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James D. Macdonald
10-29-2009, 11:30 AM
http://www.dixlit.com/index.html

I have a bad feeling about this one.

To start with, they're advertising their agency with Google AdSense. Then, when you go to their page, you read this:


You have worked thousands of hours on your book or screenplay, and now, no publisher or producer will deal with you unless you have a literary agent, and no literary agent will read your manuscript.

Why?

Time and money are the most obvious reasons. Most literary agents are members of associations who have rules that govern how the member agents may conduct their business, and those associations prohibit member agents from charging a reading fee to read manuscripts. In the past, agents could charge a fee to read manuscripts, bat a few unscrupulous agents were abusing the practice, so the associations banned it altogether.

After the paean to reading fees, though, farther down that same page, we find:


We do not charge a reading fee.

So what was that little tap-dance up in the first couple of paragraphs all about?

The right-hand column of the page is filled with Amazon links for a number of best sellers, by authors like Stephen King, Nora Roberts, John Grisham, and Michael Connelly ... none of whom are represented by the Dixie Literary Agency. (Though I bet you a donut that Dixie is trying to give the new and naive the impression that those authors are somehow associated with 'em.)

On the "About Us" page, we find that agent Ron Autrey's 5x Great Grandfather fought in the American Revolution. I'm sure that's a good thing, but it doesn't have much to do with Ron's ability to be an agent. There isn't a single word there about their clients, or their sales, or Ron's experience in the publishing industry. There are yet more Amazon ads for more books by more authors you've heard of, including Senator Edward Kennedy, Sarah Palin, and Patrick Buchanan, none of whom are represented by the Dixie Literary Agency.

But! There are also two great big covers of books that Ron Autrey himself has written: Lost on the Road, and Astralman: The Beginning. Both are published by Aventine Press, a vanity publisher. Neither has any sales rank at Amazon (that is to say, no sales) and no customer reviews.

On to the Submissions page. No query letter is necessary. Just send the manuscript.

Now we get to some interesting Amazon links in the right-hand column. Sure, there's still a Steven King book listed. But, oddly enough, there's a link to National Best-Selling Short Stories by Michele Campanelli.

That was published by iUniverse, a vanity press. And Michele, and that book ... were last heard from when she was being represented by Robert M. Fletcher (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=9370i#post9370), back when Bouncing Bobby's little hive of scams was still ST Literary Agency. It's a collection of the short-shorts that Michele had published in the various Chicken Soup anthologies. That's a real blast from the past. What's it doing here?

And what's this? Four of the links are for books by people whose last name is "Autrey," just like agent Ron Autrey (and his partner Mark Autrey).

Let's check 'em out:

Words of Inspiration to Live By by Tanya Marie Autrey
Tate Publishing (a vanity press; charges $4,000)

Upon Eagle's Light by Clover Autrey
The Wild Rose Press (small press, romance, no agent required)

What Big Teeth You Have: A Vampire Tale by Jimmy C Autrey II
iUniverse (a vanity press)

Banished Pride by Gina Autrey
PublishAmerica (do I have to say it?)

"Are you ready to get published?" Ron asks.

Not like that I'm not.

Not that they claim that they represented these books. They don't make any claims of having sold anything.

So where is their money coming from? That PublishAmerica book would have brought in a resonating one-dollar advance, giving Ron a solid fifteen cents (assuming this was a book he agented).


Back on page one we learn:


We do charge a one-time fee for office expenses for the authors we represent. If we are successful in placing the book or screenplay with a publisher or producer, the office fee is refunded.

This violates Yog's Law. They can take their office expenses out of the advance. Otherwise, no dice.


We also offer a limited editing service for good books and screenplays that only need minor changes. If your book is not ready to publish, we will tell you what is wrong and how it might be changed in order to make it more salable. We want you to become a successful author.

Yeah, I just bet they do. Agents who offer editing services have big red flags hung on them.

My advice ... find an agent who's sold books you've heard of that are actually on bookstore shelves.

AC Crispin
10-29-2009, 07:17 PM
This agency just applied for Affiliate membership in SFWA, and the application was sent to me for a decision, because it didn't seem to meet SFWA's critieria. After reviewing the website, I agreed that it did not meet the criteria. So...I'm with Uncle Jim on this.

SFWA Affiliate membership category is designed for people who have professional ties to the speculative fiction genre. I couldn't find any professional links to book publishing listed by Dixie Literary Agency.

I think Mr. Autrey's heart is in the right place, and he means well, but...that doesn't replace experience in the publishing industry or an internship at a reputable literary agency.

-Ann C. Crispin

Eirin
10-30-2009, 07:51 PM
You have worked thousands of hours on your book or screenplay, and now, no publisher or producer will deal with you unless you have a literary agent, and no literary agent will read your manuscript.

This kind of appeal to emotions makes me uncomfortable. It usually leads up to "suspend your common sense and give us money".

James D. Macdonald
11-05-2009, 12:24 PM
Goodness! Ron has noticed my post, and he's put up a rebuttal.

http://www.dixlit.com/html/warning.html

I won't go through his nonsense line by line, but I will quote this little bit:


The big literary agencies and their associations spout the following propaganda and it is ubiquitous on the Internet:


Not propaganda, Ron, and not coming from the big literary agencies. It's coming from working writers. The reason it's ubiquitous on the Internet (and in black-and-white on paper before the Internet) is because it's true.


