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Thread: [Editing] The Prose Laboratory

  1. #1
    but appreciated anyway... Unimportant's Avatar
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    [Editing] The Prose Laboratory

    Has anyone had any experience with The Prose Laboratory (Rolling Hills Estates, CA)? They were recommended to me by a reputable literary agent.

  2. #2
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    FYI: This agency has --no, wait, I'm finished with that.

    Google's not giving me anything I can access, I'm afraid, but I'm guessing it's a literary journal. What's the referral for, if I may ask?
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  3. #3
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Here's what P&E says:

    Prose Laboratory, The: an editing service located in Rolling Hills Estates, CA. Further Information unavailable.

    Who was the agent?

  4. #4
    but appreciated anyway... Unimportant's Avatar
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    The agent recc'd them to me after he sent me a personalised response (liked the idea but it was too niche-market) and I asked him if changing X factor in the novel would un-niche it. He replied that he didn't want to "make a deeper judgement" and then went on to say that "if you want to hire a coach for this book, here's a group that provides good value to authors."

    Is it kosher to name him on a public board, since it was a private email? James, can I send you his name privately?

    U

  5. #5
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    I ain't James (nor play him on TV), but if you haven't already PM'd him, please do. If there's something swimming around that shouldn't be, he'll spot it.
    ICAO
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  6. #6
    practical experience, FTW Toni1953's Avatar
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    I just had a similar experience, the referral also coming from a well-known agent. I wonder if it was the same one? This agent read 3 of my queries, hinted broadly that my work was not saleable, and then emailed me (the tone had changed - now he was supernice, calling me by my first name) with this referral to the Prose Laboratory.

  7. #7
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Toni1953
    I just had a similar experience, the referral also coming from a well-known agent. I wonder if it was the same one? This agent read 3 of my queries, hinted broadly that my work was not saleable, and then emailed me (the tone had changed - now he was supernice, calling me by my first name) with this referral to the Prose Laboratory.
    Toni, if you don't feel comfortable naming the agent, PM Jim or Ann or Victoria or even me. Could be a referral scheme forming.
    ICAO
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  8. #8
    but appreciated anyway... Unimportant's Avatar
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    Toni and I have confirmed it's the same agent. James MacD has confirmed that the agent is wholly legit.

    Maybe it's the new way things are done. I can't say I'm impressed.

  9. #9
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    I'm continuing to check this out. My contact in Hollywood never heard of The Prose Laboratory, but that doesn't prove anything.

    I'll start asking around among folks who can talk to the agent to say "Hey, what's up with this?"

  10. #10
    practical experience, FTW Toni1953's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Unimportant
    Toni and I have confirmed it's the same agent. James MacD has confirmed that the agent is wholly legit.

    Maybe it's the new way things are done. I can't say I'm impressed.

    I'm not impressed either, Unimportant! Nor was I impressed with the agent's tone in the emails.
    I'm a Scorpio, so I'm naturally suspicious, but it almost seems as if this person has a vested interest in the site that is recommended. Of course, it also could all be totally innocent and the agent really feels that he's helping what he considers sub-par writers.

    than again, the sub-par part is only his opinion.

  11. #11
    Learning to read more, post less
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    Prose

    I don't care how legit an agent is, I don't think it's ever appropriate for that agent to recommend a particular editing service to a writer.

  12. #12
    practical experience, FTW Toni1953's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesaritchie
    I don't care how legit an agent is, I don't think it's ever appropriate for that agent to recommend a particular editing service to a writer.

    I agree - that's why I said it seems as if he might have a vested interest in it, IMHO.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Unimportant
    Toni and I have confirmed it's the same agent. James MacD has confirmed that the agent is wholly legit.

    Maybe it's the new way things are done. I can't say I'm impressed.
    Good agents have gone over to the dark side before. I'm not saying that's what's happened here, but don't rule out the possibility just yet, either. This requires more research.
    Winner of Uncle Jim's Whoo Hoo Super Writer Award and Nomad's Most Use of Vowels in a Screen Name Award as well as Maryn's Only Person on AW Whose Name Anagrams to "I, Octane," "Act I (One)" and "Nice tao" Award in addition to batgirl's Culpeper Award for Botanically Erudite Screen Name plus awatkins' AW's Most Creative Srounger [sic] of Rep Points Award not to mention azbikergirl's Arizona Most Awarded Writer Award and also Dawno's Most Interesting Signature Line Award

  14. #14
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    *cue sax and violins*

    I've been gifted with a copy of some correspondence from the Agent In Question (AIQ). Here's the hook:

    Quote Originally Posted by AIQ
    I see you first queried us with this book (including sample pages) in <date snipped> and with several other titles since.

