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Thread: Sue Lawrie Literary Agency

  1. #1
    I come in peace Earthling's Avatar
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    Sue Lawrie Literary Agency

    Just came across this agency on Twitter: http://www.sllagency.com/

    Alarm bells are ringing for me:
    • She's encouraging authors who've been rejected repeatedly to approach her.
    • If she likes your full there's no mention of representation, but she will approach "a" publisher for "formal contracts/production."
    • She claims there is a conspiracy among agents to keep new authors out of the industry, in order to keep their existing clients' sales up.
    • She's promising "critiques", not just for fulls but also on unsuccessful queries.


    My spidey senses are thinking she's teamed up with a vanity publisher to funnel frustrated authors their way, or maybe she is a vanity publisher. Am I being paranoid?

    I'm not thinking of querying, by the way--very happily agented!--but looking out for other authors. Nothing comes up on Google for this agency, besides their own website, and I found AW invaluable when I was 'vetting' agents.

    My apologies to Ms Lawrie if this is all above board.
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  2. #2
    Persisting AW Moderator Maryn's Avatar
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    I don't get alarm bells. I'm wired more for large red flags waving vigorously, for the same reasons.

    The fact that you don't get hits in a search is alarming flag-waving.
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  3. #3
    practical experience, FTW LACarrington's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Earthling View Post
    Just came across this agency on Twitter: http://www.sllagency.com/

    Alarm bells are ringing for me:
    • She's encouraging authors who've been rejected repeatedly to approach her.
    • If she likes your full there's no mention of representation, but she will approach "a" publisher for "formal contracts/production."
    • She claims there is a conspiracy among agents to keep new authors out of the industry, in order to keep their existing clients' sales up.
    • She's promising "critiques", not just for fulls but also on unsuccessful queries.


    My spidey senses are thinking she's teamed up with a vanity publisher to funnel frustrated authors their way, or maybe she is a vanity publisher. Am I being paranoid?

    I'm not thinking of querying, by the way--very happily agented!--but looking out for other authors. Nothing comes up on Google for this agency, besides their own website, and I found AW invaluable when I was 'vetting' agents.

    My apologies to Ms Lawrie if this is all above board.
    Maybe it's just my general sense of paranoia when it comes to these types of things, but what's being "offered" doesn't sound right to me.
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  4. #4
    Worth noting: the agency is based in the UK. I know things work slightly differently over there, but those same issues would definitely give this US-based writer pause. Perhaps someone more familiar with UK publishing could weigh in?
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  5. #5
    practical experience, FTW zmethos's Avatar
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    Yeah, I don't know about UK publishing, the differences between them and the U.S., but I still feel like the whole, "There's a conspiracy against you new, talented writers!" is designed to play into new writers' fears and secret wishes--that is, these writers are secretly hoping that it's not their writing that's holding them back, it's the industry. They don't want to believe maybe they've put a lot of work into something that . . . needs more work.

  6. #6
    I come in peace Earthling's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Krista G. View Post
    Worth noting: the agency is based in the UK. I know things work slightly differently over there, but those same issues would definitely give this US-based writer pause. Perhaps someone more familiar with UK publishing could weigh in?
    I'm in the UK and queried UK as well as US and Canadian agencies. I never came across any legit ones that sounded like this. The major difference is that UK agency websites tend to look and sound more formal/old-fashioned than US, and have a less encouraging tone.
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  7. #7
    practical experience, FTW
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    so...bottom line is.... "bad agency/stay away"?

  8. #8
    a demon for tea EMaree's Avatar
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    Oh yikes, yeah, none of this is standard for the UK. I'm going to look at the About Us piece by piece, from the point of view of a British writer with a good few year's query trench experience....

    Apologies to Ms Lawrie, if she read this -- what follows may seem harsh, but I've seen quite a few of scam agents in the UK and cannot risk other writers being preyed upon. If the below is a misunderstanding, I would be more than happy to discuss it and correct my initial views.

    By now, you may have already submitted your work to several literary agencies and/or publishers and suffered rejection, or worse still, been ignored altogether. Consequently, you are likely to be either resigned to the fact that you may never be published or that you may have to self-publish in order for your work to be read – never a great idea.

    Blanket statements (self-publishing is never a good idea? Really?) and targeting rejected writers in a state of limited options and desperation = red flag.


    I and my staff

    "We" is used throughout the site but the other team members are unnamed


    have worked in the publishing industry for many years

    conspicuous lack of specific credentials


    and I have set up this agency to help combat the lethargy that has set into the industry surrounding new talent.

    ...and outright lies, implying the industry isn't interested in "new talent". Ugh.


    At my previous agency I was fortunate enough to read work from extremely talented, albeit new writers and the vast majority of this excellent work was discarded.