"If any literary agent advertises anywhere, they are dishonest and can't be trusted". (Real meaning: "If we can keep the new agents from advertising, they won't be able to get clients and they will go out of business")


Long experience has taught us that real agents (the ones who can sell books to real publishers) don't need to advertise. That's because sales, legitimate, verifiable sales, are the only measure. Advertisements are a lousy way to find clients.

Tiny little one-man shops have gone on to prosper, without laying out one single advertisement.

How?

By selling books to legitimate publishers.

There is one, and only one, measure of a literary agent: Selling books to legitimate publishers.

The agents who need to advertise are clueless, incompetent, or worse.



"If any literary agent charges a fee of any kind, they are ripping writers off". (Real meaning: "If we can keep new agents from charging a fee for any of their services, they will run out of money and go out of business")


This is a true fact, and you can take it to the bank. Any agent who charges a fee is ripping writers off. Agents make their money from commissions on the sales they make for their authors. Any agent who isn't making sales deserves to go out of business.

There are two, and exactly two, sources of money in publishing: One is the reader, the other is the writer. Agents who get their money from commissions are getting the readers' money. That's the right way. The others are taking the writers' money. That's the wrong way.

Yog's Law: Money flows toward the author.


It's all about putting the small agencies out of business.

No. It's all about keeping writers from heartache and grief. It's all about keeping writers from wasting their time. I've seen too much, over too many years. I've seen you a hundred times under a hundred different names. The outcome is always the same. I won't stand for it.

Maybe the would-be agent has a heart of gold and intentions that would make Sir Galahad look like a grifter by comparison. That doesn't matter. If the agent can't make sales, and good sales (hint: PublishAmerica is not a good sale) then an author is wasting his or her time with that agent. If the agent also charges a fee, then the author is going to be wasting time and money.

Not that wasting time and money is all, or the worst, that can happen. As awful as remaining unpublished is, being published badly is worse.

Ron, your current web page isn't doing you any good. All it's doing is waving red flags. Here's what will do you good: Sell some books to legitimate publishers. List your clients and your sales. You'll have more business than you can handle.

Emily Winslow
11-05-2009, 02:56 PM
Goodness! Ron has noticed my post, and he's put up a rebuttal.

http://www.dixlit.com/html/warning.html

I won't go through his nonsense line by line, but I will quote this little bit:

Oh, I hope someone will do a line by line, because that page is a doozy.

It's also very, very, very sad. He seems to really believe it all--that "big" literary agents want to keep new writers from being published in order to protect their established sellers, that they do so by *paying* people at Absolute Write to disparage "small" agencies (as if size were the issue here) under false pretenses. Dear me.

It's that real belief that's heartbreaking.

Eirin
11-05-2009, 03:56 PM
It's also very, very, very sad. He seems to really believe it all--that "big" literary agents want to keep new writers from being published in order to protect their established sellers, that they do so by *paying* people at Absolute Write to disparage "small" agencies (as if size were the issue here) under false pretenses. Dear me.

It's that real belief that's heartbreaking.

I sense frustrated writer in that rather ... embarrassing page. If it is a real belief of his rather than a deliberate play on writers' vulnerability, leading to a play for their wallets, then it reads like someone who's been unable to place his work.

Thing is, starting a literary agency with nothing but the good intention of giving new writers a chance will inevitably turn into a semi-shady, fee-based operation. Lacking the knowledge and contacts to sell manuscriptes, there's simply no other way to establish revenue.

Aside from that, the rebuttal screed is unprofessional as all get out. Reminds me a bit of the Mathews thread. Who'd want an agent so obviously ill-equipped to handle public representation?

DaveKuzminski
11-05-2009, 05:05 PM
Personally, I want to know why Ron Autrey spells his last name differently from the men he claims to be related to.

eqb
11-05-2009, 06:07 PM
Personally, I want to know why Ron Autrey spells his last name differently from the men he claims to be related to.

I want to know why he used stock photos on his Submissions page. (I can tell because one of them is named bigstockphoto_Group_Of_Co-Workers_Standing_I_2869622.jpg).

Eirin
11-05-2009, 06:21 PM
The About (http://www.dixlit.com/html/about_.html) page doesn't say a word about Ron's actual credentials. Not a word. Nothing of his experience in publishing, nothing of where he has placed manuscrips or who he represents. In fact, he doesn't give a single good reason for why anyone should trust him with their work, not to mention give him money.

I see I was right about the frustrated writer part though. Both of the two books he's written himself, Lost on the Road and Astral Man, The Beginning, are published through Aventine Press (http://www.aventinepress.com/).

Not that self-pubbing isn't a viable option, provided you have the right project and know what you're doing, but since Ron has set himself up as an agent, I'm guessing he's been trying to break into commercial publishing. There's no indication that he was successful or that he can do this for another writer.

M.R.J. Le Blanc
11-05-2009, 08:16 PM
O! O! I'll do it!


If you go to www.absolutewrite.com, you will find where "Uncle" James D. MacDonald has written two full pages, railing against the very existence of the Dixie Literary Agency.
Uh, no he didn't. He wrote one post.


He has never met me, nor anyone in this office, but he says that he has a "bad Feeling" about us.
I've never met him, or anyone in his office, nor do I have the years of experience of Uncle Jim. And I don't blame him for the bad feeling.


