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Thread: [Agency] Wilson-Devereux Company

  1. #1
    sergiocop
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    [Agency] Wilson-Devereux Company

    In a couple of days I have a meeting with an agent who might be interested in representing my novel CLOSURE.
    Does anybody have any feedback about B.D.Barker from Wilson-Devereux Literary Agency?

    Thanks!

    sm

  2. #2
    Fish Whisperer aka eraser's Avatar
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    Sergio, I'm going to port this over to Bewares & Background Checks. You should get feedback there. But do check the index near the top of that board to see if there's already info about this agent/agency.
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  3. #3
    sergiocop
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    Thanks for the advise and by the way, please forgive my impoliteness by not introducing myself. Sergiocop here shaking hands to all.

  4. #4
    practical experience, FTW Tilly's Avatar
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    *shakes hand*


    There's a Wilson Devereux at P&E:

    Wilson Devereux Company, The: "Literary Agent specializing in popular science books and the "Dummies" Line by IDG Books. Does not handle fiction, children's or religious books." Contributed by B.D. Barker.

    http://www.anotherealm.com/prededitors/pealw.htm

  5. #5
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    I can't find a single thing on this agency apart from the P&E listing. They say they specialize in those books; but have they sold any? Besides, if you've written a novel, you want an agent who specializes in fiction, not in nonfiction--they're very different markets.

    You don't need an agent to sell to the Dummies publisher.

    - Victoria

  6. #6
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    "The Wilson Devereux Company represents authors of nonfiction trade books."

    http://www.wildev.com/
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  7. #7
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    My bad. Maybe I was mis-spelling the agency's name in my search.

    There is a small track record here. Other than the Dummies sales, however, most are to a single publisher (Wiley). I'd still caution anyone with a novel to think twice about hooking up with an agent whose entire track record is concentrated in specialty nonfiction.

    - Victoria

  8. #8
    practical experience, FTW Tilly's Avatar
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    I retrieved this much of the rest of the thread, but I couldn't find any more. The formatting is lost when I copy and paste, so I'm trying to add paragraphs and such back in. If I've made an error, let me know I've also saved the cache, and can delete this if we're using those:

    Quote Originally Posted by "eModelBook
    BEWARE B.D. Barker Wilson Devereux Literary Agency! This is an email he recently sent to me. While many legitimate agents expect you to pay for photocopying and postage, this guy wants a retainer. Is her serious????!!!!

    "Dear Ms. xxxI’ve had a chance to review your submission and on first read, it seems likely that there is a market for it. I’d like to present it to our editorial board for possible representation on our Fall 2006 list and will do so shortly, after we do a bit of preparatory work on it.

    Let me jump right into a few custodial matters since I don’t know how familiar you are with the industry. Agents are the logical result of a purely financial twist in the structure of the publishing industry. There are many prospective authors, few publishers and no one really knows what makes a best seller. Publishers rely on agents to be the first filter since they cannot afford to process hundreds of thousands of proposals for just a few spots. There’s the rub, you are competing against many other authors and nobody really knows if your book (or their book) will sell.

    An Agency fee or commission of 15% plus expenses is standard in the industry. Some agents charge fees, we do not charge reading fees or on-going monthly fees. Our out-of-pocket expenses for a new book project are typically more than $1,000. This is not for the old standard ‘copying and postage’. Those who consider expenses in terms of copying and postage are still mired in the anachronistic, bye-gone days of publishing. We do most everything electronically, e.g. we set-up author web-pages as a reference and sales tool as almost every publishing house has asked us to submit proposals electronically.

    We have highly skilled people doing the guerilla marketing that creates a buzz about our clients. Just in the last month or so one author was on 60 minutes, one just came back from signing 350 copies at BEA, we've kicking off a campaign for a book coming out next month, half a dozen on radio, one quoted in a major Reuters piece, another half dozen in smaller pieces like USA Today etc. One author was recruited to and filmed a TV pilot.

    With so much up-front effort our editorial board does often require a retainer from new clients to help defray these out-of pocket expenses. This business practice, which is common in many professions, can be a snag for those who don't see any distinction between us and disreputable so-called agents who prey on unsuspecting authors by charging fees, providing no real service and offering no substantive opportunity for publication.

    It’s not hard to distinguish between us and them. Charlatans have a brief life-span, no record of success and look for fees before looking at the material. In contrast, Wilson Devereux has been in business for over a decade, placed many first-time authors with respected houses and done the up-front work to determine the viability of an author’s project before offering a contract. By employing this approach we’re able to help unknown authors find a place in this highly competitive industry.

