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Thread: Michael Snell Literary Agency

  1. #1
    marathonwriter
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    Michael Snell Literary Agency

    Hi. Longtime lurker coming out of hiding!! Has anyone had any dealings with the Michael Snell Literary Agency? I can't find much about them in the public record. They appear to be leigt and I can verify some good sales, but little about other's personal experiences with them. I'm waiting for writerbeware to get back to me, and the agency isn't in trouble on Preditors and Editors, but this is about all I can find. Any help is appreciated.

  2. #2
    marathonwriter
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    Michael Snell Literary Agency

    Hi. I asked this a couple of days ago on the Bewares forum and haven't received any responses. Thought I'd see if anyone over here knew anything about the Michael Snell Literary Agency. I can find very little about this agency, beyond that published in the directories. Any help is appreciated. Thanks.

  3. #3
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    Anyone? Anyone?

    I've no personal experience, alas. I'm amused to note, though, that their main presence in Google is their endorsement for Jeff Herman's agent guide.
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  4. #4
    Super Browser triceretops's Avatar
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    Cool

    Handles Non-fiction and business books. Seems to be a medium-sized agency. Ask Victoria Strauss about this one. They have a listing at Preditors and Editors, and an address if you google them.

    Tri

  5. #5
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    I'm getting an icky feeling...am I wrong?

    So this is kind of long and I apologize, but I need to know if what I'm feeling in my gut about this agent is right of if I'm just overreacting.

    So, first of all, an agent agreed to represent my work (nonfiction). I checked out the agent and she is reputable with decent sales to the types of presses that will work for my book. I contacted 3 authors that have worked with her (that I tracked down independently -- they weren't offered as references) and got good references.

    When we talked, she told me that I had to pay $30 for a sample proposal so that I could model mine to their standards (supposedly to make it easier for them and me to get it ready to send out). This was my first hint that something might be weird, but, since I could afford the $30, I went ahead and ordered the sample figuring I'd see where this led and approach cautiously. It came and I set about modeling my proposal after it. It wasn't really what I've seen in books, etc. as "standard" (she requires single spaced, graphics, etc. -- basically it looks like a mini book) but is was professional looking and contained all the elements so I figured this agent just does things differently. I was never asked to sign a contract or anything binding me to this agency.

    So I sent off the first set of revisions and quickly recevied the comments back. There wasn't much, just some nebulous comments about adding examples and formatting things differently (the changes are not consistent with the sample she sent). So I did the best I could and sent it back, this time with some specific comments attached about areas I was having trouble with, things I didn't understand, items needing clarification, etc.

    It came back yesterday. Every single comment/question I asked was ignored. She made some comments again about following her format but didn't say what I should do differently from the example she sent. Now she wants it triple spaced, after I spent all the time single spacing my previously double spaced proposal. The chapter summaries, which I painstakingly modeled after her format are too brief -- even though they're exactly the same length as the ones in the sample. Now we're on the third set of revisions, she tells me that my writing isn't good and that I need help in this area but she doesn't give me examples of what is bad or what can be improved, thus giving me no chance to fix what is wrong. She did say I should call her if I want to discuss this.

    So, to sum up, I'm not feeling warm and fuzzy here. It seems strange that we go through 3 sets of revisions before it comes up that my writing isn't good. I agree I'm not perfect (almost any writer could benefit from some help and I'm not averse to that, if it's necessary) but if it was that bad, why take it on in the first place? Why does the formatting keep changing? Either it should match the model (which I've done) or it should match something else, which she should tell me. Don't just keep telling me to match the format without giving me a clue. And why was it to be single spaced and now changed to triple spaced? Why ignore my carefully thought out questions and comments? If you don't want to deal with them just say "we'll get to that later." I don't think I should be ignored.

    Here's what I'm feeling: Something tells me I'm being set up for a pitch to either an editor/book doctor she knows or to cough up money for her to do the editing -- neither of which, as I understand it, is the job of the agent. I'll admit I haven't had the best week and maybe I'm being overly sensitive, but my gut is telling me this is all wrong. I don't believe this is ever going to get anywhere, I'm just going to reformat this thing till I die. I'm feeling like I should walk away now before I get in any deeper, but maybe I'm not reading this situation right.

    Any thoughts are greatly appreciated.

  6. #6
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by goofy06
    So, first of all, an agent agreed to represent my work (nonfiction). I checked out the agent and she is reputable with decent sales to the types of presses that will work for my book. I contacted 3 authors that have worked with her (that I tracked down independently -- they weren't offered as references) and got good references.
    Who are their publishers? That is, did she actually do anything for them, or just "sell" them to a POD or small press that doesn't require an agent.