In a cowardly and unprovoked attack, he assails, not only me and this agency, but my family, my family heritage, and several members of my family who happen to be published authors.
Uh, no he did not attack you, nor did he attack your family or heritage. Though obviously it makes you feel better to think so. Anyone who's not letting emotions get in the way can see that the first post was a thorough analysis of Mr. Autrey's site. This is the Bewares and Background Check forum - what exactly were you expecting Mr. Autrey? Rave reviews? I'm sorry that someone with experience has validly pointed out that being vanity published is not published. I'm sorry that ruins the vision that all but one of your family members are 'published authors'. But in this industry that's the way the cookie crumbles really. Perhaps you would be well served by reading up on the difference between publishers (like Avon, Tor, etc - people who sell books regularly to readers) and printer/author mills (like Tate, PublishAmerica, etc).


He "advises" writers not to deal with us.
He's not the only one. Sorry that people with experience and people who've done their research are advising it.



What "Uncle" MacDonald doesn't tell you is this: We have never lied to anyone, nor have we ever cheated anyone. Not one complaint has ever been filed against us.
So? No one's called you a scammer or a cheater. What you do appear to be is naive and completely inexperienced in the publishing world. Good intentions do not substitute for experience. Books published by vanity houses do not substitute for experience. You're walking a path that has a dead end.


My question is this: Who pays "Uncle" MacDonald to write such hysterical drivel? Whoever it is, they aren't getting their money's worth. "Uncle" doesn't even know the difference between AdWords and AdSense.
No one pays him. He's just one of many who generously donate their time and advice to this site in order to help new writers like me avoid the pitfalls. Your heart may be in the right place, but a book published by an inexperienced publisher meets the same fate of a vanity published one - it ain't pretty. And the difference between AdWords and AdSense in this case is irrelevant.



What's going on here? Just this: The Dixie Literary Agency is a very good agency and we are obviously annoying the big and powerful agencies who control most of the literary agency world - because we are offering new writers a chance to get published.
Sorry, but don't kid yourself. They likely don't even know you exist, and I'm talking both the big powerhouses and the little guys - ALL who make sales, and ALL who stay in business. They ALL give new writers a chance, because that's how they stay in business. Enough with the hyperbole, please. We've heard this a million times from vanity publishers.


The large literary agencies, located mostly in New York and California, seldom represent new writers.
Lies. How do you think they stay in business? Writers die, stop writing, have no more stories to offer, change genres. Who replaces them when they go? NEW WRITERS.


Most new writers are represented by smaller, independent agencies like us, but the large literary agencies have a lot of money invested in their stables of famous authors and they do not want to compete with talented new writers.

No, new writers are represented by big and small agencies. All made up of staff with the two things you don't have - skills and experience. Agencies are always looking for new voices, and they're not going to find them if they're closed off to the new writers who can bring them.


It is an open secret that many of the large literary agencies, and their associations, have been trying for years to shut down the smaller literary agencies so new writers will have no place to obtain representation.
I love a good conspiracy theory, but come on. This is Hollywood-esque stuff. Let's stay in reality, thank you.


Many of the large agencies and their associations are part of an organized effort that sponsors the malicious web sites that go after the small and independent literary agencies in an effort to keep us from operating.
Right. And I'm the Queen of England. I guess all the small and independant agencies listed in this forum who everyone raves about (because they're making sales!) is just a fluke. Or maybe they're part of the conspiracy too somehow.


These sponsored web sites claim to be protecting new writers from literary agent scams but they are perpetrating a "reverse scam" on writers, even as they claim to be protecting them.
Well when you can prove that, you let me know.


All the railing against the smaller agencies, by these web sites, has nothing to do with protecting writers.
Check the listing here. No seriously, check the listing. Nobody here cares if agencies are big or small. All we care about is can they sell your book.


It has but one purpose - to keep new writers from getting published by eliminating the agencies who are willing to represent them.
So all that good advice given by Victoria, James, Ann, Dave, and a plethora of agents, editors and published writers means nothing. All that promo of agencies and publishers who are making sales is just all smoke and mirrors, right guys? ;)


How they operate: Paid "character assassins" go online on behalf of the large literary agencies and their associations and viciously ridicule the smaller literary agencies in an effort to scare writers, hoping that the writers will not patronize us - and we will go out of business.
You know, it's really not good to make unfounded claims. Because for all your longwindedness, you've not offered a shred of proof. If you were someone with relative skills, who was making sales right out of the gate, this thread would be a whole different story. All the 'warnings' you give aren't going to change the fact that you have no publishing skills or experience. Only one thing will drive you out of business, and that is your inexperience.


That would leave the entire literary market in the hands of the big literary agencies who want all new writers to just stop writing.
So what happens when the old writers stop writing? Does the publishing industry just shrivel up and die? That's funny, because I just picked up a bunch of books by a *gasp* new writer.



The big literary agencies and their associations spout the following propaganda and it is ubiquitous on the Internet:
This should be good.



"If any literary agent advertises anywhere, they are dishonest and can't be trusted". (Real meaning: "If we can keep the new agents from advertising, they won't be able to get clients and they will go out of business")
Correct translation: real agents don't HAVE to advertise anywhere. Why? Because their sales speak for them. AgentQuery and Publisher's Launch are pretty much the only places any agent or agency has to 'advertise'. Everything else (believe it or not) is word of mouth.



"If any literary agent charges a fee of any kind, they are ripping writers off". (Real meaning: "If we can keep new agents from charging a fee for any of their services, they will run out of money and go out of business")
Correct translation: real agents make their money from sales, not directly from their writers.


It's all about putting the small agencies out of business.
Judging by all the small agencies currently in business, I'd say that's false.


Imagine saying that General Motors, Microsoft, or Burger King shouldn't be allowed to advertise or charge a fee for any of their services?
You're comparing apples and oranges here.


