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Thread: Lee Shore Literary Agency / SterlingHouse Publishers / CYNTOMedia Corp.

  1. #1
    ronniedawg
    Guest

    Lee Shore Literary Agency / SterlingHouse Publishers / CYNTOMedia Corp.

    This is just a warning to inform new writers or anyone that hasn't dealt with this "agency." They charge fees of all sorts. Including reading,editorial,and a monthly billing of so called, " submissions."

    Located In Pittsburgh, Pa and also operating Sterling Publishing, a subsidy publisher owned by the very same Cynthia Sterling, Head Agent of Lee Shore.

    Several writers have contacted me and have been bilked out of thousands, and I mean close to ten thousand in one case.

    So, writers, stay away from this one.

  2. #2
    HapiSofi
    Guest

    Re: Warning: Lee Shore Literary Agency

    Is Lee Shore still in business? If so, those guys are bad as they come.

    I first heard about Lee Shore a long time back. I'd known for a while that slush readers at publishing houses were puzzled by Lee Shore's submissions. It wasn't that 90% of the manuscripts were obviously unpublishable, though they were; that's no mystery at all. Every newbie who learns to open and log slush swiftly figures out that certain agencies are a never-ending source of bad books. You don't have to train newbies to recognize the scam agents; you have to keep reminding them that it's possible for a good writer to fall into a bad agent's hands.

    With Lee Shore, the mystery was why they made it so easy to reject their books. The cover letters practically gave you permission to do it. Sometimes there wouldn't even be a proper cover letter accompanying the manuscript, just an auto-reject form with check-off boxes giving you a choice of reasons to reject it. (My young informant visibly turned up her nose when explaining this. "We throw away the form and send them a real rejection letter," she said.)

    A year or two later, I finally found out what was going on with that. The first part of the loop was pretty standard scammer fare: Lee Shore lured in naive authors, bilked them of fees for this and that, and told them that No Publisher Will Look At A Manuscript That Hasn't Been Professionally Edited. Which is completely untrue, by the way; that claim is an infallible genetic marker for scam agents.

    The "professional edit" is a popular way for these agents to pry additional money out of their clients. Some agents simply demand that their authors pay them to edit their manuscripts. The owner of Lee Shore is known to have demanded a $9500 editing fee from one author. Rotten awful scam agent Martha Ivery did the same thing, and she was barely literate. Other agents send the author off for a very expensive "edit" at the hands of a confederate. One must assume that kickbacks are involved in these arrangements, since the money can be substantial and the "edits" almost never produce a saleable manuscript. I can't see professional scammers handing over their pigeons to be plucked by others without making something on the deal.

    When the editing stage was finished, Lee Shore would announce that the supposedly buffed and polished manuscript was now ready to be sent out to publishers, ooh gosh how exciting. Then they'd send it out to a bunch of publishers and collect a bunch of quick rejections. This was the explanation for those mysteriously listless cover letters, and auto-reject check-off enclosures: they were collecting rejections, pure and simple.

    When you're killing slush, there are going to be a lot of manuscripts that can be rejected out of hand. These first-cut rejections are reasonably quick to process. Lee Shore was trying to get that fast rejection response because the rejections were all they wanted.

    Why? Because an author who'd thought their manuscript was polished and publishable, and who then gets hit with a bunch of quick rejections, bam bam bam, is going to be in a very vulnerable state, sort of like a cutlet that's been pounded with one of those tenderizing hammers. Having reduced the author to this condition, Lee Shore then ran their crowning scam. They'd call the author, rejoicing, saying they'd placed the book with a house that absolutely loved it, a small publisher but such a perfect fit for the book, O happy happy day.

    You can imagine the author's reaction to this news. Their sufferings would be redeemed! Their book would be published! It would be in bookstores! People would read it! Cue the sun bursting forth from clouds, witch-kings crumbling to ash, orcs incontinently fleeing in all directions, and free beer for everyone forever. And the name of this kind and perceptive publisher? Why, Sterling House, of course.

    Alas, there were two things Lee Shore would omit to mention. One was that most books sold by Lee Shore were placed with Sterling House. The other was that Sterling House and Lee Shore were both owned by the same person, Cynthia Sterling. Needless to say, Sterling House was a rapacious vanity publisher; but when your very own agent is telling you this is a good deal, it's hard to resist.

    There's no record of Lee Shore ever selling a book to a real publisher. They did place some of their titles with a small number of other vanity publishers with whom they had noticeably cozy relationships: Northwest, Commonwealth, Aegina, and especially PressTIGE (on which, more anon). I'm suspicious of this for the same reasons I'm suspicious of the arrangements whereby scam agents refer their clients to "professional editors" who charge them a mint. There's only so much plucking you get can get out of one pigeon. Why should they be turning their clients over to operations that'll take them for thousands of dollars, if they're not getting a kickback on the deal?

