All Fletcher All The Time

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

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Shakesbear

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I have just had an email from the Acquisitions Director inviting me to have a critique done on my work. The whole thing is an insult to any one who aspires to be a writer! Each line starts with a capital letter, and anyone who calls themselves a Literary Agent and sends out a piece of writing that is not grammatically correct should be shunned! There was also something about the way it was written that made me think it was not right - too reassuring and trying too hard.

SammyW the email also contained this:

Q) I'm still nervous, what does your contract say?
A) First you keep the copyright to your work, and second, you can fire us at
Any time if we don't perform. Our contract includes the following two
Clauses designed to protect you. There are no payments to us in the contract
Unless we sell your work

As they do not define 'if we don't perform' I would suggest that you could take that to mean that they have not performed in your best interests and therefore you can sack them!
 

DaveKuzminski

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Here's an excerpt from a WL Writers Literary Agency email to a prospective client that was shared with me last night where the agency claims that they received the following:

'(Here's an email from the type of person that frequents the message boards.
"It has come to my attention that you are planning to represent Clint the person who wrote the darkness. I have read some of the work on the internet.
If you find him a publisher I will slit his throat. I know here he lives and will not stand crap like that making fun of the one true god"

We call these people 'internidiots'. They frequent message boards.
Invariably the 10% of internidiots end up in the camp of 3 writers* (Crispin, MacDonald, Strauss) that purport to be industry watchdogs*, and everyone natters on endlessly about how bad we are. ... Lookup these three people's sales. 1 or 2 books each and total lifetime revenue is maybe $5-10k is our best guess.
These are non-successful authors, in our opinion.'

If there was such a threat, the agency should have forwarded that email to the FBI. In the meantime, the agency's email isn't professional at all. It rambles as if trying to implicate others as being part of a conspiracy.
 

SpecialKT

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Working for the Enemy?

Hi everyone. I want to thank you all for your diligence in your attempts to protect fellow writers. It really provides a great example of a strong writing community, and I'm happy I found this site, which I hope will be helpful for me in the future.

Let me introduce myself. I am a Bachelor of Arts candidate at Columbia College Chicago, majoring in Fiction Writing (for real! it's awesome!) I'm set to graduate this fall! I really enjoy, not just writing, but also reading other people's stories and helping them edit and rewrite to make their story the best it can possibly be. I recently started my own online literary magazine, Kaleidoscopic Resonance. Going into the second issue, I'm still smoothing out the wrinkles, but overall I'm pretty proud of it and it should only continue to get better. My goal after graduation is to find a good paying job (good enough to pay off my student loans) in publishing and editing.

So in an attempt to jump-start my career, I began searching for publishing jobs last March. And I ran across a very enticing post on WriteJobs.com offering the opportunity to telecommute - a dream job for a student! So I didn't even think to look into this company, apart from checking out their own website. I emailed the contact in the post and got setup to start work as a Poetry Critic for the infamous - *cue suspenseful music, dun Dun DUUUM* - Writer's Literary Services. I've been working there for 8 months now, fairly happily with only a few bad spots along the way. In September, I broadened the playing field by becoming a critic of Novels and Children's Stories in addition to Poetry. So knowing now that I am a regular person, a writer just like you all, who also works for the company in question, let me give you a taste of my experience, as a "tween-er", in between the tracks...

My job as a Critic for the Writer's Literary Services (or whatever our name is now, we've kinda sorta changed names twice since I've been working here) includes reading three poems from poets, the synopsis and a few pages to the first chapter from a novel, then providing a critique of the work based on prompted questions from the company's form and my own experience and opinions. I try to give the most honest and thorough critique of the artist's work to help them improve their writing and hopefully help them get published through improving their writing. I do admit to using generic "cut and paste" responses on certain topics, which amount to general tips that every new writer can use. However I only "cut and paste" when it is appropriate and I do provide examples of every criticism I make.

