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Thread: Metamorphosis Literary Agency

  1. #26
    I write novels
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    I agree with the others warning caution. The letter of acceptance sounds off in so many ways. The only client mentioned so far is one of their new agents, who by the way has no experience as an agent. And for an agency that wants to edit before they submit, they don't make a good impression with their website.

  2. #27
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    While it's nice they say they give everyone who submits helpful feedback, it also seems a little too good to be true that they have enough time to do so. I was excited about getting some interest from them, but I wouldn't want to work with an agency that can't or won't provide relevant information, aside from the other red flags mentioned.

  3. #28
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    As someone who used to work at a literary agency, everything here is very odd. The complete lack of experience is definitely one thing; as mentioned by others, being a literary agent is just not an entry level job. The previously mentioned story of someone reaching out to a client of this agency only to find out that they are actually an employee of this agency is wild, especially when looking at their bio on the page. Where is her experience at an agency? Being a published poet simply does not make one a successful agent, and it is a little worrying that she somehow went from client to coworker for some unknown reason. Chances are, this is a VERY inexperienced agency made up of writers who decided on a whim to be agents. If they really want to continue running this business, it would be in their best interest to recruit someone seasoned in the agency world and hire them. That being said, anyone considering working with them runs the risk of something they've written and presumably put a lot of effort and time into being mishandled (probably on accident, but mishandled nonetheless).

    Another strange thing about all this is that Lauren, who seems to be the head honcho of this operation, really isn't anywhere to be seen on the website except for as the author of the blog posts. She's not on the bio page, doesn't have any history or a picture up for herself, and when I checked google, I found next to nothing on her. The agencies I worked with in the past put everybody on their team page, even the interns, since it not only a) gave them recognition and a place to reference to as proof of their work in their literary world, but also b) it made the agency's team seem large, expansive, and diverse instead of small and unpopular, the latter sometimes creating the unfortunate illusion that the agency simply isn't in demand or well-known enough to require more than just a handful of people. The agency, from their blog posts, seems to attend events now and then - has anyone ever gone to one of these and met Lauren?

    If I were looking to query a manuscript around, I probably wouldn't start here. This is an agency that in a few years could either be gaining momentum and actually finding their footing or the exact opposite and have completely vanished off of the face of the earth. I would wait and see in which direction they seem to be heading, but right now, there are some serious red flags that would turn me away from using them.
    "Writing is like breathing, it’s possible to learn to do it well, but the point is to do it no matter what." - Julia Cameron

  4. #29
    Do Not Walk on the Grass Emily Winslow's Avatar
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    These are the phrases that stood out to me as odd:

    "To begin the process of a publishing house acceptance..."
    "While we have a few publishers in mind for (manuscript title), there are a few items to cover first....Do you have certain publishers in mind?"
    "Stephanie, the staff, and I understand (manuscript title)represents a significant part of your dream; we would feel honored if we can assist in its publishing."

    Even really good manuscripts represented by agents with really good track records can fail to get picked up by a good publisher. The assumption of an inevitable sale in the above phrases could just be naive hubris, but equally it could be that the agency is aiming for publishers with a low hurdle required for acceptance, or perhaps even for vanity publishing.

    The middle quote isn't as glaring as the other two; it's good for an agent to have ideas where your book would be a good fit, and asking for the writer's thoughts can be normal too. It just, in this context, sounds more like shopping to me than submitting a book. Like they're making choices from a menu of publishers instead of trying to sell a product to a publisher, which, again, makes me wonder if they're aiming low.

    "We are a different agency in that we offer an assisted book tour with our team. Would you be interested in traveling with us and promoting your book along with our other representation? Metamorphosis has found higher enjoyment in public events as a group instead of sending authors out alone.
    "

    It always concerns me when agencies take on other publishing roles as well, such as here with publicity.

    And if Metamorphosis "has found" enjoyment in public events as a group, there should be lots of books represented and sold that they can talk about. It's just a very confusing picture.

    ETA: Oops! The last post is from this week, which is why I responded, but the rest of the discussion seems to be from summer. I suppose the OP has made their decision; I wish them good luck.
    Last edited by Emily Winslow; 12-31-2016 at 06:08 PM.


