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View Full Version : [Agent] Zack Company / Endpapers Press (Andy Zack)



kevacho
12-10-2004, 09:22 PM
if I may?

Does anyone know whether or not the Zack Company, Inc. is legitimate? They're looking at one of my novels right now, and I recently stumbled upon a "not recommended" for them on the Predators and Editors website.

Also, what about Predators and Editors? Is it wise to follow their "not recommends" and "recommends"? Are they, themselves, legit?

Any and all help will be much appreciated.:D

kevin
www.kevacho.com (http://www.kevacho.com)

"Let the coffee flow... "

HapiSofi
12-10-2004, 10:57 PM
This one's complicated. Andy Zack learned his trade working at a legitimate agency. He's been a legitimate agent himself, and he certainly has legitimate clients and sales. Historically, the problem with him hasn't been his business practices, but rather his tendency at random moments to act like a jerk. It wasn't stuff that made him money, just puzzlingly random unpleasantness. Thus Andy Zack Mark 1.

According to more recent reports I've heard, and I want to clearly label this as hearsay, he's come up with a hitherto unheard-of scheme. He explains that while he does take submissions from anyone who sends them, his reading time is largely taken up by his clients' books. It could be a very long time before he gets to yours. So, for a fee, he'll move your manuscript to the top of his reading stack.

The reported fee isn't huge, and while the policy is improper, it's not a huge impropriety; but it's not a kind thing to do to writers. Again, that's assuming the story is true.

I don't know what else might be going on to get Andy Zack a "not recommended," but P&E has a longstanding reputation as a reliable site, so I'll go with that.

James D Macdonald
12-10-2004, 11:02 PM
Dave is certainly capable of answering this for himself, but the basic answer for Preditors & Editors seems to be this: A fee is a fee, and agents who charge fees aren't recommended.

I believe that somewhere on his site Dave explains exactly what his criteria are.

DaveKuzminski
12-10-2004, 11:40 PM
P&E's rating criteria can be found at URL anotherealm.com/prededitors/perating.htm (http://anotherealm.com/prededitors/perating.htm)

vstrauss
12-11-2004, 12:29 AM
>>The reported fee isn't huge, and while the policy is improper, it's not a huge impropriety; but it's not a kind thing to do to writers. Again, that's assuming the story is true.<<

I have documentation, Hapi. The way the fee is explained makes it sound very close to reading fee.

Also, in some circumstances (my impression that this is for new writers) Zack charges a 20% domestic commission.

He does, however, have a substantial track record.

- Victoria

maestrowork
12-11-2004, 12:43 AM
I might be naive in this... but if an agent is legit, with a good track record, and is upfront and honest about his dealings and interest, I'd be okay with paying a $35 or $50 "reading fee" or some type of refundable processing fees if he can help me sell my ms. Now, that's only based on if the agent is indeed up-and-up and not a scam. I wouldn't throw away an opportunity because of a few bucks.

Just my opinion.

spywriter
12-11-2004, 01:09 AM
I have to comment on what Maestro wrote. As a writer looking very much to succeed, I see your point on not minding paying for your stuff to reach the top of the stack, however, it reminds me of a bribe, or a Hollywood casting couch. "You give me a little something and I'll see what I can do for you". I have heard so many times that getting published is so honest...you write a superb book and you'll be discovered. When one starts to "pay" for an audience, then it's almost like the people with the money are the ones that will succeed...or have the better chance to.

There is a doctor here in my town that allows people to pay an extra $1500 fee a year for special treatment. They are never made to wait, they have a direct line to the DR. on the phone and they get same day appointments at the best times. Is this fair? Sure it is. Supply and demand. But is it right? I don't think so. In this way, I don't want to have to "bribe" an agent to read my stuff. I want him or her to be excited about it all on their own. Besides, how do we know that even a good agent can't become a scammer. Think about it...he/she soon realizes that all he has to do is read someone's MS FIRST and he's made $50. not much motivation to do anything else huh? HE/she could make some money that way and who's to say that they will ever really read it. An agent who needs a commission will read it, believe in it and SELL it to make his own money.

That's my opinion. Nothing more....

underthecity
12-11-2004, 01:25 AM
And then on that same token, say you pay him $50 to put your manuscript at the top of the list, and then he turns it down right away.

Then you're out $50, and all it really bought you was an instant "No" instead of a No that might have taken several weeks.

I don't know, I doubt I would do it.

underthecity

maestrowork
12-11-2004, 01:53 AM
That's why I said: "Now, that's only based on if the agent is indeed up-and-up and not a scam."

It seems that we're saying if the agent charges $50, he's most likely scamming (based on the idea that a legit agent would never charge -- money flows to writer). I'm just saying the opposite. Is it possible that the agent is not a scam, and if so, isn't $50 a small price to pay?

I'm playing devil's avocate here.

spywriter
12-11-2004, 03:03 AM
Okay...I will play it your way for a sec. But first I want to start off by saying this....

My parents always told me that locks on a door are to keep an honest man honest. A thief just breaks in without a care in the world. Keep a door locked and you keep temptation down.

Let's say Agent X is an incredible agent with an amazing record. He has little time and the time he has is worth a lot of money. So he comes up with the idea to expedite a MS for $50. Not bad. The catch here is....what if Mr. Good and honest gets greedy? What if his wife tells him to stop putting in all those horrible hours and spend more time with her? What if his daughter wants a $100,000 wedding? Life has a lot of variables that none of us can totally anticipate. If he starts charging, even if he's on the up and up, aren't we as eager payers tempting him to switch to a different business model? Easy money is attractive to whom? Oh that's right...EVERYONE

Look...I am a great and honest citizen, but I've also surprised myself with stuff I've done. NO ONE is beyond temptation if the temptation is good enough. That's all I am saying. Besides, I don't have $50!!!!:D

maestrowork
12-11-2004, 05:49 AM
Basically it's a "glass half-full" and "glass half-empty" debate. ;)


To me, chances are if Mr. Hotshot is making deals, closing deals, making 10% off his 100 clients because he's making deals... he really wouldn't be doing the "let them pile up with their $50 in hand." To people like them, a quick cash scheme is not worth their trouble and reputation. They have bigger fish to fry, meaning signing the next Grisham or King, and selling the next mega deal with Random House. Perhaps his $50 policy is to weed out all the wannabes, because, like you said, he didn't have time. Only the serious writers would go through? Who knows? First he screens out the bad wannabes... and if he's really interested in your query and 3+, he'll spend time reading your full ms and for $50 to cover his time because he REALLY is busy with his clients and deal making. And if you're not serious about your career and bulk at the $50, then see you later.

That can be another way to look at it.

vstrauss
12-11-2004, 05:54 AM
>>but if an agent is legit, with a good track record, and is upfront and honest about his dealings and interest, I'd be okay with paying a $35 or $50 "reading fee" or some type of refundable processing fees if he can help me sell my ms.<<

See the discussion of the Charlotte Gusay Agency in the "Tate Publishing" thread. This agency (which does have a track record) charges a $35 processing fee, which is not a lot of money. However, there's persuasive evidence (it persuaded me, anyhow) to suggest that it asks just about everyone who queries to submit, whether it's likely to be interested in the work or not, in order to get the fee. ($35 sounds like chump change, doesn't it? But consider that an established agency will get hundreds of queries a week. If it asks all those writers to submit, it can make an easy profit of several thousand dollars.) So basically you have no way of knowing if a request for your manuscript is an indication of genuine interest or just a lust for your $35. Under those circumstances, the odds you're wasting your money are pretty high.

Zack's "Express Review" fees are way more than this, anyway--$60 for a partial and $350 for a full manuscript.

- Victoria

Vomaxx
12-11-2004, 05:58 AM
I have one of these Express Review sheets right here--it is printed on the back side of the note the Zack Co. sent me when requesting the first 50 pp. of my novel, following receipt of my query letter.

Part of this full-page document reads (in bold type), "Please keep in mind that we will read your material even if you don't choose Express Review (after all, we've requested this material)" Then, later, "the fee for the Express Review of one chapter (no more than 25 pages) or a proposal is $60, and the fee for a complete manuscript is $350." And, again in bold, "Please note that your payment for Express Review will in no way influence whether or not we take on your project."

The fine print--on the form you have to sign--says, among other things, "I understand that E.R. is being offered on a trial basis only," and makes clear it is only for projects the agency requests.

Mr. Zack's website makes very clear how backed-up he is. E.R. guarantees you an answer within 10 days. Others may, apparently, wait for several months.

I think the Zack agency is legitimate and honest, but that the overworked Mr. Zack is just trying to get a few more dollars for his efforts, but he might find it gives his agency an aura that it could do without. Atter all, he doesn't -have- to request more material than he can handle.

In my case, I sent in my 25pp. with no extra fee, and will hope I get an answer in this lifetime.

maestrowork
12-11-2004, 05:58 AM
Zack's "Express Review" fees are way more than this, anyway--$60 for a partial and $350 for a full manuscript.

In this case, I'd definitely stay clear. First of all, I don't have $350.

katdad
12-11-2004, 01:45 PM
I might be naive in this...
You are being naive, Maestro.

A "legit" agent simply does not charge a reading fee, regardless of how small.

I recommend that the person keep submitting to non-fee charging agents, and continue to improve his craft, and eventually something will happen that does not involve a fee.

SRHowen
12-11-2004, 10:08 PM
OK--NOW I AM MAD. I wrote a long calm reply to this and it got eaten.

First off, you don't have to pay the fee to get read. Lord, I was going to stay out of this. I really really was.

Many many writers want an answer right now! They can't wait, they send a bizzillion e-mails and make phone call after phone call. This gives them a measure of control and a chance to move to the head of the line to get that answer.

Yes, a fee is a fee, but a scam agent asks for that fee, they don't give you a choice, to pay or not to pay.

And I know what comes next, I bet he doesn't read you if you don't pay the fee.

Hell, that's crap.

Andy is my agent.

I sent my initial query to him, letter form, two pages. I got a request for a partial 5 days later. (75 pages) I didn't pay a fee to get read. 30 days later he requested the complete ms. (no dumb fee paid) 90 days later he sent me a contract offer.

Andy is a member of the AAR and on their royalty board.

Yes, he does charge 20% on your first book. (for my thoughts it's worth it)

He spent many months working with me on my novel, e-mails, snail mail, phone calls--no charge. And he does know how to edit--how to guide you to make your work the best it can be.

You get regular reports, which include the actual rejection letters from publishers. With full contact info for the editors if you want to check to see if he actually sent a query to them.

Yes, he does charge postage etc as it occurs, but the rates are better than what I could do, printing at home or at Kinkos.

Andy will work his a** off for you, and go on long after most agents would say heck I can't sell this thing

Editors do know him, as is obvious form the rejections I've gotten. And even when they say no to the initial query, Andy has gotten them to read the ms.

No I don't have a publisher yet. The book is an odd one, almost all Indian characters and it's first person. It presents a very non-stereotype of the Indian mind and soul, which maybe the world is not ready for yet. (my thoughts) and i didn't want to play the race card to sell it--now we are. Shawn is a non-registered Eastern Band Cherokee.

Andy calls just to check in with me. He has supported me through a car accident, a robbery at work, and the death of my mother.

These are not the hallmarks of a scammer. Scammers take your money and run. You don't get responses and certainly not editing and support for over a year--

Shawn

Edited to add, I recommended a fellow writer from my writers group to Andy, no fee for her either and he's looking at an edited version of her work right now.

You don't have to pay the fee, and if you cross Andy off your list then I think you are crossing of a chance for great representation.

Dhewco
12-11-2004, 10:19 PM
...that they finally got you to reveal the name of your agent. I understand your need to set the record straight on Mr. Zack.

Back when I defended my agent a few months ago, I sent my agent the link of the page. She said, "Thank you for your comments and showing me that board, but don't trouble yourself in the future. Concentrate on your writing and I'll focus on doing my job for you."

So, I'd leave the comment where it stands. Your agent sounds like a good guy to me. Just my two cents of unsolicited advice.

maestrowork
12-12-2004, 12:05 AM
Hee hee, it's fun to play devil's advocate sometimes. It's nice to see people discuss certain things.

Clarification: I personally have never paid for reading fees and what not. Everyone who has asked for a partial or a full reads without charge. That's the way to do business.

Still, if Sanford J. Greenburger came calling and asked for $50 (which they won't of course), I wonder what I would do.

kevacho
12-12-2004, 02:31 AM
Hey... thanks everybody. ;)

The people on this forum have been nothing but informative and supportive, and I would like everyone to know that I really... really appreciate your time, your effort, and your collective and individual passions.

I've always been a "lone-wolf" kind of writer, albeit my wife thinks I should get into a writing group. I gotta tell ya'... after my excellent experiences here, I'm reconsidering the whole solitary, do it alone attitude.

You guys and gals are wonderful. Thanks again.

(Andy Z. is still looking at my work, put in a good word for me SRHowen!)

Your fellow writer and friend...

Kevin
www.kevacho.com

"Can I get some coffee with that?"

andyzack
12-12-2004, 09:32 AM
Dear All:

I was recently made aware of a conversation taking place here regarding my firm and a new service it offers called Express Review. Have read the conversation, I thought it would be helpful to post here myself—once—on this subject, in order to put an end to hearsay and rumor. If, after reading this, you have any further questions, please feel free to visit my site at www.zackcompany.com and send us an email using the FAQ form.

Express Review is a service that guarantees a response time for an author’s submission. It is not a reading fee—we read thousands of submissions by authors not ordering Express Review—and it is optional, and great effort is made to communicate that. The offer letter makes no promise of representation for ordering it and, in fact, emphasizes that the odds are against being offered representation, e.g.:

Now please keep in mind that we will read your material even if you don’t choose Express Review (after all, we’ve requested this material). But we can’t guarantee when we’ll read it, given the volume of material we have on hand at any time and the needs of our current clients.

Please note that your payment for Express Review will in no way influence whether or not we take on your project. Nor does failing to order Express Review mean we will not read your project—we read everything we ask for—it merely gives you a guaranteed response time....

Additionally, an available FAQ list includes the following:

SO, IF I DON’T PAY THE FEE, YOU WON’T READ MY STUFF, RIGHT?

Wrong. We read everything we request. Keep in mind that the letter regarding Express Review doesn’t go out to the general public. We don’t want to be deluged by authors willing to pay to have their material read. We aren’t in that business. We are in the literary representation business. So, we read query letters like yours and only request the material that interests us and that we think has potential. The Express Review service is for those authors that want to know the exact time frame in which they will hear back from us.

Finally, the following are also included:

...this is an optional service. We will read any material we requested whether or not you ask for an Express Review.

...99% of what we get is ultimately not taken on for representation.

Please note that the idea for Express Review actually arose from an author’s request. Some time ago, an author offered to compensate me for my time if I would prioritize responding to his submission. Though I did not take him up on this offer, it stayed in the back of my mind. I’ve found, over the years, that some authors are extremely impatient and at times even angry at the amount of time it takes for agents to respond to material. After consulting with other professionals in service-oriented businesses, I concluded that offering authors the opportunity for Express Review could be the answer for those authors who are frustrated and angry at the long response times many agents have, and was a valid business service.

You have to understand the calculation that occurs in any agent’s head: If I spend an hour reading this unknown author, will it make me money? Or should I spend an hour trying to find a new way to market or license the works of one of my current clients, or following up on current submissions? Which is more likely to make me money? And to whom do I have a greater responsibility? The current client or the author who sent in something that’s sitting on my pile? Well, since 99% of what we get is ultimately not taken on for representation, you can probably understand why we tend toward the needs of the current clients first. Yet, periodically, we do get authors who don't understand that. Who get ugly in their phone calls or letters to us and feel that we owe them an answer now. For them, Express Review provides them a means to get that answer within a period of time and relieve them of the stress of wondering and waiting.

I review thousands of query letters, sample chapters, and manuscripts every year and for no charge. I offer a service to those authors who don’t want to wait for an answer. It’s the same “read” whether or not they order the service; those that order simply get a response within a defined period of time. The others must wait until my workload allows the time to get to their material. It is not a fee to read submissions; it’s merely a fee to read what I would already read within a set period of time. It’s in exchange for the faster response time, not the reading of the material. Numerous businesses offer similar services, from theme parks that let you cut to the head of the line for an extra fee, to software companies that provide priority technical support for a fee.

I’m pleased to report that of those who have ordered the service, I’ve had no complaints and several compliments on the value of it. The response to it has been modest—perhaps 2 or 3 a month—and I’ve seen no significant impact upon whether or not an author submits, i.e., based on my casual observations, authors are clear that this is an optional service and that they should feel free to submit without ordering it (I currently have approximately 125 sample chapters and synopses to read, all of whose authors were offered Express Review but did not order it).

Agents are in a competitive business and each of us strives to expand and improve our businesses. I see Express Review as an innovation designed to improve the submission process for authors who desire more control over when they will receive a response—positive or negative—from an agent. I believe that many authors welcome it and take reassurance from it that they are not merely mailing envelopes into a void. Though not offered as a service to the general public, I hope that word of it will spread and its availability be seen as a positive reason to query my firm. I acknowledge that there are some authors who may choose to see Express Review in a negative light, just as they did the shift from 10% commissions to 15%, or the charging of fees for other services (generally not optional) that an agency provides an author, e.g., photocopying, messengers, etc. Those authors have the option to not query or submit to my firm, or if they choose to do so, they have the option not to order Express Review (their works will be read regardless). After all, one of the pluses of having hundreds of agents in a competitive industry is that authors may evaluate and choose the agent they feel offers them the best service. TZC is a service-oriented business and I’m pleased that Express Review has been received by many authors as a welcome option in their search for the agency with the best service.

All best wishes,
Andrew Zack
President
The Zack Company, Inc.
www.zackcompany.com

James D Macdonald
12-12-2004, 11:03 AM
Unfortunately, this service will be used by the hundreds of scam agents as a smokescreen.

"Look!" they'll, say, "Legitimate agents like Andy Zack charge fees just like I do. It's a standard publishing practice!"

That's why I feel this practice is harmful to authors in general.

DaveKuzminski
12-12-2004, 11:11 AM
That smokescreen effect is precisely why P&E does not recommend The Zack Company even though it is a legitimate, professional company. Without that feature, there'd be a "recommended" beside that listing.

Welcome to the board, Mr. Zack. I feel you have much to contribute.

maestrowork
12-12-2004, 11:24 AM
That's the thing I was asking (as devil's advocate)... I know the smoke screen thing is dangerous, especially for naive writers who could be taken for a ride. But for someone like Mr. Zack and the way he explained his fees... isn't it presumptious and unfair for us to lump them all as "not recommended/possibly scam"?

