I copied the three messages below so that we can expound on this thread without interrupting the original.
I wanted to list the pros and cons for reading fees, recommendations to stream-line the review process, and solicit ideas that could possibly make this idea work or put it to bed.
Join Date: Nov 2005
What's funny is that if agents COULD charge reading fees without being hammered as scammers and unethical, I bet you'd see a massive increase in turnaround time.
I am not sure if it's funny or not, but one problem with this idea is implementation. Sure, I would be more than happy to pay an agent a reasonable fee to read my material and provide constructive feedback. But the opportunity for abuse outweighs the initial benefits because how do we monitor this activity? How do we know an agent wouldn't just hire a college student (or hack) that had little or no training or skills in assessing the validity of a writers work? How would anyone know that the agent isn't living off the reading fees and not promoting or selling any work?
I agree with Andy to a point, but it's just too easy for bad agents to take advantage of the income opportunities and not perform the role of writer advocate.
So we lose efficiency but maintain integrity. Which is more important?
Join Date: Feb 2005
I think that agents with integrity would prove themselves by having a client list of published authors and successful sales. The scammers would not have such a list and thus it would be obvious where their priorities lay.
As for the readers...well, if you consider that any reader's opinion is valid to a certain degree, and that many readers for agents now are college interns or recent graduates, I'm not sure there would be a big difference from the current situation. As for constructive feedback, I'm not suggesting that would necessarily be offered, though perhaps a copy of whatever reader's report is written might be provided. But a college doesn't send you constructive feedback on your application. They just let you know if you got in or not. Why would an application fee for an agent be any different?
I'm playing Devil's Advocate here, of course.
Join Date: Nov 2005
I hear what you're saying, and I am not against the idea. But as I said before, it is implementation along with oversight that would hurt the credibility of any agent who seeks a reading fee.
I remember the Woodside fiasco from years ago and stood by while my buddy Jack Mingo and a few others were castrated by an agency gone wild.
My background also includes a four year stint as an internal auditor for the Arizona Board of Regents. I can say for certain that there are regulatory laws that govern what a university can and cannot do concerning fees and tuition. I donít think your analogy is quite the same. The independent review of each university was conducted by internal auditors and the Attorney Generals office to ensure compliance with state and federal laws. What body of law or scrutiny would an agent fall under? Self-regulation? Doesnít work. Never has and I can site too many instances of fee based agencies abusing the trust of writers.
The pros for this idea is that writers who arenít serious enough to commit their own funds for an initial reading will reduce the amount of time I or others wait to hear back from an agent.
I am sure there are some upsides to the argument, as there are downsides, so what is the solution?