: 2017:

  9. #9
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    A couple conference appearances in '13, but nothing thereafter. Anyone have recent contact with him?
    ICAO
    ---------
    Achievers strive for excellence. Perfectionists drive themselves to extinction. -- A Grapple A Day
    I've never known any trouble that an hour's reading didn't assuage. -- Charles DeSecondat

    II 2016: 2017:

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