Or should Mr. Zack say, "I'm not offering any fee-based services. Wait like everyone else. We'll get to you eventually?" to stay "legit"?

So if someone goes strictly by P&E (which is a great resource, BTW), he might have missed out on opportunity to query someone like Mr. Zack, who may have otherwise taken interest in his work.

SRHowen
12-12-2004, 12:53 PM
I understand that there has to be a set of rules to guide the warning sites--if an agent does this--but I also look at it as there are exceptions.

Sigh.

My problem with the entire thing is I have gotten nasty e-mails from people simply because my agent is "not recommended." One person even claimed to be warning me about Andy then quoted my own words on another site about this same thing. Yeah, warning--uh huh.

As I said, Andy busts his butt for his clients. Last year we even e-mailed on Christmas eve, no it wasn't marry holidays, we were hashing out an edit.

Every writer wants an agent who believes in their work, who sees the vision you see. You want an agent who is your friend as well. You want an agent who can look at your typos, and plot easyies and say umm Shawn--and not make you feel like a fool because you spelled from as form for the hundredth time. And you want an agent who can say--Look I don't see why you can't just get rid of the damned brother! But then respect your solution to the damned brother being a plot easy--and keeping the brother.

I don't look at what Andy is doing with his E.R. as a reading fee. And you don't have to purchase it.

Write a query that grabs and draws and you move ahead anyway. I live in Texas--he's in NYC. From the day I mailed my query to the day I got the request for a partial it was five days. What does that tell you?

Andy is legit. I have nothing but respect for him.

Shawn

snarzler
12-12-2004, 08:38 PM
He explains that while he does take submissions from anyone who sends them, his reading time is largely taken up by his clients' books. It could be a very long time before he gets to yours. So, for a fee, he'll move your manuscript to the top of his reading stack.

While its nice to have access to experts (Jim, Ann, Dave, Jenna...et al [apologies for missing names]), I question those who claim to be too busy to do their job without extra fees, yet have time to answer questions for free on a message board.

Jim, Ann, Jenna and others still write (very nicely too) while sharing on this board. Dave still rides his horse. But this guy Zack would rather share his insight than spend more time doing what people are paying him to do so they could potentially make money.

I smell something.

Andrea :p eace

andyzack
12-13-2004, 04:45 AM
I've heard that reply before, this fear that "scam artists" will look at a valid business service and use it to fleece authors and my response is fairly simple: Isn't that what these scam artists are doing when they pose as literary agents? Aren't they using the legitimate service of literary representation as a means to fleece authors already? Yet no one seems to be implying that all agents should fold up shop and stop doing business so that the scammers won't have a means to rip-off authors. No one tries to shut down Rolex because there are guys selling fake Rolexes on the street.

I'm sorry, but the simple reality is that no matter what any business-owner does, from representing books to selling cellphones, someone will find a way to use it as a means to doing something illegal. That it happens is not an argument for shutting down valid enterprises.

Any author should perform due diligence on an agent BEFORE he or she queries him. If they review my track record, they will find that I represent numerous published authors and, as Shawn has so kindly noted, I work my tail off for them. That P&E has chosen to list my firm as not recommended is disappointing, particularly as Dave never contacted me before doing so, e.g., to find out more about the program. But I'm not here to start a fight with Dave (we already had this conversation via private email and the result was the notice posted on his site at my request). Do I think Dave is scaring off authors who would otherwise be pleased to do business with my firm? Of course. But in doing so, his disservice is to them, not to me.

I do, in fact, have a client, who paid for Express Review of his entire manuscript, and frankly I'm glad he did, because it encouraged me to read his book. It had problems. I wrote him a letter about those problems. He revised and sent it back, without asking for ER. I asked one of my summer interns to read it. In the meantime, he sent in a second manuscript and I had the other intern read it. Then, I believe they swapped and did second reads for each other. Based on my initial reading and their two readings, I offered him representation, along with the interns' comments on what worked and did not work in his manuscripts. Since then, my fall associate, an extremely promising graduate student in creative writing, has written him extensive editorial letters on each book—letters I have described in a recommendation for him that I sent to about 45 publishers and editors-in-chief as being better than many I have seen written by veteran editors—and line-edited one of the manuscripts. Having done editorial consulting on both a project and hourly basis, I'd guess this client has received well over $5,000 worth of editorial services. And when I sell his book, his ER fee will be refunded from my commission.

Last week, he sent us the most fattening Harry and David Holiday gift I've gotten in a long time. I'm pretty sure he's happy he ordered ER also.

Sincerely,
Andrew Zack

P.S. Dave, it's that how you feel, why not put that on P&E? Say something like, "While P&E does not endorse certain optional services provided by The Zack Company, it is a legitimate, professional company that would receive a "recommended" rating if not for those optional services."

andyzack
12-13-2004, 05:03 AM
Andrea:

Forgive me, but that's just plain silly.

We all need downtime. Could you sit and read dozens of submissions hour after hour? I've done it. It gets tiring quickly and then, honestly, you just start to reject things to get them off your desk. That also happens when you have a cold, are mad at your father, boss, or girlfriend, or when you miss a train you wanted to make.

I try to give every author a fair shake. So if I'm not in a positive mood toward reading submissions, I don't.

Being an agent is a job. I assume you have one, and I bet you don't work it 24/7. You take the time away from your job to post here. Why shouldn't I?

Best wishes,
Andy Zack

snarzler
12-13-2004, 06:26 AM
My job is writing. I consider this particular board research for submission and marketing purposes and therefore part of my job. But no, I don't work 24 hours a day. I only write four-five hours/six days a week.

Since several people on here, much more experienced and higher up in the world than I, can take time to read and contribute to these boards yet remain productive and useful members of the world, I should not exclude anyone who has not proven themselves otherwise.

Andrea :|

andyzack
12-13-2004, 07:27 AM
Well, okay then. My job is being an agent and I consider my time here well-spent. My participation here may encourage authors to submit to me (or not, which may also be in my best interests, depending on the project). We can call this time marketing time. And marketing time may, in fact, be more valuable than reading time, given that 99% of what I read, I reject. If I market myself here and thus receive more submissions, perhaps I'll improve upon that percentage! Wouldn't that be great for both me and the authors I find?

Thanks for your thoughts. I hope your writing continues to go well.

Best,

HapiSofi
12-14-2004, 12:00 AM
It's at times like this that I really miss the old Fisher Scale, a subtle and judicious measure of scammitude cooked up by Jim Fisher, the author of Ten Percent of Nothing. It never claimed to identify scammers; instead, it measured the degree to which the characteristics of a given agent matched the characteristics of known scam agents.

The Fisher Scale would note that Val Smith isn't located in Greater NYC (a minus, on the scale), but all her other characteristics would be legit. Which is proper; Val Smith's a real agent. Janet Kay would get the same minus points for location that Val did, but in her case they'd be added to lots and lots of other minus points for a bunch of scammy characteristics. Val's final score would be well up into the "legit" range; Jane Kay's would be in the basement.

In Andy Zack's case, he'd score as legit on a lot of counts: real agenting background, real clients, real sales. He'd get negative points for charging reading fees. His final score would reflect both sides of the question, and authors would make their own decisions.

Preditors and Editors uses a clearly defined set of characteristics to make their judgements, and allows agents and publishers to respond. It's a system that's worked fairly well. The fact that someone's able to write a plausible explanation for charging fees is no reason for them to throw it out. This is publishing. Well-written plausible-sounding explanations are never in short supply.

andyzack
12-14-2004, 12:15 AM
Hapi:

With all due respect, I take exception to your misrepresentation that my firm charges reading fees. It does not. It offers an optional service through which an author can have the reading of their material expedited. The service is not the reading, it's the expediting. As I've said over and over, I read THOUSANDS of pages of material every year and no one pays a penny for those reads. But there are a few impatient people who want to be able to know the time frame in which their response is going to arrive. I offer a service for those people, pure and simple. And I have had zero complaints or arguments. I have yet to see one person post on this or any other site saying they ordered the service and were not satisfied.

So, near as I can tell, the only authors unhappy with this service are those who have never used it. Apparently the unhappiness is based on hypotheticals. Well, I can find an hypothetical case to stop a lot of innovations, from cancer research to space exploration.

In the end, though, the author is pro-actively seeking this optional service. He or she needs not do so and there will be zero effect upon the reading of his or her material, other than that he or she will have to wait in line until I get to the material.

Agents who charge reading fees will not read ANY material until the fee has been paid, period. There is a huge difference between the option service my firm offers and a reading fee.

SRHowen
12-14-2004, 08:30 AM
as I said, I didn't pay a dime and the response to my query took 5 days. Total time from query to contract I believe was 5 months? (correct me if I am wrong, Andy)

I am not saying to expect that time frame, but I know of writers who are waiting over a year and another who waited two years to hear from an agent. (Lori Perkins)

The chance move ahead is only that a choice you make, wait or hear quickly. There were times in my search I think I would have paid to just hear--esp when one agent asked for an exclusive of a prior novel. She rejected it (not literary enough) but only after she had the thing an entire year. By then i had written two more books.

Shawn

Lee Tasey
01-01-2005, 02:08 PM
Dear Andy,

I just got my computer back from the shop, so I've been MIA. I've enjoyed reading your responses. Lots of good info here.

A YA agent asked for my book; she said it would take 2-3 weeks for a response. It's been over three weeks. What could be the reason for this?

Also, if a publishing house wants a novel, how much will the book change? One fear I have is this: when the book is published it won't look like the book I submitted.

Best,

Lee

vstrauss
01-01-2005, 09:30 PM
>> A YA agent asked for my book; she said it would take 2-3 weeks for a response. It's been over three weeks. What could be the reason for this?<<

She's busy. It's the holiday season. She got sick. Her assistant quit. Any and all of these reasons, or others. The point is that it probably has nothing to do with your book.

Wait till mid-January, and then write a polite e-mail to inquire on the book's status.

>>Also, if a publishing house wants a novel, how much will the book change? One fear I have is this: when the book is published it won't look like the book I submitted.<<

If the publisher doesn't want the book you submitted, it likely will not make you an offer.

You'll probably receive some content editing (i.e., the editor may identify characters that need strengthening, transitions that need tightening, plot holes, that sort of thing, and ask you to effect the changes) and possibly even some line editing, depending on the book and the editor. The aim is not to capriciously change your book, but to make it stronger for the marketplace. Obviously this is a subjective process; one thing to remember is that while you do need to work with your editor, you aren't required to accept her suggestions (though since your editor is a professional, you should give them serious consideration).

There are always horror stories, of course; everyone has heard one. But one reason they attract attention is that they're fairly rare.

- Victoria

aka eraser
01-01-2005, 11:05 PM
Lee, I think Victoria's response was on the money and suspect Andy would agree, but if you want him to address your question you should repost it in the "Ask The Agent" thread. That's the one Andy's keeping his eye on.

Edited to add: Oops. I see you did find the correct thread. Nevermind. :)

BillyB
01-05-2005, 01:01 PM
Mr. Zack:
Thanks heaps for your your time here; it's been informative, illuminating, instructive and many other words that do or do not begin with the letter i. Also, you were a class act in dealing with that toadie.

I'd love your take on my situation.
I got my first agent a year ago. He's the former agent of a couple of current best sellers and was recommended to me by one of them. We do not have a contract. He sent the mainstream novel that prompted him to agree to represent me to one editor at one house and it was declined a month later, though somehow my agent didn't receive that notice for several weeks.

He sent it to another ed at a different house ten months ago. I call or email him about once every 1-2 months (other works in progress). Often I do not get a call back or an email response for a couple of weeks. A lot of folks are telling me to leave him and go agent querying again but I'm afraid of being seen as damaged goods or a difficult client (honestly, I'm not clingy, needy, unbusinesslike, I promise). Obviously, I've never made any money for my agent but hey, at this rate, I never will. Do you think I should thank my agent and go shopping for a new one? If so, do you think I should not mention #1 as I go querying?

spywriter
01-05-2005, 08:36 PM
Billy....
You should rewrite this in the ASK THE AGENT thread. THat's where he has been answering the questions. He might not see this.

Kitoha
01-05-2005, 11:09 PM
Dear Andy,

In your Pro’ opinion …how close am I ?

Briefly: I am new to the writing world but have found my love in life and have spent the last year happily writing a YA. I sent the ms. to the best agent of my choice and they asked for an exclusive (granted). So it was off to a flying start.
I re-wrote and when the agent felt it was strong enough to present sent it off to the publishers-- Harcourt, Dell, Putnam + 6 others, Ultimately it was rejected by all. Most were glowing rejections, but rejections nonetheless.

Question: How good or bad is this? My concern is that we have presented essentially weak material and have blown a 2nd chance with these bigger players--- or does it work differently?

Should I be happy that I have got this far? Or is the sign of things to come?

I know there are several questions, so thank you for time, and for your guidance to us writers in this murky world.

Kh

michelle217
01-06-2005, 12:03 AM
You should post this again in the "ask the agent" thread. Andy might not check here.

michelle217
01-06-2005, 12:04 AM
Never mind, I see you already did... <img border=0 src="http://www.ezboard.com/images/emoticons/embarassed.gif" />

pearlearring
01-06-2005, 02:42 AM
Dear Mr. Zack:

An agent with some publishing experience started up her own agency and read my full. She had only high praises for my novel, but she was concerned about its marketability. She told me she would like to represent me in the future, that if I have not yet found an agent to represent me, I should contact her in six months due to a full client list.

Over the last few years I have submitted over one hundred queries, sent out thirty requested proposals and 10 fulls. The comments I received were mostly of the critical kind, which I do realize can be helpful to me as a writer.

Could I have your thoughts on this.

spywriter
01-06-2005, 03:11 AM
PEARL....

You need to pull up the "ASK THE AGENT" thread and go to the bottom of the last page, which I believe is 13 now. After you have personally read the last reply, hit the reply button and the subject should already read ASK THE AGENT. This is how you will know you are on the right space. When you are done, click ADD REPLY.

Hope this helps.

pearlearring
01-06-2005, 05:29 AM
Thanks, Spywriter.

BillyB
01-12-2005, 05:47 AM
Mr. Zack:
Thanks heaps for your your time here; it's been informative, illuminating, instructive and many other words that do or do not begin with the letter i. Also, you were a class act in dealing with that toadie.

I'd love your take on my situation.
I got my first agent a year ago. He's the former agent of a couple of current best sellers and was recommended to me by one of them. We do not have a contract. He sent the mainstream novel that prompted him to agree to represent me to one editor at one house and it was declined a month later, though somehow my agent didn't receive that notice for several weeks.

He sent it to another ed at a different house ten months ago. I call or email him about once every 1-2 months (other works in progress). Often I do not get a call back or an email response for a couple of weeks. A lot of folks are telling me to leave him and go agent querying again but I'm afraid of being seen as damaged goods or a difficult client (honestly, I'm not clingy, needy, unbusinesslike, I promise). Obviously, I've never made any money for my agent but hey, at this rate, I never will. Do you think I should thank my agent and go shopping for a new one? If so, do you think I should not mention agent #1 as I go querying? It seems prospective agents will need to know to where my manuscripts have been shopped

spywriter
01-12-2005, 06:47 AM
You need to post this under the ASK THE AGENT thread. He won't see this here. Also...you should write out his whole name...he does not like short versions of it.

Good luck!

mark2one
02-02-2005, 06:18 AM
Andy,

In trying to sell a light mystery series (think Janet Evanovich meets Sophie Kinsella), is it better to avoid deep genre-focused agents and instead look for a mainstream house/agent that includes, but doesn’t focus on, mystery? Will the more mainstream agent be somehow better at reaching the right variety of editors and helping position the product in the most appropriate manner?

And, as a corollary to this, are editors influenced by the stature of the agent or house? Negotiation skills being equal, will Al Zuckerman find it easier to place the same good book than Donald Maass?

Cheers.

SRHowen
02-02-2005, 06:31 AM
need to post this under the ask the agent thread--Andy won't see it here by itself.

Shawn

mark2one
02-02-2005, 07:23 AM
Shawn,

Thanks for catching my mistake.
I tried again, but still am not sure if I've done right.
I went to the Ask the Agent thread, clicked to page 19 (the last page), hit "New Topic", then posted my question.
Since I didn't see my post, I'm not sure if it's time delayed or if I've just misplaced the question again.
Am I on the right track?
Cheers and thanks.

vstrauss
02-02-2005, 07:33 AM
Mark2, I've reposted your question to Andy's thread, and am closing this one to prevent thread proliferation.

- Victoria

aka eraser
02-02-2005, 07:33 AM
Mark2, you were doing fine until you hit "New Topic." Just go to the last page of Andy's thread and hit "reply" under the last person's post.

You can change the subject line of the box that comes up next to better reflect your query.

CaoPaux
08-06-2005, 01:05 AM
In an valiant attempt to demystify agents and agenting, Mr. Zack has set up a Q&A forum here: Ask The Agent (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=525)

David McAfee
08-14-2005, 05:04 PM
Still, if Sanford J. Greenburger came calling and asked for $50 (which they won't of course), I wonder what I would do.

:) I know what I would do...

Where the hell is my checkbook?!?

Andrew Zack
08-01-2006, 12:26 AM
Please note that The Zack Company, Inc. has moved. Also, the firm is currently closed to new submissions while we catch up on our reading. Therefore, please do not submit to our old New York address and please do visit our website at www.zackcompany.com (http://www.zackcompany.com) or read the blog at www.zackcompany.blogspot.com (http://www.zackcompany.blogspot.com) in order to find when we may again be accepting queries. Our new address will be posted at that time.

Thank you.

Best wishes,
Andy Zack

Andrew Zack
10-06-2007, 04:17 AM
Hello!

Forgive me for barging in here, but I wanted to let everyone on the Absolute Write forums know that The Zack Company, Inc. has re-opened to queries. If you are a fan of my blog, then you know I have been wearing out my keyboard outlining the nonfiction and fiction categories in which I am seeking new projects. If you visit the What We Want (http://www.zackcompany.com/submissions/what_we_want.htm) page on my site, you can find those categories. And if you would like to query me, you’ll find detailed instructions on how to do so on the site. And if you haven’t been reading my blog, shame on you! ;)

Many thanks. I look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes,
Andy Zack
www.zackcompany.blogspot.com (http://www.zackcompany.blogspot.com/)
www.zackcompany.com (http://www.zackcompany.com/)

victoriastrauss
10-06-2007, 04:31 AM
Thanks for stopping by to let us know, Andy.

