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Thread: Morpheus Literary Agency

  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW GeoffNelder's Avatar
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    Morpheus Literary Agency

    Has anyone had any news - good or bad - about this new agency

    http://www.morpheus-agency.co.uk/

    They have a kinda competition to attract business. I've not heard of a new lit agency offering a free-to-enter short story competition. They'll showcase good stories apparently.

    A Dean Meyers has been answering questions to some former clients of the Christopher Hill Literary Agency. We notice some similarities in the presentation of this new agency although at least CH made public his real name, address, phone number and e-mail address whereas none of those are available for Morpheus.

    I don't want to diss what might be a genuine attempt at agents setting up a new agency that might turn out to be useful and helpful to unagented authors. So I'd welcome experienced thoughts and feedback on this agency.

    Geoff

  2. #2
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    No name or address?

    No list of sales?

    At the very, very best this is a gormless agent.

    And get this! They're recommending "Poor Man's Copyright"!

    However, in the event of a dispute with anyone, it is necessary to have evidence not just a fine legal argument. We would therefore recommend that you get your copyright evidence secured before submitting your work to anyone (even your best friend). Although our advice should in no way be taken as legal advice we would suggest that such evidence can be obtained by:

    * emailing the file to an independant third party with a time stamp;
    * mailing a copy in a sealed envelope obtaining the post stamp across the seal therefore providing date evidence;
    * lodge a copy with your solicitor (although we would recommend the above cheaper methods).
    Why in the world would anyone put these fellows on their list of agencies to consider?

  3. #3
    Who's going for a beer? waylander's Avatar
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    I would be more positively disposed to them if they named the people involved and disclosed their industry experience.
    What are they going to do with the short stories? Showcase them on their site? For how long?
    I'd like to know more before I could feel positive about them

  4. #4
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Their recommendation of "Poor Man's Copyright" tells me that their industry experience is zero.

  5. #5
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    The Morpheus URL is registered to a Jeremy Snead of Hammersmith. It was registered in January 2007, so it's very new.

    Whether or not there's a Hill connection here (how did this Dean Meyers guy get hold of former Hill clients?), the website has some red flags:

    - No information on who's behind the agency, so you can't check to see whether or not they have experience.

    - They're looking for "any potential work." Real agents specialize.

    - Misinformation abut copyright, as Jim has pointed out. A real agent would know that poor man's copyright is useless. A real agent also wouldn't go into a lot of detail about how the agency isn't going to steal clients' work--that's assumed.

    I'd say there's good reason to stay away from Morpheus.

    - Victoria

  6. #6
    practical experience, FTW GeoffNelder's Avatar
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    Hello Victoria,

    I don't believe Morpheus has a list of former Hill & Hill Clients. We have a restricted entry Beyond Hill forum, which remains fairly active since that literary crash last September and a member found Morpheus at FirstWriter, then passed on the information. We are suspicious at the Beyond Hill forum, but nevertheless are prepared to test waters.

    I'd hate to be too critical of Morpheus. As you agree, they've only just started. For all we know they are genuine and have their own reasons to be circumspect at present.

    As regards their copyright advice, you say it is misinformation. Excuse my ignorance, but in what way is it incorrect? Bearing in mind that Morpheus are aiming, presently, at UK only clients, our writing has automatic copyright as soon as we put pen to paper. Proving ownership is more difficult and it seems their advice goes towards that. But why is it incorrect?

    Geoff

  7. #7
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeoffNelder View Post
    a member found Morpheus at FirstWriter, then passed on the information. We are suspicious at the Beyond Hill forum, but nevertheless are prepared to test waters.
    Honestly, I'm amazed that after the experience with Hill, anyone would still be using FirstWriter.
    I'd hate to be too critical of Morpheus. As you agree, they've only just started. For all we know they are genuine and have their own reasons to be circumspect at present.
    If they are genuine (as in, run by people with real publishing or agenting experience) there's no reason why they should be circumspect. Experience is a selling point with a new agency. There's no reason to conceal it. When a new agency provides no information on who its principals are, you have to wonder why.
    As regards their copyright advice, you say it is misinformation. Excuse my ignorance, but in what way is it incorrect? Bearing in mind that Morpheus are aiming, presently, at UK only clients, our writing has automatic copyright as soon as we put pen to paper. Proving ownership is more difficult and it seems their advice goes towards that. But why is it incorrect?
    Proving ownership isn't hard at all--all you have to do is to retain drafts, computer files, research and other notes, emails to friends, etc. What Morpheus is recommending (poor man's copyright) is basically a copyright myth. It won't hold up in court for various reasons, one of which is that any of the methods could easily be faked.