    Okay, so either the agency was a sham throwing away publishable work, or the underlying thing here is: "we are happy to take the work that's not good enough for other literary agencies" which isn't the mark of pride the seem to think it is.


    Why? After many years I realised that literary agents and publishers are unwilling to take a risk with new authors no matter how talented and they have developed a complicated system of denying new authors access to the market. They do this to keep the sales of their existing authors at high levels, the thinking is that if there are too many similar authors the reader will inevitably choose different authors than their established clients.

    This is completely predatory behavior, using a lie about market manipulation to scare writers into submitting. A reputable agency should not need to frighten you away from other agencies.


    (Also, if they view publishers with this sort of negativity, why are they submitting to them? Do they have any publisher connections? There's no sales listed on their website, and all of the agencies and publishers she's worked with remain unnamed, so the answer seems clear.)

    This, of course is true, however, I believe that the talent of a new author is just as valuable as that of an existing writer; perhaps more so. Consequently, this agency will champion new authors with publishers as much as possible and will guarantee three things;

    Your work will be taken seriously and will always be read.

    You will receive an acknowledgment of submission together with a full reply within six weeks.

    There will be two clear outcomes from your submission: either we will ask you to submit a full manuscript for consideration by a publisher or alternatively you will receive a critique of your work written by an experienced publishing editor.

    You will definitely not be ignored.

    I have never seen a reputable agency that has the time to provide professional crits on all submissions.


    That workload is unsustainable for an agency that makes it's commission out of selling manuscripts to publishers, which makes me concerned that they're planning to make money on the submission pile itself, with paid critique... which, it's worth noting considering posters have been asking about UK/US market differences, isn't as taboo in the UK as it is in the US.


    In support of this, the FAQ page makes direct reference to 'experienced publishing editors' being on staff (no names given, no credentials provided). These editors have to make their wage somewhere in all of this.


    Is there a charge to make a submission?


    No, we do not charge a reading fee.


    How long will it take to hear from you?


    Either we will ask you to submit a full manuscript for consideration by a publisher or alternatively you will receive a critique of your work written by an experienced publishing editor within six weeks of your submission.
    Submission page also accepts incomplete novels, which is not standard in any UK agency but is an accepted thing among certain editing service providers.

    The promise of no reading fee is mentioned twice, both on the homepage and the FAQ, which is not necessarily a bad thing but in combination with the rest feels suspicious.

    Sue Lawrie has no footprint online that I could find, which is highly unusually for a lady with such extensive experience in the publishing industry.

    Red flags waving all over the shop with this one.
    Last edited by EMaree; 08-24-2016 at 12:58 AM.
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  9. #9
    Panda loves ninjas~ PandaNinja's Avatar
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    This agency just followed me on Twitter. When I looked on their website, I knew something looked familiar and it made me think about this post.

  10. #10
    Christine Tripp ctripp's Avatar
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    I looked for "them" on Twitter, but found nothing.

  11. #11
    Who's going for a beer? waylander's Avatar
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    They also cover all genres which is non-standard for a small agency. Nothing about existing clients either. I would not bother contacting them.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by ctripp View Post
    I looked for "them" on Twitter, but found nothing.
    This is their Twitter: https://mobile.twitter.com/1LITERARYAGENT?p=s

    I tried to link it using HTML, but I'm using my phone and just had to use the URL instead.
    Last edited by PandaNinja; 10-18-2016 at 06:39 PM.

  13. #13
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    Hi,

    I've been lurking on AW for years but I just joined today, to be able to post about this 'agency'. They followed me on Twitter today, and they looked fishy to me, so I tweeted them and asked if they could list any clients or sales. They couldn't. Then I asked on Twitter if ever charged a fee for reading writers' work.

    Via DM, they told me that they never charged for a partial submission (5000 words). But when they saw work that had a possibility of being published, they charged £250 to read the full manuscript and send it to publishers. Also, that they might send the manuscript to publishers who demanded fees for publishing, and if they did, they would deduct their fee from that. This is what they said:

    "if we /the publisher feels that there is a real possibility that they could publish your work, we will invite you to make a full submission. For this we charge a £250 reading fee.
    If your are offered a publishing contract from this point there may be publishing fees, but your reading fee will be discounted from the total.
    Submitting a partial 5000 submission, does not commit you to anything moving forward and its totally free of charge."

    To me, this looks like a scam to lure people into spending money with a vanity publisher. They were very vehement via DM that they were NOT a scam. All I know for sure is that they're not a legitimate literary agency as most of us understand the term.

    Though they tweet a great deal about how they offer free editorial feedback, I can't find anyplace they've admitted on a public forum that they charge £250 reading fee on a full submission. I do have screen shots of their DMs to me, though.

    This is my first post here, so if you'd like to check out my credentials, my website is www.julie-cohen.com and my Twitter handle is @julie_cohen.