The whole concept is ridiculous, and it does a disservice to new writers.
There is a ridiculous concept here, but it's not coming from AW.


Putting the smaller literary agencies out of business would keep thousands of new writers from ever getting their manuscripts read - and the book that doesn't get read, doesn't get published.
The only thing that prevents a manuscript from getting read is either a poor query or a failure to follow an agent's guidelines. Or writing a bad story. Not every story written deserves to be published, despite what vanity publishers want you to think.


So much for protecting new writers.
And yet there are so many thank-yous on this site from people saying things like 'thanks for saving me from PA' or 'thanks to this site I managed to avoid Strategic publishing'.


It is the large literary agencies and their associations who sponsor these vicious web sites, and their intended targets are the smaller literary agencies, like us, but in the end, it is the new writers who are harmed.
You are not a literary agency. Agencies have people with skills who can actually sell a book to a publisher. You don't. New writers are not going to be harmed from not going with someone who's inexperienced.


The big guys would like to shut us down, but the Dixie Literary Agency is here to stay and we hope that many new writers will benefit from the experience.
Somehow I just can't see anyone benefiting from going with an inexperienced agent - except to see first hand what an inexperienced agent CAN'T do for them. Like sell their book.



To new writers, I say this: Beware of web sites that warn you about literary agents. They might just be trying toeliminate the competition - you!
Or they might actually be on to something.



***"Uncle" James D. MacDonald is a writer and critic who calls himself "YOG".
Uh no. He quotes Yog's Law: Money flows to the writer. Try using Google for something other than advertising :)

brianm
11-05-2009, 08:36 PM
There are so many false statements in that rant that his pants must have burst into flames the moment he put that up on his site.

Does he honestly think he is comparing apples to apples in this statement where he is trying to justify his upfront fees?


Imagine saying that General Motors, Microsoft, or Burger King shouldn't be allowed to advertise or charge a fee for any of their services?

Uh, Ron, these are companies that actually make products that they sell to consumers.

What product is it you are charging for?


We do charge a one-time fee for office expenses for the authors we represent. If we are successful in placing the book or screenplay with a publisher or producer, the office fee is refunded.

How would you feel if you went into a Burger King and they charged you a fee to walk in the door to cover their office expenses? A fee they said they would refund when you bought one of their products?

Better yet, how would you feel if a real estate agent charged you a fee to take you out to look at houses to cover his office expenses? A fee he said he would refund when you bought a house?

If you don't like being paid on commission, you should get into another industry. I understand Burger King is accepting applications and they don't require experience.

Eirin
11-05-2009, 08:51 PM
Using stockphotos to "represent" himself and his staff is borderline dishonest. So is listing books he doesn't represent in the sidebar. I assume he's selling through the Amazon affiliate program, which is of course entirely legal, but it could easily be interpreted as misrepresentation.

From the warning (http://www.dixlit.com/html/warning.html) page:


Not one complaint has ever been filed against us.


Seriously? That's his comeback?

Not "Here's a list of the books I've placed with advance paying publishers", or "Here's a list of the successful authors I'm repping"? His claim to legitimacy is that he's never been sued?

That's not really reassuring, is it?

I seem to remember another agent, an outright scammer, who made the same argument. Was that Barbara Bauer? Melanie Mills?

brianm
11-05-2009, 10:14 PM
Seems Ron has done some revisions since Uncle Jim first opened this thread. Six days ago, he said this about his fees.


We do charge a one-time fee for office expenses for the authors we represent. If we are successful in placing the book or screenplay with a publisher or producer, the office fee is refunded.

Now he has changed it to this.


We do charge a one-time fee for copying and shipping manuscripts for the authors that we represent.

Before or after he sells the manuscripts? Upfront or from advances?

Six days ago this was on his site.


Why?

Time and money are the most obvious reasons. Most literary agents are members of associations who have rules that govern how the member agents may conduct their business, and those associations prohibit member agents from charging a reading fee to read manuscripts. In the past, agents could charge a fee to read manuscripts, bat a few unscrupulous agents were abusing the practice, so the associations banned it altogether.

He has now changed it to this.


WHY?
The larger literary agencies rarely accept manuscripts from new writers, and as a result, less than 1% of all new manuscripts are ever read by agents or publishers - and the book that doesn't get read, doesn't get published. At Dixie Literary Agency, we find that unacceptable. Every manuscript deserves to be read.
So now it’s because new writers don’t get the chances they deserve? Nonsense. Write a darn good commercially salable manuscript and agents will be falling over themselves offering representation.

Richard White
11-05-2009, 10:25 PM
One minor correction, MRJ.

Uncle Jim is Yog. Otherwise, your disection of that rant was spot on.

ChristineR
11-05-2009, 10:44 PM
I would argue that a better analogy would be Burger Knave approaching farmers and telling them that if the farmers hand over some money, Burger Knave will consider selling their meat at their restaurants, and if the meat sells, Burger Knave will even give the farmers a share of the proceeds.

Burger Knave is just like Burger King, or it will be, once they actually get a restaurant opened.

James D. Macdonald
11-05-2009, 10:47 PM
And yet there are so many thank-yous on this site from people saying things like 'thanks for saving me from PA' or 'thanks to this site I managed to avoid Strategic publishing'.

Even nicer are the ones that say "Thanks to you I got published."



Uh no. He quotes Yog's Law: Money flows to the writer.

Actually, yes. Or, rather, yes and no. I was originally called Yog (Yog Sysop) back when I was running the science fiction roundtable on GEnie, in the early 'nineties, by Lawrence Watt-Evans. The name stuck. That's how Yog's Law got its name: Folks quoting me. When I quote Yog's Law, I'm quoting myself.

