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Old 12-12-2005, 10:02 PM   #1
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Agency reading fees (good or bad?)

Andy,

I copied the three messages below so that we can expound on this thread without interrupting the original.

I wanted to list the pros and cons for reading fees, recommendations to stream-line the review process, and solicit ideas that could possibly make this idea work or put it to bed.

Jon

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Quote:
What's funny is that if agents COULD charge reading fees without being hammered as scammers and unethical, I bet you'd see a massive increase in turnaround time.


I am not sure if it's funny or not, but one problem with this idea is implementation. Sure, I would be more than happy to pay an agent a reasonable fee to read my material and provide constructive feedback. But the opportunity for abuse outweighs the initial benefits because how do we monitor this activity? How do we know an agent wouldn't just hire a college student (or hack) that had little or no training or skills in assessing the validity of a writers work? How would anyone know that the agent isn't living off the reading fees and not promoting or selling any work?

I agree with Andy to a point, but it's just too easy for bad agents to take advantage of the income opportunities and not perform the role of writer advocate.

So we lose efficiency but maintain integrity. Which is more important?

Jon



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I think that agents with integrity would prove themselves by having a client list of published authors and successful sales. The scammers would not have such a list and thus it would be obvious where their priorities lay.

As for the readers...well, if you consider that any reader's opinion is valid to a certain degree, and that many readers for agents now are college interns or recent graduates, I'm not sure there would be a big difference from the current situation. As for constructive feedback, I'm not suggesting that would necessarily be offered, though perhaps a copy of whatever reader's report is written might be provided. But a college doesn't send you constructive feedback on your application. They just let you know if you got in or not. Why would an application fee for an agent be any different?

I'm playing Devil's Advocate here, of course.

Best,
Andy



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Andy,

I hear what you're saying, and I am not against the idea. But as I said before, it is implementation along with oversight that would hurt the credibility of any agent who seeks a reading fee.

I remember the Woodside fiasco from years ago and stood by while my buddy Jack Mingo and a few others were castrated by an agency gone wild.

My background also includes a four year stint as an internal auditor for the Arizona Board of Regents. I can say for certain that there are regulatory laws that govern what a university can and cannot do concerning fees and tuition. I donít think your analogy is quite the same. The independent review of each university was conducted by internal auditors and the Attorney Generals office to ensure compliance with state and federal laws. What body of law or scrutiny would an agent fall under? Self-regulation? Doesnít work. Never has and I can site too many instances of fee based agencies abusing the trust of writers.

The pros for this idea is that writers who arenít serious enough to commit their own funds for an initial reading will reduce the amount of time I or others wait to hear back from an agent.

I am sure there are some upsides to the argument, as there are downsides, so what is the solution?

Jon
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Old 12-13-2005, 12:16 AM   #2
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I'll be the first to list the few cons:

Typically, a writer will submit to ten or more agents. If the average reading fee was just $75.00 then the cost to the writer is $750.00 with no guarantee that any of the ten agents will represent their work. Multiply these figures by another ten or twenty agents who charge reading fees and the whole process becomes a financial burden for the writer. The chances of recouping their initial investment is already pretty slim. Now there is the real possibility that they'll get stuck with nothing to show for their time, money, and effort.

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Old 12-13-2005, 09:58 PM   #3
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One might assume that if the typical reading fee was $75.00, authors would do more due diligence regarding the agents to whom they are submitting. Thus, they might only submit to two, rather than ten.

If you go to my site, you'll find a very specific list of areas in which I like to represent books. I can say with confidence that every day I get at least one query that demonstrates that authors do not always bother to visit that page. I get YA novels, romance novels, children's books, religious books, and the like. All of which I clearly rule out on my site.

Part of the problem is OTHER sites, that provide contact information, but nothing more. I have had to go around and find some of these sites and ask them to remove my contact information and leave only a link to my site. Which they generally do, but the damage is often done.

Another part of the problem is magazines that run "market reports" and include information about agencies. A lot of authors pay little attention to what the agent says he or she is seeking, and just copy down an address.