    Besides, infringement is a non-issue for writers submitting unpublished work to agents and editors. As you said, writers are fully protected from the moment they write down the words. Nor would a good agent risk his reputation by stealing. All of this is assumed. There's no reason to mention it--unless the agent is inexperienced, or is aiming his recruitment efforts at inexperienced writers (neither of which are good things).

    - Victoria

  8. #8
    Tired and Disillusioned Momento Mori's Avatar
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    I'm not against new agencies, provided evidence is offered that the agency is staffed by people experienced in the field of publishing. There's nothing to suggest that on the site. Indeed having looked at the websites of established UK agencies, the lack of information as to what genres they're looking at or contact details (especially the fact that there's no physical address or telephone number offered on that site and all submissions are electronic via the site) all goes to make my spidey sense tingle.

    Assuming that Morpheus is a well-intentioned but clueless newbie, why would you want to be their guinea pig when there are other agencies out there with a proven track record?

    MM

  9. #9
    practical experience, FTW GeoffNelder's Avatar
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    Be assured that none of us at Beyond Hill have submitted in any expectations of this being their breakthrough agent. But some have volunteered to send a story to them just to see what happens. They have also asked them questions making similar points as on this thread.

    As to why some of us still look at First Writer: their subscription has yet to expire; some agents there are genuine; desperation makes us look at all possibilities but at least we are asking questions this time round. That has to be a good thing. Yes?

    Geoff

  10. #10
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Victoria’s quote ‘Honestly, I'm amazed that after the experience with Hill, anyone would still be using FirstWriter.’

    Hello Victoria

    First of all, my grand daughter purchased a life membership with Firstwrite for me as a Christmas present. So would you like me to cancel the subscription and tell by grand daughter that she was an idiot for purchasing it for me in the first place?

    With me still being a member of this site and gathering information like Morpheus when it comes round, allows me to testing them out to see if they are genuine or not. This could save a lot of heartache for other writers in the future.

    If you think I should give up on this, then please let me know and I will cease at once and let new hopeful authors lose their hard earned cash and then watch months of hope vanish down the drain. Just like I did with CH.

    Silky

  11. #11
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    We all hear what is being said about the possibility of Morpheus being a bogus agent, but I think Geoff was merely asking if anyone had heard of them and pointing them out to other authors who might consider submitting to them.

    There's no need to shoot him down in flames.

    Geoff knows better than most, the cost of getting involved with a dodgy agent.

  12. #12
    Tired and Disillusioned Momento Mori's Avatar
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    Reading Millie's post, I'd like to apologise to Geoff if he thought I was shooting him down in flames. Definitely not my intention to stamp on people.

    I think that the problem with new agencies is that unless they're a new venture started by an established agent with pre-existing clients, then you're taking a punt on whether they can sell your manuscript. I would have thought that any new agency would be keen to point out its industry experience (including in editing, publishing etc), which is why I'm inclined to be cynical where that isn't offered. Similarly, any agency that's running a short story competition sets off alarm bells, given that most agents don't seem to deal with them.

    MM

  13. #13
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    Short Story Competition

    Their website features a showcase section where presumably the short stories will be published.

    They have said they will continue to avoid providing contact details, other than through the comments section on the website, but will give details to those they want to pursue a relationship with.

    Watch this space, or their space or whatever.

  14. #14
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by silky View Post
    First of all, my grand daughter purchased a life membership with Firstwrite for me as a Christmas present. So would you like me to cancel the subscription and tell by grand daughter that she was an idiot for purchasing it for me in the first place?
    Just be careful. FirstWriter doesn't really investigate the reputations of the agents it lists. Agents you find at the site may be fraudulent or amateur, so you should always do some extra checking. Absolute Write is a good place for that.