    When we talked, she told me that I had to pay $30 for a sample proposal so that I could model mine to their standards (supposedly to make it easier for them and me to get it ready to send out). This was my first hint that something might be weird, but, since I could afford the $30, I went ahead and ordered the sample figuring I'd see where this led and approach cautiously.
    Sorry, but ya shoulda run right then, IMO.

    It came and I set about modeling my proposal after it. It wasn't really what I've seen in books, etc. as "standard" (she requires single spaced, graphics, etc. -- basically it looks like a mini book) but is was professional looking and contained all the elements so I figured this agent just does things differently. I was never asked to sign a contract or anything binding me to this agency.
    *wince* You'd paid $30 without a contract to specify responsibility (hers and yours)? As for her non-standard format...weird.

    So I sent off the first set of revisions and quickly received the comments back. There wasn't much, just some nebulous comments about adding examples and formatting things differently (the changes are not consistent with the sample she sent).
    Danger, danger, Will Robinson!

    So I did the best I could and sent it back, this time with some specific comments attached about areas I was having trouble with, things I didn't understand, items needing clarification, etc.
    "A" for effort.

    It came back yesterday. Every single comment/question I asked was ignored. She made some comments again about following her format but didn't say what I should do differently from the example she sent.
    Not A Good Sign.

    Now she wants it triple spaced, after I spent all the time single spacing my previously double spaced proposal.
    She's really sounding nuts now. (Regardless, changing line spacing is a three-click function of most word processors. What program are you using?)

    The chapter summaries, which I painstakingly modeled after her format are too brief -- even though they're exactly the same length as the ones in the sample. Now we're on the third set of revisions, she tells me that my writing isn't good and that I need help in this area but she doesn't give me examples of what is bad or what can be improved, thus giving me no chance to fix what is wrong. She did say I should call her if I want to discuss this.
    NOT a person you want to work with.

    <snip>

    Here's what I'm feeling: Something tells me I'm being set up for a pitch to either an editor/book doctor she knows or to cough up money for her to do the editing -- neither of which, as I understand it, is the job of the agent. I'll admit I haven't had the best week and maybe I'm being overly sensitive, but my gut is telling me this is all wrong. I don't believe this is ever going to get anywhere, I'm just going to reformat this thing till I die. I'm feeling like I should walk away now before I get in any deeper, but maybe I'm not reading this situation right.

    Any thoughts are greatly appreciated.
    Your instincts are good. Even if she has "legit" sales, she doesn't sound like a good person to work with. If you aren't comfortable naming names, could you PM me so I can confirm her creds?
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  7. #7
    slanted and enchanted erinbee's Avatar
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    The triple-spacing is what makes me cringe...

    In addition, my (very legitimate) agent has never charged me a penny for formatting, editing, even extensive line edits.


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  8. #8
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    Is this by any chance the Michael Snell Agency? I've had one report of a similar demand for $30 for a "model" proposal.

    - Victoria

  9. #9
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Yes, it is and I may be the same one who reported it to you, as I emailed you about the proposal thing back in December (thanks for the info. you gave me then, by the way). I decided to ignore my gut then and just go with it to see where it led, but now I think I'd better leave it alone.

  10. #10
    Print release:Sept.1,'09 Branwyn's Avatar
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    Never ignore your gut. It never lies.
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  11. #11
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    Especially with "sales" like these.

    http://www.publishersweekly.com/arti...isplay=current

    I'm finding Snell listed on as many "writers' services" sites as agent listings. Here's a typical blurb:

    http://www.writersgroupservices.com/...hael_Snell.htm

    Founded 1980. Adult non-fiction, especially science, business and women's issues.

    Specialises in business and computer books (professional and reference to popular trade how-to); general how-to and self-help on all topics, from diet and exercise to parenting, relationships, health, sex, psychology and personal finance, plus literary and suspense fiction. No unsolicited mss. Send outline and sample chapter with return postage for reply. No reading fee for outlines. Brochure available on how to write a book proposal. Author of From Book Idea to Bestseller, published by Prima. Rewriting, developmental editing, collaborating and ghostwriting services available on a fee basis. Send IRCs.