While I know nothing about how states regulate universities, the bottom line is that the universities charge an application fee and the majority of applicants get nothing for their money. Yet universities couldn't exist without students, so why shouldn't they allow everyone to apply for free? Right now, every agent I know is allowing every writer to apply for free. Who is making the error here? The universities or the agents?

Devilishly yours,
Andy

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Old 12-13-2005, 10:25 PM   #4
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Andy,

I will reply this way, yes, I did visit your site (blog) once and slapped you silly when I presumed you were taking reading fees in the guise of a charity event. My mistake and I apologized when I learned more about your intentions. I will admit that I had not read the previous posts and assumed incorrectly that you were willing to read a sample chapter in exchange for a donation. Okay, for the record, I said that I would not submit my work to your agency for the reasons I stated. Nothing has changed, so I can and do feel free to continue this discussion in earnest. I just want other readers to understand my objectivity and not question the intent of my discussions with you.

I am going to think about what you've said for a bit and respond later. I just wish other writers would kick in some debate here so this thread doesn't appear as a duologue.

Cheers,

Jon
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Old 12-13-2005, 11:29 PM   #5
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Allowing reading fees is bad because information about which agencies are successful and which are not is simply not current enough and new writers often don't know where to obtain it. That's why so many start off with Writer's Digest only to then fall victim to the ads within its pages in the mistaken belief that those ads were vetted. Many writers expect rejections. That's why it takes some of them so long to recognize when they're being scammed.

My take is that if reading fees were legitimized by all agents, the number of scams taking place in the publishing industry would multiply until real agents found themselves in the minority and afraid to admit to being agents because their overall reputation took a serious integrity hit.
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Old 12-14-2005, 12:08 AM   #6
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Fees

Reading fees are always bad, and no legitimate agent asks for them. No agent who's really any good has to ask for reading fees.

I do know a couple of good agents who ask for very high reading fees, but the only reason they do so is because they don't want writers submitting to them. Saying they weren't talking new clients didn't work, so they started charging reading fees no sane person would pay.

An agent should earn his money by selling your work. Period. No exceptions. An agent who isn't earning enough money by selling work to not worry at all about reading fees is a bad agent.

Money should always flow to the writer. Never, ever, under any circumstances should money flow away from the writer. When it does, you're dealing with someone you should avoid completely.
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Old 12-14-2005, 07:33 PM   #7
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Maybe the solution is to attack WRITER'S DIGEST and force them to do due diligence on the agents who are advertising their services there!

As for information about which agents are successful, that's for the individual agencies to make known, no? Either by publicizing their success on the web or through PW or Publishers Marketplace, it seems to me.

And there's an easy way for an author to protect himself from scams: Insist on discussing the submission list, then insist on seeing (1) the photocopying bill; (2) the shipping bill; (3) the rejection letters and emails from the publishers. At the very least, those three things will demonstrate to any author that their work is being sent out and read by publishers.

James, your post is really just a rant. I don't see any evidence here to back up any of these positions. Dave at least outlines why he thinks they are bad. For example, you say "no legitimate agent asks for them. No agent who's really any good has to ask for reading fees." Yet, for years the Scott Meredith Literary Agency had a reading program that required a fee. It was called the Discovery Program. But no one ever accused Scott of not being an legitimate agent, or Russ Galen, Ted Chichak or Jack Scovil, all of whom worked for Scott. Some of the most successful agents and editors in the business started out reading and writing responses for that program.

Other agents I've known over the years have also charged fees. Some called them "processing fees," and they ranged from $28 to $50 for a sample chapter submission. I won't name them here because I'm not aware if they continue to charge this fee, but believe me when I say they were out there.

Another agent--a rather well-known SF&F agent, in fact--once took over a client I'd parted ways with. This other agent spent weeks and possibly months negotiating a contract the author ultimately chose not to sign. The agent sent her a letter, which her next agent (her fourth or fifth overall) happened to get a copy of and share with me. In this letter, the agent on the dead deal stated "I do not work for free" and essentially demanded that the author pay him something for his time. Was that right or wrong? Should an author, having taken up hours and hours of an agent's time, be required to compensate him or her?