- Victoria

clara bow
10-06-2007, 05:14 AM
Well, I'm tempted to query you, but the "Submission Guidelines" link at the bottom of the page doesn't work. Is the site under construction? Should I check back later?

thanks

Carmy
10-06-2007, 08:36 AM
Submission Guidelines still doesn't work.

Irysangel
10-06-2007, 05:47 PM
'How to Query' didn't work, but I fudged around with the link itself and found the correct one:

http://www.zackcompany.com/submissions/how_to_query.htm

Good luck everyone!

popmuze
10-08-2007, 08:12 AM
After thoroughly studying your guidelines I have to say, thanks for illustrating exactly why my agent has delayed so long just in starting to send my fiction around.

Looks like readers of the comic literary novel are a dying breed these days.

WordGypsy
11-25-2007, 11:00 PM
They're open again...no word on the fee charging.

CaoPaux
12-17-2007, 10:59 PM
Not for agenting, at least: Announcing Author Coach (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=86615).

dragonjax
12-17-2007, 11:19 PM
Not for agenting, at least: Announcing Author Coach (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=86615).

Wow.

honeycomb
12-18-2007, 03:53 PM
I'm new to this so tell me is this good or bad?

IceCreamEmpress
12-18-2007, 07:51 PM
I'm new to this so tell me is this good or bad?

Mr. Zack seems to be very upfront about the services he'd be providing in return for his fee. For my part, I wonder if the people who felt they required those services might be better advised to spend the time and money learning more about writing. However, he may be exactly the resource that some folks are looking for.

Kryianna
12-29-2007, 01:06 AM
After seeing Andrew Zack posting as an agent in the Ask an Agent forum, I was curious about what he might rep, and clicked off to his website to see. I didn't get past the homepage, though. He has text ads from Google on his site, and one of the three ads when I went there was for PublishAmerica. I don't think an agency website should have banner ads in the first place, much less advertise something like PA.

I agonized over posting this. Mr. Zack probably won't appreciate me doing so, but I think other authors like me that are concerned with this kind of thing would appreciate the head's up.

LC123
12-29-2007, 02:44 AM
Eh, everyone has ads on their site. Large companies have ads on their sites, huge, popular message board forums have ads on their site. AOL is nothing but one big ad. AW has ads. Google's Adsense is the most popular program around, and people obviously are interested in its ads or it wouldn't be so popular. I don't think Andy Zack having ads on his site is anything to be concerned about.

Re the PA ad, webmasters don't have control over what Google puts there, Google uses an algorithm that reads words on the site and puts what it thinks are appropriate ads.

Kryianna
12-29-2007, 05:43 AM
Actually, not everyone has ads on their site. It is not in the best interests of every site on the internet to have advertisements for other companies. You mention large companies -- at the risk of getting off-topic, please name a couple. Coke, Hilton, Apple; any ads on their sites are for themselves. They are not going to be sending business elsewhere. It would not be a smart business model.

Message boards and AOL depend on selling banner space to help keep them afloat. It is a source of income. Google AdSense in particular is meant as a source of income. The tagline on the AdSense page even says "Earn money from relevant ads on your website". I'd be rather leary of any agent that thinks that a tiny revenue stream from AdSense would help the agency's bottom line. That doesn't necessarily indicate a strong confidence in their ability to place manuscripts with major houses.

And just so you know, webmasters *do* have control over what ads Google puts up. They can choose to filter out competition and specific advertisers. Who would want to send traffic to their competition, or to someone who they specifically disagree with? I have yet to see a banner ad for PublishAmerica appear here in AW, even though content is highly relevant. I'd be willing to bet that AW has PA and other scammers listed in their filters.

JulieB
12-29-2007, 08:11 AM
Actually, not everyone has ads on their site. It is not in the best interests of every site on the internet to have advertisements for other companies. [snip]

And just so you know, webmasters *do* have control over what ads Google puts up. They can choose to filter out competition and specific advertisers. Who would want to send traffic to their competition, or to someone who they specifically disagree with? I have yet to see a banner ad for PublishAmerica appear here in AW, even though content is highly relevant. I'd be willing to bet that AW has PA and other scammers listed in their filters.

Ding!Ding!Ding! Not every web site is ad supported. The web site is just part of the budget for many companies. I know a lot of people that don't put ads on their personal sites. They just pay the monthly hosting fees out of their pockets. But honestly, if the site doesn't get a lot of traffic they're looking at ten bucks a month or less for hosting fees.

I don't have ads on my web site.

If my site should one day become popular (hey, can't a girl dream?) and I find I have to look to advertising to help cover the costs then I'll carefully research my options. But I don't think I'll be making that decision soon. ;-)

LC123
12-29-2007, 09:47 AM
I have seen Google and affiliate ads on clothing sites, entertainment sites, college websites, too many to mention. That giants like Apple and Coke don't have them doesn't mean the ones who do are ...what? I'm not clear on what, exactly, is the problem: is it having Google ads, period, or not filtering PA out?

Personally, I don't care if PA ads run on an editor's site, anyhow, as I don't consider them "scammers." I've skimmed some of the PA threads here, they are repetitious, and boil down to the same thing: a company that deliberately doesn't describe its product well. That isn't nice, but it also isn't a scam, as their authors are getting what they paid for. In fact, many of the complainants remind me of the folks who took out ARMs on their houses and are now screaming that the banks scammed them because they were never told that their ADJUSTABLE rate mortgages might adjust UP. Nature is not kind to the slow.

DaveKuzminski
12-29-2007, 05:57 PM
Personally, I don't care if PA ads run on an editor's site, anyhow, as I don't consider them "scammers." I've skimmed some of the PA threads here, they are repetitious, and boil down to the same thing: a company that deliberately doesn't describe its product well. That isn't nice, but it also isn't a scam, as their authors are getting what they paid for.

Deliberately not describing its product well is legally considered fraud. Consequently, PA's authors aren't receiving what they paid for. They're being scammed.

ColoradoGuy
12-29-2007, 06:52 PM
I'd be willing to bet that AW has PA and other scammers listed in their filters.
You are correct.

LC123
12-29-2007, 07:08 PM
<< Deliberately not describing its product well is legally considered fraud. Consequently, PA's authors aren't receiving what they paid for. They're being scammed. >>

Ok, well, I'm not a lawyer so I don't know what's legally considered fraud. I was just giving my own take from reading PA's website and the contract posted here. They are certainly evasive ; a prospective customer needs to pin them down on a lot of their points. But it was clear to me that they're just a vanity press with a different marketing angle. They don't say they'll market the book to anyone but friends and family. Folks who sign with them receive two copies of their book, which they don't pay production costs for. And which is the only clear thing their contract promises.

Due diligence before contract signing would have shown that PA books really AREN'T in chain bookstores, and a bit more DD would have revealed the short discount and non-returnable issues. Seems like the complainants discovered that out very easily and quickly just from querying bookstore managers.

And it does appear that those who wanted to cancel their contracts DID get them cancelled, with rights reverted. So they can move on to another publisher. Although I may be wrong about this, as I said, I just skimmed the threads.

Again, no different, IMO, from the dreamers who bought houses they couldn't afford with teaser interest rates, later getting outraged when the rates were increased and calling the loan officers "scammers."

IceCreamEmpress
12-29-2007, 10:17 PM
After seeing Andrew Zack posting as an agent in the Ask an Agent forum, I was curious about what he might rep, and clicked off to his website to see. I didn't get past the homepage, though. He has text ads from Google on his site, and one of the three ads when I went there was for PublishAmerica.


I agree with you that that doesn't make a particularly professional impression. This might be very useful information for Mr. Zack.

Giant Baby
12-29-2007, 10:43 PM
I just looked on his page to see what the discussion was about, and the center add was for something called "Skip the Literary Agent!"
:roll:

DaveKuzminski
12-30-2007, 04:03 AM
And it does appear that those who wanted to cancel their contracts DID get them cancelled, with rights reverted. So they can move on to another publisher. Although I may be wrong about this, as I said, I just skimmed the threads.

Again, no different, IMO, from the dreamers who bought houses they couldn't afford with teaser interest rates, later getting outraged when the rates were increased and calling the loan officers "scammers."

First off, there's a clear difference between loans and book publishing. Your example is not adequate in this instance. Here's why.

Even though PA reverted the rights in some instances, the harm is already done because those writers can no longer sell first print rights. Consequently, they can only sell reprint rights and very few publishers are interested in reprint rights. Second, those publishers that are interested in reprint rights will want to know how well the book sold. Because only a few copies were ever printed and even fewer sold, the publisher won't be interested because they only want books that still have enough sales left to justify purchasing the reprint rights. A very low sales score is bad because it means customers didn't like the book, even though we know it didn't get into bookstores. It also means that bookstores weren't interested in it, either, so they won't be interested in it as a reprint.

Now if the author was only interested in two copies, I might agree with you that the authors weren't harmed. However, take a look at the PA bulletin board (referred to as the PAMB) and you'll see that many PA authors are interested in getting their books to the reading public. Because many bookstores aren't interested in PA books, those authors can't achieve significant sales, so those authors have been hurt. At one point, PA used to claim they placed books in bookstores on shelves. Because writers pointed out how PA blocked sales to bookstores, PA took down that false claim to instead state that PA books are available meaning they can be ordered. That's no longer entirely true since some large chains have since decided they will not order PA books at all. The chains were tired of being played for suckers by desperate writers making orders and then not picking up the orders so the book would have to be placed on the shelves.

When PA writers have pointed out the truth on the PA bulletin boards, they're typically banned and their posts are deleted. That goes to show even more that PA's activities are not limited to just not deliberately describing its product adequately. It's pervasive throughout that company.

Now let's permit this thread to return to its original topic.

Dai Alanye
12-30-2007, 04:40 AM
Here is the main moral problem with the expediting fee: each person who pays such a fee kicks all the other writers, waiting patiently in line, down a notch. It's kinda like the game of Sorry. Or, to pick a more heinous example, it's like an illegal paying a coyote to sneak him across the border while all the legitimate would-be immigrants wait their turn.

Hard to say why Zack chose this gimmick, but no matter the justification, it just ain't right.

Dai Alanye
http://alanye.com/
Time Management for Mercenaries: NOT a Self-help Manual

Dragon-lady
02-12-2008, 02:39 AM
Thought I would update a couple of things.

1. Mr. Zack's website no longer has ads. I am currently at that site and can say that definitely.

2. Mr. Zack does offer consulting services other than agenting such as contract review, editorial consulting and line editing according to his website.

3. Mr. Zack does seem to have a good sales record judging by Publishers Marketplace.

The reason Mr. Zack is on my mind -- I have mentioned elsewhere that I am researching agents with a record of selling fantasy. Mr. Zack's name came up in the course of that research because he has sold fantasy.

When I saw that he wasn't in the Querytracker database as I thought his information might interest other authors, I added him to the database. I am a longtime querytracker member and occasionally do some updating. It's very useful and I try to occasionally lend a hand. Well, today I got an email from Pat McDonald apologizing for removing Mr. Zack saying that he had requested to have his name removed since he "doesn't like to be listed on any type of website."

*shrug* That's fine with me. But for someone who has their own website and is listed in PM (a website the last time I looked), that seemed odd to say the least. I have heard rumors that he is at times a bit difficult to deal with although his post on this board seemed quite courteous.

Anyway... just thought I'd post the little chain of events and update the info. :)

Shawshank
06-27-2008, 07:46 AM
The Zack company requested to see a partial of my novel. They do not charge a reading fee, but are willing to give me a guaranteed deadline for them to read my material, for a fee. Sound legit?

brianm
06-27-2008, 08:20 AM
Welcome to the cooler. There's a search button located on the main page. If you type in an agent's name you'll probably discover there is an existing thread about that particular agent.

You'll find Mr. Zack's threads here (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=667&highlight=Andrew+Zack) and here. (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=525)

Don't forget to introduce yourself in the newbie forum.

rugcat
06-27-2008, 08:29 AM
Mr. Zack is a legit, if opinionated agent.

His practice of charging a fee for an expedited reading of a partial is a matter of controversy, but he's upfront about it and makes it clear that he will eventually read and consider your partial without any fee or prejudice if you wish to wait in line like everyone else.

Whether you think a more rapid response is worth paying for is up to you. I personally wouldn't do it. I'd send him the partial and query other agents in the meantime.

Shawshank
08-28-2008, 09:37 PM
Andy Zack of the Zack Company recently requested my manuscript. I am a little nervous about the service he offers authors who don't want to wait for a response. At the same time, he does represent legitimate authors, many of which have books in my local library. Is he legitimate, does he have a good reputation among writers? I would appreciate any feedback. Thanks.

DaveKuzminski
08-28-2008, 09:43 PM
He is legitimate.

Smoke14
01-31-2009, 03:40 AM
I recently received a reply from the Zack Company. They told me they were interested in seeing more than just my query, i.e., the first chapter plus a detailed synopsis.

Sounds legit, so far...included was a small "Express Review" pamphlet, guaranteeing a response time...for a price.

The fee(s) are: $60 for a chapter (no more than 25 pages), or $350 for a full manuscript.

Supposedly, this will vault your work to the top of Mr. Zack & Company's reading list.

I am very leery of anyone who charges a reading fee. Nothing against Mr. Zack personally or professionally, but that bothers me.

And as another poster noted, he could take your money, read the script and decline it outright. Goodbye to your money.

This is a tough one...I'd say each person must decide for themselves. It can't hurt to have him look at the manuscript, but I would not pay for it.

Giant Baby
01-31-2009, 04:21 AM
It's not a "reading fee" and he's not considered a scammer because of it.

It is, however, lame.

Thus endeth the lesson. *Nod*

CaoPaux
01-31-2009, 04:26 AM
It is a reading fee, and it's problematic for many reasons. He has a record of sales, so each person will need to make their own decision as to what their time (and query) is worth.

M.R.J. Le Blanc
01-31-2009, 04:30 AM
I'd pass. If it's good, others will like it and ask to see more.

Giant Baby
01-31-2009, 04:43 AM
It is a reading fee...

Sigh. Not in P&E's eyes.

I find the slope way too slippery, and while I heart P&E tons, I disagree with this one.

CaoPaux
01-31-2009, 05:19 AM
I'm sorry, I'm not understanding you. Disagree with P&E about what? Dave taking the Not Recommended off Zack Co.'s listing?

Giant Baby
01-31-2009, 06:25 AM
I'm sorry, I'm not understanding you. Disagree with P&E about what? Dave taking the Not Recommended off Zack Co.'s listing?

This is what I see on P&E:



Andrew Zack: $ A literary agent (Literary, Adult) with The Zack Company. Editor's note: Mr. Zack gives excellent advice in discussions on the Internet. He's well worth listening to. (http://anotherealm.com/prededitors/pealan.htm)


Personally, I DO think this is a "reading fee" and should be considered as such. That would generally garner them a "not recommeded" on P&E. Plus, I've seen some of Mr. Zack's advice on the Internet (here), and have found it far from "excellent (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=1899108#post1899108)."

It's grey, however. Many may feel differently, but I consider Mr. Zack's opinions and policies to be writer un-friendly. Me? I want an agent who is business minded, but writer super-friendly.

And yes, I do eat my pie in the sky. I see others up here with me, though. I'm not lonely.

CaoPaux
01-31-2009, 08:52 AM
Ah, yes, I'm with you there.

karo.ambrose
01-31-2009, 09:10 AM
Just my 2 cents: I don't trust anyone with two first names.

Giant Baby
01-31-2009, 09:21 AM
Not sure that policy is sound, but giggling at it none the less.

karo.ambrose
01-31-2009, 09:23 AM
Meg Ryan is totally on my shit list.

*unhijacks thread*

Giant Baby
01-31-2009, 09:33 AM
*rehijacks thread*

Damn. And I was such a Ryan Adams fan, too (gratruious pluralities are exempt if the talent stands up, right?).

Oh well. It (by which I mean shit) happens. Right?

*re-unhijacks thread. with apologies to many*

Twizzle
01-31-2009, 05:41 PM
This is a tough one...I'd say each person must decide for themselves. It can't hurt to have him look at the manuscript, but I would not pay for it.

You have to decide for yourself. Given how few clients agents sign, statistics would say you're paying someone to hurry up and reject you, however.

I can only share what I know, and that is his response times without the fee seem to be avg and you do not need to pay the fee at any point for him to offer representation. I did have occasion to speak to him once, and I'll be completely honest, it was a wonderful conversation. He was quite charming and knowledgeable. :Shrug:

Karen Duvall
01-31-2009, 07:34 PM
When I was querying, I got this same brochure. Such a disappointment. He also has an editing service under a different name, but I've forgotten what it's called. Sorry. Anyway, a month after ignoring his "partial request" *cough* he sent me an email asking why I hadn't sent the partial he requested. I ignored that, too. Sometimes it's fun to be the one doing the ignoring. Ha! :D

Over a decade ago, I saw AZ at a writers' conference in Colorado. He'd been invited to speak and hear pitches, so his entire trip -- air fare, hotel, and all meals -- was paid for by Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. The day he was to listen to attendees' pitches he took off to the mountains for some sightseeing and hiking. Classy. I should have known better than to query someone like this, but I'd hoped he'd matured since then. Apparently not.

M.R.J. Le Blanc
01-31-2009, 09:14 PM
Over a decade ago, I saw AZ at a writers' conference in Colorado. He'd been invited to speak and hear pitches, so his entire trip -- air fare, hotel, and all meals -- was paid for by Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. The day he was to listen to attendees' pitches he took off to the mountains for some sightseeing and hiking. Classy. I should have known better than to query someone like this, but I'd hoped he'd matured since then. Apparently not.

Ugh. That's just disgusting. If the total cost was substantial, I would have went after him for them. Go sightseeing and hiking on your own dime pal.

Stlight
02-01-2009, 05:18 AM
Giant Baby, raising hand to openly admit I'm cloud sitting too.

Stlight

Andrew Zack
02-02-2009, 09:42 PM
Ms. Duvall:

I can say with 100% confidence that you are quite mistaken. I assure you that my entire trip to Colorado, all I did was sit in the hotel except for:

1. I met a friend who lives there for lunch and visited a local bookstore during a free period.
2. One the way back to the airport with other attendees, the drivers (volunteers) were kind enough to take us by Red Rocks or some other natural rock formation so that we could see a little of CO other than the hotel.

Otherwise, I was locked in the hotel with everyone else.

