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Thread: Southern Sunrise Agency (Justin Fernandez)

  1. #1
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Southern Sunrise Agency (Justin Fernandez)

    Hi everyone! I'm new to posting on Absolute Write, but I've been looking around here for a few weeks while I've been heavily engaged in my agent search, checking out your opinions and what not.

    I sent out some email queries this afternoon, and I've already had three responses asking for additional materials. However, two agents, when googled, have unclear histories.

    The one request I got today was for a partial plus exclusivity from a new agent at a well-established agency, so I'm going to give her priority. But in the meantime, I thought I'd ask for your feedback on the others.

    One is Justin Fernandez. I found him on Publisher's Marketplace and queried. He asked for a few pages as a sample, read it, and now wants half my full manuscript. Anyone know anything concrete on him?

    Thanks,
    SKK
    Last edited by SK Kane; 11-17-2006 at 05:48 AM.

  2. #2
    What? I have a title? Julie Worth's Avatar
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    I'd forget him. This is what Victoria had to say about Justin on another thread on this forum:


    - I've been getting questions about Justin Fernandez since 2000. At one point he was charging a retainer of over $1,000, but he discontinued that practice a couple of years ago. Agenting is a part-time sideline for him (he's an attorney). He claims "several sales" but did not reveal them to me when I asked, so I can't verify this claim. I'm not aware he's ever sold a SF/fantasy book.

  3. #3
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    I'll ask him for information on sales before proceeding. Thanks.

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    I just got a very surprising email. I had answered his request for a half manuscript by saying that I couldn't send one at this time because I had received a request from an agent for an exclusive reading of my materials. Additionally, I asked him to provide me some further information on his background and sales.

    He replied to me by railing against me, claiming that exclusive readings are never done in fiction, only in academia. He upbraided me for wasting his time reading my sample pages, and "pulling a stunt", claiming that he would soon put a write-up on his blog warning writers against such practices.

    Now, the impression I've gotten from you folks on AbsoluteWrite, and correct me if I'm wrong, is that requests for exclusive readings by agents, while often unwelcome by or annoying to writers, are fairly common in the fiction business. I wrote back politely to JF to ask him to provide me with some "writer beware" sites where exclusivity is warned against. We'll see what happens....

  5. #5
    banned as an incurable tosspot
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    I'll let someone who knows more about it answer your question.

    It'll be interesting to see which Beware sites he comes up with.

    I suspect the bad temper has more to do with you escaping the $1,000 net than anything else.

  6. #6
    I *am* Catwoman...and Gini Koch WPR Dominatrix JeanneTGC's Avatar
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    I'm with Carmy. It sounds like you asked a hard question -- give me a list of your recent sales -- and he avoided answering by instead raging at you for doing what any other agent would consider the ethical thing to do.

    I'm also interested in what the more experienced folks have to say, but I think "RUN AWAY" and "good riddance" may cover it.
    Jeanne

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  7. #7
    Comic guy Bartholomew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SK Kane
    I just got a very surprising email. I had answered his request for a half manuscript by saying that I couldn't send one at this time because I had received a request from an agent for an exclusive reading of my materials. Additionally, I asked him to provide me some further information on his background and sales.

    He replied to me by railing against me, claiming that exclusive readings are never done in fiction, only in academia. He upbraided me for wasting his time reading my sample pages, and "pulling a stunt", claiming that he would soon put a write-up on his blog warning writers against such practices.

    Now, the impression I've gotten from you folks on AbsoluteWrite, and correct me if I'm wrong, is that requests for exclusive readings by agents, while often unwelcome by or annoying to writers, are fairly common in the fiction business. I wrote back politely to JF to ask him to provide me with some "writer beware" sites where exclusivity is warned against. We'll see what happens....
    I don't know anything about the man, but he doesn't sound very professional. I say you ditch the b-- ahem.

    I say you disregard him.

  8. #8
    I heart Malamutes! :-) JerseyGirl1962's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SK Kane
    He replied to me by railing against me, claiming that exclusive readings are never done in fiction, only in academia. He upbraided me for wasting his time reading my sample pages, and "pulling a stunt", claiming that he would soon put a write-up on his blog warning writers against such practices.