"An agent should earn his money by selling your work. Period. No exceptions. An agent who isn't earning enough money by selling work to not worry at all about reading fees is a bad agent." This presumes the agent offers no other services beyond literary representation, yes? So if an agent offers to build an author a website, then that money could flow the other way, right? What about if the agent doesn't really want to represent an author but the author is very much in need of help and is willing to pay the agent a flat fee to negotiate his small press contract. Well, there the money flows from the author to the agent. Is that a problem?

I think, James, that your position is simply too inflexible and your post too strident to have real merit. There are many different ways of doing business and they are not always going to be the way you, personally, think they should be done.

Now, returning to the subject at hand, the question posed was why can other businesses charge people an application fee but agents can't? So far, I've seen no argument that demonstrates a clear argument that agents shouldn't be able to do so. Yes, some are afraid of scammers, yet right now there are scammers aplenty, so other than denying genuine agents the means to perhaps charge an application fee and use that money to help hire staff that might help grow the business, thereby enabling the agent to take on more clients, how is stopping legitimate agents from having reading fees helping authors now?

Devilishly yours,
Andy
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Old 12-14-2005, 09:00 PM   #8
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Well, I think one thing to consider is this:

When filling out apps for universities, students or prospective students, most often have a finacial suport system that pays those fees for them. Mom, dad, Great Aunt Betty, and you can take out student loans.

I've yet to see a bank advertise Wanna be Author's Loans. That's right, get your reading fee loans right here! Most authors I know are very very poor--myself I had to resort to looking under the car floor mats to find enough change to pay for postage on my MS many times. If those agents had charged a fee then I'd of been out of luck as far as being able to submit to them.

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Old 12-14-2005, 09:54 PM   #9
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MockingBird:

I strongly suspect that the percentage of students out there who are poor is much higher than the percentage of authors who are. Remember, there are vastly more students.

But that's irrelevant. Your cell phone company doesn't care if you are poor. If you can't afford the "set-up fee" then you don't get a phone. Perhaps ending the "ban" on reading fees would create more competition in the marketplace. Younger agents might have no reading fee, in order to get more submissions. Other agents might charge a reading fee of only $49.99, when mega-agents might charge nothing or $500.00. Who really knows? But I don't think a general statement that "authors are poor" is a valid argument against reading fees when one considers how many other businesses charge equivalent "application" or "set-up" fees.

C'mon, folks. Aren't there any businesspeople on this site? Give me one valid argument that demonstrates that reading fees are "bad." Yes, we know there are scammers, but there are scammers now, when there's a "ban" on reading fees. There will always be scams.

The only argument I can see from an author's point of view is that by having an agent who ONLY makes money selling his clients' works, he has a greater incentive to work hard to sell those works.

But that argument is simply wrong IN PRACTICE! Do you know what happens in real life? Agents take on too many clients. They submit too many projects to editors at the same time. They throw manuscripts at the publishing house doors, hoping one will stick. When I started as an editor at the Berkley Publishing Group, the late Jay Garon (John Grisham's agent and therefore a man probably not hurting for cash), sent me a manuscript EVERY DAY by messenger FOR FIVE DAYS. It only stopped when I called his assistant and told her it was enough. I then ultimately read about ten to twenty-five pages of each before I rejected them.

I just closed to new submissions for the month of December (yet I have a giant pile of mail here, which goes to prove how few authors check my website before submitting) because I realized that far too much of my time lately has been spent dealing with mail, queries, etc. I've made a conscious decision to go "deeper" with my current clients, rather than broader, searching for new ones. Though perhaps if I could charge a reading fee, I could hire a bookkeeper to do the accounting and review those royalty statements that have been piling up, or an editor to work with my clients on polishing their manuscirpts. But since I'd be tarred and feathered for charging such a fee, I don't. Is that helping authors looking for an agent? Really?