    I feel the writing is not strong enough to compete in today's market.

    If you want to purchase a critique and revision plan from a free lance editor to help you tighten up this work, I can recommend some resources, but you'd be looking at spending $500-$700. However, continuing to query with the same material is not going to change the results.

    Sorry I don't have better news, but I've concluded that motivated authors are better off investing in editorial help than in fruitless submissions.
    Although this doesn't scream "form letter", it's definately suspect when taken with what comes after the author asks for a reference (I call auto-response if for no other reason than the salutation and sign-off are far more casual that in previous correspondence).

    Quote Originally Posted by AIQ
    By coincidence, I just got a solicitation by an editor of some experience but no proven value, to provide evaluations for a price so high I gasped. He wanted $3,000 to critique a 75,000 word book. This makes me feel I should recommend you to a group that does nice work for much less. I've attached their blurb. Let me know how it works out.
    That's the line, and here's the sinker (editing for formatting):

    Introduction to The Prose Laboratory

    The Prose Laboratory is devoted to helping authors who wish to improve their craft.

    Just as undergoing regular medical tests is part of an overall health improvement program, The Prose Laboratory can help you assess the health of your manuscript. This insight will help you acquire a healthier writing style. The Prose Laboratory’s critique service provides an independent, personal, and confidential assessment of the merit and appeal of your writing; how marketable your novel or non-fiction work is; and how to improve its appeal to agents, editors, and ultimately, readers.

    Where are you with your writing? Are you:
    * Already published, but having difficulty selling the latest book, changing from non-fiction to fiction, changing genres, or changing agents?
    * About to begin the search for an agent or publisher for your first book?
    * Unable to get your book read on the basis of query letters or proposals?
    * Able to get your book or proposal read by agents or publishers but getting rejections?
    * Considering publishing your novel with a Print on Demand or subsidy press?

    Already published, but having difficulty selling the latest book, changing from non-fiction to fiction, changing genres, or changing agents?

    Changing genres, agents or publishers is sometimes not easy, especially in today’s publishing climate. If you have written an “unexpected” book in a different category, or with a different twist, and your publisher and agent resist the work, The Prose Laboratory (TPL) can offer an independent look. TPL will assess the merits of the manuscript, and whether the lack of a sale is related to the manuscript itself or a lack of vision on the part of your editor or agent.

    If you are a published author who has parted with your agent and are having difficulty finding a new agent, you might call on The Prose Laboratory for an outside opinion of the work you are currently presenting.

    The independent opinion of The Prose Laboratory can be insightful and give direction to a work that might otherwise founder in commercial uncertainty or simply need a little editorial advice or refocusing to meet the needs of the market.

    About to begin the search for an agent or publisher for your first book?

    If you have a fresh work that has yet to be read, The Prose Laboratory may be an expense you can do without; but we might be worth the investment in the time we save you. The reality of the publishing business is that even well written and successful works sometimes take years to be recognized, acquire representation, and be published.

    The Prose Laboratory will inform you if your manuscript is sufficiently clean and well enough written to get the attention of an agent or editor. We will identify strengths of the work and determine its appeal. If the manuscript requires editorial work, we will show you how to improve your writing to make the strongest submission.

    Unable to get your book read on the basis of query letters or proposals?

    If you’ve been earnestly querying agents and publishers without success, you are probably failing to do something right, even if you’ve done nothing terribly wrong.

    The Prose Laboratory will read and review your submission materials, and the previous responses you’ve received (if you send us copies), and identify the difficulty. The problem may lie in the work itself, or in your style of presenting it.

    Able to get your book or proposal read by agents or publishers but getting rejections?

    The economics of book publishing do not permit editors and publishers to mentor beginning authors when there are already lots of publishable authors developing books. Agents, editors and publishers make money by quickly identifying the top manuscripts, and can seldom invest in tutoring apprentice authors.

    Not every manuscript can be appreciated by every publisher, so it is true that many good books get multiple rejections before they are discovered. If your novel manuscript or non-fiction proposal has been considered by one or more agents and publishers without acceptance, The Prose Laboratory can help you break the cycle of uninformative rejections. The stronger the book, the more likely publication, and the better the sales.