Every now and then I feel like I'm crushing some poor soul's dreams - seriously, you guys should see some of the garbage I get. Some days I do not look forward to opening the manuscripts. Ugh. But sometimes I get a real jewel. I've even started writing some promising names down to look out for in the future - if they ever end up getting published. And even better is when I get a diamond in the rough that I can really help with the tips and tools I've acquired from college and my experience in the industry. That is an awesome feeling! Anyway, the point I'm trying to drive home to everyone is that I work as an Independent Contractor for Writer's Lit. I am in no way affiliated with the company, nor do I have any secret motives of trying to rob poor unsuspecting writers. I think the reason they get to say that the critiques are done by objective third-parties is because they are done by people like me, even though we critics may work under a company that works alongside another company. Do I think the critiques are worth it for a writer? In some ways, yes, but in general, probably not. If you don't have a writing community to turn to for an honest opinion on your work, then yes, the critique is absolutely invaluable. If you do have a support system where you get valuable feedback, then you really shouldn't need the critique. And it seems to be a pre-requisite to some Literary Agencies. At any rate, I was getting paid $10 per critique. The math still doesn't add up to me - authors are paying $84 and I only get $10 of it, seriously? I asked for a raise when I quit my "day job" so to speak, to focus solely on my critiques and my last semester of college. Unfortunately, they turned me down. But I'm just happy to be getting paid for a service that I am paying my college to allow me to give to my fellow classmates!

Unfortunately for me, apparently all of the negative posts about this company have got around and with the economy already in shambles, I think Writer's Lit is about to fall. Recently, I received a pay cut by 25%. I now make $7.50 per critique, barely minimum wage in my state. The company hopes to make up for this cut at the end of each month after assessing their financial status and give a bonus to each employee based on the amount of work he/she has completed. Not holding my breath on that. For the past month, I'm missing two paychecks and one paycheck actually BOUNCED! I wish I was kidding. The company claimed to be having some "fraud activity" at the time, but I think it was bad bookkeeping, personally. Well, my bank charged ME with a $15 return check fee (what's that all about?) I've contacted my Administrator in Accounting about the bounced check (mind you, this is all through email) and it's been a week and I still haven't heard anything back. I have received and successfully deposited a paycheck into my account since the bounced check, so they haven't dropped out of the game just yet, but things are not looking good for them. I got online and Googled the name, realizing that if I lose my job and back pay, I have no way of contacting any other employees to band together with. I was hoping to connect with some other employees online and see if anyone else that worked for the company was having the same troubles I am. I keep thinking, what if they're scamming ME? It'd be just as easy to do as a writer. I hesitate to call it a scam though. They are providing a service, however misrepresented and disappointing some people feel it is. As to whether any one has actually been published by my company - well, I don't work for a literary agency, I work for an editing agency, so my company and I have no direct effect on whether an author actually gets published. Nor do we claim to. I stand proudly by the work that I've personally done for this company, though I'm still not sure about this Robert guy who signs my checks and I'm still not even sure that all the companies are not one in the same.

I hope that any of you who have received a critique understand now that we are real people working with you, not corporate zombie Nazis, even if the company we work for seems to be questionable at best. Everyone can use some valuable feedback from a knowledgeable insider. I'm in a bit of a pickle because I want out, but because of my personal situation - graduating from school, preparing to move, etc. - it will be difficult to get another job for just a month. So it seems I am stuck working for the enemy for the time being just to pay my bills. I'm hoping for the best. Hoping the company turns around and takes the actions to improve their ethics. Hoping they don't go under while I'm still working there. Hoping I will receive the pay that I am entitled to, that I worked hard for. And hoping that no more of my fellow writers will be duped into believing that an agent is really much help to a new writer.

I wish you all the best in your writing endeavors. Please be careful out there. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. Just be gentle. I am a real person with real feelings, and not some blank face at the other end of the computer.

- Katie
 

Sweetleaf

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At last, OFFICIALLY in the middle of nowhere. But
After calling them out on the fact the contract they sent me was misleading, Robert has sent me a different one, and said that they are 'in the midst of a contract split'.

Anyone have any idea what that's supposed to mean?
 

JudasFm

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My experience with them...

They don't read or review the critiques either. I was stupid enough to pay out for one and what I got back basically raved about my manuscript. How much of this was true and how much was a scam, I don't know (I thought it was all done by WL's lackeys until reading SpecialKT's post) but I will admit to feeling Many Warm Fuzzies upon receiving it ;)

A couple days later I heard from WL (the infamous Georgina).

It is normal in that it shows
some work still to be done,
And some areas that are ok/adequate.

Okay, there were one or two minor formatting issues (didn't put the contact details on the title page and apparently the page numbers have to be right justified; that was all). She then went on to suggest I hire an editor, saying that I could 'make the changes myself' but that the manuscript would be subjected to an 'in-house critique' to see if the editing was up to scratch. Chances are it wouldn't be and I'd have to cough up more money.