    Julie x

  14. #14
    Such a nasty woman SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    We don't need to check you out, Julie. I'll vouch for you. You're good.

    This is all sorts of wrong. I wouldn't touch them with a ten-foot pole.

  15. #15
    Capeless, wingless, & yet I fly. SuperModerator Williebee's Avatar
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    Their website lists no agents, no editors, and no authors.
    A search at Publisher's Marketplace lists no sales.

    Color me doubtful.
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  16. #16
    a demon for tea EMaree's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Julie Cohen View Post
    Hi,

    I've been lurking on AW for years but I just joined today, to be able to post about this 'agency'. They followed me on Twitter today, and they looked fishy to me, so I tweeted them and asked if they could list any clients or sales. They couldn't. Then I asked on Twitter if ever charged a fee for reading writers' work.

    Via DM, they told me that they never charged for a partial submission (5000 words). But when they saw work that had a possibility of being published, they charged £250 to read the full manuscript and send it to publishers. Also, that they might send the manuscript to publishers who demanded fees for publishing, and if they did, they would deduct their fee from that. This is what they said:

    "if we /the publisher feels that there is a real possibility that they could publish your work, we will invite you to make a full submission. For this we charge a £250 reading fee.
    If your are offered a publishing contract from this point there may be publishing fees, but your reading fee will be discounted from the total.
    Submitting a partial 5000 submission, does not commit you to anything moving forward and its totally free of charge."

    To me, this looks like a scam to lure people into spending money with a vanity publisher. They were very vehement via DM that they were NOT a scam. All I know for sure is that they're not a legitimate literary agency as most of us understand the term.

    Though they tweet a great deal about how they offer free editorial feedback, I can't find anyplace they've admitted on a public forum that they charge £250 reading fee on a full submission. I do have screen shots of their DMs to me, though.

    This is my first post here, so if you'd like to check out my credentials, my website is www.julie-cohen.com and my Twitter handle is @julie_cohen.

    Julie x
    Thank you so much for posting this, Julie. I completely believe you -- their website was far too insistent that they definitely do not, nope, never ever ever charge a reading fee for them not be hiding something.

    I dread to think what the "publishing fees" are. It's so disheartening to see another sham agency preying on new writers.
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  17. #17
    Panda loves ninjas~ PandaNinja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Julie Cohen View Post
    Hi,

    I've been lurking on AW for years but I just joined today, to be able to post about this 'agency'. They followed me on Twitter today, and they looked fishy to me, so I tweeted them and asked if they could list any clients or sales. They couldn't. Then I asked on Twitter if ever charged a fee for reading writers' work.

    Via DM, they told me that they never charged for a partial submission (5000 words). But when they saw work that had a possibility of being published, they charged £250 to read the full manuscript and send it to publishers. Also, that they might send the manuscript to publishers who demanded fees for publishing, and if they did, they would deduct their fee from that. This is what they said:

    "if we /the publisher feels that there is a real possibility that they could publish your work, we will invite you to make a full submission. For this we charge a £250 reading fee.
    If your are offered a publishing contract from this point there may be publishing fees, but your reading fee will be discounted from the total.
    Submitting a partial 5000 submission, does not commit you to anything moving forward and its totally free of charge."

    To me, this looks like a scam to lure people into spending money with a vanity publisher. They were very vehement via DM that they were NOT a scam. All I know for sure is that they're not a legitimate literary agency as most of us understand the term.

    Though they tweet a great deal about how they offer free editorial feedback, I can't find anyplace they've admitted on a public forum that they charge £250 reading fee on a full submission. I do have screen shots of their DMs to me, though.

    This is my first post here, so if you'd like to check out my credentials, my website is www.julie-cohen.com and my Twitter handle is @julie_cohen.

    Julie x
    I saw your tweet and was wondering if they would respond back to you or not. I'm not surprised that they didn't answer out in the open.

    Thanks for sharing this information! ��

  18. #18
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  19. #19
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    Thanks for the welcome, guys. And thanks for the vouchery, my dear Old Hack.

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  20. #20
    Christine Tripp ctripp's Avatar
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    Julie, thanks for the posting and Panda, thanks for the link to their Twitter feed. Their going by "SL" threw off my search
    I was reading the numerous tweets of theirs, trying to defend themselves against various folks (including another Agent) calling them out on their reading fee's, came back here and saw your post Julie.
    Soon as I saw a reply to a writers question re: publishers charging and SL's reply that IF a publisher wants to charge you, that's your call kind of thing, I thought !!! No real Agent would sub to a pay to play press!

  21. #21
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    Site, FB & Tw gone within a month. Worth noting: the agency address was that of (and domain is still registered to) Community Initiatives Associates, which is not only a publisher, but one often side-eyed for its "buy a magazine listing for charity" campaigns.
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