Andrew Zack


When I was querying, I got this same brochure. Such a disappointment. He also has an editing service under a different name, but I've forgotten what it's called. Sorry. Anyway, a month after ignoring his "partial request" *cough* he sent me an email asking why I hadn't sent the partial he requested. I ignored that, too. Sometimes it's fun to be the one doing the ignoring. Ha! :D

Over a decade ago, I saw AZ at a writers' conference in Colorado. He'd been invited to speak and hear pitches, so his entire trip -- air fare, hotel, and all meals -- was paid for by Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. The day he was to listen to attendees' pitches he took off to the mountains for some sightseeing and hiking. Classy. I should have known better than to query someone like this, but I'd hoped he'd matured since then. Apparently not.

Giant Baby
02-03-2009, 12:17 AM
Giant Baby, raising hand to openly admit I'm cloud sitting too.

Stlight

I thought you looked familiar, Stlight!

triceretops
02-03-2009, 03:37 AM
Well, I dunno. Andy was pretty darn cool to me four years ago, plucking me out of the masses to read a non-fiction outline and proposal. He gave me the straight dope on my obstacles and what I needed (before anyone did). It all happened in a few days, which means he can be very timely and aggressive in what he'd like to see.

Andy reads these threads, and if something piques his interest, he just might contact YOU.

There's nothing that says you have to buy your way up to the front of the line. Go right in the pile with everbody else and wait. His response times fall pretty squarely in the norm for average subs.

Anyway that was my experience.

Tri

SusanH
03-10-2009, 03:07 AM
I have another one I don't see in the index...

Andrew Zack .... Andrew Zack Agency

He isn't on agent query, but P&E says he is well worth listening to...Has anyone queried him?

Julie Worth
03-10-2009, 03:24 AM
Andy Zack. (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=667)

SusanH
03-10-2009, 03:47 AM
Thanks, I didn't think to look under Andy...

WOW, he's tough. Lots of guide lines but I can see why.. Even though my betas think my ms is good, I don't think I am famous enough for him.....

Andrew Zack
03-11-2009, 01:49 AM
Famous enough? Most of my clients came to me as pretty much completely unknown, so I'm not sure why you'd think you need to famous.

Z


Thanks, I didn't think to look under Andy...

WOW, he's tough. Lots of guide lines but I can see why.. Even though my betas think my ms is good, I don't think I am famous enough for him.....

SusanH
03-11-2009, 02:38 AM
Well, I hope I am wrong, but many agents ask for prior publications, education in literature and the only writing experience I have is years of writing for myself and loving to write.

I've had many rejections saying "sorry, it's just not for me....." I understand now the meaning of subjective business and rejections no longer bother me. I realize no one has the time to tell me why my query is isn't for them, but if I were an actress or already published author, they would look closer at my work. That is what I meant by being famous. I would be more marketable. I have been told that my story has to jump off the page with excitment and practically slap the agent in the face. My story needs to be extraordinary and I need to have accomplished greatness in my life. Mine is a story of humor, sadness and obstacles I overcame which I lived to tell.

I was very impressed by your site and I did feel a little intimidated but I didn't mean to catagorize you. I had heard some good things about you and I thought I would be wasting your time and I didn't want to do that based on my past rejections.

Toothpaste
03-11-2009, 07:54 AM
Just to chime in here. . . I have no idea what you are talking about. Every author I know, and I know a fair few of them, were "nobodys" until they got that agent. They went through the slush like everyone else, were pulled out of it, and got a publishing deal. I know no one who had an inside edge, was famous in some other way before it happened. Speaking for myself I had NO publishing credits to my name aside from a play I produced and directed myself. I know it may seem that way considering all the celebs who get book deals, but there are hundreds of new writers with no such qualifications published every year. The ratio is far more in their favour really.

At any rate, please stop thinking like that. It's simply not true, none of what you are saying is true (as to the slapping the agent's face with the story, both of mine open quietly, and yes some agents did consider that "too old fashioned" and rejected me, but some didn't, and now I've got an awesome agent and have been published twice over. It's not about slapping anyone, but captivating them, and that can be done quietly as well as loudly).

Sorry, didn't mean to derail the thread . . .

SusanH
03-12-2009, 02:42 AM
No, you didn't. I am here to learn and every post helps. I was rejected today by an agent and she told me what she wants in a book after she rejected me. Mine fit her, but she couldn't get past my query.... I have polished it since I sent it to her. I was told before by Nathan Bransford that a no is a no so I guess I won't re-query her....
Thank you for the constructive criticism. I shall keep plugging along. Maybe I'll get lucky one day. Mr. Zack doesn't take e-mail queries and my printer isn't working right now so I will have to query him later. He sounds like a nice man and knows the business.

JJPie
04-09-2009, 06:13 AM
Just wondering if there are any authors here represented through this agency that could share some experiences. Thank you.

NeuroFizz
05-01-2009, 09:36 AM
Here's the rub, and Andy, if you are still reading, please comment if you are so moved. The brochure for the express-review-for-a-fee comes with a letter requesting further materials (this in response to an initial query). But that letter is a boilerplate "Dear Author" letter that does not indicate what submitted work has so interested the agency. It even has "If your work is fiction..." and a "If your work is nonfiction..." paragraphs, which suggests something that makes me feel much more than uneasy. Requests for additional material from agents (at least the ones I've received) are personalized, with my name and the name of the work they are requesting, even if it is a boilerplate production. This suggests the agent is interested in me and my work, and the request is not a To Whom It May Concern-type mass mailed request for additional material. I'm not saying this is a strategy operated by this agency, but it certainly smacks of a mass mailing scheme (Andy, you may want to reconsider the type of letter that goes out requesting additional material, unless you request such a high percentage of submissions that you don't have the time to get all of those pesky author names and projects titles in the letters). If I am going to go to all of the trouble of printing and mailing a partial sample of my manuscript, I think it would be nice if the agent actually had some idea of what kind of work is being requested (and its title) as well as the name of the author.

It comes across to me as something like this:

Dear Author,

Your submitted query interests us so much, we'd like to further consider you for representation by requesting a partial of your work. Please send the first chapter of whatever-your-work-is-titled, and indicate whether it is fiction or non-fiction. We look forward to reading your work, whatever-your-name-is.


Sorry, but putting this kind of letter together with the express-review-for-a-fee brochure gives an impression I don't think you want to be widely disseminating. Like I said, you may want to reconsider the nature of the letter, unless you are relatively unselective in your requests for that partial manuscript sample. But then it seems to tell a different story when coupled with the express review brochure, particularly because I believe I read somewhere in your posts that you ultimately reject 99% of submissions.

Karen Duvall
05-01-2009, 10:21 AM
Neuro Fizz, I got that letter and brochure, too. I ignored it. Move on.

Andrew Zack
05-01-2009, 07:49 PM
Neuro Fizz:

We used to have two letters, one for fiction and one for nonfiction. Sometimes the interns would mess up and send the fiction one for nonfiction. Hence, I decided one letter that covered both was more efficient.

As for "Dear Author," do you know how long it would take to personalize that letter? My time is better spent reading more queries and partials than personalizing requests for sample chapters.

If you don't want Express Review, don't order it. Very, very few people do and we still read their stuff. WE READ EVERYONE'S SUBMISSIONS THAT WE'VE REQUESTED, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER OR NOT THEY ORDERED EXPRESS REVIEW.

As I've said before, Express Review is really there for the truly impatient. Since instituting it, I've not gotten even one of those "Why haven't you read my material yet? Isn't it your JOB to read my material?" letters or phone calls. Folks know that if they wanted a quick read and guaranteed response time, they could have ordered Express Review. They didn't. So they will have to wait until we get back to them. To me, that makes ER a success.

That said, I doubt I'll reprint that brochure when I run out. The response has been low enough that I'm not sure it even pays for the printing costs.

As for how selective we are, I suggest you read my blog (www.zackcompany.blogspot.com), in which we provide monthly stats of how many projects we've requested or rejected. You'll find that we request far fewer sample chapters than we get queries, far fewer manuscripts than we get sample chapters, and we take on only a few clients per year. We are, in short, VERY selective.

Z

RainbowDragon
05-23-2009, 12:57 AM
Correct me if I'm wrong, but on first glance a 19% request rate from queries to sample chapters in April 09 strikes me as being high above the industry standard.

SusanH
05-23-2009, 01:23 AM
Just to chime in here. . . I have no idea what you are talking about. Every author I know, and I know a fair few of them, were "nobodys" until they got that agent. They went through the slush like everyone else, were pulled out of it, and got a publishing deal. I know no one who had an inside edge, was famous in some other way before it happened. Speaking for myself I had NO publishing credits to my name aside from a play I produced and directed myself. I know it may seem that way considering all the celebs who get book deals, but there are hundreds of new writers with no such qualifications published every year. The ratio is far more in their favour really.

At any rate, please stop thinking like that. It's simply not true, none of what you are saying is true (as to the slapping the agent's face with the story, both of mine open quietly, and yes some agents did consider that "too old fashioned" and rejected me, but some didn't, and now I've got an awesome agent and have been published twice over. It's not about slapping anyone, but captivating them, and that can be done quietly as well as loudly).

Sorry, didn't mean to derail the thread . . .


Still a non-published nobody. hee-hee

Andrew Zack
05-23-2009, 07:23 PM
RainbowDragon:

I'm not sure which figures you are using to do your calculations, but you can't really calculate on the monthly figures, since I may read a March query in April and reject a sample chapter from January in April. And I may read a manuscript I got in December in June and offer representation. It's all pretty much a bunch of moving targets. Plus I use an intern or two every semester/summer and they tend to be a bit easier when it comes to the queries, and I will request sample chapters on queries they like as a part of the teaching process.

Someone on this site several years ago took all of my figures that they found online and calculated that I ultimately pass on 99.75% of projects that come my way. And some of those projects might have been queries on which I requested a sample chapter and then requested the manuscript. Based on the very small number of new clients I take on each year (only one this year, so far, I believe), I don't doubt the figure.

For what it's worth, I sometimes even reject my own clients. I have one that sent in a new novel. I read half of the manuscript and told the client that the book essentially had no real plot and that he needed to strip it down, re-outline, and rewrite. He sent me something else he'd been working on instead. This has its own problems and I read half and told him what I thought they were. He rewrote and I had an intern who had been with me for several months do a first read and a round of notes. Then she read the revised and had a few more notes. Now I'm about to read and I may or may not have more notes. And this is an author with over half a dozen novels to his credit.

I don't want to submit books to editors that I know have rejection hot buttons in them. Thus I work with them to eliminate those, but without necessarily trying to get a book all the way to ready for the typesetter. I have to leave something for an editor to do and feel invested in it. But in this marketplace, you don't want to that to be too much work, or the editor might move on to something else.

Z


Correct me if I'm wrong, but on first glance a 19% request rate from queries to sample chapters in April 09 strikes me as being high above the industry standard.

RainbowDragon
05-24-2009, 06:33 AM
Thanks for clarifying - yes, 99.75% rejection rate sounds about right. . .

The Universe is still in order.

Carry on. :)

Pab Sungenis
05-28-2009, 06:57 AM
Andy, I'm sorry, but after reading your blog posts for months, I really do need to ask you:

(a) Have you EVER signed a manuscript? You've never mentioned ever accepting one in your blog round-ups that I've seen.
(b) If so, have you ever accepted one that didn't pay express service fees?
(c) Have you ever requested a full manuscript from someone who didn't pay your express service fee for the first chapter?
(d) What percentage of your "chapter requests" pay the $60?

I really do have to wonder. The tiered-service you offer is shaky enough, and when you add the fact that you seem to be consistently three months behind I'm sure you can see how shady the whole thing is. I've never before had an agent who requested a partial sit on a single chapter for almost exactly 90 days before rejecting it. A full request, yes, but never a single chapter.

It does raise questions about your reading fee (and, let's face it. that's what it is), and whether people who don't pay it actually get the same consideration. So can you set the record straight?

Deb Kinnard
05-29-2009, 06:52 PM
I have an agent now with whom I'm very pleased, but before we signed, I submitted to Mr. Zack. I got a request for a partial just before I signed with my agent, so I withdrew my submission from Mr. Zack. But I didn't pay him anything at any time.

If you wonder who his clients are, most agencies' web sites have lists of their current clients, and are very up-front about what they've sold recently.

Andrew Zack
05-30-2009, 07:33 AM
Pab:

You have posted in two areas on this subject now, once on my blog and once here. I responded on my blog that I found your comment pretty slanderous. This comment is more polite, yet strangely confrontational, as though you believe I owe you something or that agents in particular owe you anything. We do not. I say this not with malice but to correct your misunderstanding or to address your arrogance, whichever is to blame here.

Now, because I am a professional and honorable, I will address your questions, not for you but for the benefit of those who read these posts and may misinterpret my initial reaction to these questions. I have no desire to dodge questions. I merely think you are a jerk.

(a) Visit my website. Clearly I have clients and clearly I've signed them and sold many works for them.
(b) If I recall correctly, I have exactly one client who paid for Express Review, maybe two. If just the one, I sold his book and he was refunded the fee. The rest of my clients came to me without having ordered Express Review and got representation without using ER.
(c) Of course, which is clear from (a) and (b).
(d) I really can't say. I don't do the math on it, but I'll take a wild guess and say less than one-quarter of one percent. I don't actually recall the last time I got an ER order.

ER is for the grossly impatient. It's for the jerks who call agents up and get all pissy and want to know why the agent hasn't responded to his material yet. It's for the jackasses who think that agents owe something to the authors who are sending in their chapters and that the agent is reading for free. Because, to those people, I can say "Did you order Express Review?" and if they did not, I can say, "Then we will read your chapter in the order it was received and as soon as we can get to it, but until then the needs of our current clients come first. If you get an offer of representation, please let us know. Otherwise, we have not requested an exclusive read, we have not charged you a reading fee, and we have no obligation whatsoever to do anything with the material that you sent us. Have a nice day!" And then we will often pull out the chapter, spend five minutes with it, and reject it. Because we reject 99.75% of what we get. What are the odds that the one chapter written by that pushy author is actually in the .25%?

I am not "consistently three months behind." At least not to my knowledge. The sample chapter sitting on the top of my pile is dated April 11th. Thus I am currently less than two months behind on sample chapters. But I have full manuscripts that have been here for months, though each of those has had at least one first read by an intern, perhaps two, and those reads were positive enough that it is now upon me to read them. If you'd like to come over and babysit my 11-month-old son for eight hours, I'd be happy to read one. But I have current clients delivering things I have to read. I can maybe get four whole hours to read in a weekend. Where do you think I devote that time?

I see nothing "shady" about any of the above and I do not charge a reading fee, as many of the authors on this board know as they have submitted to me and paid nothing. They may also not have received representation, but that has nothing to do with ER. ER is exactly what I have always said it is, a fee to get your material read faster and nothing more. And, as I've said here before, I'll likely end the program when the current batch of brochures gets used up, as I've not had an order in so long that I don't see the value of reprinting. But for some time, there was a good deal of interest. Of course, in a poor economy, I can't be surprised that fewer folks are interested.

I trust this sets the record "straight." And if you find it harsh, perhaps you should consider the tone of your posts. If you generally approach agents or editors in this manner, I think you'll find it doesn't serve you well in the long run.

Z



Andy, I'm sorry, but after reading your blog posts for months, I really do need to ask you:

(a) Have you EVER signed a manuscript? You've never mentioned ever accepting one in your blog round-ups that I've seen.
(b) If so, have you ever accepted one that didn't pay express service fees?
(c) Have you ever requested a full manuscript from someone who didn't pay your express service fee for the first chapter?
(d) What percentage of your "chapter requests" pay the $60?

I really do have to wonder. The tiered-service you offer is shaky enough, and when you add the fact that you seem to be consistently three months behind I'm sure you can see how shady the whole thing is. I've never before had an agent who requested a partial sit on a single chapter for almost exactly 90 days before rejecting it. A full request, yes, but never a single chapter.

It does raise questions about your reading fee (and, let's face it. that's what it is), and whether people who don't pay it actually get the same consideration. So can you set the record straight?

rugcat
05-30-2009, 07:59 AM
I have no dog in this "fight." I would never pay for an express reading, and I have some reservations about the idea -- to me it hits a gray area. But Mr. Zack has always been totally upfront about the whole setup, and if you don't like it, don't do it. Or if you feel it's not appropriate for an agent, don't submit to him.

But intimating that he's unprofessional or attempting in some way to rip off writers is just not warranted.

colealpaugh
05-30-2009, 08:25 AM
Still reading.

Andrew Zack
05-30-2009, 09:20 PM
Colealpaugh:

I'm not entirely sure what you mean by that post, but given the way you've taken bits of my post out of context, I presume you mean to imply that there is something unprofessional about the comments you quoted. I assure you there is not.

There is no code of professionalism in any field that says we must put up with being insulted, slandered, or libeled. There is no code that says agents must put up with authors who harass us for not reading their material quickly enough. We are humans also, with families, with employees or bosses, with homes that need repairs and cars that need washing. We are not chained to our desks or chairs reading the works of prospective clients.

It is a fact that many agents will happily admit to in private that being able to charge reading fees would allow them to hire more staff to get the materials read. But because of the stigma of reading fees, agents do not charge them, and thus authors wait and wait and wait for responses, getting angry and frustrated. Every agent has been on the receiving end of angry calls or letters. And they can generally do nothing in response but reject the material, because what agent wants to represent an author who is so arrogant as to call and complain before he or she is even a client?

ER came about when an author offered to pay for my time if I would respond to his material quicker. I didn't take him up on it, but it got me thinking. I considered the pros and cons and I offered the program. The biggest con, in my mind, was that some folks would argue as Pab has, that it is a reading fee. And I have addressed that more than once and I believe satisfactorily on this forum. But then life interrupts and I am not on here for a while and when I return, someone picks the argument anew.

The biggest pros for me have been being able to fill a need for those authors who really don't want to wait for an answer or who want actual feedback on their submission, not a form reject. Because ER is not just an offer of a faster response. I personally read and respond with my comments on those chapters or manuscripts. And authors may use that feedback I provide to revise. I have gotten more than one thank-you note for that service and been told that it was "well worth it." The other pro is that I have a response to those authors who call up demanding I read their material that's been here for two or three or six months.

I take on very, very few clients. I have started posting status updates on Facebook (search for The Zack Company) about what I've read recently and also to open up conversations with authors on subjects related to publishing. I have never been shy about the odds of getting representation with me or the fact that ER will not improve those odds. But I am always looking for new clients and good books. And I hope that authors will query me, despite the odds, because when I do take on a client, I work harder than any agent I know to get them published.

