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Lips Unsealed Literary Agency

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Roger J Carlson

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I found the Lips Unsealed Literary Agency (LULA) on PublishersMarketplace.com. They look like they'd be a good fit for my story, but a few things bother me:
  • They've been in business since 2000, but don't list any sales or leading clients, either on their PM page or their website: http://www.lipsunsealed.com/.
  • Neither principle (Kristi King and Amaris Soto) seems to have publishing experience.
  • Their agency is in Boca Raton, FL, which makes me wonder if they are an incarnation of ST Literary.
Now that I've actually written it down, they don't look all that good. Does anybody have an real information about them?
 

victoriastrauss

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I wish I had a dollar for every unqualified/unsuccessful/clueless agency that claimed to be working according to the AAR's Canon of Ethics. I could buy a nice weekend at a B&B on Cape Cod.

Roger, I'd say you've laid out the red flags quite succinctly (though I don't think these folks are associated with ST).

- Victoria
 

Roger J Carlson

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Victoria,

At various times, you or Jim or Dave will say something like: "They haven't made any sales in three years." or some such. Where do you find this information?
 

victoriastrauss

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I usually preface a statement like that with to my knowledge. That means I've done due diligence research (google searching, checking publishers' lists, checking listings in writers' guides, reading trade publications, talking with editors/agents/peers, checking with sources like Agent Research & Evaluation, and cross-checking material provided by the agency itself) and haven't been able to find any sales.

Sometimes you don't really need to check; the level of cluelessness or unprofessionalism revealed in the agent's website or whatever makes no sales a safe presumption. But I always check anyway.

- Victoria
 

Alphabeter

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victoriastrauss said:
Sometimes you don't really need to check; the level of cluelessness or unprofessionalism revealed in the agent's website or whatever makes no sales a safe presumption. But I always check anyway.
- Victoria

And this is why Victoria deserves the fantastic reputation she has. She's a SantaKnight. She checks her list twice before challenging to a duel.
 

aka eraser

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It seems to me that any legit agency with even a handful of sales would be proud to trumpet them on their site. One wouldn't have to go digging to find them. Therefore, the lack of any such listings would be a first red flag for me.
 

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victoriastrauss said:
LOL! But I actually would rather think of myself as Bad Santa. - Victoria

But you're MUCH prettier than Billy Bob Thorton!
 

Kristi LULA

About Lips Unsealed from Lips Unsealed

I am quite excited to be a topic of conversation among the Absolute Write Water Cooler forum but I think that I should make some clarifications.

1. We have not been an agency since 2000.
The quote from our website says:

"Lips Unsealed Literary Agency began in 2000 as a hope, prayer and desire. As of February 2005, LULA has begun to bring those hopes, prayers and desires into fruition. "

That was not meant to imply that we had become a practing agency in 2000, but in February of 2005 as indicated in the word fruition.

2. As far as our publishing experience is concerned, we have spent the last 5 years building contacts. I began as a permissions associate building working relationships with hundreds (not an overstatement) of companies in contract negotiation and handling of rights. I am a member of the Black Americans in Publishing society whose main goal is networking and establishing relationships among industry professionals.

I understand that for many (hopefully, all) prospective authors the information you can received about a prospective agent is paramount. But that is why we made sure that our website was thorough and accurate. If you have any questions, ask us. We are very open and our email is listed our site. We will also be at BookExpo in New York June 2-4 so feel free to email us if you would like to speak with us face to face.

Regardless, good luck with your writing endeavors and maybe our paths will cross again.
 

Roger J Carlson

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Thanks for responding, Kristi.

I hope you realize this board is about sharing information and not simply bashing people. We really want new agencies that are open to new writers! But given all the scams out there, writers have had to become more critical of new agencies. We have had to become more adept at reading between the lines. This presents problems for a new agency since there just aren't that many lines.

Staying involved here would be a great way to allay suspicions. You can also be a wonderful resource by adding an agent's perspective to the discussions here. Andy Zack does this in the Ask The Agent thread, but you could add a lot too.

I am going to be at the Book Expo this year as well and would very much like to meet you. I'll send you an email off-list.

Thanks.
 

victoriastrauss

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Kristi LULA said:
"Lips Unsealed Literary Agency began in 2000 as a hope, prayer and desire. As of February 2005, LULA has begun to bring those hopes, prayers and desires into fruition. "

That was not meant to imply that we had become a practing agency in 2000, but in February of 2005 as indicated in the word fruition.
Thanks for explaining. But the wording on your website is confusing, and I don't think I'm the only one who will assume you began the business in 2000. You might want to think clarifying a bit.

