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[Agency] Samantha Kensington Books

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rohitwow

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Hi!!! I just got a manuscript submission request from a Sam Kensington. I tried googling the name but came up with nothing. Tried googling the agency name too, "Samantha Kensington Books", which is listed on PREDITORS AND EDITORS, where I got the contact, but came up with zilch. The only close relation is to 'Kensington Books', obviously a publisher.
Are they the same? I need to know something about the agent/publisher so if it's Kensington, at least they have a website....

PLEASE HELP. THANKS :)
 

Thedrellum

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Well, first I would ask the person who requested the manuscript who they are affiliated with.

But, second, if they contacted you out of the blue, that's generally a warning sign. How did they find out about you? Did you query them, and then they requested a manuscript?
 

rohitwow

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thanks

Well, first I would ask the person who requested the manuscript who they are affiliated with.

But, second, if they contacted you out of the blue, that's generally a warning sign. How did they find out about you? Did you query them, and then they requested a manuscript?

Hi, thanks.

It was me who contacted them on Preditors and EDditors, and given the knowledge the site is pretty relaible, I didn't do a background check as it wasn't listed as 'not recommended' :)
 

Stacia Kane

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Hi, thanks.

It was me who contacted them on Preditors and EDditors, and given the knowledge the site is pretty relaible, I didn't do a background check as it wasn't listed as 'not recommended' :)

So you saw their listing on P&E, and then just emailed using the link there? Not even a Google search?


An agency not being listed as "Not Recommended" means only that P&E hasn't received any complaints with proof that the agency charges fees or behaves unethically. That's all. It doesn't mean the agency has any sales (which is the most important thing to look at/for). It doesn't mean the agency isn't a fee-charger or anything like that, either, only that P&E hasn't been given any documentation of fees being charged. An agency can be scamming writers left, right, and center and still not be "Not Recommended" on P&E because no one has informed P&E of it.

This agency isn't listed as "Recommended" on P&E either.

P&E is a great place to start checking out an agency. It is absolutely not the only place, and no "Not Recommended" doesn't mean you don't have to do a background check. Sorry if I sound harsh, but it's very important to thoroughly investigate an agency before submitting to them.


I've just done a Google search which turns up a LinkedIn page for Samantha Kensington Books, located in San Francisco. It says in part (bolding mine):

I am a newly established literary agent who just opened her own literary agency known as Samantha Kensington Books and is actively building a list of fiction only clients. i am happy to consider most proposals but only consider them by email and in a one page query format with a full synopsis and first sample chapter attached. I can take up to three or four weeks sometimes longer to review a manuscript and would like to have an exclusive review period. I will make exceptions, however, if told ahead of time that there are others reading the manuscript as well.
My fees are as follows: 15% for all domestic sales to publishing houses, 21% for all international sales to international publishing houses, and 21% for all film deals.

"Newly established" usually means "no publishing experience." (More on that in a minute.)

"Exclusive review period" isn't a good thing. Some agents do ask for exclusives; some writers will give them, but only for a set period of time. If an agent is basically asking you for an indefinite exclusive (which she does by saying "up to three or four weeks sometimes longer,"), don't give it. It's nice that she'll make exceptions if told ahead of time, but really, that should be standard anyway. (My own agent asked for an exclusive when he requested the full. He asked for it for one week. I couldn't give it because I had six or seven other fulls out at the moment and he agreed to read it anyway. This is the case with most agents I'm aware of. But again, he only wanted it for a week; two weeks is about the norm, I think, though I could be wrong. Point is, an open-ended exclusive is a bad idea, and I'm not aware of any agents who expect one.)(ETA: I wanted to just add a mention here--without sounding like a big braggarty braggart--that my agent is worth giving an exclusive to, in that he reps some very high-profile names and has a long and successful sales record. I would have given him an exclusive absolutely. I would not do so for an agent with zero sales to their name and zero indication of that changing in future.)

21% on foreign sales and film rights? That's just odd. I find the phrasing of it--"international sales to international publishing houses" a bit weird, too. Also, is there any indication this agent has contacts to sell to foreign publishers or film studios/production companies? (Also, agents earn commission, not fees.)