    - Victoria

  15. #15
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    I'm going to bring in this HapiSofi post from this thread:

    HapiSofi
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    (2/11/05 4:32 pm)
    | Del New Post Re: Fee Charging Agents: Right or Wrong? I too deplore this tendency for legit agents to charge for copying and other small expenses, primarily because it provides cover for scam agents.

    To my way of thinking, the three things that distinguish a real agent are lineage, clientele, and business practices.

    1. Lineage: The only way to become a real agent is to spend years working for a real agent. It's an apprenticeship. Thus you get your lines of descent: Val Smith, Lynn Prentiss, Nanci McCloskey, and Jim Allen (deceased) all came out of the Virginia Kidd Agency. Richard Curtis, Jack Scoville, Ted Chichak, Russ Galen, and I think (though I could be wrong) Josh Bilmes all came out of the Scott Meredith Agency. I forget who Andy Zack used to work for, but it was someone real. At some point in the future Lucienne Diver will be an independent agent, but now and for the foreseeable she's working under Eleanor Wood. Et cetera and so forth.

    (Note: There's no guarantee that an agent with a legit background won't go bad, but it's extremely uncommon, and when it does happen it's usually people who didn't work for real agents for more than a few years.)

    An agent who's spent years working at a legit agency and has a list of legit clients, but who happens to charge for xeroxing manuscripts and the like, is a real agent whose policies I don't like but can accept. An agent who didn't serve an apprenticeship, has made few or no real sales for his clients, and charges authors for various services, is someone I'm much more inclined to call a scammer.

    2. Clientele: A real agent will have clients whose books are available through your local bookstore. Such clients should form the majority of that agent's list. No reputable agent specializes in representing new and untried authors. They can't; newbies are all work and no pay; and if the agent's any good, his or her list will fill up with successful authors anyway.

    Basically, agents are just like editors this way: what they want to find are good authors; and, in pursuit of same, some are a bit more willing than others to take a chance on newbies. That's as far as it goes, though. You may take it as a rule of thumb that any agent who hasn't made significant sales for his or her existing clientele is not going to make sales for you, either. And don't fall for the line about the agent not having made any sales yet because he or she has only recently gone into business. A real agent starts out with real clients they've accumulated during their apprenticeship. They don't start from scratch.

    3. Business Practices: Some practices are questionable but may be acceptable, like charging for copying extra manuscripts. In those cases, the agent's background and client list matter more than their office policies.

    However, some practices immediately mark an agent as a scammer. Just off the top of my head:
    -- Advertising a (possibly proprietary) submission method that's strikingly different from the methods used by legit agencies.

    -- Refusing to reveal their client list.

    -- Having a client list full of authors whose "sales" are all to vanity presses.

    -- Charging a client for editing.

    -- Charging a client for promotional services.

    -- Telling clients that no publishing house will look at a manuscript that hasn't been professionally edited, especially if they then "help" the client find an editor or book doctor.

    -- Ditto, "helping" the client connect with paid promotional services.

    -- Heavily emphasizing the supposed need for the client to promote his or her own book. Real agents sell your book to publishers who do their own promotion. You're allowed to help, but you should never be the primary promoter of your own book.

    -- Charging fees on a monthly or yearly basis. Real agents charge for incidental expenses as they come up. There's no basic service charge.

    -- Charging a client per submission for multiple simultaneous submissions.

    -- Claiming to frequently make multiple simultaneous submissions.See why fees/no fees isn't enough to tell you who's a scammer and who isn't?

    Remember to always do your research first. A bad agent can bring you an unending amount of trouble and grief. A clueless agent can be nearly as bad. In a pinch, ask Victoria.

  16. #16
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    desperation makes us ...

    Quote Originally Posted by GeoffNelder View Post
    Be assured that none of us at Beyond Hill have submitted in any expectations of this being their breakthrough agent. But some have volunteered to send a story to them just to see what happens. They have also asked them questions making similar points as on this thread.

    As to why some of us still look at First Writer: their subscription has yet to expire; some agents there are genuine; desperation makes us look at all possibilities but at least we are asking questions this time round. That has to be a good thing. Yes?

    Geoff
    ..."desperation makes us look at all possibilities." Indeed. Don't know how many agents or publishers GeoffNelder has approached or for how long, but we all do have our limits, especially those burned for a year or more by H&H.

