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ManuScreen (Joe Dougherty)

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

sharynbg

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Does anyone know anything about manuscreen.com? It offers free manuscript screening of novels and says it will help writers find literary agents. It says that they don't have to charge writers. The reason -- agents PAY for this service because manuscreen.com is a trusted source for authors.

Much about this site seems strange, including the fact that there is no contact information anywhere. You don't know who you're dealing with. Their privacy policy has some loopholes.

Thanks,
SHARYN
 
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Aconite

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sharynbg said:
It says that they don't have to charge writers because agents PAY for this service because manuscreen.com is a trusted source for authors.

Lemme see...legit agent, working on commission, pays somebody outside the agency to vet the slush pile and find the manuscripts that will eventually be the source of her income... You know, I have trouble seeing this.

I can imagine the types of agents who pay for the service, though. Uh huh.
 

victoriastrauss

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Many bad signs here. As Sharyn pointed out, the lack of info about who's running this service is one. Another is the really bad info on the Copyright page (they don't seem to know, for instance, that you have to register copyright in order to go to court). Another is the notion (on the FAQ page) that the AAR is an organization to which you can report fee-charging agents.

I'm going to contact them and ask about their agent list. I'll report back.

- Victoria
 

Maryn

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Great, Victoria. We all appreciate your efforts (and probably don't say it often enough).

I fully expect to see you on a white horse upon your return. That's the favored ride of the valiant protector, right?

Maryn
 

MartyKay

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Whois information:

Registrant:
Joe Dougherty
377 Rector Place
Apt. 10G
New York, New York 10280
United States

Registered through: Mad Dog Domains and Cattle Company
Domain Name: MANUSCREEN.COM
Created on: 12-Oct-04
Expires on: 12-Oct-05
Last Updated on: 24-Nov-04

Administrative Contact:
Dougherty, Joe [email protected]
377 Rector Place
Apt. 10G
New York, New York 10280
United States
2127864876 Fax --
Technical Contact:
Dougherty, Joe [email protected]
377 Rector Place
Apt. 10G
New York, New York 10280
United States
2127864876 Fax --

Domain servers in listed order:
NS1.LUNARPAGES.COM
NS2.LUNARPAGES.COM

Joe Dougherty has a website (www.idougherty.com) where manuscreen and a yachting club are listed as "other websites by Joe Dougherty"... possibly he's the web designer, not the owner. On the other hand, the Registrant of a domain name is USUALLY the owner -- which is true of the wdgyachting.com site.

Admin contact address on the idougherty.com domain appears as Rome, Italy. Weird.

Nothing to really see here, Joe Dougherty may be the web designer after all.
 

sharynbg

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Free Manuscript Screening

Victoria,

Thank you very much for the rapid response. I'm impressed!

I'll be looking forward to any additional information you get, as I'm sure others are.

Best,

SHARYN
 

HapiSofi

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Victoria, this feels wrong to me, too. Essentially, what they're offering to do is break out slushpile reading as a separate business.

This has too many unlikely aspects. If you're good enough to judge the quality of submissions, why would you start a business where you never get to reap the rewards of your superior judgement, or see the books and authors through to publication? Even if that setup they describe were to work as well as possible, they'd still be doing the literary equivalent of trading away the Bambino, over and over again, year in and year out.

Also, slush-reading is grim hard work, and it's the worst-paying gig in all of trade publishing. Hiving it off as a separate enterprise is not what I'd call a robust business plan. I can't imagine agents paying enough to keep them afloat.

Finally, if I were an agency looking to find new writers, and I knew of someone who was good at slush reading, I'd hire the guy myself. I wouldn't pay some intermediary to pay him to do my reading.

This doesn't make sense.
 

sgtsdaughter

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HapiSofi said:
This has too many unlikely aspects. If you're good enough to judge the quality of submissions, why would you start a business where you never get to reap the rewards of your superior judgement, or see the books and authors through to publication? Even if that setup they describe were to work as well as possible, they'd still be doing the literary equivalent of trading away the Bambino, over and over again, year in and year out.

This doesn't make sense.

Need we say more?
 

Inotauthor

Manuscreen

Hello everyone...I am new to this site and I hoped I might get some feedback (if at all possible) regarding a service provider--Menuscreen. They are located at the following URL: http://www.manuscreen.com/. I ask this because many of us may know how exaustive it is to find and locate a willing literary agency. This company promotes themselves as a third-party organization, that gets paid by literary agencies to weed out some of the less credible work that is submitted by aspiring writers. I considered sending them my completed novel, but thought I would check with some of the more experienced personnel to determine if it was worth the shot.
I am open for any ideas people might have....
Thanks!
 

CaoPaux

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Not worth it. The agents such sites attract aren't those you'd want to do business with.

ETA: Here's where we've discussed this site before: <old link snipped>
 
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DrRita

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Just wanted to know if anyone has found out more about this site? Or is there another follow-up on another thread or site? Thanks!
 

triceretops

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Doh!

