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popmuze
07-03-2008, 02:43 AM
For me it was probably a year ago, but I couldn't bear searching again. Now it's possible I'll be bringing the agent a deal I got entirely on my own.

Aside from charging a reading fee and never responding to your calls and emails, what are some of the warning signs you and your agent aren't going to make it to the next anniversary?

ChaosTitan
07-03-2008, 02:45 AM
Your agent charges you a reading fee???

BlueLucario
07-03-2008, 02:46 AM
Aside from charging a reading fee and never responding to your calls and emails, what are some of the warning signs you and your agent aren't going to make it to the next anniversary?

Dude, did you know you just got scammed? Agents don't charge you squat!

Marian Perera
07-03-2008, 02:49 AM
Aside from charging a reading fee and never responding to your calls and emails, what are some of the warning signs you and your agent aren't going to make it to the next anniversary?

The only reputable agency I've ever heard of that charged a reading fee was the Scott Meredith agency, and even that can lead to situations like the one described in this post (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=1464802&postcount=74).

Karen Duvall
07-03-2008, 02:58 AM
When they lose their enthusiasm for your work.

When they turn down your next manuscript.

When they stop returning phone calls and emails.

When they're just plain ineffective. I had one like that once. He used this ridiculous shotgun approach of shooting the manuscript off to 3 editors, wait 3 months for a reply, shoot off three more, rinse and repeat. Hello? Can we say knucklehead? My own fault. I should have seen the signs right off. He didn't have the connections he claimed to have and was winging it. And he was an attorney, for Pete's sake. Well, that should have been my first warning. :D Just kidding. Sort of.

geardrops
07-03-2008, 03:06 AM
Your agent charges you a reading fee???

I think the example was more an example of glaring warning signs.

Like "Other than being bitten by a shark, why would you get out of the ocean?"

Soccer Mom
07-03-2008, 03:08 AM
I don't think popmuse is saying that his agent charged him a reading fee, I think he's just saying that is one of the warning signs that you don't have a good agent.

And sometimes a good agent just isn't the right agent for you.

ETA: cross-posted with dempsey. :)

ChaosTitan
07-03-2008, 03:09 AM
:gone:

geardrops
07-03-2008, 03:15 AM
I don't think popmuse is saying that his agent charged him a reading fee, I think he's just saying that is one of the warning signs that you don't have a good agent.

And sometimes a good agent just isn't the right agent for you.

ETA: cross-posted with dempsey. :)

Jinx! You owe me a coke.


:gone:

:heart:

I wish I had something useful to contribute to this thread. Unpublished, unagented, and all that jazz. Ah, well :)

Kalyke
07-03-2008, 03:28 AM
I think they can charge a phone call and stapler type fee. I think the warning sign is they don't do their job. Unfortunately they make it so contingent on you changing for them instead of them changing for you. I would think if they want you to change things substantially before they can sell it, that means they can only sell it to a few publishers who have very rigid formats. I can see someone saying "this is too long" but not "we can only sell this if there is a love story in it." That would mean they really don't have many contacts in the publishing world. Not considering the breadth and scope of stuff I have seen published.

popmuze
07-03-2008, 03:33 AM
Your agent charges you a reading fee???



Before this travesty goes any further, I must clarify my errant sentence structure.

I only meant that charging a reading fee is definitely a warning sign of a bad, if not criminal agent. And that not returning phone calls or emails is an obvious sign of a bad relationship.

Actually, charging a reading fee is a warning sign not to begin the relationship at all. It's not something you'd eventually discover a year or two into the relationship.

JeanneTGC
07-03-2008, 03:37 AM
I think they can charge a phone call and stapler type fee. I think the warning sign is they don't do their job. Unfortunately they make it so contingent on you changing for them instead of them changing for you. I would think if they want you to change things substantially before they can sell it, that means they can only sell it to a few publishers who have very rigid formats. I can see someone saying "this is too long" but not "we can only sell this if there is a love story in it." That would mean they really don't have many contacts in the publishing world. Not considering the breadth and scope of stuff I have seen published.
I think that would depend on the book, and shouldn't be a blanket statement that if an agent says "you need to add this in/make these changes in order to sell" that it means they don't know what they're doing. Your book might not be the "all that" you think it is or it might be so niche that there's just no real market for it as it stands at the time. ;)

However, I do agree that if your agent is constantly tinkering, there's something wrong. And if you know in an unbiased way that your novel is widespread in its potential readership and your writing isn't stinking on ice, then it could indeed be a sign your agent doesn't have all the options you want an agent to have in terms of where to submit.

popmuze
07-03-2008, 03:40 AM
When they're just plain ineffective. I had one like that once. He used this ridiculous shotgun approach of shooting the manuscript off to 3 editors, wait 3 months for a reply, shoot off three more, rinse and repeat. Hello? Can we say knucklehead? My own fault. I should have seen the signs right off. He didn't have the connections he claimed to have and was winging it. first warning. .

This sends chills down my waning career. After eight months this agent finally started sending my novel around, supposedly to eight places. The first four responded within a few weeks, three of them saying "we really don't do books like this." Four months later, I still haven't heard from the rest. So what do I do? Send the dude my next novel. I'm figuring, in about eight months time, all my problems should be solved. In the meantime, I'll probably get several deals on my own--minus 15%.

popmuze
07-03-2008, 03:43 AM
it could indeed be a sign your agent doesn't have all the options you want an agent to have in terms of where to submit.


