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Thread: Agents charging Fees

  1. #126
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Diandra View Post
    Can someone please tell me what types of fees or charges should I be aware of if I publish a book?
    There are no fees or charges.

    Yog's Law:
    In the natural order of things money flows toward the writer. The only place a writer signs a check is on the back.

    You will create your manuscript at your own expense. Postage costs are yours. Everything else (representation, editing, publishing) is at no cost to you, and should net you money that you can use for groceries.

  2. #127
    smart enough to know better
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    I think I'm on this thread up high somewhere. I'll repeat, I still don't know why an agent needs to charge fees, unless they never had any start-up cash and decided to fleece it from clients. Running an agency is no more expensive yearly than a golf membership at a nice club. Maybe s/he plays golf, too, and can't afford to run an agency. With computers, mailings are mostly e-mail and so are queries. Sell a few books and the commissions cover any costs nicely.

    DP

  3. #128
    figuring it all out
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    Quote Originally Posted by LloydBrown View Post
    Huh? You've worked in IT for 20 years and never heard of the Apple II, released 30 years ago? It cost around $2,000 and sold several million copies. We had a Kaypro that cost a bit less, and it worked just fine. The TRS-80 was available in 1979. In fact, it's likely that there were over over half a million PCs a year being sold 20 years ago.

    All of these fit quite comfortably on desktops, and nobody had to be rich to buy them.
    Ah, the Kaypro! That brings back memories. One of the first portable computers if memory serves. The keyboard snapped over the monitor and it was ready to pick up and go...

  4. #129
    Noobus Perpetuus ejket's Avatar
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    The IBM PC is more than 20 years old. It was released in 1981, I think (the initial offering came with a whopping 16K RAM). I had an Apple II+ running CP/M more than 20 years ago.
    "Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future." - Oscar Wilde



  5. #130
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Heck, twenty years ago when I went full-time freelance, I was writing on an Atari 800.

    Let's not forget Lois McMaster Bujold who wrote her first published novel on a Coleco Adam.

  6. #131
    Geek Unique LeslieB's Avatar
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    I got my first computer in roughly 83-84. It was the TI-99/4A, the computer famous for not having a question mark on the keyboard. Word processing was a challenge, needless to say. Of course, I didn't have a choice since the reason I had it was my mother worked for Texas Instruments and could get a refurb cheap out of the company store.
    Not doing anything with my life is surprisingly time consuming.

  7. #132
    I grow my own catnip JulieB's Avatar
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    My first computer was a Timex/Sinclair 1000. But before that, in college, a group of us put out a fanzine using punch cards and an IBM 1620. When I married in 1980, we had a terminal and a dedicated phone line to a friend's apartment where they shared a PDP/11. I used to write on that.

    LeslieB - at least you had the 99/4A. I had a friend who had the original 99/4, with the nasty Shift-Q bug.

    Dang, I feel old.

  8. #133
    Noobus Perpetuus ejket's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JulieB View Post
    When I married in 1980, we had a terminal and a dedicated phone line to a friend's apartment where they shared a PDP/11. I used to write on that.
    I learned C on a PDP-11/34 at university from 1979-83. All I had for writing was a line editor, lol.
    "Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future." - Oscar Wilde



  9. #134
    Shakespearean Fool DreamWeaver's Avatar
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    Geez...and I bet you all walked to school seven miles in the snow, uphill both ways...

    EDIT: barefoot
    Why doesn't George R. R. Martin use Twitter? He already killed off all 140 characters.

  10. #135
    Preditors & Editors Requiescat In Pace DaveKuzminski's Avatar
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    I remember and worked on all but the Coleco Adam. You're making me feel old. I'm not going to list all the others I also worked on.
    When it comes to PA, the royalty check and the reality check arrive in the same envelope.

    Remember to be kind to writers who step in PA. They really don't know how bad it smells.

    The difference between PA and WLA? None. Both have the stench of dead and dying books emanating from their doorways.


  11. #136
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    An agent's biggest investment in the business is time. That can be cut shorter by using this philosophy: If a book isn't ready for a publisher, it's not ready for an agent.

    Unless an agent is a retired editor (which I am) and has time on her hands (which I don't), there's no use trying to "doctor" or copy edit a manuscript, even if the basic story is terrific. Standard size of a fiction book is about 300-400 pages. Without interruptions, it can be read in one day. That never happens, so it takes at least a week to get through it, even without penciling the margins. Non-fiction, especially technical books, can be much larger.