    "[Winslow is] brilliant at portraying the ragged fragments of these lives. What emerges isn't a single killer with motive and means, but a tangle of stories crossing and colliding, stray intersections of incidents and accidents, misunderstandings and misreadings, all thanks to the myopia of individual perspectives and the self-centeredness of individual desires.”
    -Washington Post

  5. #30
    Christine Tripp ctripp's Avatar
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    One of the most recent blog posts seems odd. It's by Stephanie (the one of two Author/Agents) re her client Jennifer, Agent number 2. Agent 2's manuscript placed, but didn't win one of the top 3 spots, in a contest "Ink and Insights". Now, the contest itself looks fine, the Agents round contains some great industry names as judges but my question is... why would an Author, who HAS an Agent, sub to this contest (is it to get feed back on the manuscript, not clear you get this in the first round?) and why would their Agent be pleased about that? A couple of the other blogs leave me puzzled as well.

    What is Ink & Insights?
    Ink & Insights is a writing contest geared toward strengthening the skills of independent writers by focusing on critique and feedback from industry professionals. Each entry is assigned four judges who specialize in the genre of the manuscript. They read, score, and comment on specific aspects of the manuscript. (Characters, dialogue, style, pace, tension, etc. for novels.)
    Once all four judges have finished, the four scoresheets with feedback are returned to the writer with a numerical score.
    In August, or when all submissions have been read, we will announce the contest placements, and the top three manuscripts in the Master and Nonfiction categories will move on to the Agent Round.

  6. #31
    Do Not Walk on the Grass Emily Winslow's Avatar
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    Ctripp, I agree.

    I took a look at the website to see if they've sold any books in the six months since the OP was made an offer. I noticed that award, and thought, "Aha! They have sold something, and a book blog thinks highly of it. That's something, even if the publisher is small or the award is small." But it turns out it's an award for unpublished manuscripts. And, as you note, Ctripp, the purpose is to get it seen by agents. A strange contest for an already-agented author to enter. (Perhaps, to be fair, it was entered before the author signed with Metamorphosis.)

    I also noticed some book covers in their sidebar. "Aha! Client books that have been published!" But no. These are "What I'm reading" and "Favorite books of 2016 so far." Books, I noted, which have been prestigiously published, and represented by agents not associated with Metamorphosis.

    The blog post "Engaging with the community" is about "a wonderful time engaging with the community while representing some Metamorphosis Literary Agency author affiliates." (I have not before heard a literary agency refer to their authors as "affiliates" and I'm not sure if this is just quirky usage or if it means something other than authors represented by the agency.) It describes book sales as being "fun" and includes a pic of what appears to be a book sale table at a conference (or something like that) manned by a Metamorphosis agent. The text was not specific, but the pic has book titles and authors. Aha! But when I looked on Amazon, I found those books were written by authors who are not listed as Metamorphosis authors. Also, those books appear to be self-published/vanity published, and appear to predate Metamorphosis. The relationship between the books and the pictured Metamorphosis agent selling them is unclear. (I had a look at author photos and the authors don't appear to be the pen names of anyone currently listed on Metamorphosis's website.)

    I circled back to the Ink & Insights contest. In their brief blurb about the win, the title is given but the author is not named. "How strange," I thought, and went off to Ink & Insights to have a look. Well. It turns out that the winner (one of ten) is one of Metamorphosis's two agents (as you noted above, Ctripp). Oof.

    So, in sum, they have not sold any books to any publishers. At least one of their two agents is simultaneously a client (the blog post about the award specified that the winner is a "client"). They don't describe any agenting or book publishing experience in their bios (though one claims to be "an expert in the acquisitions process" with no further explanation). They list five authors, and I wish them all well, but I have no confidence in the ability of Metamorphosis to link them with major publishers.

    Lastly, the tag line under the agency name in their header is "diamonds in the rough." A slogan like that may attract eager writers, who feel full of as-yet-undiscovered potential, but it doesn't seem like it would be appealing to publishers, who presumably want polished, ready work.
    Last edited by Emily Winslow; 12-31-2016 at 09:05 PM.


    "[Winslow is] brilliant at portraying the ragged fragments of these lives. What emerges isn't a single killer with motive and means, but a tangle of stories crossing and colliding, stray intersections of incidents and accidents, misunderstandings and misreadings, all thanks to the myopia of individual perspectives and the self-centeredness of individual desires.”
    -Washington Post

  7. #32
    Do Not Walk on the Grass Emily Winslow's Avatar
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    Wait, there's more!

    Their blog post "Tips for Pitching to Literary Agents" begins: "First, are you looking for an agent who doesn't charge upfront costs or one that sends a bill right away. There is a difference."

    WHAT? What, what, what???

    Who are these "agents" who "send a bill right away"???