    Considering publishing your novel with a Print on Demand or subsidy press?

    More and more authors are placing their works with web publishers, e-publishers, Print On Demand, and other subsidy presses out of frustration with the long lead times and high barrier to entry of traditional houses. Overall, authors are finding such efforts are disappointing, expensive and yield no sales to general readers. All surveys of the quality of POD and e-books shows limited, if any, editorial polish, copyediting and proofreading in the finished books.

    The Prose Laboratory believes that anyone who is considering this path to publication should first invest in an assessment of the readiness of the underlying work before paying to have it produced. The Prose Laboratory cannot line edit your entire book for you, but will provide you with the tools to improve your work before the world sees it.

    What is The Prose Laboratory?

    The Prose Laboratory is a group of publishing professionals with the experience, skills, and insight to assess the merits of novels and non-fiction works.

    Individuals within The Prose Laboratory have worked for publishers, literary agencies, business and technical writing firms, advertising and public relations firms or as authors or journalists. Many members have academic credentials and experience in teaching creative writing and literature. All are widely read. Those who have been editors or literary agents have discovered talent in the slush pile and shepherded works through publication with major houses.

    The Prose Laboratory is not a “book doctor” or editorial service. TPL does not line edit or “fix” your manuscript for you, we can only inform you of how to fix it yourself. If you wish personal help from a local editor, you can engage anyone you wish to help you.

    What you will receive from The Prose Laboratory

    You will receive a series of documents in a single package. Depending on whether the manuscript needs editing or just needs to be presented to the right agent or publisher, you will receive:

    * "Coverage” for your submission. This is comparable to the brief description of a work traditionally prepared by film studios and large publishers to record a first reading of a submission.

    * Query Letter Help. If you include copies of you past query letters and any rejection letters you have received for the query or manuscript, you will receive a summary of what they seem to be saying about the work. TPL will provide a skeleton draft of a query that realistically presents the core of the book for you to personalize.

    * TPL Report: This narrative will assess the quality of the writing and explore the overall potential of the book. It will estimate the chances of sale in its present form and include suggestions for improving the book. The length of this report will depend on the length of the manuscript submitted and what TPL discovered.

    * Revision Letter. This may be included in the narrative Report or provided separately. We may provide written suggestions or mark up the submitted manuscript to provide an example of the copyediting the manuscript may require. Please note: TPL’s critique service discovers and reports on the condition of manuscripts; once a writing fault has been identified, and sufficient examples have been discovered to demonstrate the fault clearly, TPL will move on to other issues. So we will not fully copyedit a manuscript under the evaluation contract.

    * Overall assessment of the work and potential paths to publication. Here we will give you as much insight as we can as to what next step to take with your book. Please understand, we do not act as a marketing service or agency. We won’t submit your work for you, but we might suggest you seek publication via certain channels.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Who can benefit from TPL?

    Those who will benefit most will be individual authors who apply themselves to developing their skills to overcome faults in their writing identified by TPL. If we don’t find faults in the writing, we’ll tell you that.

    I think I’ve written a great book. If TPL can see merit in my work, why can’t TPL provide the editorial revision for free, in exchange for a percentage of the earnings, which might be more money than just the fee?

    TPL charges non-refundable, non-contingent fees for the same reason the medical laboratory charges the same amount independent of the test results. TPL’s work is in the assessment. Also, and more important for the author, the one time fee insures the author’s exclusive right to the intellectual property.

    Why doesn’t TPL help me rewrite my manuscript?

    TPL shows an author where and how a particular draft falls short of what it could, and should, be. It’s up to the author to apply the results of the tests to improve the work.

    May I submit more than one book at a time?

    While any business loves to have repeat customers, multiple submissions might be an expensive way to go. TPL believes that authors tend to write uniformly throughout a novel and across multiple works. Once we suggest how you can write more effectively, you can apply that insight repeatedly. However, TPL can make the following offer to prolific authors of fiction: TPL will critique a proposal package (three chapters plus outline) for a second novel for 25% of the regular fee if the proposal is included with a complete novel submission. Thus an author who has a novel with some rejections and a new proposal prepared can get feedback on the earlier work and advice on a work in progress as quickly as possible. Both works must be of the same type: YA novels, adult novels, etc.

    Does TPL work with Literary Agents?

    Yes, but only indirectly. TPL is happy to have an introduction from an agency but TPL does not solicit for agencies or feed books to agencies. TPL always works for the author.