Also worrisome: she doesn't focus on anything. "Fiction" is a very broad category. There's nothing there about what types of books she likes/looks for; romance, fantasy, literary fiction, women's fiction, science fiction, what? She lists a lot of publishing houses at the bottom of her profile that she says she has contacts at, but again, no specialties or specific interests. (And she only has one connection on LinkedIn; of course I can't see that person, but that certainly makes it seem that none of her contacts at major publishers are connected to her there.)

I'm a bit concerned, too, about this bit:

I am not a publicist and do not have any publicity experience so therefore do not do any publicity work for my clients. All my clients who sign with me will have to find publicists to promote their work.

Now, of course agents aren't publicists. That's fine. But saying all her clients will have to find publicists? It could simply mean "If you want a publicist you'll need to find one on your own," but it could mean "I require you to hire a publicist." That's not good. I'm honestly a bit confused as to why she's discussing publicists here anyway; I'm not familiar with any other agency that spells out on its website that it's not a publicity firm. And I'd expect a literary agent to know that the houses she lists as having contacts at have their own in-house publicists, and each author is assigned one. Some authors do hire their own publicists, but it's never a necessity.

I searched on PM and found no listing for this agency and no reported sales.

I did find a Facebook page, which again, doesn't list any clients or sales; it seems the agency is only a couple of months old at this point. That's all Google turns up, though.


Now for the bit about experience. Her LinkedIn profile--again, it's the only thing Google turned up other than basic listings on blogs/websites that list agents--says she was previously a "Co-Literary Agent at Maria Bucksworth Agency."

Googling "Maria Bucksworth Agency" turns up--of all things--a MySpace page on the first page of results. The agency is located in Boston. Check this out (again, bolding/italics mine):


I am a new literary agent who just opened up her own literary agency in Boston, Massachusetts and am currently working to build her list of fiction and non fiction clients. Fees: 15% domestic, 17% international, and 20% for film. I only charge the standard fee for selling a manuscript to a publishing house or to a production company. I represent new unpublished authors and published authors from all over the world. Only submissions by email will be considered. A full synopsis and one sample chapter must be included. I respond to all email queries upon receiving them personally, whether or not I will ask them to read their work. I need two weeks review time and MUST BE THE ONLY AGENT READING THE MANUSCRIPT AT THE TIME OF THE SUBMISSION. I will sign the author to a contract only once I have successfully gotten their manuscript published and secured them a publishing contract. I will send the author's manuscript to my editorial contacts at the publishing houses and to the production companies within one week of agreeing to represent them. I am not a publicist and do not have any experience in publicity. My only experience is in being a literary agent and representing literary works to major publishing houses. All of my clients will have to find their own publicist to help them publicize their work once published. I opened my own literary agency because too many good authors who are hard working and dedicated and talented and have stories to tell either never get the chance to show their work to the world because no agent is willing to give them the chance they deserve and represent them or their agents under-represent them so they never get published and the agent eventually moves on to other clients that produce more money for them and leave them out in the cold. I want to change this and I thought the best way for me to change this was to open my own literary agency.

There is so much wrong with this I don't even know where to begin. Aside from the odd commission schedule and the line about "fees" which makes me wonder if she's referring to the commission schedule or if she plans to charge some other fee, and the "Why I started an agency" which says so much about this person's views of the publishing industry and experience in it...

She doesn't sign a client to a contract until she's sold their book (or "gotten their manuscript published and secured them a publishing contract," which, those are two different things)? She starts submitting within one week?


I think it's safe to say that neither of these agencies are going to do much if anything for your career.

That's why it's important to do an actual background check, rather than just seeing a listing and submitting. :)

I hope I've helped! Like I said I really don't mean to sound snippy with you, OP, at all. You've done nothing wrong, and there's nothing at all wrong with being new to the game and unsure how to research agents/what to look for/what to do. All of us were there once, so don't feel bad about it and please don't think I'm scolding you or anything else. Okay?
 
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DaveKuzminski

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So you saw their listing on P&E, and then just emailed using the link there? Not even a Google search?