    For those new to publishing: that is not how agenting works. NO ONE is "looking for" an agent who "sends a bill right away." That is a scam. Agents don't bill authors. They get 15% of any sales they make. That's it.

    This blog post was written by someone who is not currently listed as associated with the agency, which I suppose is for the best, if that's how they think agenting works even some of the time. But the fact that the current agents at Metamorphosis have left this post up does not encourage me.

    ETA: I think what's been created here is less an "agency" and more a writers' collective, where the founders have set themselves up as mentors. I think it's dishonest to market themselves as "agents" in the common understanding of the word. Going by their bios and track record, they don't have the experience or contacts with the Big 5 which to me are a significant part of the definition of literary agent. I'm not entirely sure I would want them as mentors, either; their level of experience seems more suited to "let's adventure together" than "let me lead you." But that would be a more accurate representation of what they're intending to offer, in my opinion.
    Last edited by Emily Winslow; 01-02-2017 at 05:32 PM.


    "[Winslow is] brilliant at portraying the ragged fragments of these lives. What emerges isn't a single killer with motive and means, but a tangle of stories crossing and colliding, stray intersections of incidents and accidents, misunderstandings and misreadings, all thanks to the myopia of individual perspectives and the self-centeredness of individual desires.”
    -Washington Post

  8. #33
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    This agency is very strange.

    I queried the agency with the first 3 chapters and received a critique on those first 3 chapters from Jenn Haskin. They were helpful and insightful, though somewhat confusing. She also asked to see the full manuscript after I'd revised. I told her it'd take me about 1.5 months to revise. A few weeks in she emailed me and asked me how revisions were going and that she was interested in my manuscript. I wrote her back. She wrote me again a week later with the same email, which I ignored because I thought she'd probably sent it in error. During that time she sent me (on a mailing list) helpful websites for revising.

    I sent her the revised manuscript. She emailed and said she was enjoying the changes I made. The next day she offered representation: "I would like to talk more with you about this. I can send you a contract to review, if you are interested in this endeavor. Also, I understand that we are still in the process of signing, and this will not affect my work with/for you, but Stephanie and I would like to add a section on the website with testimonials from our writers and people who have enjoyed working with us. If you have had a good experience with Metamorphosis, I would love it if you could send back a little testimonial on our helpfulness, quick replies, or any other aspect that you have appreciated in your dealings with us."

    I asked for a week to consider, which she granted. I also asked her a few questions and asked to see a contract, to which she responded: "Yes, I will attach a contract for review. I do not feel that your book requires a lot of editing. I have a fabulous editor that I would suggest you send your ms to. Her prices are also fantastic. She charges around $20 per every 10,000 words."

    Note: She did not attach a contract. Also --- I have to pay for an editor?????????????????????????????

    I asked again for the contract. She said she'd send it. She did not.

    I have given up on this route now because it's too sketchy for me. I've work too hard on my book to let it go with this weirdness.

    In the meantime, she's sent me (on a mailing list) two other emails, one suggesting a website designer with "reasonable" prices. I am so over this. Fellow writers, this is sketchy.

  9. #34
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    Thank you for sharing that information, Sarah! It is very helpful, especially towards those that were curious about this agency.

  10. #35
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    This agency came to my attention after Stephanie Hansen followed me on twitter. Their website made them look fairly new, and I've only had a few agents follow me, usually agents who requested material from me, so I came here to see if there was any information about them as I'm still learning what makes a good agency. I'm glad I read this thread.

    After digging a little more, I did notice that they had made some changes to the website, including adding information about more of the people on their team as well as their clients. One of them has a writers digest new agent spotlight: http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-...iterary-agency

    And google was sowing a couple dealmaker results from publisher's marketplace, but I don't have a subscription, so I could only read what google showed.

    They seem to have made some progress since this thread started, but not enough to motivate me to query them yet...

  11. #36
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    Looking at their list of authors, though, it seems many were published by places where one could submit on one's own, without an agent.

  12. #37
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    We don't know how much better a deal those agented writers got from those publishers, either.

    This M/M space opera
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  13. #38
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    So since I first started this post, I had given up on this agency because it seemed so suspicious. They seem to be making some progress, although not very much. I saw their post on the Writer's Digest website, which I know is a reputable website. Also there's this interview done on the YAtopia blog, but it's weird because the agent only answered three questions and she didn't give very in-depth answers: http://yatopia.blogspot.com/2017/10/...ie-hansen.html

  14. #39
    Christine Tripp ctripp's Avatar
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    I saw their post on the Writer's Digest website, which I know is a reputable website.
    Not a comment about the Agency but just to say don't look at the above as any sort of way to vet an Agent/Agency.
    I've seen some questionable "new Agent's" in their "spotlight".