    One "possibility" is giving up. Another is the self publishing, with connotations of something lacking, unprofessional, or ego driven. I've posted some questions about that option under another thread, "agent musings" if someone would like to take up the issues there/here. Seems unexplored, unless I've missed the discussion in the many miles of threads (very possible) at Absolute.

  17. #17
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    The other, correct, answer is to write a new, different, better book and shop it around.

  18. #18
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    "Correct"

    Quote Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald View Post
    The other, correct, answer is to write a new, different, better book and shop it around.
    So glad to know we are in the world of "correct" answers. For a moment, I thought options around agents and publishing were fast changing, uncertain, fraught with imperfect information and a host of pros/cons needing careful consideration ... all leading to better/worse choices, but nothing absolute.

    Another (or maybe not)

  19. #19
    Tired and Disillusioned Momento Mori's Avatar
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    Millie:
    Their website features a showcase section where presumably the short stories will be published.

    They have said they will continue to avoid providing contact details, other than through the comments section on the website, but will give details to those they want to pursue a relationship with.
    Millie, there is no real benefit to submitting a short story to Morpheus, not least because they're not paying people for the stories that they publish. The only reference to remuneration is:

    If we decide to publish the story in the showcase we will send you some vouchers commensurate to the length of your story.
    What kind of vouchers? Argos vouchers? Book vouchers? Luncheon Vouchers? Also, there's no guidelines as to how many vouchers you can expect. Any reputable/serious magazine or website will tell you how much they pay either per word, or per story and will again have guidelines in place telling you what stories they're looking for.

    I very much doubt you could even use Morpheus as a publishing credit. I would also repeat my point that legitimate/knowledgeable agents do not look at short stories period because they can't market them. There is no benefit to an agent in helping you hone your short story skills if they can't be sold and I have never heard of an agent who takes on people solely to nurture their short story skills.

    Regarding the contacts point - I'm sorry but that is just too fishy for words. Legitimate agents have a physical place of business that you can check and verify. They have a telephone number that you can call. They have names of people you can check out.

    I'm all for giving people the benefit of the doubt, but the people behind Morpheus are either too clueless to be in that business or they're not looking to act in the best interests of writers. Avoid like the plague.

    MM
    Last edited by Momento Mori; 02-23-2007 at 03:58 PM.

  20. #20
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    I hear what you're saying, and I'm in no way trying to defend Morpheus' practices or claim to know anything about them, and the short story competition did strike me as being a bit odd.

    It's such a shame that this business is full of people trying to make a fast buck off the back of someone else, but I'm sure news of them will find its way to this board in the not too distant future.

  21. #21
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Another View Post
    So glad to know we are in the world of "correct" answers.
    Always happy to be of help.

  22. #22
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Morpheus website is down!

    Hi

    www.morpheus-agency.co.uk is down/withdrawn or whatever.

    I've been trying to get on to the website for the last couple of days with no luck, I keep getting directed to google search. I've tried from my computer at home and work without any joy.

    Interesting huh?

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeoffNelder View Post
    As regards their copyright advice, you say it is misinformation. Excuse my ignorance, but in what way is it incorrect? Bearing in mind that Morpheus are aiming, presently, at UK only clients, our writing has automatic copyright as soon as we put pen to paper. Proving ownership is more difficult and it seems their advice goes towards that. But why is it incorrect?
    I know this is a little late now, but just for the sake of completeness ...

    It is incorrect because 'poor man's copyright' simply doesn't work.

    People with plenty of copyright litigation experience have searched for examples where it has been successful .. but not found any.

    In fact, when you search, you only find examples where it has FAILED.

    eg:http://www.clubnetradio.com/news/Bri...dance/200.html

    Curiously, these people seem to have a new angle .. you mail something to yourself but somehow convince the post office to put the postmark across the seal on the envelope instead of across the stamp? How are you going to do that ?

    (Not only that, it would be trivial to fake - thus be dependant on the court believing that person's honesty. In other words, no different from a diary or any other record)

    Mac

  24. #24
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    The morpheus website is still down. I sent them an email asking why, but haven't received a reply.

    The plot thickens - the website was only open a couple of months.

  25. #25
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    No further trace of agent or agency.
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