Personally, the critique seemed to say that it was better than 'ok/adequate' (no spelling/punctuation/grammar errors and the critic's exact words were "This is a fantastic manuscript"...in fact, she didn't have a bad word to say about it). So much for 'in-depth review'. If I had any doubts that they were in this purely to rip people off, that email just erased them.

As far as I'm concerned, though, paying some faceless editor at an agency upwards of $1500 to right-align the header and put his address on the front cover wouldn't make me a Real Writer. It would make me an idiot.

Still, I learned (yet another) lesson and emailed them saying as far as I was concerned the contract was null and void, and that I no longer wanted them to do any work on my behalf. Now we just need to wait and see if they squeal about the "90 days of no sale thing".

Oh well, if they do, I signed the contract in December, so they've had 30 of those 90 days already ;) I'm quite looking forward to their reply, to tell you the truth; from what I've seen on this thread so far, their response seems to be not-so-subtle emotional abuse along the lines of You're Not A Real Writer And You Don't Stand A Chance Without Us.

Just my two cents :)
 

JudasFm

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I'm Free!

Just got Georgina's reply:

Dear Jude,

I am sorry that this didn't work out.

This email shall serve as formal termination and dissolution of our Literary
Agency Contract for Representation.

We wish you the best in all your writing endeavors.

Best Regards,
Georgina - Senior Agent

I have to say I was kind of hoping for a little more emotional blackmail than that (something along the lines of "you can't do it without us, I thought you were a Serious Writer") I was looking forward to ripping it to pieces. Still, they were polite so I guess I should be; I'm not vindictive :)

Oh well, they let me off the contract without the whole 90 days thing rearing its ugly head, so I'm happy :D You know what they say: live and learn.

Of course, this now means I have to begin the whole agent search over again. Fifth time lucky, perhaps?

(Yes, I have had four prior inexperienced, clueless and disreputable agents, mostly due to being so inexperienced and clueless myself and getting too carried away with the whole "WOW, someone wants to represent my BOOK thing". Anyone who wishes to is welcome to point and laugh hysterically at the daft newbie :p Still, this has the added bonus that at least I now know what NOT to look for ;))
 

Jeff79922

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here's the "interview" I was sent:
Thank you for requesting more information about all that information you
found on the web. Recently, we were interviewed by a very known web-writer
named DeleriousGirl, and this is the text of the interview. I think you will
find it interesting, to say the least.

===============================

The Naked Truth Interview: Is WL and AEG a Scam?

Copyright 2008-2009. This interview may be reproduced only in its entirety.

===============================
DeleriousGirl (DG) decides to see what is really going on with the merger
between one of most vocally discussed and denounced literary agency and
publisher companies on the internet, the WL Literary Agency Group, and AEG
Strategic & Eloquent Publishing.

The two companies have recently announced a merger and DG has decided to
"dig for dirt". What is really behind this company? Is it the scam everyone
says it is? Why all the flack? DG decides to see for herself what all the
commotion is about.

Note: For reference, The company press release is at
http://www.aegpublishinggroup.com/aeg_pressrelease.html .

But we didn't want to go with the 'party line", we wanted to get deeper, as
we suggest that most writers do.

---------------------------------------------------------------------

DG: OK, let's get right to the point, there's an elephant in the room and
I'm going to go ahead and shoot it: I have seen and read some very, very
derogatory online forums regarding your companies, both past and present.
As a writer and a voracious reader, my first knee-jerk reaction was to be
worried about the integrity of your publishing companies and how you treat
writers. "Where's the beef? What's the problem? Why are you so hated by so
many?

AEG: The short answer is that we don't fit anybody's mold. We're
different, and we're already bigger than the industry pundits know what to
do with. In the last 6 months, we've published over 250 authors and we're
selling 1500 books a week for them. We expect to sell over 150,000 books
for our authors next year, and a million books by 2010 if we keep growing at
this pace. We are also one of the few companies already doing joint
ventures into China and Australia for our authors.

We have venture capitalists approaching us and we are 'squeaky clean" from
and accounting and legal perspective as we are also considering going
public. Believe me, if there was anything to anyone's allegations it would
have been a deal killer by now. Any real business-person can look at those
numbers above and realize that our company must be legit, because you don't
grow that big as 'scammers'.


Also, we employ about 50 people now from all over the world, and those
employees certainly wouldn't work for a scam company either.