Devlishly yours,
Andy
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Old 12-14-2005, 10:23 PM   #10
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Okay, I am going to become the lone dissenter here and say:

I don't think there is anything wrong with charging a nominal fee to process a sample chapter (or several).

I paid a professional editor to review my first novel. Why? Because I am a lousy editor. I make mistakes, I might have a scene where there are talking heads and no action, or I might have a scene with stilted dialogue. My editor was great at pointing out the technical flaws, providing solid line-by-line editing, and a ten-page review of my manuscript. My editor is a successful and talented writer in her own right, so her editing was from personal and professional experience.

But, I did my homework. I checked her out before sending my manuscript along with the money. I did "due diligence" and was satisfied with her credentials. I paid her a lot more money than $50.00 to read my manuscript.

My pet peeve is that I have my manuscript out to five agents who requested partials. Three months have gone by with no results. I haven't heard a peep out of them if they want to see the full or if my writing sucks and they'll pass.

Why are these agents taking so long? Maybe it is because they're swamped with so many unsolicited and requested manuscripts that they can't get to mine in a timely manner. Hey, maybe I can call them up and say "Mr./Mrs. Agent, if you will please take an hour of your day to review my work then I will pay you $50.00". If you like it, fine, we can go from there and decide if you'll represent me. If not, then I can at least close the books on you and go find another agent who likes my work.

I paid attention to what the agent represents, read the agency site and knew their client list, and sent my work after it was requested from a query. So, why am I still on the fluffy stack of unread partials? BECAUSE THEY DON'T HAVE THE TIME OR MONEY TO FILTER THE JUNK THAT IS SENT UNREQUESTED.

Hire someone to sort out the good stuff from the other chaff. I don't have the time or inclination to sit around for another year or two until an agent has the time to finally read my work.

My vote - I support a reading fee with certain guidelines as Andy suggested. I think the money would be well spent.

Jon
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Old 12-14-2005, 10:45 PM   #11
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I like to think of myself as a smart person when it comes to money and how I spend what I have--it allows me to live outside my income limits, by most people's thoughts.

I saw the reasons for the move to the top of the pile fees, and didn't object to them. Though, I didn't use the option myself, I came before them.

On one hand we can say look an agents time is valuable, so shouldn't they be paid for it like any other person who provides a service? But, there are so many scams out there that how does a person really know if the said agent is legit or not?

Yeah, we can ask for client lists--oh, the agent says, I donít' share those. Some legit agents don't, scam agents don't or they lie, or they may have a few hits to share.

As a new writer starting out, we have no clue. Many years ago when I first started submitting, my first book--that will never see the light of day, I had no idea where to start. PC's were not a reality, no internet, so I went to my book shelf and picked up a book and looked up the address of the publisher and sent away.

One publisher praised said book and sent me a three page letter ending with we sugest you consult the Writer's Market--me, being new had no idea what the heck the writers market was--a book? A place? A business? Another suggested I divide the book into three parts and then perhpas find an agent.

Agents seemed a big mystery then, a scary big person who I had no idea how to contact, they were for celebs not little me.

Then I happened on an agent who took out an ad in a magazine--wow, now I knew how to find them. So off I sent my query.

I got a letter back saying how great my book was, but that it needed a little work and for a fee of . . .

What stopped me was that I was as broke as could be.

Sheesh, I got away form my point here--back to it . . .

Right now the biggest way to tell a scammer from a legit agent is the fees they charge.

let me repeat:

Right now the biggest way to tell a scammer from a legit agent is the fees they charge.

Sadly, even if reading fees could lighten an agent's load, or make good buisness sense, the above is a reality right now. Writers have one (sure way given today's thought process) to tell a scammer, THEY CHARGE A READING FEE.

Even those of us who would like to teach, say, how to write a killer query letter--writers expect us to teach it for free and if we want to charge well then something is wrong, something stinks, we are a scammer.

Until that somehow changes, anyone asking for reading fees or submission fees is going to be considered a scammer or a bad guy--good business sense or not.