    You don't need an agent to sell your book to a vanity publisher, and real agents don't do it. Sometimes you'll see professional authors placing their unsaleable old out-of-print titles with PODs just to keep them available. Wildside's been doing a lot of that kind of publishing, and they're a respectable operation. But if you see agents placing their clients' hitherto unpublished titles with PA, iUniverse, Xlibris, 1stBooks, etc., run the other way.

    But back to Lee Shore. They had a particularly cozy relationship with PressTIGE Publishing, a notoriously corrupt operation run by Cynthia Sterling's longtime crony Kelly O'Donnell, a.k.a. Martha Ivery. This gets complicated. Watch carefully:

    1. Kelly O'Donnell and Martha Ivery are the same person.
    2. Martha Ivery runs the Pacific Literary Agency.
    3. Martha Ivery is the Publisher of PressTIGE publishing.
    4. Kelly O'Donnell runs Kelly O'Donnell Literary Services.
    5. The Pacific Literary Agency and Kelly O'Donnell Literary Services both sell their clients' books to PressTIGE Publishing.
    6. Over the years, Cynthia Sterling and Kelly O'Donnell/Martha Ivery have undertaken many joint projects.
    7. Among its commercial credentials, Kelly O'Donnell Literary Services lists "sales" to Sterling House.
    8. Among its commercial credentials, Lee Shore lists "sales" to PressTIGE Publishing.

    Isn't that cute? You could keep the author running in circles forever, batting them this way and that like a cat playing with a mouse, and never once let them come anywhere near real agents and real publishers who'd pay them real money and sell their books to real readers. I once saw a writer indignantly defending Lee Shore on the grounds that they'd placed five of his books with publishers. Turned out he'd been published once each by Northwest, Commonwealth, and PressTIGE, and twice by Sterling House: five placements at notorious vanity houses in a row. He must have had a lucrative day job; otherwise he could never have afforded it.

    Bear in mind that a lot of the people who fall among these thieves don't have high-paying jobs and can't afford it. They mortgage their houses, sell their cars, spend their savings, and dip into the grocery money. Bear in mind as well that there's no guarantee that these books that get shunted off and wasted on vanity publication deals would have been unsaleable. Scammers don't care how bad their writers are, but they don't care how good they are, either.

    I can't tell whether I've just written a current warning or a case study, because I don't know what Kelly O'Donnell, Cynthia Sterling, or any of their former employees are doing these days. Whatever it is, I hope it's painful, humiliating, and has nothing to do with books. But I trust that it was nevertheless useful for me to write this, because even if that particular batch of nogoodniks are no longer ripping off authors, someone else is sure to be doing it.

  3. #3
    JustinoIV
    Guest

    please inform

    Please inform those writers to contact the relevant agencies such as the attorney general, the Internet Fraud division of the FBI, the local police, and the department of consumer affairs. I do appreciate people putting up information here, but watchdog groups and sites like these have no power to prosecute. I think often victims of scams just sulk it in. So inform them to resolve their issues outstanding with the government. Actually, they should sue the bastards for defrauding them, but first the other complaints need to be made so that the government can investigate.

  4. #4
    vstrauss
    Guest

    Re: Warning: Lee Shore Literary Agency

    Lee Shore is still in business because they do smart business (unlike the notorious Martha/Kelly, who couldn't remember on any given day which of her personas she'd said was dead in order to get an unhappy author off her back). They maintain a slick pseudo-professional veneer. They know the lingo. They don't charge too much money, or charge it too often. They don't indulge in crazy antics or obvious lunacy. They don't abuse their clients to their faces, and they respond when authors call or e-mail. They are careful not to tell lies that can be caught out. They do send out queries to publishers, and can muster actual rejection letters (as HapiSofi says, it's all part of the scheme, but it adds to the impression of legitimacy, at least from the hoodwinked client's perspective).

    They probably do a bigger and more lucrative business than just about any of the big-time operators, yet I get fewer complaints about them than about anyone else.

    Cynthia actually cut ties with Martha/Kelly at some point, because ol' Martha was just too loony. Bad for business.

    - Victoria

  5. #5
    ronniedawg
    Guest

    Lee Shore

    Yes, Victoria, I have to agree they are slick. I am hoping they are investigated and prosecuted. Mail fraud is mail fraud anytime the perps use the mail to achieve their financial goals through fraudelent means. I'd love to be there to watch Cynthia go up the river. In reality the service she provides is nothing more then fraud.

  6. #6
    AC Crispin
    Guest

    Martha's Fate

    Writer Beware put Martha out of business. She declared bankruptcy, and hasn't been doing any agenting for a couple of years. She is watched closely. The FBI seized all of her records, manuscripts, computers, etc.