2. As far as our publishing experience is concerned, we have spent the last 5 years building contacts. I began as a permissions associate building working relationships with hundreds (not an overstatement) of companies in contract negotiation and handling of rights.
Can you amplify on this? Were any of these companies publishing companies? What sort of rights did you handle? What sort of contracts did you help to negotiate? I ask because publishing contracts are highly specialized documents, with terms and clauses you don't find elsewhere, and experience with other kinds of contracts isn't necessarily transferable.

- Victoria
 

Kristi LULA

A Word from Lips Unsealed

Can you amplify on this? Were any of these companies publishing companies? What sort of rights did you handle? What sort of contracts did you help to negotiate? I ask because publishing contracts are highly specialized documents, with terms and clauses you don't find elsewhere, and experience with other kinds of contracts isn't necessarily transferable.

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

I am glad to further explain. The companies that I am referring to include publishing companies (including the conglomerates, university presses, and smaller houses), magazines (foreign and domestic), journals and the like. I negotiated print reprint permissions, which is where a seperate source wants to reprint a either or portion of your work or it in its entirety (usually for an anthology or coursepack). I have also negotiated electronic rights for inclusion of work on web editions and databases. I am presently working on a database securing electronic rights where I am negotiating with publishing companies, magazines and journals, other literary agents and authors for over 700 selections. So I have been on the "other side" of rights which gives me insight on securing the best deal for our clients.

Also I would like to include some information about my partner, Amaris Dosi.
She studied linguistics at the graduate level at Florida Atlantic University. Linguistics being the scientific study of language in all its forms, puts her in an advantagious position to help author's polish their work. She has also worked with a educational database company for years as an editor. She was responsible for the selection of the articles, editing and proofreading of an entire volume of 80 articles on the topics of Government, World Affairs, Third World, and History. She was also responsible for one section of 20 articles of another volume. The profit from these sets of volumes totaled large sales for the company. They trust her work and so can any aspiring authors.

These are things that we don't normally discuss unless we are in the stage of signing a contract with a client. We don't ask for reading fees, or editorial fees or publicity fees (which is another service we offer our clients even AFTER we secure a deal).

We have a few strong books in the work so I'm sure very soon you will see that we put our money where are proverbial mouths are.

Best,
Kristi King
 
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pepperlandgirl

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I've been looking over the website, and I'm not sure what, exactly, Lips Unsealed represents. Ok, I can infer from the FAQ that it's fiction, non-fiction, and children's fiction, but what genres? Any ol' genre you like? Do you have a preference? A speciality?
 

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Kristi LULA said:
puts her in an advantagious position to help ***author's*** polish their work. She has also worked with Proquest Information and Learning for years as an editor. She was responsible for the selection of the articles, editing and ***proofreading***

Um, may I make a suggestion? If you're going to stress the proofreading and editing skills of one of your main members, it would be a great idea to make sure there aren't errors in the copy.
 

soloset

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Aconite said:
Um, may I make a suggestion? If you're going to stress the proofreading and editing skills of one of your main members, it would be a great idea to make sure there aren't errors in the copy.

I have to say, nitpicking presumably well-intentioned visitors in public is poor form and shows a lack of hospitality.

At least wait until we find out if this is a legit business or not first -- if not, you can be the first to say "Hah! I knew it by the misused apostrophe!" :D
 

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soloset said:
I have to say, nitpicking presumably well-intentioned visitors in public is poor form and shows a lack of hospitality.

That copy was promotional copy for a person advertized as an expert editor and proofreader. It was not a post made by someone who just happened to offer information on this company, but by someone representing this company. If you're going to advertize your proofreading skills, it's only common sense (not to mention good business practice) to make sure your copy is edited. You can take my pointing that out as an attack, or as a suggestion on improving the professional appearance of the company. Your choice.
 

soloset

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Aconite said:
That copy was promotional copy for a person advertized as an expert editor and proofreader. It was not a post made by someone who just happened to offer information on this company, but by someone representing this company.

Technically, she was advertising her partner as an expert editor and proofreader, at least in the post above. I maintain that an "on the spur of the moment" response to another post can legitimately contain a few minor errors without being sloppy or unprofessional.

Aconite said:
You can take my pointing that out as an attack, or as a suggestion on improving the professional appearance of the company. Your choice.

I agree. The poster can take your comment as either an attack or as a suggestion, and I certainly hope that she takes it as it was meant.

I am merely pointing out that it seems less than polite to me to nitpick an apparently well-intentioned visitor, as this may lead to a lack of well-intentioned visitors in the future. Plus, it dulls the weapon of "your punctuation is lame!" when it's needed against trolls and proven scammers. :D
 

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soloset said:
Technically, she was advertising her partner as an expert editor and proofreader, at least in the post above. I maintain that an "on the spur of the moment" response to another post can legitimately contain a few minor errors without being sloppy or unprofessional.

I disagree, when the company in question is a literary agency and the posting method allows for editing. My agent will be corresponding "on the spur of the moment" with my editors; I want to be represented by someone who looks like they're intimately familiar with good language.

