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Thread: Is it okay to ask authors about their agents?

  1. #1
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    Is it okay to ask authors about their agents?

    Hi all,

    So I received an offer of representation from someone who is among other things an agent...and the person is shady as @#($&#.

    And yet it appears s/he's sold to major publishing houses.

    I would go into far more detail on who this person is but I don't want to give away identifiable specifics.

    Anyways, I want to ask the authors this person has represented to major publishers what they thought of his work. Is that considered an okay thing or is it considered going behind the agent's back, especially if the authors get back to the agent?
    Last edited by mystere; 06-29-2017 at 08:20 AM.

  2. #2
    Rewriting My Destiny Cyia's Avatar
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    You can always ask (not in an open forum or on Twitter), but you might not get an answer. Also check them out here in three Beware sub-forum to see if they or their agency has a thread.

    Without naming names, what in their behavior struck you as shady?

  3. #3
    What to my wondering eyes... AW Moderator Sage's Avatar
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    I have to say that if I thought an agent was "shady as @#($&#," I would absolutely not be signing a contract with them. This is a business relationship and you are trusting them with your book, your career, not to mention your money if they sell.
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  4. #4
    beef rank be frank's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sage View Post
    I have to say that if I thought an agent was "shady as @#($&#," I would absolutely not be signing a contract with them. This is a business relationship and you are trusting them with your book, your career, not to mention your money if they sell.
    Um, yeah. This.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyia View Post
    You can always ask (not in an open forum or on Twitter), but you might not get an answer. Also check them out here in three Beware sub-forum to see if they or their agency has a thread.

    Without naming names, what in their behavior struck you as shady?
    Of course. Yeah I searched and came up completely empty.

    I will answer your last question in private.

  6. #6
    Mildly Disturbing Filigree's Avatar
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    Look them up on Publisher's Marketplace. Google their name with 'scam' or 'complaint' in the search string. Follow your instinct. How long ago were those authors repped by this agent? They may have long since moved on to another agent.

    Did you query the agent, or did the agent contact you based off something seen in a blog, pitch contest, or Wattpad? These things do make a difference.

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  7. #7
    Christine Tripp ctripp's Avatar
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    It is ALWAYS ok to check with an Agents existing clients. No good Agent would be concerned about this and likely expects you to do just that. (and they have most likely googled and researched you too
    But, I'm also wondering why you would be interested in an Agent you call shady and what other things this person does for a living (perhaps those are the things that make them suspect?)
    If you do contact his/her clients, be sure they are not only recently signed and that they have books he/she has sold.

  8. #8
    Rewriting My Destiny Cyia's Avatar
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    I won't share the details, as they were passed via pm, but this about sums it up:

    Mystere, I would strongly urge you to contact Victoria Strauss via the private message system here and give her the details, including this person's name for Writer-Beware. She'll keep your name out of things, but other writers who might end up with a similar (terrible) offer to the one you were given need to know that nothing about it is standard procedure.

  9. #9
    What to my wondering eyes... AW Moderator Sage's Avatar
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    And just because it can't be said enough:

    Having a bad agent is worse than having no agent at all.
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  10. #10
    Elf on the Shelf is for amateurs AW Moderator Calla Lily's Avatar
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    This x 1,000,000.
    Quote Originally Posted by Sage View Post
    And just because it can't be said enough:

    Having a bad agent is worse than having no agent at all.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Filigree View Post
    Look them up on Publisher's Marketplace. Google their name with 'scam' or 'complaint' in the search string. Follow your instinct. How long ago were those authors repped by this agent? They may have long since moved on to another agent.

    Did you query the agent, or did the agent contact you based off something seen in a blog, pitch contest, or Wattpad? These things do make a difference.
    --
    Last edited by mystere; 06-29-2017 at 08:22 AM.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyia View Post
    I won't share the details, as they were passed via pm, but this about sums it up:

    Mystere, I would strongly urge you to contact Victoria Strauss via the private message system here and give her the details, including this person's name for Writer-Beware. She'll keep your name out of things, but other writers who might end up with a similar (terrible) offer to the one you were given need to know that nothing about it is standard procedure.
    Oh I think this is so specific it would so obviously be me. But that's okay...as long as it doesn't burn me important professional bridges. I want to wait until I get something else from this person in writing so I can have as much proof as possible to give her.