    Writer Beware helped the FBI find victims, and then the FBI found many more on their own. A case has been prepared against her, on many counts of fraud, but it seems to have stalled after the FBI sent it to the next level.

    We keep hoping that at some point someone will get around to reading the material on this "made" case and decide to issue an arrest warrant.

    Until then...at least she's out of business.

    -Ann C. Crispin

    P.S. Hapi, I feel like Butch and Sundance looking back at their pursuers...who IS this guy? You sure know a lot about all of this! It's not often we run into people who are as scam knowledgeable as you appear to be that we haven't already met.

    If you want to introduce yourself, my email is:

    anncrispin@aol.com

    :-)

    Anyhow, thanks for the help here on these boards!

  7. #7
    HapiSofi
    Guest

    Re: Martha's Fate

    Nobody exciting or impressive, Ann. I just know a little bit about writing and publishing, I like to talk about them, and things are less complicated for me if I do it this way.

    People like you and Victoria and Dave and Jim are the real scamhunters. If there's anything helpful I can add to that pursuit, I'm happy to do it.

  8. #8
    AC Crispin
    Guest

    HIya, Hapi

    <tips hat to Hapi>

    Pleased to meetcha, Hapi. Butt in and share in the "eddicating" whenever the urge strikes -- it'll save my fingers. <smile>

    Victoria and I often get to feeling like broken records on writer boards. Nice to know some folks are paying attention.

    -Ann C. Crispin

  9. #9
    James D Macdonald
    Guest

    Lee Shore/Cynthia Sterling

    Hey, Dave!

    Do you think Cynthia is talking about you? Or maybe it's Ann and Victoria?

    Quote:
    I recently read some unflattering comments about certain agencies on the Internet.

    What is your response to Internet rumor mills?




    The Lee Shore Company is very aware of the derogatory, commercially disparaging and libelous remarks posted on Internet websites that claim to be legitimate reporting sources on publishers, agents and others in the publishing and literary industry. The Company’s decision is to handle this situation via the court system. We will not validate these sites by entering into a cyberspace debate with nonprofessionals. Furthermore, we have invited our detractors to come and visit us, but they have refused. We have challenged them to produce solid evidence to back their (false) claims, but none has been forthcoming. Anyone desiring more information on our Company may contact us directly at 412-271-1100 or visit our facility for a friendly, candid discussion. We’re located at 7436 Washington Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15218. You can also make arrangements to meet with us at any of the larger trade shows, here or aboard.

    http://www.leeshoreagency.com/faq.html
    Last edited by James D. Macdonald; 03-11-2007 at 09:03 PM. Reason: Fixed formatting for new board software

  10. #10
    DaveKuzminski
    Guest

    Re: Lee Shore/Cynthia Sterling

    Well, I do bring out the best in people. However, I believe they mean all of us since they stated "websites" in the plural form.

    Handle it through the court system? Oh, how clever. I'll look forward to seeing them prove that what P&E has stated is false. Hey, do you think they'd have a better chance if they joined with PA to make it a class action suit?

  11. #11
    KW
    Guest

    Sterling

    A few years ago I had checked out Sterlinghouse publishers. After an hour on the phone, at my expense, she told me that it would cost $7,000.00 for x ammount of books. What a joke.

    Dave, PA wouldn't hook up with them. PA doesn't want their practices out in the open and that is why they have never sued anybody for saying anything about them. I'm sure you know this though.

    After I forgot about Sterlinghouse I went for Finesse Literary Agency. Seeing she was a joke I didn't sign with her, but do still have all the paperwork she sent me with the list of authors she said she placed. After that I found PA.

    I just keep going after the criminals don't I?

    Kevin

  12. #12
    KW
    Guest

    Sterling

    I still have the contract for Sterlinghouse if anyone is interested. Even the one for Finesse Literary Agency.

    Kevin

  13. #13
    vstrauss
    Guest

    Re: Sterling

    Kevin, I'd like to see the Sterling House contract--PO Box 1216, Amherst MA 01004.

    Lee Shore isn't the only questionable agency that feels it has to explain away the watchdog groups. We like that....

    - Victoria

  14. #14
    KW
    Guest

    Sterling

    Victoria, you got mail.

    Kevin

  15. #15
    James D Macdonald
    Guest

    Re: Sterling

    Same FAQ:

    Quote:
    I read on the Internet that, if an agent or a publisher is interested in my work, they should spend their money on my book, not my money. Would you please comment?