In addition to this, I'm not just nitpicking the post here. The webcopy for Amaris Dos also contains grammatical errors as well as bad and confusing sentence structure, and that's not spur-of-the-moment writing--or shouldn't be. Things like that don't inspire confidence in a literary agency. If this is a legit, good company--and I certainly hope it is--then I'm sure they want to look like one. We're writers, yes? We know how to take a civilized critique, yes? Why should we exempt our agents from the same?
 

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Aconite said:
I disagree, when the company in question is a literary agency and the posting method allows for editing.
Frankly, I also disagree. I had the same reaction as Aconite. I also feel that the jury is out on whether Kristi's and her partner's work experience will be transferable to successful literary agenting. Nevertheless, I thank Kristi for her candour and wish her luck. Kristi, please come back from time to time and let us know how things are progressing.

- Victoria
 

soloset

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To clarify, my point was that it seems rude and irrelevant to me to point out minor typos in an apparently well-intentioned post. That is my entire point; I have no opinion whatsoever on whether or not this is a scam agency or not.

There's a difference, to my mind, between "this is a red flag" and "this is a quibble", and one of the things that defines that line is context and intent. I understand that line might not be in the same place for everyone, and I'm sure I'm as guilty as anyone else of nitpicking occasionally.

Aconite -- I have no quibble with your critique of their website or any other correspondence you might have with this company, as I haven't studied for that particular test yet. :D Poor web design and content is often a red flag for potential scammers, and I'm sure it should be pointed out if other evidence weighs against the agency.

I know it bugs me greatly when I've written something relatively well-reasoned and to the point, only to find a post from a "helpful" someone pointing out a minor typo in the second sentence. Doesn't matter at that point if I do edit, does it? The response is there indefinitely.

Why not just PM the person, or send them an email, instead of making a post that could easily be construed as nitpicky or hostile? That way, if they do turn out to be a scammer, you can say, "I told them so first!"
 
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HapiSofi

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Kristi LULA said:
I am quite excited to be a topic of conversation among the Absolute Write Water Cooler forum but I think that I should make some clarifications.

1. We have not been an agency since 2000.
The quote from our website says:

"Lips Unsealed Literary Agency began in 2000 as a hope, prayer and desire. As of February 2005, LULA has begun to bring those hopes, prayers and desires into fruition. "

That was not meant to imply that we had become a practing agency in 2000, but in February of 2005 as indicated in the word fruition.
Hopes and dreams! There's a rule about that.
2. As far as our publishing experience is concerned, we have spent the last 5 years building contacts. I began as a permissions associate building working relationships with hundreds (not an overstatement) of companies in contract negotiation and handling of rights. I am a member of the Black Americans in Publishing society whose main goal is networking and establishing relationships among industry professionals.
I take it you were working at an entry-level job in someone's subrights department?
I understand that for many (hopefully, all) prospective authors the information you can received about a prospective agent is paramount. But that is why we made sure that our website was thorough and accurate. If you have any questions, ask us. We are very open and our email is listed our site. We will also be at BookExpo in New York June 2-4 so feel free to email us if you would like to speak with us face to face.

Regardless, good luck with your writing endeavors and maybe our paths will cross again.
Ma'am, to my ear you don't sound like a villain -- but you don't sound like an agent, either.
 

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soloset said:
I know it bugs me greatly when I've written something relatively well-reasoned and to the point, only to find a post from a "helpful" someone pointing out a minor typo in the second sentence.

Were you, at the time, presenting yourself as a literary expert worthy of collecting a percentage of someone's income? That's what makes the difference for me. This is a company, not a well intentioned individual trying to help someone else out. Given the context, the posts made here (and, of course, the content of the site) function as advertizing copy for the company.

And I don't believe those mistakes are typos; they appear to be part of a pattern of misused punctuation and bad grammar. That looks really bad for a company stressing their literary competence. Note that I'm making no statements about whether this is a scam company or not; that's not my concern. My point is that they need to make substantial changes to be taken seriously in their chosen field.

I'm sorry if my statements bother you. (I mean that. It's not my intention to cause you distress.) I do not feel that behaving well means not commenting in public on statements made in public by a company offering services to others. My agent will expect me to handle criticism on my work; I expect the same from them.
 
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Lauri B

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I'd like to chime in here to say that if an agent emailed or wrote me a pitch on behalf of a client that had consistent grammar and spelling errors, I would be much less inclined to seriously consider the work, simply because it reflects badly on the author that his or her agent doesn't have a firm grasp on the language--or can't be bothered to spellcheck or edit something representative of the company. I'm sure that the writer from Lips Unsealed was writing quickly on the forum (I've reread many of my posts and been embarrassed by the number of typos), but because she was defending herself and promoting her colleague's services as someone who could help authors hone their wordcraft, it didn't look especially professional.
 

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