    How to submit to The Prose Laboratory

    Please submit the manuscript and a brief outline/synopsis in standard formats, just like you were submitting to a publisher. In addition, tell us about the submission history. If the manuscript has been read and rejected, which editors at which houses saw it and what did they give as their reasons for declining the work? Such history isn’t mandatory, but the details will help us understand how the work has been received so far.

    1. A cover letter
    2. Copies of any relevant rejection letters (or summary if you prefer)
    3. The manuscript
    4. Brief outline/summary of the story
    5. Your check in the amount shown below for the manuscript type

    The Prose Laboratory
    904 Silver Spur Road #417
    Rolling Hills Estates, CA 90274-3800
    Do not send by Express Mail or any service requiring a delivery signature. We will acknowledge receipt if you include a postcard.
    Please also include a return envelope and sufficient postage so we can return the manuscript with any notes and TPL’s Report in one package.

    Terms
    For a one-time, prepaid, non-refundable fee, The Prose Laboratory will read the author's materials and deliver, at least, the findings and reports described above in "What you will receive..." Regardless of the nature of the recommendations and contributions to the work, The Prose Laboratory, is fully compensated by the fee and renounces any and all claims to ownership of intellectual property in the work. The work as revised by the author is entirely the property of the author. "

    Fees
    Picture book or early reader of 32-48 pages $ 89.00 (with or without art)
    Juvenile novel of up to 35,000 words $ 399.00
    Young Adult novel (35,000 to 60,000 words) $ 499.00
    Literary short novel up to 85,000 words $ 499.00
    Full-length novel up to 110,000 words $ 649.00
    Non-fiction book proposal of up $ 449.00
    to 30,000 words + chapter outline

    Please add $55 per 10,000 words for manuscripts greater than the lengths quoted.

    © 1999-2005 by The Prose Laboratory
    So...shades of Edit Ink?
    Last edited by CaoPaux; 03-28-2006 at 11:06 PM. Reason: format, dagnabit.
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  15. #15
    practical experience, FTW Toni1953's Avatar
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    OK - I know I'm showing my ignorance, but what is Edit Ink?

  16. #16
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Toni1953
    OK - I know I'm showing my ignorance, but what is Edit Ink?
    http://sfwa.org/beware/cases.html#Edit
    Long story short, a kickback scheme wherein agents got a cut for referring folks to an editing service.
    ICAO
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    Achievers strive for excellence. Perfectionists drive themselves to extinction. -- A Grapple A Day
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  17. #17
    The late, the great XThe NavigatorX mdin's Avatar
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    Oh for crying out loud, just name the agent already! He/she is obviously referring multiple people to the same service. He may be completely oblivious, and actually believe they're a great service that'll make the manuscripts wonderful, and he may not receive any sort of kickback at all. Even if that's the case, there's nothing wrong with disclosing the agent's name. Let him say "I'm a great agent with a great track record, and you guys can go screw yourselves if you don't like it."

    And if it's multiple agents doing an Edit Ink thing, I think we should know about that too.

    My Art

  18. #18
    The late, the great XThe NavigatorX mdin's Avatar
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    The Prose Laboratory
    904 Silver Spur Road #417
    Rolling Hills Estates, CA 90274-3800
    It doesn't really mean anything, but that's a Mailboxes etc. type place. The only other literary type businesses I kind can that use the same building (but not the same box) are Satori Press and agent Debbie Durkin.

    My Art

  19. #19
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by XThe NavigatorX
    Oh for crying out loud, just name the agent already! He/she is obviously referring multiple people to the same service. He may be completely oblivious, and actually believe they're a great service that'll make the manuscripts wonderful, and he may not receive any sort of kickback at all. Even if that's the case, there's nothing wrong with disclosing the agent's name. Let him say "I'm a great agent with a great track record, and you guys can go screw yourselves if you don't like it."

    And if it's multiple agents doing an Edit Ink thing, I think we should know about that too.
    All in good time, dahlin'. Gotta clean the pistols before we set to duelin'.
    ICAO
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    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

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  20. #20
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    Looks like the AIQ is still recommending this service....

    http://www.writers.net/forum/read/10/165899/165899
    ICAO
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    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

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  21. #21
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    Forgot to note this last round, but no further trace of it.
    Last edited by CaoPaux; 08-16-2014 at 09:55 PM.
    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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