Yog's Law is an easy-to-remember tripwire defense for new writers. I've been using it for nearly twenty years.




I seem to remember another agent, an outright scammer, who made the same argument. Was that Barbara Bauer? Melanie Mills?

It was Cris Robins (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=878).

Eirin
11-05-2009, 10:55 PM
Seems Ron has done some revisions since Uncle Jim first opened this thread.


Hmm. I'm starting to think Ron's agency isn't fueled entirely by good intentions. If he's been shopping his own books around for a while, it's likely he's run into a fee-charging agent along the way. Easy enough to pick up the tricks of the trade, so to speak. Kind of like when former PublishAmerica authors start up POD operations.
Just speculation on my part, of course.

James D. Macdonald
11-05-2009, 11:32 PM
I'm starting to think Ron's agency isn't fueled entirely by good intentions.
No, I'm certain his intentions are good.

It's just that he hasn't thought things all the way through. How are the big agencies going to get the publishers to go along with their conspiracy, for example. Suppose a small agency turns up with a great manuscript. What stops a real publisher from buying it?

M.R.J. Le Blanc
11-05-2009, 11:34 PM
Ah well. Not a bad line-by-line for someone who had literally crawled out of bed five minutes before she got online :)

the addster
11-05-2009, 11:40 PM
No, I'm certain his intentions are good.

It's just that he hasn't thought things all the way through. How are the big agencies going to get the publishers to go along with their conspiracy, for example. Suppose a small agency turns up with a great manuscript. What stops a real publisher from buying it?


I suppose one would think that publishers wouldn't buy it because they would fear being cut off by the entire evil conspiracy of literary agents.

And, oh course, the smaller literary agents would either allow themselves to be absorbed into the evil cabal of literary agents or disappear forever.

BAAAWAAAAWAAAAWAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!



Geez.

Richard White
11-05-2009, 11:40 PM
Ineffective agents and ineffective publishers have a lot in common. When you investigate their histories, a lot of them are set up by authors who, for one reason or another, could not get published.

Since things were stacked against them, they turn to (agenting, publishing, fill-in-the-blank) to "even the playing field.".

I can't remember if it was Jim or Hapi who pointed out to a fledgling publisher that the second they take their eye off the target (readers) and look out for the best interests of their authors that they set themselves up for a hard fall.

This business is about getting the best possible work in front of readers. Not to help new authors, not to help old authors, but to help readers by getting rid of the dross before it gets to the bookbuying public.

When a new company gets started, whether it's a one-man band or a group of fifty people who get together to do something in this industry, there's only one thing that seperates a desireable person from a less-desireable one.*

Can they get your book in front of the readers?

Does the new agent have the ability to sell your book to publishers? Yes/No
Does that publisher have the ability to get your book into bookstores or have a LARGE enough presence on the web to get your book an audience (i.e., Ellora's Cave)? Yes/No

That's publishing in a nutshell.

*This also applies to old, established companies. Yep, Publish America, Robert Fletcher, I'm looking straight at you two as bad examples.

Eirin
11-06-2009, 12:19 AM
Here ya go, Richard:



As a publisher every move you make, every breath you take, has to be reader related.

Authors are all very well, but readers drive (and support) this industry. Take your eye off the readers for a second and they'll vanish.

Found it in the Vires Intra thread. I left out the ... interesting formatting though ;)

James D. Macdonald
11-06-2009, 12:32 AM
I can't remember if it was Jim or Hapi who pointed out to a fledgling publisher that the second they take their eye off the target (readers) and look out for the best interests of their authors that they set themselves up for a hard fall.

It was me, but I don't agree with that summation. I totally want my publishers to look out for my best interests. But a publisher's business plan cannot be "help authors" or "support authors" or "validate authors." The business plan must be "sell many books to readers."

Agents are different from publishers. Agents are the authors' advocates. Authors don't need just anyone to represent them, though. Authors who choose to go the "agented" route need an effective agent.

Richard White
11-06-2009, 12:37 AM
Thanks, Jim.

That does sum it up better.

I want publishers to offer fair contracts. I want publishers to pay on time when they say they will. I want publishers to fulfill their part of the bargain when it comes to dealing with an author's work.

But, as you say, their business plan is not to help authors. It's to get books to the readers.

Eirin
11-06-2009, 12:40 AM
I can't speak for Richard, of course, but I think he simply meant that an agent's first order of business should be to sell manuscripts, not "give new authors a chance".

Richard White
11-06-2009, 12:44 AM
Erin,

You've captured the spirit of my thoughts. Thanks.

However, Jim's comments were right on also.

I'm a writer, I should have expressed myself clearer to minimize any confusion my post could raise with new readers to this forum. Sometimes my enthusiasm gets ahead of my fingers.

AC Crispin
11-06-2009, 02:45 AM
Jim, your mention of Cris Robins saying that made me laugh, and I needed one after spending the entire day in the 18th century with Cutler Beckett, that slimeball conniving little twerp.

I laughed because the next thing Writer Beware heard regarding Cris Robins (she who boldly stated that she'd never been the subject of a lawsuit) was that she was being sued by a client who felt she'd been defrauded.

The client won, I believe.

Thanks for the laugh!

-Ann C. Crispin

HapiSofi
11-06-2009, 10:01 AM
If I may add my own bits of line-by-line:


The large literary agencies, located mostly in New York and California, seldom represent new writers.
They do it all the time. Someone who isn't aware of that doesn't know enough about the business to set himself up as an agent.