In short, those sites like Writers Beware and Preditors & Editors, are run
by 'minor league writers'. We're in the big leagues and frankly, we scare
the shit out of them. The people that run those sites don't have the time,
or the inclination to do an interview like this. They are like old, and
tired, and worn-out horses that have been around too long and like the old
'Mikie" they hate everything that is different But if anyone wants to
believe them, that's fine, we don't have time to waste as we are building a
very, very global business with real "writer-business-people" that are
committed to their careers. Our clients don't sit around reading whiner
sites, that's for sure.



DG: Do I detect a bit of frustration?

AEG: Of course, it's like the old kindergarten game, where you sit in a
circle, whisper into the person's ear next to yours, and the end result is
so far removed from the original statement, that it is very, very
frustrating. I will give our detractors a bit of credit though, they have
caused us to toughen up, and succeed in spite of their crap. As the old
saying goes, "that which does not kill me makes me stronger", and believe
me, we are so lean and mean right now, that we are approaching unstoppable,
and frankly their opinions no longer matter to our business. And don’t tell
them this, but they are actually helping us at this point . . . They are
free advertising, as most rational authors can't believe what they are now
saying, and the authors come to us to '”see for themselves".

We don't work with authors that won't spend the money it takes to improve
and that has served us well. The industry is realizing that the fastest way
to separate the good from the bad, is how much time and energy the author
has spent developing their craft. That's what we want. We won't stomach or
tolerate "something for nothing" people, and that attitude has perhaps
become misconstrued.



DG: That all sounds nice, but really, why all the negative press?

AEG: We have really tried to listen to the marketplace and we have made
certain adjustments to the way we do business, however, we are very clear
about one thing, we only want committed authors with edited, or reviewed
work. That means that we only want authors that have been edited, or are
willing to get help and assistance. So, what happens is this, we say, "your
work needs help", and immediately we are jumped on. Why authors think that
they get the world for free is beyond me. We can make EVERY author a better
author, and we do, it just costs some money, and this is a business, so
we're used to investing in our business, why wouldn't a writer invest in
theirs?

We have tried to dialog with P&E, Writers Beware, SFWA, etc. Unfortunately,
those people are so backward-minded and stuck, that they really didn't
listen, so we now ignore them and we just keep chugging. Frankly, and I
don't want to be mean about it, but we think some of our authors make more
in one month than that crowd has made in their in their entire writing
career. We suggest that authors make up their own mind, and not rely on
anyone else when forming their opinion, especially minor-leaguers.



DG: Ok, I can understand that you tell authors that they must improve, and I
agree with how important that is, but what about the fact that you refer
them to your own company?


R: That "own company" that you are referring to is now the second largest
editing and services company in the world, second only to Scribendi.
Frankly, the editing companies that we used to refer to were very 'mom and
pop" and couldn't do the work and handle our volume. So in order to keep
prices down, and turnaround quick, we built our own company. Also, the
press release about the two companies working together has been on the web
for years now. We don't hide the fact that the companies are working hand
in hand. They have to be to handle the kind of growth and volume that we
have created. In short, it's a big business, we're global, and it works well
for the author, and for us. Frankly, we can do editing faster and cheaper
than any editing company in the world. Hell, we might buy Scribendi next
year.



DG: Here's another issue . . . Why have you changed names so many times?

AEG: It's marketing my dear. Have you ever noticed how many domain names
the Children's Writing Institute uses? We spend a lot of time on Google
pay-per-click for our authors, and we've seen at least six names for them,
for sure, that go back to their site or a clone of their site. I'm sure
you are aware of search engine optimization. The simple truth is that as
Google has changed it's algorithms, we have changed our domain names so that
we get better positioning. It's that simple. Also, as partners and
principals have come and gone, new companies, with new stock allocations
have been formed. That's part and parcel of a small business.

And, we are very proud of this, we are starting the wheels in motion to
setup a stock ownership plan for our employees and even our authors. We'll
probably undergo another name change at that time . . . That's how it works
for rapidly growing businesses.


DG: C'mon . . . If there’s smoke, there has to be fire, what about all this
stuff about criminal backgrounds, investigations, etc.?


AEG: It's identity theft with a twist. Let's say that I decided to "get
you" for one reason or another. It's simple really. All I have to do is
google search "your name - criminal records" and I will get plenty of hits,
of your name, in all kinds of criminal situations. Then all I do is copy
and paste that info into 3-4 sites, anonymously, and you're screwed. I
guarantee it. You'll never live it down and never clean it up. Believe me,
we've tried. Also, we've been investigated up and down, and nothing had
ever come of it. The fact is that these days any disgruntled person can
file a complaint with a District Attorney.

