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[Agent] Zack Company / Endpapers Press (Andy Zack)

Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.


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


"Let the coffee flow... "
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Re: Couple of questions...

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

Re: Couple of questions...

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.


Re: Couple of questions...

>>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


Re: Couple of questions...

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.


Re: Couple of questions...

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....


Re: Couple of questions...

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.



Re: Couple of questions...

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.


Re: Couple of questions...

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


Re: Couple of questions...

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.


Re: Couple of questions...

>>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


Express Review

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.


Re: Couple of questions...

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.


Re: Couple of questions...

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.


Re: Couple of questions...

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--


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.


I see...

...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.


Re: I see...

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.



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...


"Can I get some coffee with that?"


Response from Andrew Zack

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:


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
The Zack Company, Inc.

James D Macdonald

Re: Response from Andrew Zack

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.


Re: Response from Andrew Zack

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.


Re: Response from Andrew Zack

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.


Re: Response from Andrew Zack

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.


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.



Re: His time is whose time?

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

Elizabeth George's book Write Away