Z

colealpaugh
05-31-2009, 01:04 AM
Now that I've insulted an agent, I think I'll head into town and kick a cop in the nuts...that should really round off my karma for the day.

Giant Baby
05-31-2009, 01:33 AM
Oh, please. Reading fees would turn publishing into one big vanity press. Pay to play, and what not. He claims so few take him up on it (and why the hell would he continue the practice that's dinged his reputation for such paltry reward? that's really bad math) and that it's completely discretionary, but if Mr. Zack's model became the norm, writers who can't afford reading fees' manuscripts would languish in the abyss while those who can pay for the attention get it. For better or for worse.

Um, when obnoxious writers call and send letters complaining about the wait, he can hang up, shred, reject, ignore. And then he can bitch about it on his blog or at the bar with other agents. Lots of agents do just that. It's called doing business.

Colealpaugh, if you're rounding out your karma by kicking a cop in the nuts, make sure the cop's got it coming. 'Cos otherwise, you're just kicking a cop in the nuts for no good reason. Your karma's cool, near as I can tell.

Andrew Zack
05-31-2009, 03:30 AM
Colealpaugh:

You have a talent for taking things out of context and putting words into a person's mouth.

I have never said I was okay with reading fees and I do not charge them. I said that most agents will happily admit in private that the reading would go a lot faster if they could charge them. I do not "steer" people to editing services. They are available and I am more than qualified and, on top of that, I actually enjoy working with authors editorially. Hence, why should I not make those services available? Because you don't think I should? Think about that one.

What's wrong with this entire exchange from my perspective is how much energy is being spent by you and others to tell me how to run my business. Or agents in general. If you submit to an agent and that agent charges no reading fee, then that agent owes you nothing. There is no obligation created by a submission.

Agents are prospectors digging through tons of mud looking for a little gold. Because they want to maximize the chances of finding that gold, they do not charge fees associated with submitting, thus inviting folks to dump as much mud as they want on them. Unfortunately, that sometimes makes it that much harder to find the gold.

And my firm charges no reading fee, but does make available optional services. These are for the convenience of writers and some writers deeply appreciate them. Though you do not, surely you understand that there may be busy authors out there, or authors who wish to invest in their careers, and have no issues paying for the services of a qualified editor or to avoid a 30/60/90/180-day wait for a response.

Giant Baby (now that's not something I thought I'd ever address someone as--well other than my son, who is a rather large baby): Reading fees would not turn publishing into one big vanity press, because a reading fee or an Express Review fee doesn't change agents' opinions of the work. Print-on-Demand publishing and the ability to cheaply self-publish are turning publishing into one large vanity press, but agents cannot be blamed for that.

I continue to offer ER because I don't quite see a reason not to. You claim it has "dinged" my reputation, but I continue to get plenty of queries and submissions and to do deals for my clients, so I don't see the damage that you do.

As for those obnoxious writers, the truth is that they suck up time and that's my most valuable resource. I post updates on my blog about where I'm at in my reading, but even then people end up getting their own submission dates wrong or they don't keep track of when they submitted, and we get calls.

ER is actually a very reasonably priced service for what you get. Book doctors generally charge $85-150/hour to read and respond to anything. ER charges less than that for a sample chapter and I personally respond with my reasons for passing, if I pass, which I don't always do. Sometimes I ask for the manuscript and sometimes I end up offering representation on that manuscript. No book doctor does that.

Z

colealpaugh
05-31-2009, 04:13 AM
Colealpaugh:

You have a talent for taking things out of context and putting words into a person's mouth.



I'm sorry.

Swordswoman
06-01-2009, 12:23 AM
I'm sorry.

Wow.

Wow. Sarcasm alert. Can't we be grown up enough on this board to admit we're wrong?

Like rugcat, I have no axe to grind. I have an extremely well-respected agent and publisher of my own. I am also a relative newcomer here and in no position to make comments on how these boards work - but as an outsider, I have the right at least to say this:

AW is a fabulous site that does countless writers an incalculable benefit, by the tireless work of Victoria Strauss, Anne Crispin, James McDonald and others in tracking down and pointing out scams for the unwary. However, every time we simply pile on someone we don't agree with, we give ammunition to Mrs Giggles and any others who have begun to criticize this site - thus undermining the good work done by others.

Mr Zack did not have to come on here and defend himself. Who do we think we are - Judge Judy? What are we saying - 'Yeah, well I think you're dodgy, so come on down here and prove you're not'? Yes, it's quite true that not every agent who posts here does themselves any favours (look at the threads on Tom Darke or Christopher Hill, for example). However, Andrew Zack has now explained three times what his process is, it's one that can't conceivably bother anyone except the kind of stalking writer who insists in being read now and makes life harder for the rest of us, we have enough information to decide if we want to submit or not - so can't we just quietly let it go?

I have no authority whatsoever to post this, and no standing at AW. My only interest is that of someone who loves and respects these boards. and I really hate it when we do something that justifies their critics. I don't mean to pick on you, colealpaugh, you're just the last one posting when I've been trying for days to resist posting in this thread.

And, as you can see, have failed...

Louise

EgyptianGoddess
06-01-2009, 01:08 AM
Ok, being fairly new to this forum, I don't get into much where these types of threads happen. I've gotten a LOT of good information from this forum and can't thank James, Victoria, Anne and the rest for helping us newbies navigate our way enough.

I deeply appreciate all their hard work. I also appreciate those that point out scams or things we should avoid.

However, having said that....I personally can make a decision, after reading the threads and the advise given, whether I want to go ahead with something or not. I personally, wouldn't use the express reading because I simply can't afford to do it. I might not even if I could, but the decision was never there for me because of money. I think once things are pointed out to the other readers in this forum, it should be enough (and I mean this about any agent or any service offered). People can make their own decisions whether they're going to use a service like that or not. Mr. Zack has explained why he has it available. If you don't want to use the service, then simply don't. But if you would like to consider Mr. Zack as an agent, then look at his track record of selling, etc. and make any decision about approaching him, or accepting him as your agent, based on that. I say this as someone who hasn't sent him a query yet (I may or may not). I'm saying this as someone who would hate to see this board turn into nothing but a big flame fest. As a member of other forums, I can tell you that nothing good comes out of that, trust me. And I'm seeing a lot of it right now in various threads.

Name calling, sarcasm, etc., is childish and only makes the person doing it look idiotic. Can we not all act like adults and share information without it becoming personal or ugly? In this case, I don't see this as a scam. I don't see this as taking advantage of new authors. I see this as Mr. Zack has stated it, nothing more. If anyone doesn't want to use it, then don't. :Shrug: When you query Mr. Zack, he's told you how long it make take for him to read your query/material, AND he's explained why. Don't send it in to him if you aren't prepared for the wait. Query other agents as well, don't put all your eggs into one basket. If someone else picks you and your book up before Mr. Zack does, that's the way it goes.

Yes, we need agents to get our books out there. Yes, they need authors so they have a business and income. We all need each other. We need to have respect for each other so each of us gets what we want and wins. Being jerks does no one any good, on either end of it.

Enough said.

Zada

colealpaugh
06-01-2009, 01:43 AM
Wow. Sarcasm alert. Can't we be grown up enough on this board to admit we're wrong?



Okay, I'm wrong. I'll have to admit that I don't know it, yet, but you and Mr. Zack are pretty adamant about it. And being a total newbie, I'll bow to you folks.


It's all a whirlwind for my little brain. I am a simple journalist, who is working on broadening his horizon.

I continue to learn, Louise. I trust Uncle Jim, but now I need to make this new information fit.



ETA:

Again, I'm learning, Louise, but is P&E right or wrong to list an agent who "Owns any amount of interest in an editing service" as NOT RECOMMENDED? And is P&E wrong by also not recommending agents who "Charges a fee up front, regardless of nomenclature or reason. This includes optional fees."?

Is NOT RECOMMENDED a new term for an agent AW should steer writers toward?

Can you understand my confusion?

priceless1
06-01-2009, 02:04 AM
Colealpaugh, since you are a self-admitted newbie, I think you would be better served by opening your ears more and just listening rather than poking your fingers in agents' eyes looking for a vast conspiracy where none exists. By your admission, your knowledge base regarding the industry simply isn't that vast, and you're picking the wrong fight for all the right reasons.

You had questions, and Andy has been more than forthcoming about his reasons behind his practices. You don't have to like it. and truth be known, it doesn't matter if you do or not. Process his answers any way you like. That he has proven clients, proven sales, and he's been up front and been willing to repeatedly answer the same question proves his transparency.

There are many scams and questionable practices going on in the publishing world. Andy isn't one of them, and you're really wasting your energy by trying to make a mountain where no hills exist.

colealpaugh
06-01-2009, 02:16 AM
I'll read, but I'm not looking to fight.

M.R.J. Le Blanc
06-01-2009, 02:21 AM
And my firm charges no reading fee, but does make available optional services. These are for the convenience of writers and some writers deeply appreciate them. Though you do not, surely you understand that there may be busy authors out there, or authors who wish to invest in their careers, and have no issues paying for the services of a qualified editor or to avoid a 30/60/90/180-day wait for a response.

Giant Baby (now that's not something I thought I'd ever address someone as--well other than my son, who is a rather large baby): Reading fees would not turn publishing into one big vanity press, because a reading fee or an Express Review fee doesn't change agents' opinions of the work. Print-on-Demand publishing and the ability to cheaply self-publish are turning publishing into one large vanity press, but agents cannot be blamed for that.

I continue to offer ER because I don't quite see a reason not to. You claim it has "dinged" my reputation, but I continue to get plenty of queries and submissions and to do deals for my clients, so I don't see the damage that you do.

Maybe I can shed some light on the damage GB is talking about.

In my short time here (compared to others :) ) there have been more than a few 'agencies' who charge additional services. There's quite a bit of abuse that happens when an agency starts offering more than once service especially when money gets involved. And all of them will usually say 'well there's no conflict here' when it gets pointed out - which means nothing because in those cases there ends up being a conflict. People who pay for the services getting accepted while those who don't get rejected. Plus it's usually a sign that a.)the agent(s) in question cannot sell books and so offer other paid services to stay afloat, and b.)they might not be working as much at their job as an agent if they're doing side things like editing. I'm not saying this is the case with you, but when you see agencies over and over where paid services = unsavory business you get a little wary. And we've already seen one agency(Objective Entertainment) start some rather unpleasant business practices, who up until then were a great agency with a solid track record that no one had any second thoughts as to querying.

I don't agree with the ER service, though I can see and understand your reasons. To me, it doesn't seem fair if I query you, and then someone who queries you after me gets to jump ahead in the reading line because he paid the service. I understand your time is valuable, but the ER service seems like it just caters to those who complain. If an author is that demanding that they can't or don't want to understand that you have priorities other than them, is that really someone you want to deal with as a client? You (in the general sense) are never going to please everyone, and if you have a solid track record it'll speak for itself. If the worst complaint against you Mr. Zack is that you didn't answer someone when they wanted you to, I'd consider myself pretty lucky :) Serious writers will recognize that kind of complaint for the ridiculous demand it is, and those that don't probably aren't worth your time.

Anyway, my two cents on the whole view. Take it as you see fit :)

Giant Baby
06-01-2009, 02:24 AM
I don't understand the defensiveness this agent inspires in so many.

He offers an optional reading fee to push a manuscript or partial ahead of others (making the wait for those who don't/can't pursue such a service--but had their work just as requested--even longer that it should be. That's assuming Mr. Zack doesn't have access to a wacky-time device of some sort that makes all things even again, of course).
He offers an editorial service, right there tabbed (http://www.zackcompany.com/editorial.htm) on his agency website, and has stopped by this very site (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=86615&highlight=author+coach) to proudly announce its existance.
He charges 20% commission to new authors on domestic sales (but the standard 15% to those he considers less risky, as evidenced in #10 here (http://www.zackcompany.com/agency_faqs.htm), in the FAQ of his own website), and 25% on "all others."
Um... 25%?
He's not a member of AAR, despite having been active long enough and having the sales to support membership. Perhaps he doesn't think he needs it, but as stated in the query of #13 (http://www.zackcompany.com/agency_faqs.htm) in his FAQ about the question, his reply is, "Not at this time."Frankly, I think his slope is coated in Vaseline. He's avoided the "scam" label, but if anyone who can afford to get published should these policies become standard practice could just stand up, those of us left sitting will be at the bar. Setting our manuscripts on fire for the warmth. And there'd be some good words in those fires.

ETA: Cross posted w/ M.R.J Le Blanc. Some redundencies.

priceless1
06-01-2009, 03:47 AM
I'm sure you're right. But why doesn't what you say square with P&E and the advice in just about every thread I read on AW (here, for example: http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=978 )?

I'll stop asking before Victoria bans me...AW has been too valuable for me to lose, and I just totally don't get this. That's my last reference to any of this. I'll read, but I'm not looking to fight.
You aren't going to be banned. Relax. You're just poking a stick into the same eyeball after it's been thoroughly explained to ad nauseum. Everyone here can parse all they want; is it a reading fee, or isn't it? Who the hell cares? Andy has explained WHY HE DOES IT, so what do you gain by beating this very overripe banana? Move on already if you don't like it.

Reading fees are charged by scum agents who make this their profit center. They charge everyone reading fees. They don't have any legit sales or legit authors with marketable manuscripts. Andy does not fit into this category. Crikey, nuff said. Fees aren't in the US mainstream publishing future, so the idea of warming your hands around burning manuscripts is fearmongering. In Andy's world, IF you want to jump to the head of the class, you can pay for it. That does NOT mean you won't eventually be read if you choose not to pay for it. Get a grip, folks.

colealpaugh
06-01-2009, 04:24 AM
You aren't going to be banned. Relax. You're just poking a stick into the same eyeball after it's been thoroughly explained to ad nauseum. Everyone here can parse all they want; is it a reading fee, or isn't it? Who the hell cares? Andy has explained WHY HE DOES IT, so what do you gain by beating this very overripe banana? Move on already if you don't like it.

Reading fees are charged by scum agents who make this their profit center. They charge everyone reading fees. They don't have any legit sales or legit authors with marketable manuscripts. Andy does not fit into this category. Crikey, nuff said. Fees aren't in the US mainstream publishing future, so the idea of warming your hands around burning manuscripts is fearmongering. In Andy's world, IF you want to jump to the head of the class, you can pay for it. That does NOT mean you won't eventually be read if you choose not to pay for it. Get a grip, folks.


Thank you for taking the time. Heck, I no longer have any clue what is or isn't insulting, so I'm saying I wouldn't be surprised what gets someone (me) banned.

So there's no reason to be concerned about an agent also providing an editorial service? P&E is full of baloney?

Look, I've read this board for two years and every post comes up with a black and white answer. Eh, other than in this thread. But then there's further confusion because P&E gives some agents who violate their clearly stated standards "$" marks.

Ms. Price, I've been a professional writer for a quarter of a century. I've never made a living doing anything else. I'm a journalist with huge skepticism by nature and training. But I've come to AW without any sort of attitude, only a mission to learn. I admire and appreciate folks like Uncle Jim who give so much of their time bringing clarity to people like me. In newspapers, an intern is someone to abuse and underpay. It is often a cutthroat industry, mostly because it is dying. And we don't have many Uncle Jim types in these waters.

Hundreds of times, I've read to run from agents who charge fees and send writers to editorial services, especially when they are their own.

So an agent who has great sales is exempt from certain rules because he/she makes money for some writers?

I also assumed Bewares & Background Check was a place to bring these questions, without fear of being labeled a troublemaker or accused of beating bananas.

I would highly recommend the sticky threads in this section be modified, or I'm not going to be the last one to beat bananas and be sarcastic to certain agents.

Victoria: I won't be insulted if you delete my posts for being out of line. You rock, and I just don't get it...more reading to do.

priceless1
06-01-2009, 04:41 AM
Don't get me wrong; I'm all for beating bananas. Heck you should see me with Print On Demand. :eek: All I'm saying is that you've asked the questions, gotten the answers, so what more can be served with this particular line of questioning?

The main line of defense is to check an agents client list. Check their sales. Are they selling to PODs or reputable presses with good distribution? Ask around. "What have you heard" is one of the most powerful tools in an author's tackle box. This is going to serve far better than sinking your teeth into this one agent's jugular. This particular issue appears to be a sticky wicket, and there is no clear answer Andy can give that will make you happy. That's why I recommended moving on.

If you have a specific question, ask it. Someone is always around who can answer it for you and hopefully, it'll be more satisfactory to you.

James D. Macdonald
06-01-2009, 04:46 AM
The master rule for agents is still: A worthwhile agent has sold books that you've heard of.

Nothing in publishing is 100%. We do try to simplify things for new writers. By the time you know enough to know that some names have asterisks by them meaning "Exception to the general rule," you know enough to stay out of trouble. Used to be there was an asterisk by, e.g., Scott Meredith's name. I know of a perfectly legitimate, major agent who refuses to reveal his/her client list. Usually that's a red flag, but if you know enough to know about that agent, you already know who he/she represents. If you don't know, you probably have no business submitting to him/her anyway.

Dave Kuzminski has a set of standards at P&E, he's explained them openly, he applies them rigorously, and they work for him. That's his deal. You know where he's coming from when you look at Dave's site.

So: Some agents have asterisks by their names. Some have several asterisks. Same goes for some publishers, some editors, some authors, some bookstores, some distributors. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, or maybe 999 times out of 1,000, things work one way. That other time ... they don't.

Don't let it upset you. Publishing is counterintuitive.

Stay frosty.

CaoPaux
06-01-2009, 04:48 AM
The $ on P&E means the agent has verified sales. No more, no less.

P&E applies its standards regardless of opinion; to do otherwise would dilute the meaning of the warning. Therefore, otherwise "legit" agents will get a Not Recommended because of apparent conflict of interest with editing services or up-front fees. It's thus up to authors to determine their personal level of comfort in approaching such agents.

colealpaugh
06-01-2009, 04:56 AM
Don't get me wrong; I'm all for beating bananas. Heck you should see me with Print On Demand. :eek: All I'm saying is that you've asked the questions, gotten the answers, so what more can be served with this particular line of questioning?

With all due respect, I've asked questions that haven't been addressed regarding agents and editorial services. I know less now, than I did yesterday. I just reread the thread about it here in BBC, and it all makes no sense.

The main line of defense is to check an agents client list. Check their sales. Are they selling to PODs or reputable presses with good distribution? Ask around. "What have you heard" is one of the most powerful tools in an author's tackle box. This is going to serve far better than sinking your teeth into this one agent's jugular. This particular issue appears to be a sticky wicket, and there is no clear answer Andy can give that will make you happy. That's why I recommended moving on.