    The best way to address this comment is with a question. What do you think a writer must do to persuade an agent or publisher to invest their money in an author and her work? Lately it seems that writers expect to get something for nothing. They are under the mistaken impression that, because they have written a novel or nonfiction manuscript, they are ipso facto entitled to free reviews, free marketing, free editorial advice and a considerable advance from a major publisher. For a very select few, this is indeed the case. But those select authors have earned the right to receive this very exclusive treatment, and much is expected from their work. Every success has its price, and every well-known author has a story to tell about how that success happened for him. I wish I could say that good writing alone will be enough to earn you literary success, but it is not. Today’s new writers must produce well-crafted work, know how to promote themselves effectively, and be willing to assist in their own publicity and public relations.


    May I comment too?

    This "very exclusive treatment" goes to ... everyone who signs with a legitimate agency and a legitimate publisher!

    Good writing alone may not bring you "success," but it'll sure-enough get you published. What no one's figured out yet is how to make the public buy a book they don't want. Believe it or not, sending money to a scammer won't make the public want to read your book either.

    The best way to address this comment is with a question. What do you think a writer must do to persuade an agent or publisher to invest their money in an author and her work?

    Write a good book. That's 100% of it.
    Last edited by James D. Macdonald; 03-11-2007 at 09:03 PM. Reason: Fixed formatting for new board software.

  16. #16
    aka eraser
    Guest

    Re: Sterling

    Exactly Jim. We need to keep hammering away at this Big Lie the scammers keep feeding to naive writers.

    The Big Lie: You need to be famous, or have an "in," or pay someone who does, in order to be represented by an agent or published by a traditional publisher.

    Bullpoop. Horsehockey.

    Every single traditionally-published writer was a nobody the first time they were published (excluding authors who were celebrities in another field). They wrote a good book and submitted it until they found a publisher who agreed with them. That publisher paid them for it, not the other way around.

    Ditto with the vast majority of legit agents. They don't see a dime until the book is sold. They get paid when the writer gets paid.

    Talent and perseverance is the recipe, not tossing $ at slick-talking, scum-sucking dream merchants.

  17. #17
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Cynthia Sterling, Lee Shore Agency, and the big lie that scammers tell the young.

    Remember, kids, agents work on commission -- and they collect after they've sold your book.

  18. #18
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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  19. #19
    Hagiographically Advantaged AW Moderator HapiSofi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaoPaux
    They're still not dead? What does it take? It's like we're in a Hammer film, and Cynthia Sterling is Dracula.
    Last edited by HapiSofi; 03-16-2006 at 10:09 AM.
    Winner of the Best Drycleaner on the Block Award.

  20. #20
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    I particularly enjoyed the part about "Why do writers expect something for nothing" under the FAQ's...

    Yes, how dare they expect to be paid for their work... :P
    www.damienroth.com
    Visit the website for stories, famous quotes, and other random ramblings! Please note...not all stories are 'work safe'. You've been warned...

  21. #21
    One Hit Wonder? Kasey Mackenzie's Avatar
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    LOL...Well it isn't something for nothing if the company is a REAL publisher, who actually distributes the author's books widely and *gasp* MAKES MONEY OFF OF IT! If you're just a thinly-disguised printing company, on the other hand...
    Good things come to those who wait...and work their tails off!!!


    Coming Soon on Kindle: Reborn in Fire

  22. #22
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    Book Maven, come back! Repression ain't healthy.
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  23. #23
    practical experience, FTW
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    Isn't the name of the agency a warning?

    Sorry to drop in so late on this discussion, but isn't a "Lee Shore" what sailors most fear--that is, a coastline downwind (leeward) of your vessel?

    In the Patrick O'Brian books, one of the sailors is a poet who has some lines about 'the impervious horror of a leeward shore.'

    "Brought by the lee" or "against a lee shore" are both sailor expressions for an almost hopeless situation.

    Was this agency trying to be funny, or engage in foreshadowing, or is there really a scammer named 'Lee Shore'?

  24. #24
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    *snerk*

    lee shore
    n.

    A shore toward which the wind blows and toward which a ship is likely to be driven.
    Oh, that's rich.

    AFAIK, there's no person "Lee Shore" with the agency. What're the chances they'd accidentally name their organization something so appropriate to their business model?
    ICAO
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    II 2016: 2017:

  25. #25
    banned as an incurable tosspot davids's Avatar
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    Wink Lee Shore Literary Agency

    Hi-a friend who I consider to be a fine writer has contacted me about the Lee Shore Agency-cannot find anything about her but my friend has told me that this agency charges up-front fees! I have also suggested to my friend that they query at least 100 agents-it is not everyone who gets bites first time out so just keep trying-she has worked very hard-first timer-and quite capable-talented as far as I am concerned-anyway if anyone can help it would be greatly appreciated-I did suggest to her that up-front is down back and should be ignored-however excited as she is what can I do except suggest and be denied because she cannot see the trees in the forest! I am a softy am very lucky in my literary endeavors-ego get thee hence-thank-you all for any info-Dave

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