    Now, the impression I've gotten from you folks on AbsoluteWrite, and correct me if I'm wrong, is that requests for exclusive readings by agents, while often unwelcome by or annoying to writers, are fairly common in the fiction business. I wrote back politely to JF to ask him to provide me with some "writer beware" sites where exclusivity is warned against. We'll see what happens....
    SK,

    The agent in question is incorrect. It is done in fiction, but it's not as common as you might think (from what I've gathered). I know there's one agency that's been talked about on these boards (their name escapes me) where they only do exclusives.

    If you read Miss Snark's blog (http://misssnark.blogspot.com), you'll see that she doesn't like exclusives, and the other agent blogs I read also don't care for exclusives (because, as you've said, they're a pain in the butt to us anxious writers! ).

    So my take on it is that exclusives are somewhat common in fiction, but not it's certainly not the norm.

    As others have said, don't waste your time with this guy.

    Good luck!

    ~Nancy
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  9. #9
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Yet another return email about how I was inconsiderate in wasting his time looking at my sample chapter, plus an extensive discussion of how exclusives are bad for writers.

    I certainly can't disagree that exclusives aren't a writer's favorite, but they are often a necessary evil, and certainly a standard practice in the industry, as far as I can tell.

  10. #10
    What? I have a title? Julie Worth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SK Kane
    Yet another return email about how I was inconsiderate in wasting his time looking at my sample chapter, plus an extensive discussion of how exclusives are bad for writers.
    If his time is so valuable, why is he wasting it instructing you on the facts of life?

  11. #11
    Who's going for a beer? waylander's Avatar
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    Writer's House seem to demand an exclusive on partials as policy. They are not exactly a small and insignificant agency.

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  13. #13
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Exclusives aren't unheard-of.

    Multiple queries to agents are standard; if the agent is interested, an exclusive isn't an unhappy sign.

  14. #14
    Perpetuous Revisasaurus
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    Wow I wish an agent cared enough about me to say I was "wasting his time" by sending a query! Ha ha. Sounds like he's wasting your time now, though. Good luck with the agent who requested an exclusive.

  15. #15
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Thanks. I'm sending out my partial today. She says she has a fast turnaround time and should get back to me within two weeks. Not a terrible span of time for granting an exclusive.

  16. #16
    practical experience, FTW jkorzenko's Avatar
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    I think you're fine with that type of exclusive, SK. I have never had a problem granting a 30 day exclusive on a partial request to a reputable agent and have always found that the response comes w/in those 30 days. Remember, granting an exclusive on a partial or full does not prevent you from continuing to query your project to other agents (whose response time to queries could take up to a month) -- it just prevents you from sending a requested partial/full out before the end of the exclusivity period. That's my take, anyhoo.

    Best of luck!

  17. #17
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Using the database of agented sales from Locus magazine ('04 to present) for SF/F works, I find 21 sales by Writers House and zero sales by Justin Fernandez.

  18. #18
    practical experience, FTW Allie's Avatar
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    It sounds like the Nigerian money laundering scheme...

    You establish an account in my name, put $1000 dollars in it, I'll put $10,000 in your account later... really...
    Where are all the monkeys?

  19. #19
    Living in the backstory Cav Guy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allie
    It sounds like the Nigerian money laundering scheme...

    You establish an account in my name, put $1000 dollars in it, I'll put $10,000 in your account later... really...
    I'd agree with that, and also add that by launching into an e-mail rant the agent is showing general bad manners and an anger management problem that I certainly wouldn't want cropping up in someone who was representing my work.

  20. #20
    What? I have a title? Julie Worth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald
    Using the database of agented sales from Locus magazine ('04 to present) for SF/F works, I find 21 sales by Writers House and zero sales by Justin Fernandez.
    Interesting! Has anyone worked up a database for all sales, all genres?

  21. #21
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SK Kane
    Now, the impression I've gotten from you folks on AbsoluteWrite, and correct me if I'm wrong, is that requests for exclusive readings by agents, while often unwelcome by or annoying to writers, are fairly common in the fiction business.
    I agree that Mr. Fernandez's rant is unprofessional, and also inexplicable in someone who (theoretically) knows the business.