The frustrating part is, the agent is part of a much bigger agency that has millions of contacts; I'm just not sure everybody there gets to partake of the same action.

JeanneTGC
07-03-2008, 03:45 AM
This sends chills down my waning career. After eight months this agent finally started sending my novel around, supposedly to eight places. The first four responded within a few weeks, three of them saying "we really don't do books like this." Four months later, I still haven't heard from the rest. So what do I do? Send the dude my next novel. I'm figuring, in about eight months time, all my problems should be solved. In the meantime, I'll probably get several deals on my own--minus 15%.
If your agent is a poor or gormless agent, they're doing more damage than you being without an agent.

If you're unhappy and feeling that your agent isn't what he/she is supposed to be, send the termination letter, but don't send the next book. Terminate before you have another "child" with this agent.

Also, spend some time on the Bewares and Background Checks forum -- great information there about the good, the bad and the ugly from an agenting (and other) perspective.

scope
07-03-2008, 03:48 AM
I'd suggest you pay attention to the post by Karen Duvall. I think it's right on.

JamieFord
07-03-2008, 03:50 AM
When you write fiction and all of your agent's sales in the past three years have been cookbooks. Bad sign.

ChaosTitan
07-03-2008, 03:59 AM
I think they can charge a phone call and stapler type fee.

Most agents don't charge you a cent up front. Many will, however, charge for fees such as photocopies or courier service, but those fees usually come out of the money you get from them selling your book.

J.T.
07-03-2008, 04:12 AM
Hi Guys,

When an agent request the first 50 or 100 pages, how long should you wait before contacting them again if you haven't heard from them? Also, If you send a proposal as per their request, how long should you wait?

J.T.
Powerful People: Powerful Lives

Soccer Mom
07-03-2008, 04:35 AM
Hi Guys,

When an agent request the first 50 or 100 pages, how long should you wait before contacting them again if you haven't heard from them? Also, If you send a proposal as per their request, how long should you wait?

J.T.
Powerful People: Powerful Lives

Check around and see what their general time frame is. Check on AgentQuery, Query Tracker, and of course you can look in the Bewares and Background Checks here. Search the index and see if there is a thread on that agent. If there isn't, go ahead and start one to ask. Times vary wildly. It really depends on the agent.

:welcome: to the Roundtable.

Soccer Mom
07-03-2008, 04:37 AM
Read this excellent blog post (http://varkat.livejournal.com/)today by Lucienne Diver. She hosted a discussion on the author/agent relationship with one of her authors.

popmuze
07-03-2008, 05:44 AM
Read this excellent blog post (http://varkat.livejournal.com/)today by Lucienne Diver. She hosted a discussion on the author/agent relationship with one of her authors.

? I was whelmed, but not overly so.

What wasn't discussed is when you start to think, this is an agent whose manuscripts don't get read for at least six months, rather than an agent whose books go right to the top of the pile.

But then again, maybe I'm the author whose manuscripts don't get read for at least six months--or at all--regardless of the agent.

Or irregardless, as the case may be.

Which bring us to the age old question: is it the author or the agent? For instance, given the same author, same book, same time frame, will one agent be able to sell it and another fail to do so?

Truly, this is the stuff of nightmares.

Soccer Mom
07-03-2008, 05:53 AM
I'd say if you are getting deals and the agent isn't, then it's clear you aren't the problem. Perhaps it is time to move on. You may have a great agent, but if you aren't his/her priority, then it doesn't matter squat all.

Memnon624
07-03-2008, 05:58 AM
Which bring us to the age old question: is it the author or the agent? For instance, given the same author, same book, same time frame, will one agent be able to sell it and another fail to do so?

Yes. The sad fact is: all agents aren't created equal, even among legit agents. Some have better flesh-pressing skills, some are better at harvesting the slush pile, others might be best at slapping author and manuscript into shape. I've has two agents. My first was dedicated and a joy for me to work with, but lacked the most basic contacts. The other has an excellent pedigree, contacts galore, but he's far less of a hand-holder.

Best advice that I ever got was from a friend who had a high-powered agent (one of the man's clients was the Vatican). He told me to spend time forming a dedicated pool of agents with proven records and preferably a background in publishing (i.e.: either they did their apprenticeship at the feet of an acknowledged master agent or they came over from the editorial side -- but only from the major publishers). Make a pool and just keep querying them project after project, as needed. Some day, chances are you'll have a project they want to see when they want to see it. Takes time, unfortunately :(

Best,

Scott

maestrowork
07-03-2008, 07:44 AM
- When an agent doesn't read your freaking proposal and then goes ahead and determines your novel is, hmmm, horror.

- When an agent gives you writing advice such as "you should never use sentence fragments. Never."

- When an agent tells you "you should write like John Grisham, because he sells books."

- When an agent can't tell you exactly who he or she represents and how many mss. sold a year. When they tell you "it's business confidential information" (Bullshit).

- When an agent takes more than six months to read an exclusive ms.

- When an agent is not 100% behind your project.