  13. #13
    but appreciated anyway... Unimportant's Avatar
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    Victoria S is the soul of discretion, never reveals her sources, and keeps everything in confidence. You won't burn any bridges by confiding in her, but you will add to her collection of data that she can use to expose scammers and warn people about problem people in the industry.

  14. #14
    Thick Skin Pre-Installed Zombie Fraggle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Unimportant View Post
    Victoria S is the soul of discretion, never reveals her sources, and keeps everything in confidence. You won't burn any bridges by confiding in her, but you will add to her collection of data that she can use to expose scammers and warn people about problem people in the industry.
    This +1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 . . . .

  15. #15
    please distract me mccardey's Avatar
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    Well done for doing research first, mystere. Sounds as though you might have dodged a bullet - and bringing Victoria in will help other people dodge it as well.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by mccardey View Post
    Well done for doing research first, mystere. Sounds as though you might have dodged a bullet - and bringing Victoria in will help other people dodge it as well.
    Thank you!

    And yet still, I google and see on Publisher's Marketplace this person has made at least one legit deal. :/

  17. #17
    Mildly Disturbing Filigree's Avatar
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    I'd be very skeptical of that deal.

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  18. #18
    What to my wondering eyes... AW Moderator Sage's Avatar
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    And even if he has made a deal with a Big 5 publisher (which is what I assume you mean by legit deal), what is going on behind the scenes?

    I know a lot of authors with agents who actually aren't shady who still feel doubtful about their agents' actions and whether their book is being pushed enough or their rights are being protected enough or their money is coming when it should or whether their next book is being ignored and so on and so forth. I can't imagine going into an agent/author relationship already doubting the agent.
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    "I'm a failure," Jack cried, covering his face with his hands. "Father Frost will disown me. I'll be replaced by my sister, Jill. Snow will be pink this year!"



  19. #19
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    So does Strauss ever reply to people or do you just email her and it goes into the abyss?

  20. #20
    Write. Write. Writey Write Write. mrsmig's Avatar
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    She does reply, although sometimes it may take her a while. Be patient.
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  21. #21
    Christine Tripp ctripp's Avatar
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    What Donna said Victoria gets a LOT of mail (along with having a busy career/life) so it can take a while for her to catch up with everyone.

  22. #22
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    I can't echo the above strongly enough. I had two legit agents who were nevertheless wrong for me. Neither sold a single piece of my work though they were selling modestly for other authors.

    Everyone says "do your due diligence" when searching for an agent. Yet how, other than sites such as this and Writer Beware, and asking other authors about their experience with said agent, is one to research adequately? That was my problem with my two ex-agents; I was too new in that market to know whom to ask whether either one would be a good fit for me. Later on, after I severed the connection, people came to me and said things such as "I knew she would never be able to sell your work" and "Of course she would never end the contract; she never does, no matter how long ago she stopped returning your phone calls and ignoring your e-mails."

    I affirm to you this is true. And kudos to you for doing the gruntwork ahead of time.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deb Kinnard View Post
    I can't echo the above strongly enough. I had two legit agents who were nevertheless wrong for me. Neither sold a single piece of my work though they were selling modestly for other authors.

    Everyone says "do your due diligence" when searching for an agent. Yet how, other than sites such as this and Writer Beware, and asking other authors about their experience with said agent, is one to research adequately? That was my problem with my two ex-agents; I was too new in that market to know whom to ask whether either one would be a good fit for me. Later on, after I severed the connection, people came to me and said things such as "I knew she would never be able to sell your work" and "Of course she would never end the contract; she never does, no matter how long ago she stopped returning your phone calls and ignoring your e-mails."

    I affirm to you this is true. And kudos to you for doing the gruntwork ahead of time.
    I'm so sorry to hear this And thank you.

    Well I mean, I called some of the publishing houses. I guess this isn't too specific a detail. The publishing houses said the agents for the books this person claimed to have represented were actually represented by his business partner. I'm assuming he is doing this with the business partner's consent, and the partner's editorial contacts are his contacts as well. But still.

  24. #24
    @PeteMC666 PeteMC's Avatar
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    Glad you dodged it mystere, but in general yes it's absolutely ok to talk privately to an agent's existing clients and ask about their experiences. No respectable agent will have a problem with anyone doing this.
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