I didn't think my posts were sinking teeth into anyone's jugular. If I attacked you somehow, then I'm very sorry.

If you have a specific question, ask it. Someone is always around who can answer it for you and hopefully, it'll be more satisfactory to you.

I better just shut up and read.






ETA:

Jim's recent post DOES answer my question. Thank you, sir!
Peace.

Twizzle
06-01-2009, 04:10 PM
He offers an optional reading fee to push a manuscript or partial ahead of others (making the wait for those who don't/can't pursue such a service--but had their work just as requested--even longer that it should be. That's assuming Mr. Zack doesn't have access to a wacky-time device of some sort that makes all things even again, of course).

I hate to say this, because I'm not in favor of this service and he has said he's ditching it and I see your point, but in reality, stated response times seem avg for all queriers--and even better than some other agents. *cough*youknowwhoimtalkingaboutpeggy*cough*

So, his implementing this fee doesn't appear to have backed-up submissions. And we do know he responds in a timely fashion when he is interested. So. Maybe he does have a wacky-time device. :O Think of the damage, we could do with one of those, Mags. :)

I also haven't heard of him mixing the editorial services with the lit agency, other than the link. *cough*funnyhownooneraisedaneyebrowoverthatoneagen twhoadvertisededitingservicesinthe backofamajormagazineyettheydohere*cough*

And while I'm also not in favor of agents charging higher than avg rates and have no idea if Andy currently does so, I do know (which I said previously) his response times were good, and the fees aren't an issue to be considered or offered. His editorial feedback was spot-on, and in person, he was quite nice to talk to. I bet he even likes Vonnegut.

I'm sorry we're disagreeing, but I still get that Kahlua you promised, right, Mags? Cause Frango and I can't delete you.

Giant Baby
06-01-2009, 05:44 PM
I'm sorry we're disagreeing, but I still get that Kahlua you promised, right, Mags? Cause Frango and I can't delete you.


You shall always get to have Kahlua, Twiz. Even after that disingenuous Vonnegut dangle. 'Cos you're just that cool.

Twizzle
06-01-2009, 05:54 PM
You shall always get to have Kahlua, Twiz. Even after that disingenuous Vonnegut dangle. 'Cos you're just that cool.

Twas not. And am not. But don't forget the folding chairs and ice cream. We'll need those.

*bowing out of thread*

Andrew Zack
06-03-2009, 10:04 PM
I could debate the wisdom of responding to even more of this, but for the very fact that I am a professional and believe that sometimes you just have to explain things and talk about things enough and people come to understand, I am going to try to explain further.

I do not charge a reading fee. Agents who charge reading fees require that fee to be paid or they do not read the material. My firm requires no fees to read any material. We do offer a service by which you can "move to the head of the line" and get your material read faster. Shockingly enough, so do Universal Studios and Disneyland. Pay a fee and cut the line. So does Amazon.com. Pay a fee and your stuff ships out faster. So do FedEx and UPS. Pay a fee and your stuff gets their faster. ER is no different than any of the services offered by any of those companies.

Yesterday, I joined the Romance Writers of America. I was charged a "membership fee" and I was also charged a $25 "processing fee." If you'd like to tear into someone about questionable fees, please visit their website and holler at them. A "processing fee" is simply a way to make money, like your gym's initiation fee or colleges' application fees. Since RWA charges a "processing fee," would it be okay for agents to do the same? If it is not, why is it okay for RWA?

Yes, I offer editorial services. I used to be a full-time editor and have been paid to edit books by Warner Books, Donald I. Fine, Berkley Books, Dell, Avon, and Forge Books. There may be one or two others I'm forgetting. I've also reviewed for BOMC acquisitions and for KIRKUS. I have NEVER suggested to any author that I rejected that they hire me as an editor and that would change things about representation. I have stated CLEARLY that if you come to me for editorial, it will make no difference with regard to representation. Author Coach, LLC, and The Zack Company, Inc. are separate companies and do not refer clients to each other with the sole expection that if I am contacted via TZC for editorial work, I do the paperwork via AC. This is a book-keeping thing only. It would be very, very easy to create an AC brochure and stick it into every reject I send out from TZC, but I do not do that and never would. That might give the impression that working with AC will get you repped by TZC. It won't. So I don't do it.

Not all AC clients are edited by me. I have several independent contractors who edit projects, all of whom worked in-house at major publishers. Any author working with them is lucky to have that level of feedback, I feel. What AC is is one-stop shopping for a book doctor or editor. I believe it is a valuable service and that's why I created the company.

Selling new authors is hard as hell. It can take years. So I charge a higher commission. Harder work requires higher pay. Believe me, no authors whose work I sold after two years of flogging their manuscripts ever complained the commission was too high.

Many agents charge 25% on foreign. They share it with their foreign co-agents. This is fairly standard.

I was a member of AAR. AAR provides no actual services to agents. When I was a member, I started the member benefits committee, which was the first time agents actually saved a buck because of their membership. You can't get health insurance through the AAR. The AAR is prohibited by law from negotiating as a group with publishers. It's wonderful to get together with other agents and gossip about editors and bitch about publishers' contracts, but other than that, there's little value. When I lived in NYC, I was a member and I was chair of the Royalty Committee. I consider those folks good friends. When I got engaged and was planning my move to San Diego, I got the bill for another year, looked at how much money I was spending on the move, and decided I really didn't need it anymore. So I am not a member "at this time."

You know, folks, I started the "Ask the Agent" forum on here. I used to answer questions on the same forum on GEnie, way, way back went (in the DOS days). I gave it up as a regular thing when I felt I was answering the same questions over and over and over. But I chime in here when I have free time or when I Google myself and find links to messages about me I haven't read. I don't come here to argue and in one of my first posts here I think I said I wouldn't engage in arguments. And I've tried not to argue, but just explain, so that there are no misperceptions or misunderstandings. Have I gotten colorful once or twice? Sure. Sleep-deprivation is a bitch.

Finally, for those who have been complaining that ER means other authors wait too long, I have to offer two points:

1. I have exactly three sample chapters or proposals in my reading pile right now. I read and rejected the rest. I have several full manuscripts, some of which have had one, two, or even three reads by my interns. I need to read them, there is no doubt. But I do not have them exclusively, so I am not holding up anyone. I try to find time when I am not distracted and likely to stay awake (see note above re: sleep deprivation). I have a wife and an infant son. Finding times that meet the above criteria is difficult. If you live near Fairway on the UWS of New York, I promise to read your manuscript faster if you send me Vanilla Almond coffee. I miss it. And while you are there, could you get us a pound or two the pitted Moroccan black olives. They are yummy and hard to find here. Neither of these is a reading fee. They are just bribes and greatly appreciated.

2. If you submit to me and opt for ER, I'm not putting off reading someone else's stuff. I'm putting off sleep or washing the car or hanging that picture my wife wants hung. Because sometimes only the commitment of having to read something by a firm deadline is what gets me to stay up late (my kid was up crying it out from 3:30 to 4:20 last night; you think I'm awake enough today to read anything?). Because when you order ER, you have paid for a service and I am obligated to provide that service. No such obligation exists with other submissions and, since I know I ultimately pass on 99.75% or so of those, it's often hard to argue with myself that reading that next manuscript is more important than going to the park with my wife and kid on a Sunday afternoon.

Z


I don't understand the defensiveness this agent inspires in so many.
He offers an optional reading fee to push a manuscript or partial ahead of others (making the wait for those who don't/can't pursue such a service--but had their work just as requested--even longer that it should be. That's assuming Mr. Zack doesn't have access to a wacky-time device of some sort that makes all things even again, of course).
He offers an editorial service, right there tabbed (http://www.zackcompany.com/editorial.htm) on his agency website, and has stopped by this very site (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=86615&highlight=author+coach) to proudly announce its existance.
He charges 20% commission to new authors on domestic sales (but the standard 15% to those he considers less risky, as evidenced in #10 here (http://www.zackcompany.com/agency_faqs.htm), in the FAQ of his own website), and 25% on "all others."
Um... 25%?
He's not a member of AAR, despite having been active long enough and having the sales to support membership. Perhaps he doesn't think he needs it, but as stated in the query of #13 (http://www.zackcompany.com/agency_faqs.htm) in his FAQ about the question, his reply is, "Not at this time."Frankly, I think his slope is coated in Vaseline. He's avoided the "scam" label, but if anyone who can afford to get published should these policies become standard practice could just stand up, those of us left sitting will be at the bar. Setting our manuscripts on fire for the warmth. And there'd be some good words in those fires.

ETA: Cross posted w/ M.R.J Le Blanc. Some redundencies.

SusanH
06-04-2009, 03:59 AM
Well, Mr, Zack, if things don't turn around for me soon, I'll will buy a printer, send you my ms and hire you to edit it. My beta readers love my book, but agents don't....sigh...... a good friend of mine went the self publishing route for his first book and after, agents started contacting him for his next two books. I will be talking to him about how he did what he did at our 40th high school reunion in August, so we shall see. I just refuse to give up. My ex-husband's second ex, (ok figure that one out) read the last four chapters of my book, of which she is a part. She is an editor for a Miami paper part time and she said I need very little, if any, editing. I take that as a compliment. She said I couldn't have said it better. She is also the gal that my husband left me for.....we are now friends.... a very intresting plot twist.....

Deb Kinnard
06-05-2009, 01:17 AM
I'm putting off sleep or washing the car or hanging that picture my wife wants hung.

Mr. Zack, speaking as a wife of 22 years, I can say with all authority: NEVER put off hanging that picture the wife wants hung. Bad idea. Very bad.

Pab Sungenis
06-09-2009, 01:08 AM
Mr. Zack:

I'm sorry if my comments angered you, but I stand by my original comments. Looking back at several installments of your blog, the "read all submissions through" date stayed relatively consistently three months behind the current date, and no signings were ever announced, until this most recent update by you. It's good to see that you've made it through your slushpile and that you have two signings to report.

My suspicions were aroused by a submission of mine a while back. Out of the 60 queries sent out for that one, only two requests came back: one from you and one from PublishAmerica (thankfully I was warned off them very early in the game, two years back). Yours coming with what I saw (and still consider) as a sales brochure for a pay-to-play service raised my alarms.

I watched your blog and noticed what appeared to be a pattern of ninety days' consistent backlog. My partial rejection came exactly 90 days after submission, too, which fit the pattern. Relatively consistent backlogs, no announced signings. You can understand why my suspicions were raised; you seemed to be behaving just like a typical for-pay query mill. So I confronted you.

I don't apologize for asking the questions. Perhaps my tone was a little too aggressive, but your Express Review program and editing service smack of unethical behavior, even if you are being completely above board and honest with them.

Your candor is appreciated, especially since you've announced your intention to end the Express Review program. I never minded waiting (even though part of me always hated it) as long as the process was above board and honest. A partial request on something that seemed to show no merit to anyone else, along with a brochure asking for $60.00, set off all my alarm bells, as I would think it would to anyone with any sense.

I apologize if you were offended by my questions, but hopefully you'll consider how your "services" appear to the average writer. If so, then my brief and unhappy career as an attempted writer will not have been in vain.

HapiSofi
06-09-2009, 04:36 AM
Those services are dubious and I wish he didn't offer them, but Andy Zack is a legitimate agent.

Andrew Zack
06-09-2009, 05:46 AM
It's true. No good deed goes unpunished.


Mr. Zack:

Out of the 60 queries sent out for that one, only two requests came back: one from you and...

samitestar
08-19-2009, 12:53 AM
I've twice asked Mr. Zack questions and both times he's been quick, professional and helpful in answering.

I haven't queried him because he doesn't represent young adult fiction, but if I ever wrote a military espionage, I would.

kaitie
12-30-2009, 09:08 AM
I just realized that I'm almost certain this is the agent that I met at a conference ages ago and actually had quite a decent amount of conversation with. I remember him as a very nice guy who seemed very passionate and serious about his work. What I remember most, however, is the discussions about fees.

See, the only things I could recall (I've got a business card but it's lost in a trunk back in the states) were that his name was Andy and that he had a fee. He actually talked about avoiding scam agents and I know for a fact at one of the sessions there was discussion about this and he had explained the differences between what his fee was and the way scam agents charge fees.

When I got here, I always wondered about this, but had never been able to remember his last name to look him up. If I had only read this thread, I would have been exceptionally skeptical about the whole thing. Having actual met and spoken to him, however, and recalling his explanations, I do believe he is a legitimate person who has his own way of doing things. I'm with Hapi on this. I believe he's a good agent and while it would be easier if he didn't do these things, I don't believe it automatically puts him on the hopeless list.

Now watch Andy read this and say, "Who the heck is that? It clearly wasn't me." :tongue

triceretops
12-30-2009, 10:01 PM
I'm team Andy here. He went out of his way to critique my outline and proposal, and although he said the idea was superb, he did point out a weakness in my platform, which I'd completely overlooked. Other agents hit that topic dead-on too, proving him 100% correct in his evaluation. The guy is smart as paint, and I'd trade the two-and-a-half offers I have right now for him any day.

Now, I do have a military espionage, and I'm currently racking my brain and wondering why I haven't sent it to him! I'll have to check my records.

egtalbot
01-19-2010, 02:01 AM
Figured I'd chime in - I submitted via his online form and received a form rejection via email about a day later. Didn't pay the "expedite" fee (though I don't really have a problem with the concept).

dgrintalis
01-19-2010, 03:41 AM
I submitted via the online form as well on 12/15 and got a request for 25 pages on 12/31. I did not pay any fees whatsoever.

Anarchic Q
01-19-2010, 06:46 AM
The online form linked from his FAQ page? The one that says "Don't submit queries in this form" in red? That one?

Edit: I realize that sounded snarky. Sorry, I just wanted to be certain before I did something stupid.

triceretops
01-19-2010, 07:44 AM
Under "Submission" you hit the "how to query us" and that takes you to a tutor page, then scroll all the way down to find the form. I missed it the first time too.

Tri

Anarchic Q
01-19-2010, 07:47 AM
Thank you! Wow, that's tricky.

xtine
01-22-2010, 04:05 AM
I submitted the partial he requested on 9/21, and still haven't received a response yea or nay. I went to his blog where his query count is supposed to let us know how fast he's going through things, and it seems like she should have read the partial months ago at that rate.

I have no way to contact him to see if he got it. There's no phone or email anywhere. i commented on the blog post with the question and still have not heard.

If he hasn't read it yet, I'm a very patient person. It's cool. (even though that's a long wait for a partial) But if he hasn't gotten it I need a way to find that out so I can send it again (if they're still interested).

Anyone ever encountered this before?

Should I just call it a pass and move on?

Salaris
02-04-2010, 02:22 AM
He posted a rant on his blog a while ago about people following up, so I'd probably just give it a bit more time. Good luck!

SusanH
02-04-2010, 03:29 AM
Shows you how long it has been since I came to his thread. I didn't know he even had an online form now....I'll have to give him a shot....

Stlight
02-04-2010, 05:42 AM
Does he have an auto-responder for receipt of submissions? Would it cut down on his follow-up requests if he did?

If I received an auto-responce saying an agaent received a submission I certainly wouldn't email to ask if the agent had gotten a submission. I would assume no response after 3 -4 months meant not interested.

xtine
02-04-2010, 08:23 AM
My partial was requested via snail mail, so there was no easy way for him to auto respond.

I really would object to follow-ups to unsolicited queries, but when someone asks for something, I'd hope they'd a be a little more responsive. Anyway, really doesn't matter. It's all a learning experience.

I'm calling it a pass. Moving along....thanks for the input!

Andrew Zack
02-04-2010, 09:20 PM
Hello folks:

I saw the discussion here about my response times and thought I would comment.

I didn't find an intern last fall, so from the end of the summer until January, there was no one to do first reads. I admit it, I read very, very few full manuscripts first. I let my interns read them and they write reader's reports. This is the way many editors in-house work also. When my intern is over-the-moon about a manuscript, I read it also. If the intern finds ten reasons to fault it, I generally pass and let them write the author their thoughts on what worked or didn't work.

Now HOLD ON! I know that ten of you want to hit reply and rant and rave about how I shouldn't allow my interns to make representation decisions. Get over it. All agents and editors working with assistants and interns do the same. Where do you think the next generation of editors and agents comes from? And the truth is, while they may not have the same instincts or experience, an intern's opinion on whether or not it's a "good book," are as valid as yours or mine.

So, no intern and the reading slows way, way, way down.

I admit it, I've been a bit slow in the reading. I do still publish a monthly round-up and I will actually be getting to January's today. But I have partials and proposals going back several months. Normally I can squeeze in a day waiting for the car to be serviced and knock off five or ten while I wait, but the cars have (mostly) been behaving. Good news for you is that I own a Camry, so I'm going to have to go get my gas pedal fixed, which I'm sure guarantees me several hours of reading time.

All that said, I have two words for everyone sending in a chapter or proposal for my review: DELIVERY CONFIRMATION. It isn't expensive and it tells you I got the material. I RESPOND TO EVERYTHING, as long as you include an SASE, thumbs up or thumbs down. If I'm passing, that response is usually a form reject, but at least you won't be left hanging. If I want more, I'll ask for it. If it's a full MS, likely my intern will do the first read. Interns are required to read an MS per week, though sometimes they are by current clients and sometimes by potential clients.

For the monthly round-up, see my blog at www.zackcompany.blogspot.com or become a fan of TZC via Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/literaryagency. We publish it there also (when we remember).

Z

Old Hack
02-05-2010, 12:18 AM
Speaking from experience, it's relatively easy for interns to review submissions and make initial rejections and requests for more without risking anything going wrong: the bulk of submissions are entirely wrong for the places they're submitted to (think non-fiction submitted to an agent who deals entirely with fiction, or horror sent to an agent who specialises in romance); or they're so badly written that they are nigh-on incomprehensible; or they're reliant on conspiracy theories and probably libellous to boot, etc.

It's entirely acceptable for interns to make that first sweep through the slush-pile, so long as they're well-briefed on what to look out for, and what to reject. As Mr Zack couldn't find an intern this summer, it's probably because he's so exacting (people queue up for intern positions: I doubt he had a lack of applicants).

dgrintalis
02-05-2010, 12:28 AM
I agree with you, Old Hack. I follow several interns on Twitter and IMO, they are just as knowledgeable as the agents. With respect to the waiting, I think people just get impatient and let their impatience get the better of them.

Andrew Zack
02-05-2010, 01:10 AM
Actually, I did have a lack of applicants. San Diego is not New York, the center of the publishing world. Few students are thinking of publishing as a career, compared to NYU or Columbia, both of which have publishing programs.