IMHO

OH and I agree with the above post that a reading fee could thin the load a great deal.

Shawn

Last edited by SRHowen; 12-14-2005 at 10:49 PM.
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Old 12-14-2005, 11:32 PM   #12
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Well, lack of a reading fee isn't a complete protection any longer since the Literary Agency Group encompassing ST Literary Agency, the New York Literary Agency, the Poetry Agency, the Screenplay Agency, the Christian Literary Agency, and the Children's Literary Agency now claim not to charge a reading fee since they are presently getting their fees from critiques and editing services that they recommend which are not independent third party businesses as they claim, but are actually owned by the same man and thus provide the whole scam with its income. However, that's merely the present day exception to the rule. I feel certain that a few more scammers will eventually follow when they realize that writers have learned not to pay any up front fees. That or they'll finally leave the industry.
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Old 12-15-2005, 04:26 AM   #13
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Dave,

Errr...are they still in business? They've scammed for so long I am surprised that they are able to continue without some state (Attorney General) shutting them down for good.

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Old 12-15-2005, 04:45 AM   #14
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And yet, Shawn, I just pointed out that Scott Meredith had the Discovery Program, which was nothing more than a program where manuscripts were read and an evaluation sent for a fee, for years. Yet no one called Scott a scammer. I'm not aware, right this second, of any other larger agencies doing such a thing, though I do know that more and more agencies seem to have "editors" on staff. How those editors are compensated, I'm not sure.

I don't believe that the only way to differentiate a scammer from a legit agent is the existence or absence of a fee, though obviously the existence of a fee may cause someone to consider carefully whether or not they want to go with that agent. But, then again, the existence of an application fee may make me want to think twice about applying for an apartment in that really good-looking apartment building. But if it looks good enough, and I want in, I guess I'll just have to pay, right?

Now let me throw another wrench into this conversation: What does everyone think about an agent charging by the hour for representation, or by the month, rather than taking a commission? As you may be aware, there's a Washington lawyer who handles a number of rather large deals for politicians and only takes his hourly fee. And book publicists tend to work on a monthly retainer ($5,000 a month isn't unusual). Would either of these models work better for agents and authors?

Devilishly yours,
Andy
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Old 12-15-2005, 06:19 AM   #15
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P&E hasn't called Scott a scammer, but his agency is not recommended by P&E or does that not count?

No, I don't believe that either of those other two models would work well for agents and writers. Agents would likely get the very short end while handling representation for writers whose work fetches six and seven digit figures. Writers would end up in that position in most other instances since it would then be to the agent's benefit not to sell the manuscript too soon in order to get it to pay enough to actually be worth their time. After all, why sell it with only one hour of work when it can pay ten times better by claiming ten hours? With a small advance, it would be possible for the agent to be due the whole advance. Also, it doesn't take into account what the book might earn past the advance. I'm assuming that the by the hour amount would be all that the agent is entitled to. If not, then it starts taking the form of double-dipping.
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Old 12-15-2005, 06:39 AM   #16
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I can understand both sides of this discussion. I see Zack's point in that charging a nominal fee could lighten an agent's load and compensate for a bit of extra time spent critiquing, especially when other businesses and intsititutions use them. Not to mention, it would certainly make me think doubly hard whether or not the said agent was a good fit for me.

However, as the writer who has literally looked under the car mats for postage money, a reading fee would severely cripple my chances of ever finding an agent. While $25-$50 may not seem like much to most here, as a writer who's day job is being a cashier, it's a lot of money to me. Yeah, I know, wahhh if I was serious about getting represented then I would find the money, but it's not necessarily that easy. Phone bill might have to wait, or car payment, etc just so I could find the money. Let's say, I did have a spare $100 or so to send out a couple queries. I cut the check, send it out, only to find out that the agents have already met their quota for contemporary romance ms. Hmm. Well, there goes $100 I could have used to get ahead on my credit card payment.