    To add to what Julie quoted from me above...Fernandez dropped out of sight for a while, but recently showed up again with a revamped literary agency called Lit4. He appears to have shut down his solo attorney practice. He's also apparently involved with a sports agency called Pro Sports Ltd.--at any rate, he maintains its blog, and the info at the blog names him as a partner. (Sports agenting, by the way, is not at all like book agenting.)

    Lit4 charges no upfront fees, as far as I know. It claims to be the world's first "discount agency," with commissions of 4% and a cap on agent earnings of $4,000. Supposedly, this is modeled on discount brokerages like Charles Schwab, which made a mint with low commissions. However, the success of the discount brokerages was based on huge volume and streamlined (read minimal) personal services--neither of which is feasible for a literary agent, assuming he actually wants to sell books. In my opinion, by lowballing commissions and capping earnings, Fernandez is limiting his income potential so severely that it will hardly be worthwhile to run the agency.

    From the client's perspective, economy commissions are a moot point if the agent never sells anything.

    Mr. Fernandez's resume is given on his blog. He mentions his own published books (all through Chelsea House, a nonfiction publisher for the library market), but there's no word about any sales he may have made as an agent.

    - Victoria
    Last edited by victoriastrauss; 02-15-2007 at 09:27 PM.

  22. #22
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    In his last correspondence, he asked me to tell him which webpages had given me the impression that exclusives were a standard (if not ubiquitous) practice. So I did some googling and sent him URLs of a bunch of articles and blogs where exclusivity is discussed. I told him that before sending him any more of my work, I'd like to find and read SF&F sales he's made in the past. I haven't heard anything since. After his angry emails, I wasn't interested in continuing with him anyway, but I wanted to give him the opportunity to come up with some SF&F sales so that I could report back here with utmost fairness.

  23. #23
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    Asking for exclusivity on a partial is certainly rarer than for fulls, but declaring them "never done for fiction" is...unusual.

    Yet another reason to verify an agent's creds BEFORE querying.
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  24. #24
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    From Justin Fernandez

    To "supplement" the thread here:

    I do not charge fees or retainers of any kind pertaining to representing books as an agent. If I am hired to perform LEGAL SERVICES, representing a client in my capacity as an attorney, then that's a different matter. I performed developmental editing/consulting for several writers some years ago for pay--I no longer even offer to do any editing for non-clients, and for clients I might do some editing but now only for free.

    My past Literary Agency clients include Jerry Twentier's THE POSITIVE POWER OF PRAISING PEOPLE (PPBK to NTC-CONTEMPORARY PRESS, now McGraw-Hill), and two romance novels plus several shorter romance anthology pieces for Hayley Ann Solomon (to Kensington's Zebra Books - Regency Romance) plus handling rights reversions for two children's book authors dealing with Scholastic Book Fair.

    The discount rates available at Southern Sunrise Agency represents a large potential savings for writers. Either you can pay a lifetime annuity for your agent's work or pay a far lower and capped commission for equivalent work.

    See Publishers Marketplace for present client details.

    More information about my practice is posted on: www.repworld.blogspot.com

    -JF 11/14/07 rev. 11/25/07
    Last edited by LIT4; 11-25-2007 at 08:58 PM.

  25. #25
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    To Victoria Strauss

    Your opinion as to the viability of a discount Literary Agency model OMITS analysis of whether agents DESERVE what amounts to a lifetime ANNUITY for negotiating a book deal, and whether a few big clients would be sufficient for a small agency with low overhead (the comparison to discount brokers was not meant to imply that the discount model here is aimed at capturing large market share).

    And because an agent has never sold a SF/F title means that the agent is not competent to sell one? Do you realize how many agents don't even have ANY FORMAL TRAINING IN LAW? And you're okay with them ANALYZING and NEGOTIATING your contracts, and giving you what amounts to LEGAL ADVICE, provided they've sold a title in the genre you're writing? That sounds like backwards thinking. You should want someone with formal law training to advise you on all contract matters.
    Last edited by LIT4; 11-25-2007 at 09:04 PM.

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