An agency not being listed as "Not Recommended" means only that P&E hasn't received any complaints with proof that the agency charges fees or behaves unethically. That's all. It doesn't mean the agency has any sales (which is the most important thing to look at/for). It doesn't mean the agency isn't a fee-charger or anything like that, either, only that P&E hasn't been given any documentation of fees being charged. An agency can be scamming writers left, right, and center and still not be "Not Recommended" on P&E because no one has informed P&E of it.

This agency isn't listed as "Recommended" on P&E either.

P&E is a great place to start checking out an agency. It is absolutely not the only place, and no "Not Recommended" doesn't mean you don't have to do a background check. Sorry if I sound harsh, but it's very important to thoroughly investigate an agency before submitting to them.
Stacia is correct.
 

Filigree

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In this case 'new' definitely sends up a warning flag. This woman has no strong contacts in the industry, she doesn't know how the industry works, and she's trolling for new writers who will allow her to learn on the job with their intellectual property.

No cigar, and not even close.
 

rohitwow

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Hi.

Thanks to everyone, especially Stacia for investing so much time in my problem. Really, you cannot imagine how nice(after how bad :) ) you made me feel. Thanks for your time and effort. Ok so I've been through the whole 'vanity publisher approach' and all, stuck to my guns and kept the queries floating. I think I need a stronger cup of coffee now than the one lying on my desk in front of me, but at least I know I'm doing the right thing. Finding an agent is like looking for the love of your life... waiting for the magic to happen :)
 

Kitty27

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I just want to say that I am in complete awe of Stacia's Net Ninja research skills.
 

Katrina S. Forest

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Hi.

Thanks to everyone, especially Stacia for investing so much time in my problem. Really, you cannot imagine how nice(after how bad :) ) you made me feel. Thanks for your time and effort. Ok so I've been through the whole 'vanity publisher approach' and all, stuck to my guns and kept the queries floating. I think I need a stronger cup of coffee now than the one lying on my desk in front of me, but at least I know I'm doing the right thing. Finding an agent is like looking for the love of your life... waiting for the magic to happen :)

Hang in there! I highly recommend getting a 1 or 2 month subscription to the website Publisher's Marketplace. You can see exactly who's making deals in your genre. Some legit agents choose not to report on it, so seeing nothing there doesn't equal zero sales, but it's a great way to start compiling a list of who to send to. Then you can just cancel your subscription when your research is done.

Back to Samantha Kensington, another major concern with this agent - if she sends to a bunch of editors and comes up with nothing (which she likely will, even with a strong ms, given the lack of professionalism in what she's written about herself), that ruins the author's chances with the houses she sent to and with other agents, who now can't submit to them either.

I really hope no one submits to her - her system could leave a lot of new authors happily querying away, not realizing that this newbie agent is burning bridges behind them.
 

Stacia Kane

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Hi.

Thanks to everyone, especially Stacia for investing so much time in my problem. Really, you cannot imagine how nice(after how bad :) ) you made me feel. Thanks for your time and effort.

You're very welcome! :) We're here to help.

And I'm glad you feel better.


Finding an agent is like looking for the love of your life... waiting for the magic to happen :)

And funnily enough, I've used pretty much that exact phrase to describe agent-hunting before.


I just want to say that I am in complete awe of Stacia's Net Ninja research skills.


They don't call me "Girl Detective" for nothing. :D
 

AC Crispin

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Stacia, you have sound instincts. This person sounds well-intentioned, possibly, but clueless. That website language was all "wrong." You're right about an agent that handles "fiction" in general. Agents with a track record and professional experience know to specialize, because nobody can know all the ins and outs of every market.

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Daughter of Faulkner

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Greetings All, This is very helpful. Sam K. replied to me via LinkedIn as well. The writing doesn't read-ring like a bona fied literary agent to me either. Thank God for Absolute Write is all I have to say!
 