Most new writers are represented by smaller, independent agencies like us,
Lots of writers are represented by small, independent agents and agencies that are nothing like Dixie. The issue isn't the size of the agency; it's whether that agency can sell the writer's work. A self-proclaimed agent with no industry experience and no track record of making sales is unlikely to make sales, negotiate good contracts, and be an asset to his clients' careers.


but the large literary agencies have a lot of money invested in their stables of famous authors and they do not want to compete with talented new writers.
Hogwash, codswallop, and malarkey. A big literary agency that spots a talented new writer generally wants to sign them up and represent them; and if they don't do it, their competition will. The same goes for small agencies and lone independent agents that spot talented writers.

(If Ron Autrey submitted work to established agents and agencies but was turned down, it wasn't because they feared his talent. Sorry about that.)


It is an open secret that many of the large literary agencies, and their associations, have been trying for years to shut down the smaller literary agencies so new writers will have no place to obtain representation.
That's so completely untrue that anyone who believes it has no business setting up as an agent. As I said earlier, when agents spot promising authors, what they want to do is represent them.

Pay close attention to this next section. It's important.


Many of the large agencies and their associations are part of an organized effort that sponsors the malicious web sites that go after the small and independent literary agencies in an effort to keep us from operating. These sponsored web sites claim to be protecting new writers from literary agent scams but they are perpetrating a "reverse scam" on writers, even as they claim to be protecting them. All the railing against the smaller agencies, by these web sites, has nothing to do with protecting writers. It has but one purpose - to keep new writers from getting published by eliminating the agencies who are willing to represent them.

How they operate: Paid "character assassins" go online on behalf of the large literary agencies and their associations and viciously ridicule the smaller literary agencies in an effort to scare writers, hoping that the writers will not patronize us - and we will go out of business. That would leave the entire literary market in the hands of the big literary agencies who want all new writers to just stop writing.
I don't think Mr. Autrey made that up. In fact, I'm pretty sure I know where he got it. A very similar set of claims was put up online a while back by some of the notoriously bad agents whose names had appeared on the Twenty Worst Agents List. This list was compiled and published by Victoria Strauss and Ann Crispin, of the long established and highly respected Writer Beware site. To put the matter as simply as possible, those agents couldn't claim the list was wrong. They just objected to being outed by it. Their gross misrepresentation of events was an attempt to discredit the people and sites that had outed them.

The people Autrey is calling "paid character assassins" are volunteers who help educate newbie writers about how the industry works, and warn them about scams and pitfalls. Many of them are published authors and other industry professionals. Their advice is good, and their intentions are benevolent.

As for the notoriously bad agents who concocted these scurrilous claims: if I remember correctly, two of them are now under criminal indictment, and a third has switched over to a less public line of work. There may have been one or two others involved, but I can't be sure without checking.

I don't blame Ron Autrey for being deceived by this nonsense. That's what it's for: to deceive unwary and naïve newbies. In that sense, he's as innocent as any other writer those agents have deceived.

Unfortunately, the fact remains that he couldn't tell that it was nonsense, and he didn't recognize his information sources as well-known bad guys. Until he acquires enough basic knowledge that he can open his mouth without sounding ludicrous, there's no way he can function effectively as anyone's agent.


Sometimes these paid assassins call themselves "Watchdog Groups", but they are not legitimate. They are spoilers who send out fake manuscripts,
I'm not sure whether Autrey's aware that he's referring to the famous Atlanta Nights (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlanta_Nights) sting operation, organized by Jim Macdonald, which was aimed at wicked old PublishAmerica. It was funny, well-executed, very much on point, and gratifyingly successful. I can't imagine Autrey would want to associate himself with PublishAmerica, any more than he'd want his name linked to those very bad agents.


and cause problems in other ways. . I do not have the space to list them all
... demonstrationem mirabilem sane detexi, hanc marginis exiguitas non caperet; but it works a lot better if you're Fermat.


The big literary agencies and their associations also spout the following propaganda and it is ubiquitous in the literary world:
"If any literary agent advertises anywhere, they are dishonest and can't be trusted". (Real meaning: "If we can keep the new agents from advertising, they won't be able to get clients and they will go out of business")
It doesn't prove they're crooked. It's just that the real ones almost never do it. As Jim said, if you make a few sales you'll have more business than you can handle.


"If any literary agent charges a fee of any kind, they are ripping writers off". (Real meaning: "If we can keep new agents from charging a fee for any of their services, they will run out of money and go out of business")

It's all about putting the small agencies out of business.
If that were what it's about, no one would listen to our warnings. Also, the agencies doing it would be subject to criminal prosecution.


Imagine saying that General Motors, Microsoft, or Burger King shouldn't be allowed to advertise or charge a fee for any of their services? The whole concept is ridiculous, and it does a disservice to new writers. Putting the smaller literary agencies out of business would keep thousands of new writers from ever getting their manuscripts read - and the book that doesn't get read, doesn't get published. So much for protecting new writers.
I think Ron Autrey believes that the agents that turned him down didn't read his submission. He's wrong about that.

Moreover, he thinks that reading authors' manuscripts is the same thing as being able to sell them. This is not the case. Those manuscripts that bounce from agency to agency aren't going unread. They just aren't good enough to sell to publishers, which means their authors won't get taken on as clients by agencies that know what they're doing.