  15. #40
    Mildly Disturbing Filigree's Avatar
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    Same here. There was a time when WD was a reasonable source for publishing information. And still is, if you know how to look.

    But they have a tendency to take ad money for just about anything. And their Features sections are not much better. Caveat emptor, and all that.

    This M/M space opera
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  16. #41
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    To answer a few questions, I was an author first, that is why I submitted to Ink & Insights. Because I was looking for an agent. I decided to sign with Stephanie, and that is why I was our first book. The website has grown, the clientele has grown. Sarah Rowlands now knows (because of her post here) that our issues could have been resolved if she had communicated with me. I had just signed another author and sent them both information at the same time. However, for privacy reasons (for their sake), I took the email addresses off. She was never on a mailing list. Do I send special offers I get to my clients when I get them? Absolutely. I want my authors to have inexpensive options for things they need, like editing or websites.
    I don't remember the other issues about me personally, but I understand that without knowledge, there is only guessing. New agents often answer back quickly because they aren't swamped with queries yet, and they have time as they're growing their lists to answer back when they see something good. It's not always a bad thing.
    I am not working for Metamorphosis anymore, so I cannot answer any questions about that business. She is doing well, though, and getting deals for her clients. There are 3 interns now to help her, and I can attest that Stephanie does her best when pitching authors to acquiring editors. She goes to writers conferences and tries to learn new things to help her authors. The company is small, but legit. Other than that, I don't have any more information for you. I wish you all the best on your publishing journeys!

  17. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by JHaskin View Post
    To answer a few questions, I was an author first, that is why I submitted to Ink & Insights. Because I was looking for an agent. I decided to sign with Stephanie, and that is why I was our first book. The website has grown, the clientele has grown. Sarah Rowlands now knows (because of her post here) that our issues could have been resolved if she had communicated with me. I had just signed another author and sent them both information at the same time. However, for privacy reasons (for their sake), I took the email addresses off. She was never on a mailing list. Do I send special offers I get to my clients when I get them? Absolutely. I want my authors to have inexpensive options for things they need, like editing or websites.
    I don't remember the other issues about me personally, but I understand that without knowledge, there is only guessing. New agents often answer back quickly because they aren't swamped with queries yet, and they have time as they're growing their lists to answer back when they see something good. It's not always a bad thing.
    I am not working for Metamorphosis anymore, so I cannot answer any questions about that business. She is doing well, though, and getting deals for her clients. There are 3 interns now to help her, and I can attest that Stephanie does her best when pitching authors to acquiring editors. She goes to writers conferences and tries to learn new things to help her authors. The company is small, but legit. Other than that, I don't have any more information for you. I wish you all the best on your publishing journeys!
    Your clients should never need to pay for editing. Those services are for authors who intend to self-publish. However, I'm not surprised you think that based on a visit to the website. I checked out three books (from different authors) from those featured on the front page. Two were self-published. One was a publisher who allowed direct submissions.

    This agency looks to be exactly what people have said in the thread. There's no sign of experience or understanding of the industry. The deals are with small presses that allow direct submissions anyway. So authors will either end up with a deal they could get anyway or self-published. It's really about cheerleading authors who are going it alone, rather than being agents.

    This doesn't mean anyone here thinks it's a scam or the people involved don't have good intentions. But those things don't make an agent good at being an agent.
    * Polenth *

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  18. #43
    Old Hand in the Biz Barbara R.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slbynum3 View Post
    Okay, after sending the agency the first 75 pages of my novel at the end of May, I got this reply today (I have omitted my name and manuscript title from it):

    ....
    I really want it to be real because I've been querying novels for nine years and I desperately want my big break. But I'm still skeptical. At the very least, maybe I could count this as an offer of representation and notify other literary agents who have my query. I've heard agents are more willing to give you an offer if another agent already has. Any opinions?
    I'd love to say it sounds aboveboard, but in fact it sounds off to me. It's a long time since I was an agent, and many things have changed, but basic grammar and usage hasn't. This reads as if written by someone for whom English is not their native language. ("Higher enjoyment," etc.) The acceptance lacks any specificity, let alone the usual expression of enthusiasm, that would indicate a human being actually read the ms. and is writing to you. While they don't ask for money at this stage, they seem to be setting you up for solicitations down the road for marketing plans, like the book tour she mentions. She talks of assigning you an agent; but agents make their own picks, they don't get assigned books. And the person she mentions has no publishing experience except for editing a magazine--who knows in what capacity or for how long?