Now, to get back to Zack's side of this that would also passify my checkbook. Let's say, hypothetically, I queried an agent. (Free to query, minus the soon-to-be $.76 for stamps) The agent then requested a partial. Now, in their guidelines it states they charge $15 (or so) for partials. That I could come up with. Okay, I send out the check and partial. One of two things could happen. The agent could decide to pass on it. Okay, fine. I'm out $15. No Frappuccinos for me, big deal. OR, the agent could decide they liked what they saw and requested the full. To make it completely fair, the reading fee for a full would be guaged on ms. size. If I was submitting a 150,000+ word ms, I would expect to pay a bit more than if I was submitting 75,000 word ms or less. For the sake of argument it ranges something like $25 for 50,000-75,000 words. $40 for 76,000-100,000 words and $60 for 101,000-???. Okay, I could most likely get the $40 without breaking the bank. Granted, it would mean one agent at a time and I'm in a world of hurt should more than one ask for a full, but that's not the point. I could do it and not be totally bankrupt should the agent pass on the full. In this sense, the agent gets his fee, and I don't feel gypped if they ultimately passed. I would have a small peace of mind knowing that they gave me a fair shot before taking my check to the bank.

This is all just my thoughts on it and trying to point out that I do see both sides, while stating (sorry, Zack) that with my current financial situation, I'm REALLY glad agents don't normally charge a reading fee.
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Old 12-15-2005, 06:55 AM   #17
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Dave:

Why is SMLA not recommended?

A.
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Old 12-15-2005, 07:53 AM   #18
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Hey Andy,

I don't think it's the only way to tell a scammer from a non-scammer, but it is the one thing that does stand out, and that newcommers are told again and again--don't pay a reading fee. So if an agent asks for a reading fee it is a sign post that says this guy may be a scammer. (since fees are the main income source for scam agents--the only one in in most cases)

Any application fee to me seems a gravy train for the person collecting the fee--and rental app. fees here are crazy! If an agent charges a reading fee (and said agent is legit he has a good track record makes top sales etc.) then i can see the fee as a good thing, he can hire someone to read so he can spend time selling my work.

But the problem is those who charge a fee with no intention of ever selling my ms. The want to sell me editing, they want to charge me to read something they never read and send me a letter about my overuse of eclaimation points (hmm, only one in the entire 120,000 words--overuse?)

I understand the frustration, believe me.

I have taught several workshops on query letter and synopsis writing--in Europe. I got good money to teach them.

We moved back to the US and I started a writers group, in that group I taught my workshop, and I worked with a few others on the query/synop thing.

Let's take the ones I worked with in this last year--not many. I did not get paid, spent a great deal of time teaching my form of query and synop. abotu 90% now have good agents. A third now have sold novels, and even one has a multi-book deal with a top publisher sold on the query and synop I taught her to write.

So along with the magazine I work for we decied to sell my workshop as a an online class--guess what no one wanted to pay me for it they thought I should just teach it out of the goodness of my heart or something. I have proven results--yet . . .

Same with agents, people have the idea it should be for free and anything else is out of the question--heck most people still think everything on the Internet should be for free.

Don't mind me today--am in a bad modd, a very bad mood.

Shawn

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Old 12-15-2005, 11:39 AM   #19
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I also see both sides of the argument.
First: I am totally against reading fees. Finding a publisher is just not in the same category as applying for a mobile phone. The richest writers - those who could afford it - may not be the best writers; and conversely, some of the best wirters may be the poorest. So sorting authors according to their ability to pay is definitely not the way to sort the wheat fromn the chaff. Agents would be the losers as well as brilliant authors who just couldn't afford it.

On the other hand the fact that there's so much chaff to sort through to get at the wheat is indeed slowing down the process and making it unecessarily harder for us all.

What's the solution? Certainly, it seems that another filter before manuscripts get to the agent seems appropriate. One agent I queried - one of the most responsive, I have to say - had a reader read my partial ms and deliver a very detailed report - a copy of which he also sent to me, and asked for my comments - which, I assume left him free to only read the mss the reader thought were worthy of his time. But he'd have to pay the reader, or readers, of course. More expenses! What about paying the reader a commission, say 3%, on those good mss the reader finds, and the agent sells?