Just as trying extra-hard won't make Autrey a competent agent, because he doesn't have the knowledge and experience needed for the job and immediate effort won't give it to him, trying extra-hard won't turn those manuscripts into saleable properties. If Autrey takes on clients who aren't good enough (yet), which is what we usually see happen in these cases, he can put in eighteen-hour days, seven days a week, month after month, without ever making any legitimate sales. There are two ways that can go. Both of them have the same outcome.

One is that he keeps his spirits up, keeps working as hard as he can, and goes on collecting money from his clients because he believes with every fibre of his being that any day now he'll find that author, make that sale, collect that commission, and be on his way to a career as a successful agent. Any day. Real soon now. You betcha.

The other is that he despairs, slides down into cynicism, allows himself to realize that none of his clients are publishable, and figures that he might as well go on collecting money from them because lord knows he's worked enough hours on their behalf. Besides, it's not like anyone better is going to take them on.

Who knows? Maybe he's cynical one day, hopeful the next. The point is that whatever he intends, he's running an agenting operation that never makes a sale, and that gets all its income from its authors. This gives him one more set of options. One is to drop out of the business, usually without admitting to anyone that he's doing it. We see a lot of queries about agents like that at AW. The other option is to figure out ways he can generate more income, because if he's going to stay in the business, the pittance he's charging his writers just isn't enough.

But he never set out to be a scammer.

Ron Autrey didn't do a whole lot of research before announcing that he's in business, and he sure hasn't spent much time reading old threads here at AW. He hasn't seen the endless cycles of surprise, indignation, and anger from "agents" who've been charging their clients hundreds or thousands of dollars and haven't made a sale in years. They can't believe we're talking about them so spitefully! They are too a real agent! -- even if they're "selling" their clients' books to vanity presses. Even if they're taking kickbacks on "professional edits" they force their clients to finance. Even if no one who processes slush at the publishing houses that would be the obvious targets of their submissions can remember seeing anything from them. Even if, when you compare notes with three or four of their clients, you can tell that the agent's sending the exact same set of artfully suggestive yet indeterminate form letters to all of them.

They're very indignant. They aren't accustomed to thinking of themselves as scammers. Personally, I don't think of Ron Autrey as a scammer either. But if he continues as planned, and really sticks with it, odds are he'll come to a place on down the road where that's his only workable option.


It is the large literary agencies and their associations who sponsor these vicious web sites,
Nope. Macallister Stone owns AW. It doesn't pay nearly enough. She's a writer and sometimes editor and sometimes workshop organizer, but she's not an agent.

AW is here for the writers. Look at the forum hierarchy. The Bewares Board is just one small corner of it. There are vast territories that are discussing other subjects.


and their intended targets are the smaller literary agencies, like us,
The Bewares Board hosts dozens of discussions of smaller literary agencies where no one has a bad word to say. The difference is, those smaller agencies make sales.

Ron's paranoid theory makes zero sense. All it does is demonstrate that: (1.) he doesn't have a clue; (2.) much of what he does know ain't so; and (3.) he hasn't thought it through, because if he had, he'd have realized that in the real world, what he claims the big agencies are doing would be illegal.


but in the end, it is the new writers who are harmed.
It's the new writers who are helped most. They get a knowledgeable, reliable source of information on topics which, elsewhere on the internet, are awash in both deliberate and inadvertent misinformation. We do our best for them.


The big guys would like to shut us down,
Pfffft. The big agents don't know Ron Autrey exists. They don't care, either. He's a clueless wanna-be, and no threat to them or theirs. The most, the absolute most he can do, is get hold of some really promising writer and completely screw up her career. If he doesn't manage to kill it stone dead, she'll dump him and switch to a different agent as soon as she wises up. The one she moves to may or may not be with a big agency, but he or she will know how to agent that author's books.


but the Dixie Literary Agency is here to stay and we hope that many new writers will benefit from the experience.
I hope that many new writers will benefit from good advice and competent representation, and avoid wasting years of work on an agent that can't help them. Agents are supposed to make the business side of writing simpler and easier for their clients, not create new difficulties to vex them.


To new writers, I say this: Beware of web sites that warn you about literary agents. They might just be trying to eliminate the competition - you!
Ron, are you there? I assume you're reading this.

You've said some dumb things, but that last remark was just plain stupid. Good writers aren't my competition. Good agents aren't my competition either. I'm an acquiring editor.

Hot new talent can't be eliminated. It also can't be hidden. Everyone is looking for it. Agents want to represent it, editors want to discover it, and publishers want to buy the rights. (They want established talent too, but that's a different kind of thing.)

Your notion that big agencies are trying to illegally suppress small ones is foolish. So is your notion that agents suppress new talent to protect their existing clients. There's no need for agents to choose. They can represent both authors. It happens all the time.

If they refuse to represent a promising new author, that author will simply go to a competing agent, who will shop the author's book around to an assortment of editors that may not be all that different from the ones to whom the first agent would have offered it. The difference is that when one of the editors buys the book, it's the competing agent who gets a percentage of its earnings for as long as that book is in print from that house. The competing agent will also gain a measure of fame and credibility for having a hot new client, and will be coveted all the more by aspiring writers -- some of whom could in time turn out to be hot new talents in their own right.

That being the case, why would an agent try to suppress a genuinely promising talent?

It works that way with editors, too. Just because an editor has one hot author doesn't mean they don't want another. If you turn one down, their agent will go to a competing editor, who for all you know will schedule their hot new book for release the same day as the next book by your hot author, and won't you be sorry then? Whereas if you'd said yes, you'd be an editor with two hot authors (much easier to get the scheduling right) and an improved chance of being offered more, since you're obviously the kind of editor who acquires important books.