    Which leads us to the next step – in order to proceed, I need to get some additional information and set-up a phone call with you. Please advise me of your schedule over the next few weeks. I know people get busy with summer vacations about now, but we should be thinking in terms of approaching publishers in early September (because they’re back at in the office paying attention) and working backward, you can see that to make the September goal, we need to step lively.

    I look forward to a stimulating and productive conversation with you.

    B.D. Barker

    Wilson Devereux Literary Agency" Last edited by eModelBook : 06-19-2006 at 12:32 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald
    Yes, he's probably serious.

    Right at that point I'd move his name to the bottom of my list.
    Quote Originally Posted by Victoria Strauss
    I've heard from two authors in the past few weeks who also got the $1,000 retainer offer. So I guess we know what this agency's business really is.

    Victoria
    Quote Originally Posted by Nangleator
    Guerilla marketing?

    You have to wonder.
    Quote Originally Posted by soloset
    Excerpt from WritersNet page:

    Now accepting fiction and nonfiction submissions. Traditional publishing models no longer work. Wilson Devereux employes new methods and technologies to help first-time authors get a start and published authors find new markets and incerease sales.

    That's three red flags in that entry alone.
    Quote Originally Posted by Rich
    Why won't the fact that legitimate agents don't ask for any money up front stop writers from persuing the agents that want money up front? I could see a few mishaps, but a lot of these agencies are still thriving even though they're bombarded by boards and blogs who explain the abuse.

    Quote Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald
    Quote Originally Posted by Soloset
    That's three red flags in that entry alone.
    Are you counting the spelling errors?
    Quote Originally Posted by soloset
    Yep, but I thought I'd be charitable and count the typos together. So the second sentence is flag number one, the reference to first-time authors is number two, and the typos are number three.
    Quote Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald
    Me, I was counting "new methods and technologies" as a separate flag.
    Quote Originally Posted by soloset
    It's like "Where's Waldo" for the anti-scammer set. Hmm... okay, I see your "new methods and technologies" and raise you a "referring to publishing as 'traditional' publishing".

    That makes six (?) red flags in three sentences. I'd be in awe if I weren't still stunned by the $1000 price tag. That's beyond "slimy" and right into "obscene".
    Quote Originally Posted by LloydBrown
    Don't forget author web pages. That seems to be a trademark of the "we want your money, not your manuscript" crowd.
    Quote Originally Posted by Nangleator
    Nothing is more attractive to a publisher than an unpublished writer's website.

    That and a tin of sardines.

    Quote Originally Posted by hooperg
    I received the exact same message from B.D. Barker. I found it sly how he incorporated the payment into the text as painlessly as possible.

    On the other hand, after some Googling, I found the Wilson Devereux name listed on NASA's website and mentioned within Nature. I am highly confused at this point.

    There were many noted text problems in the form of unusual characters. Any idea what these may be? This intro is copy/pasted exact as it appeared in my inbox. Dear LT " ":<SPAN style="COLOR: black">


    Quote Originally Posted by hooperg
    After a bit more research, I have found the following bits of information. This is a bit of text coming from the URL:

    http://ai.eecs.umich.edu/people/conw...orDummies.html

    " Barker IV's father is B. Devereux Barker III, of old-moneyed, Newport, Rhode Island, yachting fame. Here is a short bio for Barker III from the Encylopedia of Yacht Designers website.

    "B. Devereux Barker III ~ Dev Barker was an editor at Yachting from 1962 - 1972 and edited the Design Section for five years. He's raced to Bermuda 12 times, ran an America's Cup in 1970 as chairman of the NYYC Race Committee, is on the Board of the American Sail Training Association, and a member of the America's Cup Hall of Fame Selection Committee. - - -

    "Barker IV's hobby job is posturing as "Managing Partner" of the Wilson-Devereux enterprise, a company that has promoted all of twelve books (wow). Hope this gives you some idea of the sort of character who is now heavily into promoting Bailey's "Transphobia for Dummies".

    Lynn
    Quote Originally Posted by HapiSofi
    Counting red flags:

    "Dear Ms. xxxI’ve had a chance to review your submission and on first read, it seems likely that there is a market for it.

    1. Identical form letter which pretends to respond to the specific submission.

    I’d like to present it to our editorial board for possible representation on our Fall 2006 list


    2. Grossly ignorant misuse of insider publishing industry terminology. Publishing houses have editorial boards and Fall 2006 lists. Agents don't. I suspect the word "representation" was originally "publication", and that this passage was copied from a letter sent by a publisher.

    and will do so shortly, after we do a bit of preparatory work on it.

    3. Agent is planning to do preparatory work on a manuscript whose author is not yet a client? GMFB. Agents don't do editing on spec. Note: This may be an attempt to soften up the author for the "professional editing" scam.