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mrhyne

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Forgive me for saying this but, if this agent is new...naturally she's not going to have any book sales. I mean did ANY established agency start out with multi million dollar clients? Chances are, no--they had to start from scratch. Just because she's new doesn't mean she doesn't have contacts where she claims she does--she's just not made that BIG sale yet to get on the radar. I'm not trying to be snippy. The opinions of all have been well founded if not genuine and thorough. I just think raising a red flag on an agent just because they're new isn't...well nice. She's upfront and honest right off the bat by stating she's new and new by definition means:having been made or come into being only a short time ago--fresh. Hence that's why she's not a bona fide agent yet. It's also very easy for others to say drop it because they HAVE agents. To quote the MANY rejection letters I personally have received from agents the publishing world is a very subjective business and to a newbie trying to get a 'bona fide' agent to view your work is darn near impossible. Why? Because they cannot guarantee you will sell, you're a no name, a nothing and unless you have a publisher willing to lay down big bucks for your mss from the get go, or you know them personally, or are related to them, landing said agent just isn't going to happen. Big agents don't NEED newbies--they're set with their own best selling clients, so any writer trying to make it will go for what they can just for the chance. Again, I'm not trying to be snippy, but I think labeling this agent is a little premature unless there is definitive proof she's unethical, that's all.
 

Stacia Kane

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Hi Mr. Hyne,

Thanks for your post. I appreciate that querying is difficult and can be disheartening; I certainly mean no offense in what I'm about to say, and I hope you don't take it that way, okay?

First, I highly suggest you read our How Real Publishing Works thread. And of course there's the whole Ask the Agent forum; lots of Q&As in there with agents, as well, which are definitely worth a read. I also highly recommend the agent blogs listed there.


Forgive me for saying this but, if this agent is new...naturally she's not going to have any book sales. I mean did ANY established agency start out with multi million dollar clients? Chances are, no--they had to start from scratch.

Here's how the vast majority of successful agencies start: An agent working at one agency leaves to start his or her own agency. That agent usually takes all or most of his or her clients with him/her.

Here's how the vast majority of agents become successful enough to do that leaving-the-agency thing: They start out entry-level, as an assistant or even an intern, at said agency. After a period of time, in which they learn the complex business and get to know editors etc., they're allowed to start taking their own clients as associate agents, with their work still overseen by the more experienced agents at the agency. Once they prove themselves that way, they become agents.

Here's how the vast majority--if not all--of the unsuccessful agencies start: Somebody who likes books, who may or may not have attempted to write and be published themselves, decides to start an agency.

We have an Index thread here listing all of the agents/agencies and publishers covered in the Bewares forum. Take a look at it. See all those names in gray? Those are all people who just decided to become agents. The fact that they're in gray means they are now closed. If they managed to attract clients they took those clients downhill with them, by which I mean, they probably submitted those books to editors and were rejected, and those books cannot now be resubmitted.

Successful agents don't "start from scratch," not in the way you mean. They start at the bottom, learn the business, learn how to select truly publishable work, and go on from there.



Just because she's new doesn't mean she doesn't have contacts where she claims she does--she's just not made that BIG sale yet to get on the radar.

And that is true. I didn't see any evidence that she has those contacts but that doesn't mean she doesn't.

The odds are seriously against it, though. Really a lot.


I'm not trying to be snippy.

I know you're not, and I hope you believe I'm not, either, because that's not at all my intention.


The opinions of all have been well founded if not genuine and thorough. I just think raising a red flag on an agent just because they're new isn't...well nice.

And maybe it isn't. But it's not really nice to take on clients when you don't know what you're doing and destroy their chances at publication, either. And this is business, which really isn't about being "nice."

The thing is, again, the odds of this agent being able to do anything but hinder your career are astronomically high. Which means being new is a real, genuine red flag.

It may not be "nice" to tell my friends they shouldn't date a guy who borrows money on their first date just because the last five guys they dated who did that ended up robbing them blind, but you have to admit it would be a red flag.



She's upfront and honest right off the bat by stating she's new and new by definition means:having been made or come into being only a short time ago--fresh. Hence that's why she's not a bona fide agent yet.

No, she's not a bona fide agent yet because she hasn't worked in publishing in any real capacity that she mentions. I know of a few editors or other publishing professionals who became agents; they were bona fide pretty much right off the bat, because they knew the industry (and again, were working for another, experienced agent). There's no indication Ms. Kensington knows anything about publishing, and as I said in my previous post, the other "agency" she worked for also has essentially zero connection to real commercial publishing that I can see.