Z

xtine
02-05-2010, 01:59 AM
Not shocking and nothing to apologize for. I was an intern for a Hollywood agency and nothing went to the agent without getting read by me or my peers first. Even stuff by clients (the agent always read it of course, just after I/we did).

Here is the reason I wanted to know. I am not impatient (well, maybe a little - but I try hard not to take it out on other people).

I have only allow myself to be "out" to 10 agents at a time, and this includes unsolicited queries, partials and fulls. I wanted to fill that space up, or resend the partial if necessary.

I saw the roundup and was a little baffled at how to do the math. I didn't quite know what it meant for my partial because you may be asking for 20 and getting through 30 (for instance) but I don't know what the stack on the table looks like to begin with.

Anyway, I'm good. Thanks for the answer!

xtine
02-05-2010, 02:17 AM
Oh - and DELIVERY CONFIRMATION.
Duh. Seems so simple, but I never thought of it.

Thanks!

X

Salaris
02-08-2010, 04:26 PM
Mr. Zack,

First off, thank you for your replies to this thread, as well as your other posts on this site. Your advice has been superb.

I have a question for you, assuming you're still reading this thread. You mention on the Zack Company website on this page (http://www.zackcompany.com/editorial-services.html) that you can provide editorial services for authors. You also have the Author Coach (http://www.authorcoach.com/) website, where you mention that you do not share clients between the The Zack Company and Author Coach.

Is the editing service mentioned on the Zack Company website the same thing as Author Coach, or a different service provided through The Zack Company? If the editing service on the Zack Company is different, do you consider people you've edited for through that service valid clients for representation as an agent?

Andrew Zack
02-09-2010, 09:10 PM
Salaris:

If a client comes to TZC in search of editorial services, they will be referred to the Author Coach site for an outline of services, available coaches, and pricing. If they become an AC client, they cannot be considered for representation by TZC.

If I receive a submission to TZC that I like but think needs work, then I will work with that client editorially at no charge to get the book into shape. If I work with a client via AC and they would like me to work with them to develop a submission list of agents, then I am happy to do so.

Z

Salaris
02-10-2010, 03:16 AM
Thank you for the clarification on that, Mr. Zack.

OneWriter
02-14-2010, 01:58 AM
I am coming back to this post to correct some wrongful statement I have previously made on Mr. Zack's Offer for Charity. I have since donated to the cause and invite other people to do so.

dgrintalis
02-14-2010, 02:18 AM
OneWriter, I follow several agents on Twitter, and they get hundreds of queries a day, deal with their existing clients, and have lots of partials and fulls waiting to be read. It's not uncommon for an agent to post at midnight about reading queries, etc. They are busy, busy folks who work long hours. I think you can forgive them for a typo or two. Agents are human as well. I've sent out a story that was proofread and proofread again only to find a typo after it was sent.

I'm not trying to be snarky or mean, and I want to be clear, I'm not a client of the agency, so this isn't a defensive post based on that. I've gotten rejection letters with my name misspelled. Typos and mistakes happen.

OneWriter
02-14-2010, 05:12 AM
I wasn't seeking representation. I paid $100 to have my first chapter critiqued.

waylander
02-14-2010, 02:25 PM
Was your chapter critiqued in a way that was useful to you?

OneWriter
02-14-2010, 07:20 PM
I discussed with Mr. Zack and resolved the issue. It was a misunderstanding on my part, and I apologize.

Ruth2
02-15-2010, 01:10 AM
Hmm... I filled out the query form for The Zack Company and sent it in. What came up next is "There is no form with this name or may be the form is unpublished, Please check the form and the url and the form management."

So did it go, or is my scintillating query lost forever in the ether?

Andrew Zack
02-16-2010, 02:36 AM
As you may have deduced, it's an error message. You need to do it again.

Andrew Zack
02-16-2010, 02:43 AM
OneWriter

I confess I'm confused. I think I"ve only had one writer take advantage of this offer and I just got a PM that was a thank-you note from that author, obviously not you. And while I have, on occasion, let my frustration with some authors show on these boards, generally I have never been accused of being "snarky" when responding to submissions. Thus, I would appreciate knowing your real name and the title of your work and then I will review what I wrote and with your permission publish it here as a message.

Thank you.

Andrew Zack

Ruth2
02-16-2010, 02:50 AM
As you may have deduced, it's an error message. You need to do it again.

Thanks, Mr Zack. I'll try again.

Yay, it worked!

Andrew Zack
02-16-2010, 10:50 PM
Recently an author using the name "OneWriter" here posted a lengthy complaint about my response to his project, which he submitted to me under a offer I made to raise funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

In response, I asked for his real name and the name of his work, so that I could review what I had to say about his project. Please keep in mind that all I read was one sample chapter and a synopsis of the rest.

In response to my request for a real name and the name of the work, the author sent me a lengthy private message and then offered to remove his original post and has done so. Unfortunately, of course, the damage caused by the post was already done. Others already read it and likely will not take advantage of the offer I made and this will be a loss to a very good charity.

While the author would prefer that this matter no longer be on this board, the reality is that you can't slander or libel someone or his work publicly and then expect the offended party to not respond in public.

The offer I made is the following, abbreviated of course:

I will read that chapter and respond with my thoughts. TZC will read and respond with a one- to two-page evaluation of your work. Should we wish to read more, we will request more. If we decline the work, our evaluation will explain why we are declining it.

At no point do I offer to "critique" the work. I merely offer the opportunity to submit and promise a response that explains my thoughts on it. OneWriter apparently expected more than I offered. This was the author's error. Further, any evaluation is a subjective thing. Put three agents in a room and you'll get three opinions on the editorial merits of any work.

Additionally, the author complained that I misspelled the main character's name, yet in reviewing my letter, I don't appear to have used the name at all. I used the nickname, which apparently is *****, but I called the character *******. Yes, this was my error, but I don't know that it was quite so horrible that I should be so publicly pilloried for this error.

In her post and PM, she says I replied in a snarky manner and said, "I don't think so." What I actually said was, "After all, is this really SF? Is there enough 'science' here to work. I didn't think so." I don't read that as snarky and I'm not sure why the author did, but tone is one of those things that often gets misinterpreted online.

In addition to my comments, I pointed out to the author that the formatting of the sample chapters was incorrect, that chapters should not be printed double-sided, and that I saw spelling and word-choice errors. I then commented on issues I had with the plot and made suggestions as to how the author might fix those issues.

In the end, I think my response was exactly what I promised in my offer for charity and in reviewing it, I found nothing about the tone or substance that should have resulted in the kind of posting the author made on this board.

Some authors welcome editorial feedback, this was not one of them.

Thank you.

Z

dgrintalis
02-17-2010, 12:00 AM
Thank you, Mr. Zack, for coming in and clearing that up. I hope it does not have any impact on your fundraising efforts. My husband is a Hodgkin's survivor, so I appreciate all that you do for the L&LS.

OneWriter
02-17-2010, 02:56 AM
Sigh. My fault. You are absolutely right, Mr. Zack. I should have discussed the matter privately. I apologize for that. I have several faults. But I haven't been disrespectful in any way.

If you haven't deleted it yet, please review my PM: you will see that I have been very polite.
All I did was explain why I paid the money and what I had expected for that kind of money (that's why I gave you a very specific example). I see now where the misunderstanding happened (and in a way, I am glad we are out to publicly clarify it): I was expecting an editor's review of my chapter (your offer for charity was advertised both on your agency website and on the AuthorCoach website), whereas you gave me the reason why you rejected my ms. Except, it wasn't a submission (no query letter). And, nothing personal, but like you said, you put three agents in a room and they disagree. So, when I saw there was nothing objective in your input, I'm sorry, but I felt a little cheated. Oh, you are right, there was something objective: the wrong format and the wrong words, which, BTW, was exactly why I came to you in the first place... I was looking for an editor! But you just said, "They turned me off." And I'm thinking, "Yes, but I paid, so, which are those words? Please?"

I didn't know there was a difference between evaluation and critique. Maybe you should explain it on the website. What I now understand to be your definition of "evaluation" is something I had already gotten from agents FOR FREE in response to a partial or a full submission. I thought that by paying I was entitled to a little more. You have to admit, it was a legitimate mistake.
Some editing agencies actually let you submit the first chapter for free in order to let you evaluate their editing work.
I thought this would have been similar, only you were asking for $100 which would go to charity, so even though I was paying, I thought it was neat because it was for a good cause. And quite frankly, I thought that if I liked the outcome I would have even considered hiring you via AuthorCoach. Now you see how naive I have been. Mea culpa.
I think we both learned a valuable lesson here. Mine was that I should have asked for a clarification before jumping on what I thought was a great opportunity. I am sorry I misunderstood.

Good luck with Team in Training. I still think it's a neat idea. I misunderstood what it was you were offering.

Andrew Zack
02-18-2010, 03:00 AM
I did make the same offer via both sites, but I stand by my evaluation as having been appropriate.

TZC does not accept unsolicited sample chapters. My offer for charity opens the door to unsolicited material in a way that is not otherwise available.

Author Coach has a stated hourly rate of $125. It takes me about an hour and a half to two hours to read a sample chapter and synopsis and respond to it. You can do the math on it.

OneWriter, I did, in fact, read both the synopsis and the sample chapter. I apologize for referring to the main character as *****er instead of *****, but I think that's a very insignificant error.

The money paid by OneWriter and anyone else who takes advantage of this offer was/is paid directly the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. It is 100% tax deductible. So anyone who takes advantage of the offer gets a tax deduction for the donation.

If you are an author who is not getting a response to his or her sample chapter or synopsis from editors or agents, or who is only getting form rejects, then taking me up on this offer may be one way to get actual useful feedback. And if I read it for TZC and like it, you might even get an agent.

Your call. At the worst, you get feedback that might help and donate to a great cause.

Z

OneWriter
02-18-2010, 03:28 AM
Thank you for clarifying that. All the best on your endeavor.
Once again, I apologize. It was a misunderstanding on my part, though I would suggest making the offer a little clearer on the website.
My family is on a tight budget right now. It's harder to put things into perspective when under pressure,
and to justify certain expenses to a spouse on the basis that "this book will make us better off"
when in fact it hasn't happened yet.
Now please, Mr. Zack, do remove the name of my character from there, just put ***, as I feel this is a violation of the privacy of my work.
I understand I provoked you, and again I'm sorry. I hope I have clarified the origin of my misunderstanding and also my circumstances.
Thank you.

PS: Maybe you could offer a critique for a higher price, like $300, or something. That would attract writers like me who already had their evaluations from other agents and are now looking for a little more. AND it would give you the chance to explain the difference between evaluation and critique to avoid future confusion. Two birds with one stone.

Salaris
02-18-2010, 03:31 AM
I have not taken advantage of the donation offer, however, I have used Andy Zack's express review. I was more than satisfied with the amount of time Andy put into his replies, and I found him to be very professional overall.

Ruth2
02-19-2010, 03:55 AM
Thanks, Mr Zack. I'll try again.

Yay, it worked!

And a form rejection today. On to the next one!

Andrew Zack
02-19-2010, 08:36 AM
I would like to publicly thank OneWriter for making an additional donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society today. That was truly unnecessary and very appreciated.

That said, I am disturbed that the moderator (I presume) on this board took it upon himself or herself to edit my posts and delete the name of the character I referenced in my posts, a name I was accused of getting wrong, which I did, but only to the extent of adding an "er" to the end.

I think this is what is often called a "teachable moment." Removing the name of the character was completely inappropriate and my use of the name was fair. The name in question was ***** and the error I made was to use *****er. There is nothing unique about this name. It cannot, by law, be protected by copyright or trademark. It is too common. It is not, for example, "Yoda" which is a registered trademark of Lucasfilm. Though there are other versions of the trademark "Yoda" which have nothing to do with STAR WARS. There are multiple books and movies called either *****ER or THE ******ER or ALIEN *****ER or similar versions. There is simply no basis to claim an invasion of privacy based on my use of that name, and since I had been criticized for getting it wrong, it was important to me that others online could see the DEGREE to which I got it wrong, which wasn't very much at all. It was an honest and innocent mistake.

What I did do was protect the plot, and I was extremely careful in my posted comments so as not to give away any plot elements, which can be unique and subject to copyright.

So while I appreciate greatly the additional donation to LLS, I disagree with the claim that the use of the character name in my posts was an invasion of privacy in any way and I strongly disagree with the unauthorized editing of my posts.

Thank you.

Andrew Zack

OneWriter
02-19-2010, 09:25 AM
Mr. Zack, PLEASE, let's end this conversation. It is all my fault, and I have already publicly apologized, not to mention it ended in costing me twice as much, which I am happy to do for a good cause. I asked Cao -- who is the sweetest person on Earth and always very, very correct in the way she moderates this board -- to remove the name. Please, can you respect this desire of mine? Do I have to cover my head in ashes? If you want, we can leave it as ***** and *****er so that everybody here can see that it was indeed a minor mistake that you made and that I was a total jerk to see any wrongdoing in it. Would that work? Thank you.

OneWriter
02-19-2010, 02:47 PM
There. I have erased all references that a mistake was even made. Now they are only in your postings.
Mr. Zack, I regret I ever brought this up and I regret I misinterpreted the tone of your letter and I regret I had the wrong expectations from your offer for charity.
I went on your website and saw that not only you put a lot of time into this, it also costs you money as bikes are expensive and costly. I have explained my financial situation (which had let me into a misjudgment on my part from the beginning), and yet because I felt so bad about this whole situation I made an additional donation. I have even made suggestions on how to raise the money faster -- I mean, if you look at Irene Goodman's auctions, you can see that people do pay good money for a critique. I think if you offered people a critique for $500 you would spend the same amount of time reading, maybe a little more time writing the letter, but then you would have the equivalent of 5 submissions, so overall a net gain.
Please let me know what else you want me to do to make this go away.
After all, we all make mistakes. Now let's shake hands and move on.
Thank you.

CaoPaux
02-19-2010, 08:27 PM
So while I appreciate greatly the additional donation to LLS, I disagree with the claim that the use of the character name in my posts was an invasion of privacy in any way and I strongly disagree with the unauthorized editing of my posts.

Thank you.

Andrew ZackIf you, after both private and public requests, cannot extend the common courtesy of reciprocally editing your posts to remove a personal detail, that is your failing, not mine. Your opinion of the detail is irrelevant.

OneWriter has removed the complaint against you. The matter is closed.

Andrew Zack
02-19-2010, 08:37 PM
I have filed a formal complaint with AbsoluteWrite regarding the unauthorized editing of my posts. This is not a "personal detail," and the issue was raised by the original author, not by me. One cannot put the toothpaste back in the tube, as they say.

What you have done, simply put, is censor me and I don't think there's a place for that on a board like this unless it has to do with actual hate posts, like racist, anti-Semitic or otherwise.

Z

Andrew Zack
02-19-2010, 08:53 PM
The reality is that this is now an issue of principle and whether or not unauthorized editing of posts is permissible, which I think it certainly was not in this situation.

While I appreciate the extra donation, certainly it was never asked for or implied that you should make one. If I had the power to return the donation, so that you would not be under financial stress, I certainly would, but I do not. All online donations go directly to LLS and are beyond my control.

Your suggestions, while appreciated, would require far greater services and time, on top of the already extensive time and effort I put into Team in Training and fundraising for the LLS. I am a Mentor for TNT, which means that I work with other participants on training and fundraising. From about the end of January I have been volunteering between four and eight hours a week on training to be a good Mentor and working with the team. Last week, we had our first ride, which I left my house for at 6 am and returned home about 1pm. With longer rides, those days will just get longer, so there really is no more time to dedicate to services that might be donated.

The services suggested, though, are available through Author Coach, but not as part of the charity offer. If an author wants an extensive critique of their material, with page-by-page editorial feedback, that is available through Author Coach at the normal hourly rate. If you consult your accountant, you may find that such services are a business expense.

I am happy to "shake hands" and let this matter go away, but I am not willing to have my posts edited without my authorization. Since you instigated the editing by asking the moderator to make the changes, and since the moderator is apparently unwilling to accept that the name is not unique and therefore not protected, then the matter will persist, as it reflects on many issues far greater than the name of one character. With all due respect, the name of the character gives absolutely nothing away about the book, as I did not disclose plot details. If you are concerned about other agents or editors reading these posts and how they might reflect on you, I respectfully submit that this is a public forum and one of the risks of posting in such a forum is that someone might respond and you will not have control over that response. I believe my responses have been polite and professional and on-topic. Unfortunately, I do not feel the same way about requests for unauthorized editing of my posts or the actual changing of them by the moderator.

Thank you.

Andrew Zack




There. I have erased all references that a mistake was even made. Now they are only in your postings.
Mr. Zack, I regret I ever brought this up and I regret I misinterpreted the tone of your letter and I regret I had the wrong expectations from your offer for charity.
I went on your website and saw that not only you put a lot of time into this, it also costs you money as bikes are expensive and costly. I have explained my financial situation (which had let me into a misjudgment on my part from the beginning), and yet because I felt so bad about this whole situation I made an additional donation. I have even made suggestions on how to raise the money faster -- I mean, if you look at Irene Goodman's auctions, you can see that people do pay good money for a critique. I think if you offered people a critique for $500 you would spend the same amount of time reading, maybe a little more time writing the letter, but then you would have the equivalent of 5 submissions, so overall a net gain.
Please let me know what else you want me to do to make this go away.
After all, we all make mistakes. Now let's shake hands and move on.
Thank you.

CaoPaux
02-19-2010, 09:27 PM
I have filed a formal complaint with AbsoluteWrite regarding the unauthorized editing of my posts. This is not a "personal detail," and the issue was raised by the original author, not by me. One cannot put the toothpaste back in the tube, as they say.

What you have done, simply put, is censor me and I don't think there's a place for that on a board like this unless it has to do with actual hate posts, like racist, anti-Semitic or otherwise.

ZFortunately, you do not dictate the standards of behavior here. Closing thread pending formal review.

MacAllister
02-20-2010, 12:46 AM
Mr. Zack, I received your complaint. Sorry, but there's no such thing as "unauthorized editing" of your posts. Anyone with the power to edit your posts on this board has the authorization. In this case, the moderator acted perfectly appropriately, and there's certainly ample precedent to remove a detail that's completely irrelevant information, to spare your fellow community-member's embarrassment or discomfort.

Look, posting information about another member's manuscript is generally never well-received by the writer involved. While it's certainly not any sort of copyright infringement, it is nonetheless both discourteous and rather mean-spirited to ignore someone's requests to simply remove the information he or she felt compromised her privacy.