    Let me jump right into a few custodial matters since I don’t know how familiar you are with the industry. Agents are the logical result of a purely financial twist in the structure of the publishing industry.

    4. "This is standard industry practice" wordwooze.

    5. That's an inaccurate explanation of why agents exist.

    There are many prospective authors, few publishers and no one really knows what makes a best seller. Publishers rely on agents to be the first filter since they cannot afford to process hundreds of thousands of proposals for just a few spots. There’s the rub, you are competing against many other authors and nobody really knows if your book (or their book) will sell.

    6. Agents, like editors, live and die by their ability to spot saleable books and authors. They can't be sure that a given book is going to be a bestseller, but they can certainly spot a commercial manuscript.

    7. Publishers don't rely on agents to be their first filters. Agents act as first filters by default, because it's not in their interest to represent unsaleable authors.

    8. Playing up the "your chances are one in a million" angle.

    An Agency fee or commission of 15% plus expenses is standard in the industry.


    9. Lying about money. Fifteen percent is semi-standard; "plus expenses" is not.

    Some agents charge fees, we do not charge reading fees or on-going monthly fees. Our out-of-pocket expenses for a new book project are typically more than $1,000.


    10. Grossly inappropriate expenses. If you're running up expenses in excess of $1,000 for run-of-the-mill books, what you're doing is not agenting. Also, ref. red flag #2: an agent wouldn't call it a "new book project". That's publisher-speak. An agent would call it a client, or a client's book.

    This is not for the old standard ‘copying and postage’. Those who consider expenses in terms of copying and postage are still mired in the anachronistic, bye-gone days of publishing. We do most everything electronically, e.g. we set-up author web-pages as a reference and sales tool

    11. Claiming to be the wave of the future.

    12. Engaging in activities that are irrelevant to the basic work of agenting -- in this case, constructing author web pages.

    as almost every publishing house has asked us to submit proposals electronically.


    13. Lying about or seriously misunderstanding basic industry procedures. Some houses take electronic submissions. Most magazines do. But by and large, the industry still runs on hardcopy manuscripts, and there are many publishing houses that won't be open to submissions if you don't use them.

    We have highly skilled people doing the guerilla marketing that creates a buzz about our clients. Just in the last month or so one author was on 60 minutes, one just came back from signing 350 copies at BEA, we've kicking off a campaign for a book coming out next month, half a dozen on radio, one quoted in a major Reuters piece, another half dozen in smaller pieces like USA Today etc. One author was recruited to and filmed a TV pilot.

    5, 12, 13 passim. This is extremely bad. None of these activities have anything to do with agenting. Real agents don't do book marketing aimed at the general public. Agents sell books to publishers. It's the publishers who sell books to the general public. Also, promo done long before the book comes out is wasted.

    With so much up-front effort our editorial board does often require a retainer from new clients to help defray these out-of pocket expenses.

    14. Money flows toward the writer. Period. Real agents pay their own damned expenses.

    This business practice, which is common in many professions, can be a snag for those who don't see any distinction between us and disreputable so-called agents who prey on unsuspecting authors by charging fees, providing no real service and offering no substantive opportunity for publication.

    No kidding. I don't see any distinction either. Call this one #15: attempting to answer obvious objections in advance.

    It’s not hard to distinguish between us and them. Charlatans have a brief life-span, no record of success and look for fees before looking at the material. In contrast, Wilson Devereux has been in business for over a decade, placed many first-time authors with respected houses and done the up-front work to determine the viability of an author’s project before offering a contract. By employing this approach we’re able to help unknown authors find a place in this highly competitive industry.

    #15 continued. They're making it clear that they've been accused of being scammers. Real agents don't make all these protests. Real agents provide client lists, not vague reassurances that Books Have Been Sold.

    Which leads us to the next step – in order to proceed, I need to get some additional information and set-up a phone call with you. Please advise me of your schedule over the next few weeks. I know people get busy with summer vacations about now, but we should be thinking in terms of approaching publishers in early September (because they’re back at in the office paying attention) and working backward, you can see that to make the September goal, we need to step lively.

    I look forward to a stimulating and productive conversation with you.


    16. No particular red flags there, but award one more for overall poor spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

    I wouldn't touch these guys with a ten-foot pole.
    ETA: HapiSofi, I switched your italics to bold, because everything is in italics. Hope that's okay.
    Last edited by Tilly; 07-03-2006 at 07:29 PM.