See, publishing--especially being an agent--is a very "who you know" business. An agent MUST know the editors. They must know what those editors like and are looking for, what they've recently bought and what they've recently rejected, what they want and what they hate. That's the job; it's about people.

In addition there's a whole world with which the agent must be familiar; contracts and publishing hierarchies and how it all fits together, how it should go and how it shouldn't, how to step in and be diplomatic, how to ensure their clients' needs are looked after, what's worth fighting for and what isn't.


It's also very easy for others to say drop it because they HAVE agents.

No, I gave the exact same advice before I had one. So did lots of agented writers here.


To quote the MANY rejection letters I personally have received from agents the publishing world is a very subjective business and to a newbie trying to get a 'bona fide' agent to view your work is darn near impossible.

To be clear...the rejection letters told you publishing is a subjective business, but did not actually say the part about getting a bona fide agent to look at your work being darn near impossible, correct?

Because the first is true. The second is patently and demonstrable untrue.

If your query is good and your work is publishable, finding an agent to look at it isn't that difficult at all, frankly.


Why? Because they cannot guarantee you will sell, you're a no name, a nothing and unless you have a publisher willing to lay down big bucks for your mss from the get go, or you know them personally, or are related to them, landing said agent just isn't going to happen.

Again, sorry, patently and demonstrably untrue. Agents sign new writers every day. I was a no-name when I signed with mine (well, I still am, really); I queried him, he requested the full, and there you go. Kelly Meding (ChaosTitan here) was, too. So was Kasey MacKenzie. So were all of my published friends: Caitlin Kittredge, Jaye Wells, Mark Henry, Richelle Mead, Jackie Kessler, Karen Mahoney, Kat Richardson, Allison Pang...the list is endless, and all of them started out querying just like pretty much everyone else.

But heck, don't just take my word for it. Have a look at our Goals and Accomplishments forum, where AWers post about being published or finding agents; our own JoNightshade and Vandal are right there on the first page to announce they've just found representation.

It happens every day. Again, if you've written a publishable book, your odds of finding an agent are pretty good, whether you know them personally or not.

Big agents don't NEED newbies--they're set with their own best selling clients, so any writer trying to make it will go for what they can just for the chance.

Big agents do sign newbies, all the time, and they do need them. And any writer just grabbing whatever they can needs to understand that they're really not grabbing a chance for much, except most likely being badly misrepresented, losing their chance at publishing that particular ms, and being horribly disappointed. (Here's just one example of the kind of work typically done by amateur agents; is that the kind of representation you want? BTW, that's the blog of Janet Reid, a highly respected literary agent, and it should be required reading for anyone hoping to be published.)


Again, I'm not trying to be snippy, but I think labeling this agent is a little premature unless there is definitive proof she's unethical, that's all.

And I agree that labeling her unethical would be unfair; there is zero proof of that and my guess is that she is likely ethical.

But pointing out the numerous red flags on her LinkedIn page...that's not premature. They exist. And what that page says to anyone familiar with real commercial publishing is "This agent doesn't know what she's doing, and is a bad bet for writers."


Again, I don't want to sound harsh here and I certainly don't want you to feel bad. But I stand by what I said.

And if I may make a suggestion...once you have 50 posts here, you can post your query and some of your work in our Share Your Work forum and get feedback. It's helped a lot of AWers tighten up their work/query enough to attract and agent, and I highly recommend it. I'm not implying at all that your work isn't good enough, just that perhaps it would be worthwhile, if you're getting so many rejections, to have a few fresh pairs of eyes take a crack at it.

:)
 

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Samantha Kensington Books

I sent a Q to Kensington Books, and received a request for a partial a couple of weeks later.

I sent the partial, received a refusal with advice to revise some areas of the MS. A few weeks later I did so and resent it, with a reply that said she would get to it later as she was suffering from the flu.

That has been a few months ago and now the e-mail address no longer exists.

Did she call it quits? Anyone know?
 

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Yeah, I'm working on that. It was nice to have one show so much interest. I'm thinking your theory on her fate is the correct one.
 

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