    Those are a lot of red flags. Have a conversation if you like, in which you ask for references--other clients whose work they've sold, a list of sales, etc.) and whether or not they belong to AAR (I'm guessing not), which requires agents to adhere to ethical guidelines. But I'd be very wary.

    I don't think other agents are more likely to make an offer if you say you have one already. It's too much a matter of personal taste and what each agent thinks they can sell. But it would nudge them to read faster. The downside is that they're likely to ask who made the offer, and if it's not a legitimate agency, your own credibility is thrown into question. On the whole I'd say not to unless you conclude that this offer is legit.

    Sorry I can't offer a more optimistic take. But no agent is better than a predory or ineffective one.

  19. #44
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    "Your clients should never need to pay for editing. Those services are for authors who intend to self-publish. However, I'm not surprised you think that based on a visit to the website. I checked out three books (from different authors) from those featured on the front page. Two were self-published. One was a publisher who allowed direct submissions."

    My clients never pay for MY editing, you are correct. I don't believe I said that I charge for edits, but that if my clients desired an editor, I was happy to help. After pitching to many acquiring editors who pass, sometimes a client and I, together, wish to gain an extra pair of eyes, or expertise. I am friends with a few editors that have worked in publishing houses and they will help with specific items, if we wish. It is always the author's choice, and their option. Some people ask me for editor referrals before they send in an official query to me. There are several scenarios in which a person may choose to engage in the services of an editor, and I am willing to help them find reputable and inexpensive options. Sometimes they are asking for a friend. My point was that I try to help, not that I charge for line editing.
    __________________________________________________ __________
    "However, I'm not surprised you think that based on a visit to the website."

    This comment was unnecessary.
    __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ ____________________________________
    " I checked out three books (from different authors) from those featured on the front page. Two were self-published. One was a publisher who allowed direct submissions."

    I do not believe any of those authors are mine, most of mine came with me to my new agency. The authors who were self published, came to the agency that way. I pitched to top houses for the most part. It so happens that my first three authors signed with small houses, but they were each happy with the offers made. And I was a new agent. I did not, nor does Stephanie, help authors to self-publish, or to submit to houses that accept unagented submissions. Those contracts were all completed previous to their experience with the company, as their copyright dates should show.
    __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ ________________________________________
    "This agency looks to be exactly what people have said in the thread. There's no sign of experience or understanding of the industry. The deals are with small presses that allow direct submissions anyway. So authors will either end up with a deal they could get anyway or self-published. It's really about cheerleading authors who are going it alone, rather than being agents."

    Again, I am not with this agency anymore, but I feel that you are lumping me in here, as I was one of the two agents there. It is a boutique agency. I cannot speak for Stephanie. I have gained experience in this field, and I learn more every day that I do my job. I am happy to cheerlead my authors- they need someone in their corner who is passionate about their work. My "understanding of the industry" is not meant to be measured by people on the outside making guesses. My client list all had a chance to speak with me about where I am and what I know before ever signing with me, and my authors tell me that they are happy. I can't say what happens in the agency, I cannot say what happens to other agents at this company (I am in a different place), but I can attest that my authors were offered deals that they were happy with, that they did not feel they could get on their own. I will also give my time to helping them with marketing to the best of my ability until their launch.
    _________________________________
    "and whether or not they belong to AAR"

    Please look up the guidelines for being part of the AAR. To belong to the AAR, you must have sold ten books. I don't remember if they have to be done in one year, or consecutively, but once you make those sales, you may apply. The dues to be part of AAR are over $100 per month. Not everyone with "ethical guidelines" can be part of the AAR. Is it a goal for most agents? Yes. However, I will not be part of it for some time, not because I don't want to, and not because I have no desire to be ethical, but I cannot afford the monthly dues at this time. It takes about five years to start making money agenting, and I hear it is the same with publishing.

    From this point on, I have no more comments for this company, or page. I am doing my best to constantly learn the industry and make connections inside the top 5 houses. I have more resources now and I go to conferences on a regular basis, to meet even more people in the industry. I would appreciate it greatly if you would not include any more comments about me in this company's thread. Feel free to DM me with any publishing questions you may have or general questions/comments. Again, I wish you all luck in publishing your prose. :^D

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