  9. #9
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    Here's some more.
    Today, 10:31 AM
    Ken0000001
    Esteemed New Member

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hooperg
    I am scheduled to talk to Mr. Barker tomorrow (6/27/06) at 3:00 PM. I want to put the pressure on him about his fees and see what happens
    I have a 10:30 scheduled chat - exactly the same letter as everyone else. But that Wiley Publishing is legit and right up my alley for the book I want to publish. I am saving this until after I talk with him and will tell you what is up.

    11:30

    He was excellent in his analysis. He accurately pointed out a flaw in my presentation and offered how to correct it. At the end I told him that I needed to have him believe in the book so he would not need a retainer. I thought I could convince him, but no such luck. He is firm in wanting the money, which I took as he wasn't convinced he could sell the book. Oh, well, what a shame.

    Every single publication says beware of agents who want money from you. There is no incentive to work for you if you are collecting a $1000 per author, since authors are so plentiful, you can make 50 grand a year with all the nonfiction authors out there.


    Thanks for all of your insights as i might have paid it if not for this site.

    Actually, if he would present bills for expenses, I would pay it because he came up with excellent ideas on my table of contents, but I would rather have him work for me as an editor and pay him for these critiques up front that put it in the guise of a retainer (whatever that is in this context).

    Good luck everyone and this site provides a valuable service. I do not use to it to trash Mr. Barker at all - as I said he was very inciteful, but you just gotta believe in your clients enough to forgo the quick money for the long term gains. If he reads this, I hope he takes these comments as I took his - as constructive criticism that was welcomed.
    Today, 10:33 AM
    Ken0000001
    Esteemed New Member

    actually, "insightful" might be better than "inciteful" Oh boy, maybe he was right to want the money.
    ICAO
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    II 2016: 2017:

  10. #10
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    I Decided to Skip Wilson Devereux

    Last June I too had an interesting conversation with B. D. "Skip" Barker of Wilson Devereux. He asked for, and I sent, one chapter from my manuscript. Like several others above, I later scheduled an hour-long conversation with him.

    The conversation was wide-ranging, and the fellow appeared astute. Two things bothered me, however: First, at several points he spoke about the need for extensive re-writes and editing of the entire manuscript before it was submitted to publishers. This on the basis of his (apparently) having read just a single chapter! I interpreted this as an effort on his part to assess how confident I was in the quality of my own work (and hence how likely I was to accede to demands for pay-for-editing services).

    Second, Skip badgered me concerning what I wanted to get out of the project. I mentioned the obvious--to tell a good story, make some money, contribute to the history of the specific event, etc. But he wasn't satisfied. Our phone call concluded with him saying I could get back to him if and when I ever figured it out.

    I knew all along that the answer he was looking for was "I want to be famous." (I had once been the central investigator in a major international case, and my manuscript concerned the behind-the-scenes tale of that investigation.) But I found this irrelevant to the real issue, the quality of my work, which I believed should be the only focus of an agent. Everyone wants to be famous, after all, and whether it happens depends upon the quality of the work. My interpretation was that Skip wanted to see just how desperate I was to get published.

    Despite the misgivings I needed an agent, so I emailed Skip the correct "I'd like to be famous" answer a day or so later. In the process, I suppose, I implicitly identified myself as an author who has no confidence in his own work and who is desperate to be famous. In other words, an easy mark.

    Before long the Wilson Devereux contract arrived asking for $1,000. When I saw it my suspicions appeared to be confirmed. I never contacted the agency again.
    Last edited by UTB Professor; 10-14-2006 at 09:43 PM.

  11. #11
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    Site's gone, as is any further trace of Mr. Devereux Barker.
    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

    II 2016: 2017:

  12. #12
    sergiocop
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    Wilson Devereux - Skip Barker

    Shamefully I will tell you that I decided to trust the guy and went for it. After a few months of talks and speeches about his ideas and work, Skip Barker decided that there was no need to say goodbye and split, vanished without a trace. I don’t know if the guy just took the money from me and many others and went for a cruise or if he got run over by a train. The truth is that he left me out hanging. Guess what I wish for him this Christmas…

  13. #13
    sergiocop
    Guest
    You guys were all right. I should have listen. Although my book is still looking for representation....hehehe

  14. #14
    practical experience, FTW BarbJ's Avatar
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    Sad news, Sergiocop, but remember the old adage: "Fool me once..." We've all trusted the wrong somebody at least once in our lives. Live, learn, walk on. Now you know what to watch out for - and where to go for great advice! Best of luck with your book.

  15. #15
    Caroline honeycomb's Avatar
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    Sergiocop,

    I'm so sorry for you. As an author seeking rep, I'm understanding more and more that the thing that's needed most during our search is patience.

    Thanks for being brave enough to share your story.
    Honeycomb Writer

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