I don't think that agent ever got around to reading the ms (he kept sending me emails apologizing for the delay) - but at least, with this system, and having a reliable reader who knows what he likes, he doesn't have to waste his time reading stuff he doesn't need to.

I assume that the reader would not write such a detailed report in the case of mss that are clearly rubbish; that is, the reader could fairly easily discard those, and would be motivated to find the gems?

Just thinking out loud here; I have no idea how feasible this idea would be.
Clearly, though, the present system isn't working; at least, not well.
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Old 12-15-2005, 03:08 PM   #20
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When writing was harder work, when you had to retype every draft--(no computers) there were less "writers." Only those driven to write wrote and submitted, now it seems everyone with a computer is trying to write the next Harry Potter--it's seen as a quick way to get rich. If you are a published author you must be rich--the media says so.

This has created a flood of trash into editor's and agent's offices.

The solution? I think I like the idea of a finder's fee or commision for readers. Readers hired on a found work base. But where would the free readers come from and who is going to spend that much time as a first reader sorting trash--for a maybe small $ award?

Maybe current clients could agree to read so many ms per month--not a good idea, that would take away from their writing time. Students? Wanna be authors--many people work on commision, but I just don't think there are enough books published to suport a large network of readers on commison--though maybe there are.

Shawn
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Old 12-15-2005, 03:54 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aruna
I also see both sides of the argument.
First: I am totally against reading fees. inding a publisher is just not in the same category as appkying for a mobile phone. The richest writers - those who could afford it - may not be the best writers; and conversely, some of the best wirters may be the poorest. So sorting authors according to their ability to pay is definitely not the way to sort the wheat fromn the chaff. Agents would be the losers as well as brilliant authors who just couldn't afford it.

That's what I was trying to say! I just took the LONG way around it. Thanks, Aruna!
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Old 12-15-2005, 05:00 PM   #22
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This probably raises some more issues but if you're overwhelmed with slush, get an intern. Call up the English department at your local university and say you're looking for someone to do reader's reports. Something along the lines of "Gosh, I really can't pay him or her but they'll gain VALUABLE EXPERIENCE IN THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY along the way." I know American education isn't what it used to be but I'm sure you'd be able to somehow get a good pair of eyes.

Besides, how long does it take to skim a chapter and realize it's unreadable and uncommercial? Or just not that good enough to bother with? Five minutes? Two? Just use the same criteria you'd use in a bookstore. Read the first sentence, the first paragraph, then put it down forever if you're not going to buy it.

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Old 12-15-2005, 05:14 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by britwrit
This probably raises some more issues but if you're overwhelmed with slush, get an intern. Call up the English department at your local university and say you're looking for someone to do reader's reports. Something along the lines of "Gosh, I really can't pay him or her but they'll gain VALUABLE EXPERIENCE IN THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY along the way." I know American education isn't what it used to be but I'm sure you'd be able to somehow get a good pair of eyes.

Besides, how long does it take to skim a chapter and realize it's unreadable and uncommercial? Or just not that good enough to bother with? Five minutes? Two? Just use the same criteria you'd use in a bookstore. Read the first sentence, the first paragraph, then put it down forever if you're not going to buy it.
Good suggestions, britwrit

Or, there could be "literary scouts", operating a bit like bounty hunters. They could lurk on sites ike thes, read the Share Your Work forums, and actively approach the writers who sound good, request more of their work, and if they're good recommend them to agents; literary scouts could build a reputation of finding good authors; and earn commissions accordingly.
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Old 12-15-2005, 05:43 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Zack
Dave:

Why is SMLA not recommended?

A.
I believe it states by that listing that there's an upfront fee charged.
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Old 12-15-2005, 07:05 PM   #25
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Dave, you're behind the times. SMLA no longer has the Discovery Program. The link on your site actually goes to the page that says it no longer has the program.
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