    Commission Home 15%.
    Not much new since they've come up before: <snipped>

    Although I did find this:

    http://www.reddysite.com/Bio/BioDetailsSingWrite.htm

    The second such project ('83-'84), entitled "The System--or Software the Hard Way," was taken quite seriously by the Michael Snell Agency. It was, on the surface anyway, a blow-by-blow description of how Couristan Carpets got its first computerized data processing system. Under Snell's guidance, "The System" was crafted carefully to emerge as the software sequel to Tracey Kidder's bestselling tale of the designing of a Data General minicomputer ("Soul of a New Machine"). It told an exciting true story, taught readers about how not only the computer business but also its technology really worked, and tried to make some important points about people and machines. I will thank Michael Snell to my dying day for red-lining most everything I wrote for nearly a year. I gained so much from the experience. Nevertheless, with the onset of a "bust" cycle in computer books, we were ready a little too late and simply "missed the window."
    Sounds like Snell strung him along, too.
    Last edited by CaoPaux; 09-28-2009 at 12:25 AM. Reason: threads merged
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  12. #12
    Always a writer Daughter of Faulkner's Avatar
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    Post What I know and believe

    An agent should not charge you a penny to do his or her job. As strong as it sounds and is, that is what I believe to be true.

    My wonderful agent is able to edit if the need be however he sent both my books "in existing form, without edits or refinements" to the editor / co-publisher of a NYC house for he deemed it publishable in it's "original form..." This is almost never the case but ALL of my publications for the most part have worked out just that way. However, he is an Editor so he knows what he is talking about. I may add it took me 478 queries to find him let's round it off to 500 for I know I sent out some without documentation. In the end, I was recommeded to him by one of his best-selling authors so that's what got me noticed. And of course, he LOVES my voice.

    The overall package of my dual submissions was wonderful in all ways and still, I have yet to be sent a bill for one-red-cent.

    After he read both my books three times, I was offered a contract for both projects and we addressed any concerns I or he had before we both signed it. Together, we worked it out with ease. And he answers EVERY question I ask anytime of the day or the night. Again, this is rare and I know God smiled on me with him. I am grateful beyond words too.

    If you were never even offered a contract, what do you have in reality? In this business, and it is a business, a man's or woman's word or a handshake no longer means what it used to mean. A real deal agent wants a contact so he can make his money for working hard for you. Don't kid yourself for in the end it is about the money once to story is told. This is what I believe and have come to learn. Others may differ and will I'm sure.

    Go with your inner voice for it's usually on the mark.

    Take care and all good wishes to you so that you soon find the "right match" agent-wise for you and your voice. And believe me, you will know it's right for it will ring true to your ears and set well within your spirit.

    Keep writing!

    ESL
    Always a writer,
    Eileen St. Lauren
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    http://mysite.verizon.net/eileenstlauren

  13. #13
    jax
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    I'm actually dealing with Patricia Snell. I sent them a query letter & she responded with interest on my project. I'm mailing my proposal out next week.

  14. #14
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    Questions about agents and their backgrounds belong in Bewares & Background check, so I've moved this from Ask the Agent.

    Writer Beware has never gotten any complaints about this agency. I don't know a great deal about it, apart from the fact that it seems to specialize in nonfiction.

    - Victoria

  15. #15
    Bobbin
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    Talking Patricia Snell

    Quote Originally Posted by marathonwriter
    Hi. Longtime lurker coming out of hiding!! Has anyone had any dealings with the Michael Snell Literary Agency? I can't find much about them in the public record. They appear to be leigt and I can verify some good sales, but little about other's personal experiences with them. I'm waiting for writerbeware to get back to me, and the agency isn't in trouble on Preditors and Editors, but this is about all I can find. Any help is appreciated.
    Hi marathonwriter. I sent a proposal to the Snell agency, and Ms. Snell returned it with nasty comments written in almost unreadable handwriting. She kindly suggested that I spend 30 bucks to order "A Winning Model Proposal". I decided to save my 30 bucks, and go with another agent instead.

  16. #16
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Same here Bob

    I received a response from Pat with a lot of comments scribbled in my proposal. Also, the paper suggesting I spend $30.00 to get their version of how to compose a proposal. I'm not spending my $30.00. Any thoughts?

  17. #17
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Snell is Credible in My Experience

    I wrote a book several years ago and worked with Michael Snell, because he was one of the few accessible agents. He was extremely professional. The book was published by Prentice Hall and I was very pleased with the whole experience. Michael will insist that you write a professional proposal. You may end up spending more time on the proposal than you did with the actual book. That is what is required and to not expect this is to not understand the business.

  18. #18
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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  19. #19
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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  20. #20
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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