We do what we say, we tell the author up front what to expect, we never
over-promise, and we deliver.
We have a real business that helps authors that are willing to help
themselves that's why all this stuff about investigations and backgrounds,
etc. is such misinformation.



DG: Here's another one, why do you even advertise? I thought agencies didn't
need to advertise?

AEG: We still have requests from publishers that we can't fill. We still
find great books to publish every day because of our advertising. Early on
we learned that more is better. Our business strategy since day one, is to
have 'depth off the bench'. And that strategy is paying off. Why do you
think the agency is so valuable to the publisher? Frankly, we think the
agency has provided over 100 authors "ready to go" to the publisher. Those
authors are now making money and receiving royalty checks. Those authors
will be part of the 100,000 - 1 MM books we'll be selling in the medium term
future.



AEG: Over 100 authors published? Prove it . . And did the agency take a
commission since you merged? Isn't that 'double dipping"?


R: No commission was taken by the agency. Period. Guaranteed. The authors
were told up front about the merger. And if you want to see the books we've
published, please visit www.AEGauthorsEdge.com .



DG: Well, I admit to being glad that I dug a little deeper, I can see both
sides of the story, and it is tough to break into any industry. Is there
anything you wish to say in conclusion?


R: We truly feel sorry for the author that is trying to make a decision
about how to proceed with their writing career. Our best advice is to trust
yourself and dive in. Sometimes analysis = paralysis. You can't win if you
don't play, so we say, "get out there, get bloody, improve, take your lumps,
learn, learn, learn" and as Winston Churchill said, "never, never give up".


All of our contracts have 'easy out' clauses, so if we don't perform, you
can fire us. By the same token, if the author won't perform, we can, and
will fire them. This is a business and we are here to stay, and play, for
the long term, and make profits for our authors, our employees, and our
shareholders.


===================

DG: Ok writers out there, you have it. I am not endorsing anyone, but I do
think that everyone deserves a chance to be heard. Frankly, my personal
opinion is that those sites have gone too far, and are doing a dis-service
for writers and this company. Perhaps these guys made mistakes in the past,
but I have a hard time arguing with 250 published authors and 1500 books a
week being sold within 6 months of operations. (I looked at the royalty
reports).

At the end of the day, DG says: Make up your own mind. And yes, please feel
free to email me if you’d like: [email protected]


PS--I tried to find "deliriousgirl" but only found a profile of her on a social networking site that hadn't been updated in a few years.
 

Deliriousgirl

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Hi the very real DG here. I was an employee of AEG Publishing for around two months before I was ripped off by this Robert person (at this point I have doubts that that's even his real name). I DID NOT write the interview that he is STILL apparently sending out with MY email address still attached to it (what a dumbass). I did write an interview with this Robert person, but it was very very different from THIS ONE as I had no idea of most of this stuff in this interview.

And another warning to anybody answering any ads for marketing/writing/editing jobs from this company: THEY ONLY WANT TO USE YOU FOR FREE WORK and will string you along with promises of a rosy future "when the economy picks back up" among OTHER blather. The truth of the matter is that this Robert person apparently has around 200 company email addresses and he PRETENDS to be different editors, PR people, and marketers to make people think he has a REAL company going.

My story is this: On Dec. 15th I had a horrible death in my immediate family (my brother) and had to travel to a town about 400 miles away to take care of all that. At this point Robert was about 3 weeks behind in my pay, yet he was sending me daily and sometimes HOURLY emails of more stuff he wanted me to do. I even continued to answer author emails and concerns while trying to plan (and pay for) my dead sibling's funeral. I called and emailed Robert DAILY, telling him that I NEEDED the money he owed me, I had to buy food for a wake, clothes for my dead brother to be buried in, flowers, all kinds of unexpected expenses. Which I told him about. NO RESPONSE. This rocks on for over a month. NO PAY. He didn't even have the BALLS to call or even send an email telling me ANYTHING, but one day I tried to log onto the co. software program and was locked out.

So, the moral of this little story is: I don't care how broke you are, how much he offers you, or how he tries to put a good face on this bunch of company names that he goes by. . . DON'T DO IT. My personal assessment is just this: NO INTEGRITY AND NO BALLS.
 
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