    If a manuscript needs any serious editing, back it goes with a kind letter (mostly) and (sometimes) an invitation to re-submit after the problems are solved.

  12. #137
    If a manuscript has serious problems, it's rejected--period. We don't have time for return runs. There's more to getting published these day than having a good read. With fiction markets falling, each percentage point ups acceptable quality, plus with so many people writing these days there's always a huge supply of fresh writing waiting. To me, it's a shame what gets rejected these days--not from agents but from publishers. Then there's genre glut to deal with. . .

  13. #138
    smart enough to know better
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    Re: The genre glut--The editors are jaded. Unless you can wake them up before they take off their walking shoes, your manuscript is dead.

    I'm glad I re-read a few manuscripts, because I ended up selling them. That was early in the game. No time for that anymore (mostly).

    I did my first computer writing on a Bic-20. It made a lot of noise. The keyboard was also the computer, and you could hook it up to a TV set. The backup text went on a regular audio tape. The keys were five-sided. You could use them to play music. My first printer was an Epson LQ-570 impact. It still works and makes nice looking envelopes and labels.

  14. #139
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin playdatemom's Avatar
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    This is all good to know. Thanks y'all.
    Jo
    a writer of real life stories

  15. #140
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    It’s been said a million times, and may it be said a million more: never, ever, ever give an agency a nickel up front (and good job outing newsflash, James). If they’re moving your material, and can document their office’s expenses, sure, reimburse them. They use the identical litany: underpaid, overworked, underappreciated. But never inspired. In my personal opinion, agents without track records are just Tupperware salesmen with second jobs. They should be interested in your hard work, not your hard cash. Smiley face here.

  16. #141
    banned as an incurable tosspot
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    The fee-charging agent exists because it's just so damn easy to do it. Desperation causes people to do stupid things like handing over chunks of cash to charlatans (I do love some alliteration).

    When I was working as a freelancer writer and editor I had someone contact me about editing their fiction manuscript. They had been rejected many times and thought that if they hired a professional editor then they would be published. I read part of their manuscript and then had to write back with the bad news: this will never ever be published no matter what happens. No editing would be able to make this story sell. The grammar could be polished until it shone but that meant nothing when the entire story was terrible. I told the writer the bad news as nicely as I could and turned them down. Then they wrote back offering more money.

    More money after I've already told them to give it up!

    I again turned them down but I have no doubt this writer eventually handed over their money for no return.

    Unfortunately the only way you can fight this kind of desperation is with education ... but sometimes the desperate will avoid this education.

    If I were King ... fee-charging faux-agents would go to prison.

  17. #142
    Fiction Writer rbuckley9104's Avatar
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    I myself made the mistake of paying a fee to an agent, Cambridge Literary Associates to be exact. I was rewarded with only three telephone calls over a lengthy period of time. Cambridge Literary Associates have been the focus of much derision lately. In a separate thread, I was informed that these fee charging agents no longer even answer telephone calls or emails. They now solicit manuscipts from "well-published" authors only.

    I am convinced that they, and most agents, actually do read submissions. I hold this belief if only as a result of one conversation with Cambridge Literary Associates. In the conversation, a particular agent, Michael Valentino, referenced my manuscipt to a degree that he would have been unable to do if he had simply not read the same. An agent must read a manuscript if he or she is going to intelligently represent a writer. Publishing houses are curious as to the content of manuscipts, and agents who have not read manuscipts they portend to have read will quickly gain adverse reputations.

    An agent's reading a submission does not guarantee publication, which is obviously due in part to that agent's reputation with the publishing houses. If an agent cannot afford a particular writer some hope of publication through the agent's contacts, a fee prior to publication is more likely to be the result. Agents who cannot to some degree assure publication are more likely to have little to no income and therefore are more disposed to charging a writer a fee. If an agent has any confidence or success, he or she will not have to charge a fee. Consequently, an agent charging a fee should be a warning alarm to any prospective writer.