The moderator edited the specific character name out of your post upon the other member's repeated requests, and your apparent refusal to do so. I frankly don't find that outrageous; it seems like a simple benign courtesy.

In case that wasn't clear, let me be more specific: someone is acting very poorly indeed in this particular exchange -- but it's not the other board member, and it's certainly not the moderator.

While you may not like it, and may not approve, we have every legal right to edit offending posts for whatever reason we deem necessary -- you'll please recall your Terms of Service.

I do think it's a shame you've apparently become so very arrogant and self-important that a fellow member's simple request to edit your post in a way that doesn't hurt anyone gets met by this sort of golden-words zeal and self-righteous indignation.

There's certainly a significant difference between "censorship" and requiring board members to behave with a modicum of common courtesy, regardless of how terribly important they think they are. That you're apparently incapable of perceiving that difference is cause for some concern, frankly.

I'm going to re-open this thread.

Do NOT put the character name back in your posts, Mr. Zack. There's no damned reason to do so, it doesn't add context or meaning, and there IS reason excise the information if only for the sake of simple courtesy.

M.R.J. Le Blanc
02-20-2010, 02:06 AM
WOW.

This whole hoopla just turned me off from this agency permanently. Not impressed.

Droneon
02-20-2010, 03:21 AM
WOW.

This whole hoopla just turned me off from this agency permanently. Not impressed.

Ditto.

By the way, my protagonist's name is Rick.

Feel free to use it. Or Ricker, if you prefer.

Good night Gracie.

Andrew Zack
02-20-2010, 04:01 AM
For the record, just to close the loop on this matter, OneWriter requested that LLS refund her the second donation she made and I have been notified that they did so.

As for the others who are turned off by this exchange, I am sorry that you favor censorship over honest discussion. I am also sorry that rather than looking at my responses as an attempt to educate an author on the realities of the publishing world, you saw it as something else.

I have generously spent quite a number of years answering questions on this site. OneWriter raised the name of the character while complaining about my response to her material. Her character was named [rescinded] and I called him [rescinded]. If her character was named John and I called him Jon, would we be having this conversation? The debate about whether or not posting the character name was right is asinine. She raised the issue of the error, but by not explaining the error, she made it appear as though I was inattentive to her material and, in my opinion, implied that I had not fulfilled the terms of the service for donation offered. Thus, only by quantifying the exact nature of the error can one come to understand how incorrect she was. And the only way to do that is to demonstrate the exact nature of the error.

MacAllister, I find your post grossly unprofessional. Your choice of words and tone is outrageous.

My thanks to those who have posted supportive comments about me and my firm here. I'm sorry that this matter, which began because I was trying to do a good thing for a charitable cause and a good thing in donating my time here turned into such a negative experience for me and others, despite my best efforts to respond in a professional manner. I mean, really, does anyone find the tone and substance of MacAllister's post professional or polite?

If you have future questions that you would like addressed, please visit my blog at www.zackcompany.blogspot.com and check the "about" section for an email address to which to submit those questions.

Thank you.

Andrew Zack

Emily Winslow
02-20-2010, 04:04 AM
I mean, really, does anyone find the tone and substance of MacAllister's post professional or polite?

Yes. I do.

Giant Baby
02-20-2010, 04:16 AM
Wow. Throwing those names back in there is about the most spectacularly juvenile flounce maneuver I've seen yet. I won't quote it here, for the obvious reason, and they'll be edited out again soon, I'm sure.

Dude, I'm embarassed for you.

Marian Perera
02-20-2010, 04:17 AM
As for the others who are turned off by this exchange, I am sorry that you favor censorship over honest discussion.

I don't see how honest discussion was impeded by the character being referred to as ****** rather than as Billy or Fred or whatever.

To remove his name from posts seems to me like courtesy towards the writer rather than censorship.


I mean, really, does anyone find the tone and substance of MacAllister's post professional or polite?

Glass houses, stones, etc.

agentpaper
02-20-2010, 04:19 AM
I mean, really, does anyone find the tone and substance of MacAllister's post professional or polite?

I do.


WOW.

This whole hoopla just turned me off from this agency permanently. Not impressed.

Same here. For every reason MacAllister stated.

AW Admin
02-20-2010, 04:20 AM
Mr. Zack

In case you need help How to Flounce Properly (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=61043).

Stlight
02-20-2010, 04:30 AM
I find the tone and substance of MacAllister's post professional, polite and positive. It's what I've come to expect and appreciate about this board.

colealpaugh
02-20-2010, 05:20 AM
For the record, just to close the loop on this matter, OneWriter requested that LLS refund her the second donation she made and I have been notified that they did so.



Wow, this may be the creepiest part of any post I've ever read on AW.


Poor OneWriter. I've chatted with her and think she's the sweetest kid ever. I hope folks step up and send her some love...

Medievalist
02-20-2010, 05:31 AM
Poor OneWriter. I've chatted with her and think she's the sweetest kid ever. I hope folks step up and send her some love...

Agreed.

M.R.J. Le Blanc
02-20-2010, 05:40 AM
Same. Mr. Zack is the one who carried on with this, not her. I'd equate it to kicking someone when they're down.

Silver King
02-20-2010, 06:01 AM
I think the golden rule of this forum should be modified from "respect your fellow writer" to include, "and don't act like an asshole."

The amended wording would serve everyone, of course, from casual reader visiting this site for the first time to published writers and agents and editors and everyone else.

This way, when someone felt themselves above the fray because of their actual or perceived standing among the community, and they pushed people around because they think they can get away with it, you could say, "Hey! Don't forget to respect your fellow writer. And stop acting like an asshole."

kaitie
02-20-2010, 07:09 AM
Wow, this may be the creepiest part of any post I've ever read on AW.

Poor OneWriter. I've chatted with her and think she's the sweetest kid ever. I hope folks step up and send her some love...

I agree. That's just cruel and unnecessary and adds nothing whatsoever to the discussion but an attempt to make her look bad. She admitted a mistake, apologized, did everything required in a very polite, sweet way, and she's just been trounced over and over.

This one's off my list as well. Standing up for your work is fine. I understood that was the original intent of the first clarification, but everything was explained long ago, and everything since has just put a bad taste in my mouth.

BenPanced
02-20-2010, 09:35 AM
I have generously spent quite a number of years answering questions on this site. OneWriter raised the name of the character while complaining about my response to her material. Her character was named [rescinded] and I called him [rescinded]. If her character was named John and I called him Jon, would we be having this conversation? The debate about whether or not posting the character name was right is asinine. She raised the issue of the error, but by not explaining the error, she made it appear as though I was inattentive to her material and, in my opinion, implied that I had not fulfilled the terms of the service for donation offered. Thus, only by quantifying the exact nature of the error can one come to understand how incorrect she was. And the only way to do that is to demonstrate the exact nature of the error.
And she later apologized for even bringing up the issue, to which you responded by ignoring her polite requests to have identifying marks to her work removed from your posts or lecturing the populace how you'd done nothing wrong by mentioning the character. It's not a matter of whether or not it's an identifiable character; I saw it as a stroke of arrogance in an attempt to play the victim over perceived censorship.

My thanks to those who have posted supportive comments about me and my firm here. I'm sorry that this matter, which began because I was trying to do a good thing for a charitable cause and a good thing in donating my time here turned into such a negative experience for me and others, despite my best efforts to respond in a professional manner. I mean, really, does anyone find the tone and substance of MacAllister's post professional or polite?
Actually, yes. If you think that was bad, you should take a look at how other companies treat their customers (*koff*PublishAmerica*koff*).

Vespertilion
02-20-2010, 10:07 AM
Not sure if we're giving this uncomfortable episode any more time, but Mr. Zack is feeling unappreciated over at his blog. He may have made a couple of eensy mistakes in his account.


Apparently MacAllister, the owner of Absolute Write (or at least the man in charge) disagrees, as he has banned me from the site, apparenlty forever, for being "discourteous."

Medievalist
02-20-2010, 10:20 AM
Not sure if we're giving this uncomfortable episode any more time, but Mr. Zack is feeling unappreciated over at his blog. He may have made a couple of eensy mistakes in his account.

Yeah, he's blogwhoring for traffic. Don't give it to him. Let it go folks; he's got egg on his face, don't get it on yours.

There's a point where you have to let people be stupid on their own. This is one of them.

I'm going to lock this thread for a cooling off period until MacAllister or Cao Paux have a moment or three.

Miss Plum
06-12-2012, 10:30 PM
They aim to publish new voices as well as reissues of out-of-print books. They claim they are not a vanity press, saying "not all authors will qualify" and "We will exercise editorial judgment in choosing the works we publish." I may be missing something (haven't read all the threads on this forum), but I don't get this type of business. If you can make it out of a slush pile and rate publication, why go with self-publishing?* Nothing on the site about their marketing or publicity services or graphic designers; just editors, copyeditors, and proofreaders.

As far as I know, founder Andy Zack is a reputable agent.

*I do see where a narrow-range expert with a massive blog following would be interested, but not so sure about fiction writers.

Captcha
06-12-2012, 10:44 PM
"Managed Self-Publishing or Co-Publishing". Whatever.

Bicyclefish
06-12-2012, 10:50 PM
There's a BRB thread about Andy Zack here (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=667&page=8).

victoriastrauss
06-12-2012, 11:20 PM
I'm troubled by the potential conflicts of interest, and not just with this venture. IMO, there's a pressing need for guidelines or standards for this sort of thing. I wish agents' associations were taking a closer look at this issue.

- Victoria

brianm
06-13-2012, 02:29 AM
Adding link (http://www.authorcoach.com/endpapers-press.php)

Cel_Fleur
05-03-2014, 10:03 PM
Do you think this has cleared up now, or is the Zack Company (agency) still one to step carefully around lest one be burned? Any AWer had recent interactions with him/the agency?

popgun62
05-04-2014, 12:15 AM
Do you think this has cleared up now, or is the Zack Company (agency) still one to step carefully around lest one be burned? Any AWer had recent interactions with him/the agency?

He interviewed me a while back for The Big Thrill webzine. Seems like a nice guy and his clients seem to like him. He has a decent track record. He requested a full manuscript from me after about two months, but I had already accepted another offer. I think he has side projects that others are a bit leery of, which you no doubt read about earlier on this thread.

Cel_Fleur
05-04-2014, 02:09 AM
Seems like a nice guy and his clients seem to like him.

That's good. That was the atmosphere I got from the website.

HapiSofi
05-04-2014, 07:12 AM
I've never thought there was any depth of malice in Andy Zack, and he is and always has been a real agent. If the word on his current state of being is positive, I'm glad for him and for his clients.

Best of luck to you.

Weirdmage
12-20-2015, 05:50 PM
So, a friend posted about an agency with something strange on their "Areas of Representation". and it led me to this thread.

The below is taken from this (http://www.zackcompany.com/submissions/what-we-want) page (start from the bottom, and you'll find it easier):


Which brings me to an announcement: Those of you who are very familiar with The Zack Company know that historically (yes, the pun was intended) we have not handled very much in the way of...


Commercial Women's Fiction
Literary Women's Fiction
Romance Fiction, including Romantic Suspense and Paranormal Romance
Chick Lit
Smart women's fiction that isn't Chick Lit or Romance

...but now we are. Why is that you ask? Well, there are a number of reasons:


I'm married now and wifey needs more to read;
The majority of my interns are women and many are fans of these categories;
Fifty percent of all books sold in the United States each year fall into those categories.

In short, it's good business. Do I have the track record in these genres that I have in others? No. There is no hiding that this is new terrority for my firm. Which may make us very attractive to many authors. We are not as jaded and cynical as many hardcore women's fiction agents may be. So try us out. I think you'll be glad you did.
- See more at: http://www.zackcompany.com/submissions/what-we-want#sthash.2X3IZ5EI.dpuf

So...yeah...they're opening up for submissions in a genre they haven't represented before because "wifey needs more to read"...

P.S. I haven't read the rest of the thread yet, so if this has already been mentioned I'll go back and change this post.

ETA: This is not mentioned previously in the thread. -Interesting thread though...

Captcha
12-20-2015, 07:18 PM
So, a friend posted about an agency with something strange on their "Areas of Representation". and it led me to this thread.

The below is taken from this (http://www.zackcompany.com/submissions/what-we-want) page (start from the bottom, and you'll find it easier):


So...yeah...they're opening up for submissions in a genre they haven't represented before because "wifey needs more to read"...

P.S. I haven't read the rest of the thread yet, so if this has already been mentioned I'll go back and change this post.

Especially strange since he mentioned his wife on this thread back in 2009... so he's married now, and has been for quite a while...?

It feels like maybe he's just trying to be cute or flippant and it's not coming off well? The attempted spin of being "not as jaded and cynical" feels strange, too. I mean, he's essentially saying they're new to this field, so they'll accept books other agents wouldn't accept... which is a line far too close to some vanity publishers' lines, for my taste.

For me? I'll take jaded and cynical, if it comes with a proven track record of selling books in my genre.

Weirdmage
12-20-2015, 07:39 PM
Especially strange since he mentioned his wife on this thread back in 2009... so he's married now, and has been for quite a while...?
I noticed that when I read through the thread after posting. The copyright notice on the site says 2012, but I guess there is no telling how updated that part of it is. Although, a professional agency shouldn't really have something like that up for very long in my opinion. (I'll give a little leeway for being a little flippant during a honeymoon period, but six+ years? -Well, could be a new wife...)


It feels like maybe he's just trying to be cute or flippant and it's not coming off well? The attempted spin of being "not as jaded and cynical" feels strange, too. I mean, he's essentially saying they're new to this field, so they'll accept books other agents wouldn't accept... which is a line far too close to some vanity publishers lines, for my taste.

For me? I'll take jaded and cynical, if it comes with a proven track record of selling books in my genre.
I'm not clued in to Women's Fiction, but I have seen some discussions about the term. I migth be wrong here, but is there something a bit off about the list of new genres?
Especially "Smart women's fiction that isn't Chick Lit or Romance" seemed a bit of a strange way of putting it to me. Not the least because it gives the impression that neither Chick-Lit nor Romance can be smart...

Captcha
12-20-2015, 07:53 PM
I'm not clued in to Women's Fiction, but I have seen some discussions about the term. I migth be wrong here, but is there something a bit off about the list of new genres?
Especially "Smart women's fiction that isn't Chick Lit or Romance" seemed a bit of a strange way of putting it to me. Not the least because it gives the impression that neither Chick-Lit nor Romance can be smart...

Yeah, it definitely felt like he was trying to distance himself from the genre - his silly wife likes it, and the silly women who work for him like it, but not him! Oh, no, he's a manly man, so he doesn't read that nonsense...

As someone who writes in those genres? I know what I'd say to someone who wants to represent my work but has no experience, no contacts, and no damn respect. No thanks.

Old Hack
12-20-2015, 10:54 PM
I know what I'd say to someone who wants to represent my work but has no experience, no contacts, and no damn respect. No thanks.

Yep.

Filigree
12-20-2015, 11:16 PM
Yes. In agents, I look for knowledge and enthusiasm. Mr. Zack may be a respected and capable agent in his previous genres, but he'd be way down my list for his 'added' genres. Until I saw his performance.

M.Charles
11-30-2016, 02:07 AM
Anyone have any recent info about this agent?

amergina
11-30-2016, 04:58 AM
Well, I was curious, and since I have a Publishers Marketplace account, I thought I'd take a look.

Now, not every agent posts every deal, so it's just data points.

In the last 12 months, Mr. Zack has had two deals listed.

One was a three book "very nice" deal to Orbit (SF/F imprint of Hachette). This is a very normal (and reasonable... "very nice" means the deal was for $50,000 to $99,000) trade deal with a well-known SF/F imprint of a big 5 publisher. It's somewhat odd that the deal was posted the date the book came out, though (Aug 5 this year). Deals happen in advance of publication by a pretty good piece, especially for paper books, so the actual deal probably took place in 2015 or 2014.

The other was for a memoir in a "nice" ($1-$49,000) deal to Vantage Point. There's a couple of hinky things with this one. First is though the deal was posted in August of 2016, it's for a deal that happened sometime before Spring of 2012, because the deal lists that the book is due to be published in Spring 2102. The books did come out in 2012, BTW. BUT, Vantage Point, who published it, was a vanity press that went out of business (http://accrispin.blogspot.com/2013/01/venerable-vanity-publisher-vantage.html) in January of 2013. Now, the book in question was republished (in 2013) with a different press, Quadrant Books, which is an imprint of Endpapers Press, which is a Division of Author Coach, LLC., which is owned by Andrew Zack.

So, there's some info. You can take what you will from it.

M.Charles
11-30-2016, 06:44 AM
Well, I was curious, and since I have a Publishers Marketplace account, I thought I'd take a look.

Now, not every agent posts every deal, so it's just data points.

In the last 12 months, Mr. Zack has had two deals listed.

One was a three book "very nice" deal to Orbit (SF/F imprint of Hachette). This is a very normal (and reasonable... "very nice" means the deal was for $50,000 to $99,000) trade deal with a well-known SF/F imprint of a big 5 publisher. It's somewhat odd that the deal was posted the date the book came out, though (Aug 5 this year). Deals happen in advance of publication by a pretty good piece, especially for paper books, so the actual deal probably took place in 2015 or 2014.

The other was for a memoir in a "nice" ($1-$49,000) deal to Vantage Point. There's a couple of hinky things with this one. First is though the deal was posted in August of 2016, it's for a deal that happened sometime before Spring of 2012, because the deal lists that the book is due to be published in Spring 2102. The books did come out in 2012, BTW. BUT, Vantage Point, who published it, was a vanity press that went out of business (http://accrispin.blogspot.com/2013/01/venerable-vanity-publisher-vantage.html) in January of 2013. Now, the book in question was republished (in 2013) with a different press, Quadrant Books, which is an imprint of Endpapers Press, which is a Division of Author Coach, LLC., which is owned by Andrew Zack.

So, there's some info. You can take what you will from it.
I did some more looking there too, and he has the same deal listed, just different wording, twice as well. When he first hit my radar, I saw that he had 2 recent deals, and had been in business for over a decade.

Closer look tells me, no, he hasn't had a deal in at least a year, since the one book was just published.

Thanks.

M.Charles
12-01-2016, 12:25 AM
Just to follow up: Publisher's Marketplace told me that the 'recent deal' issue was *their* doing. Something about using a Google spider to update the page since it hasn't been visited in a long time.

So, it wasn't a deliberate issue done by anyone.