Really, all you're doing is telling the world -- loudly -- that you have no idea how publishing works. And I hate to say this, but you're a cliché. No, two clichés. You're the guy who decides he can be an agent without having to learn how to be an agent. You're also the reasonably successful guy who can't understand how it's possible that no one wants his book, and decides that publishing must be broken. Actually, your position is slightly less clichéd than that; not so many decide that there must be an evil conspiracy to suppress their writing. But aside from that minor difference, we see a lot of you.

There is no conspiracy. There is no hidden system.

You know what? The reasons why no one wants your book is something you can work out on your own time. I didn't bring you to this position, and I don't have to see you home from it. Meanwhile, here's what's true: If no one wants your book, it's because no one wants your book. If agents don't want to to take you on, it's because they don't think they can sell your book, so revert to the previously solved problem. If we say you don't have the knowledge, experience, or other qualifications you need before you can set up shop as a literary agent, it's because we think you don't have them. Period.

The way the world works is not a secret.

Medievalist
11-06-2009, 08:48 PM
Why would any one use an agent who engages in public torture of the English language?

James D. Macdonald
11-07-2009, 02:02 AM
Mr. Autrey is, of course, invited here to discuss his plans, and a possible plan of action, if he intends to be either a writer, or an agent.

SeattleGhostWriter
11-15-2009, 10:34 AM
Just for shoots and giggles.... will have to see what they say.

Momento Mori
11-30-2009, 07:43 PM
Dixie Literary Agency Website:
We have never lied to anyone, nor have we ever cheated anyone. Not one legitimate complaint has ever been filed against us.

And evidently not one legitimate sale has ever been made by you either.


Dixie Literary Agency Website:
Who paid "Uncle" MacDonald to write such hysterical drivel?

No one. Who's paying you to represent their book?


Dixie Literary Agency Website:
The Dixie Literary Agency is a very good agency and we are obviously annoying the big and powerful agencies who control most of the literary agency world - because we are offering new writers a chance to get published.

Define "good".

How are you offering new writers a chance to get published? Who have you sold books to? Who are you able to sell books to?


Dixie Literary Agency Website:
Most new writers are represented by smaller, independent agencies like us, but the large literary agencies have a lot of money invested in their stables of famous authors and they do not want to compete with talented new writers.

Not true.

I'm represented by a large London-based agency and there is no question of competition between established authors and those just starting out.

Maybe you think this because no New York/Californian literary agency wanted to take on your book.


Dixie Literary Agency Website:
It is an open secret that many of the large literary agencies, and their associations, have been trying for years to shut down the smaller literary agencies so new writers will have no place to obtain representation.

Where's your evidence to support that?


Dixie Literary Agency Website:
Many of the large agencies and their associations are part of an organized effort that sponsors the malicious web sites that go after the small and independent literary agencies in an effort to keep us from operating. These sponsored web sites claim to be protecting new writers from literary agent scams but they are perpetrating a "reverse scam" on writers, even as they claim to be protecting them. All the railing against the smaller agencies, by these web sites, has nothing to do with protecting writers. It has but one purpose - to keep new writers from getting published by eliminating the agencies who are willing to represent them.

Where's your evidence to support that?


Dixie Literary Agency Website:
Paid "character assassins" go online on behalf of the large literary agencies and their associations and viciously ridicule the smaller literary agencies in an effort to scare writers, hoping that the writers will not patronize us - and we will go out of business. That would leave the entire literary market in the hands of the big literary agencies who want all new writers to just stop writing.

Where's your evidence to support that?


Dixie Literary Agency Website:
They are spoilers who send out fake manuscripts, and cause problems in other ways. . I do not have the space to list them all

Name 3 ways in which they cause problems for legitimate agencies with a track record of sales to commercial publishers.


Dixie Literary Agency Website:
"If any literary agent charges a fee of any kind, they are ripping writers off". (Real meaning: "If we can keep new agents from charging a fee for any of their services, they will run out of money and go out of business")

If your only source of income is the money you've charged from aspiring authors, then you're not in the agency business.


Dixie Literary Agency Website:
Imagine saying that General Motors, Microsoft, or Burger King shouldn't be allowed to advertise or charge a fee for any of their services?

If General Motors, Microsoft or Burger King were charging me a fee in return for trying to sell my manuscript, then I'd have exactly the same problem with them as I'd have with you.

However, they're not advertising those services, they're advertising crappy cars, crappy software and crappy burgers and unlike you, they have a track record of supplying all of them.


Dixie Literary Agency Website:
It is the large literary agencies and their associations who sponsor these vicious web sites, and their intended targets are the smaller literary agencies, like us, but in the end, it is the new writers who are harmed.

Where's your evidence to support that?


Dixie Literary Agency Website:
the Dixie Literary Agency is here to stay and we hope that many new writers will benefit from the experience.

Yeah, we'll see about that a year from now.


Dixie Literary Agency Website:
***"Uncle" James D. MacDonald is a writer/critic who calls himself "YOG".

And Ron Autrey is a man who calls himself an agent. What's your point?

MM

CaoPaux
01-31-2011, 12:51 AM
A year later: no clients and no sales.

CaoPaux
01-04-2013, 06:26 AM
Another two years, and site's gone with no further trace of him. Quelle surprise, if you'll pardon my French.

Filigree
01-04-2013, 08:35 AM
This was sad and educational.

Gravity
01-04-2013, 11:58 PM
Yep. And I hope he didn't pull in too many marks before his "agency" went toes up. Bet he got a few, though.