    I made the mistake of not listening to such a warning alarm and received very little in return for my upfront fee. For what it is worth, I offer this thread as first hand experience with paying an agent a fee and the consequences.
    Last edited by rbuckley9104; 03-27-2010 at 09:04 PM. Reason: grammar

  18. #143
    So many WIPs which one to work on Jill Karg's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone for good advice.

    alot of food for thought. ty everyone. When the children's book is through the last edit job (with an editor) and had a target audience read (have three/four families with kids that read my work) then and only then will i be looking for an agent. Which I am just now researching. My sci-fi series will be placed on back burner until I finish the childrens book series...will give it a cool down stage since I too made the mistake of going with PA. I don't want to rehash that story right now but we live and learn and maybe in a year I will try to get rights back to book.
    Jill M Karg
    The first step to happiness is to know what makes you happy.

  19. #144
    So many WIPs which one to work on Jill Karg's Avatar
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    oh first machine i used was a tandy 1000. had to save to 5 1/2 diskette and take it to the university to print out the book on a dot matrix printer using a leading edge machine. Yes I'm that old.
    Jill M Karg
    The first step to happiness is to know what makes you happy.

  20. #145
    Sometimes I creep myself out. AW Moderator Calla Lily's Avatar
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    I got you beat. Typed on a manual typewriter and then mimeographed on a SpiritMaster--the kind with the purple ink that all the kids in school used to sniff like it was a drug.

    *checks hair dye*

  21. #146
    I grow my own catnip JulieB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by callalily61 View Post
    I got you beat. Typed on a manual typewriter and then mimeographed on a SpiritMaster--the kind with the purple ink that all the kids in school used to sniff like it was a drug.

    *checks hair dye*
    Same here. And the first computer I got to use was an IBM 1620. Punch cards!

    (I still have a mimeo machine in the garage.)

  22. #147
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Question What to do?

    Hi, I'm new to AW and I'm a freelance editor and writer who is almost done with her first book . I have an important question.

    I work for my sister (lawyer with contract experience, experienced teacher, and writer) at the literary agency she just started. We're trying to get off the ground while adhering to the AAR canon of ethics. The dream of the agency is to offer a "one-stop shop", where a writer can find consulting, lawyer services, and representation in the form of an agent. We are only two people--two writers--who are capable of offering those services, but worry about conflicts of interest.

    One of our issues is that most reputable sources on the Internet don't want to promote agents who haven't gotten even one book published--for the good of writers. We understand that, but then how should a new agency get clients?

    Our main issue stems from that: consulting and acting as a literary agent are seen as having conflicting interests. Since clients are few and far between, we've considered consulting or other important, non-agent fields in the writing and publishing process to keep our business going. But, how much of a conflict of interest can offering consulting services that clients pay for before publishing their book cause? Could we avoid this conflict if we had two contracts? Would this be seen as legitimate by the writing community?

    I put this question to AW because the last thing our agency wants is create a bad reputation. After reading this thread, I understand much more fully why the majority of agents who charge fees prior to publication are not respected. However, is it ever possible for a person who is an agent to offer consulting (or act in another role in the writing/publishing field) and receive pay without being viewed as somewhat shifty by the writing community? What if they offer these services to the same person? Could it be avoided by only fulfilling one of those roles with a client?

    Thank you,
    Sierra
    (Intern1)

  23. #148
    crazy mean SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    Charging fees for such consultancy work is always going to be a conflict of interests as far as I'm concerned. And while I do think you're doing your best to be fair to your clients, I cannot see anything in your backgrounds which qualifies you or your sister to be literary agents. Have either of you ever worked in publishing? Being a writer, teacher and lawyer doesn't do it, I'm afraid, no matter how good your intentions are.

    If you're determined to become literary agents then your best bet would be to get jobs in the business, and get a good five years' or more experience first. I'm not trying to be rude: I have just seen SO many people without experience have a go at being agents and not only have none of them lasted, they've all caused some damage to their clients' careers because of their lack of experience.

  24. #149
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Thank you for the honest advice, Old Hack.

  25. #150
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    Lightbulb

    Quote Originally Posted by Intern1 View Post
    One of our issues is that most reputable sources on the Internet don't want to promote agents who haven't gotten even one book published--for the good of writers. We understand that, but then how should a new agency get clients?
    Good literary agents almost never started as independents. They worked for other agents or as an editor; and that's where they usually found the clients for their new agency.

    There is more to an agent's job than getting the writer a contract. That is the most important hurdle, but you are also expected to help make the book a success and market the rights you haven't signed over. And, obviously, it helps if editors know you, either personally or by reputation, as someone with a track-record and an eye for interesting material. It's great that you want to help new writers, but there is simply no substitute for that kind of experience.

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