Most literary agents do not accept unsolicited manuscripts from unpublished authors because they do not have the time to review the thousands that would pour into their offices if they did. Some accept query letters, and later sample chapters. However, many rely solely on their own networks for referrals, or accept works only from already-published authors.

That's a quote from the site and it's categorically untrue. In fact, unsolicited manuscripts is a great portion of their influx. Who in the heck's material were they taking in when they started out? I don't think referals are as high as they've been claimed. It's easy to pull a solicitation by offering a great query letter.

Is this one of these sub-agents, working for agents? My gawd, do we need another tier to contend with?

Submission= Beta reader, then book doctor, then quasi-agent, then agent, then editor, then marketing department=SALE!

15-years ago I sent in my manuscript to an editor and they bought it!

Tri
 

mysterygrl

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I noticed that they "strongly" believe all writers should work with an editor.

Yeah, like an editor that Manuscript Screening recommends when they reject your manuscript.

Cha-ching.
 

FergieC

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If you're good enough to judge the quality of submissions, why would you start a business where you never get to reap the rewards of your superior judgement, or see the books and authors through to publication?

It's not an entirely crazy idea. I mean, you wouldn't be taking any risk at all. It's not that hard to judge whether something is potentially publishable or not - most of the initital screening in agencies is probably done by an office junior anyway.

So you'd go through what came in, and if you came across something decent that you know your agent contacts might be looking for, you'd pass it onto them.

Agents spend a lot of time, energy and money trying to sell the thing and there's risk in that, plus it needs certain skills and contacts.

If - assuming this is a legit business - they're doing the screening process and being paid to do it, there's no risk in that. You get paid and that's it, and the agent does the hard bit from there.

So it's not impossible that it's a new business method. I think I'd want to know a bit more about them before submitting an MS though...
 
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soloset

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FergieC said:
It's not an entirely crazy idea. I mean, you wouldn't be taking any risk at all. It's not that hard to judge whether something is potentially publishable or not - most of the initital screening in agencies is probably done by an office junior anyway.

Yes, it is. Otherwise there wouldn't be thousands and thousands of really terrible manuscripts floating around the web right now, touted by their authors and a few fans as the next big thing if only the mean ol'industry would let them play too.

I agree with you that there's no risk for the owner of the business. He pays for a domain name and spends his time to run the website, and if he's creative -- hooks up with an editing service, maybe, or charges a fee for authors to sign up, or perhaps sells the names to literary spammers or scam agencies -- the money just rolls on in. Or maybe he stays honest and the site fizzles out.

I just don't get why any author would use this service, assuming it's legitimately trying to do what it says it is. Maybe I'm missing something, but it really doesn't seem to make sense from an author's perspective.

I can send my MS off to an agent, where it'll be read and judged and rejected or accepted, or I can send it to this site, where it'll be read and judged and rejected or accepted, then passed on to an agent, where it'll be read and judged and... yeah. Where's the benefit for *me*? An agent or his assistant can tell me if my work is slush just as easily as this website can, and the agent has the power to tell me "yes" as well as "no".

As long as agents accept queries, there's no point to this service.

And, from their website:

At the request of the Literary Agents it represents, Manuscreen will not divulge the list of Literary Agencies it represents and is under no obligation to do so. Likewise, Manuscreen is under no obligation to divulge to a user the list of agencies to whom the user's information was sent. If a Literary Agent wishes to contact a user, they will do so independently of Manuscreen.

I can't think of a single reason for them to not brag about the great agencies they've got lined up. Unless, of course, the agencies aren't so great. Or perhaps they don't even exist.

ETA: Can't resist this gem.

11. What are my chances of finding an agent through Manuscreen and being published?
We are very selective - our agencies demand it. For every 100 manuscripts we receive, we recommend roughly 15 to our agencies. About two-thirds of those get picked up for representation.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but they're saying 10 out of every 100 manuscripts they receive are picked up for representation. Pretty great odds, given that authors are submitting in all genres! Unless I missed the genres requested somewhere...

Oh, and I found their answer to why they don't publish their agent list.

15. Do you publish a list the agents you read for?
The agencies we read for wish to remain anonymous for two reasons:

1) We are not the sole source of manuscripts for the agencies we represent and those agencies do not want us to give that impression. To the agencies we read for, we are simply another source of manuscripts, and a paid one at that. While they are happy to accept quality recommendations from Manuscreen, they wish to leave the door open for more traditional contacts as well, such as word-of-mouth or query letter (if they accept them). They feel that to advertise their names would be to give the impression that we are their sole representatives, and as such they have asked to remain anonymous.

2) Naming the agencies could potentially encourage authors of passed-over manuscripts to contact the agencies directly, hoping for more information or editorial feedback.

I'm not buying it, myself. The first reason is a mess. A disclaimer above the list stating "we are not the sole source..." would eliminate 90% of it. And the idea that authors would stop submitting to a potential source without being hit with a brick is ludicrous. AND it's interesting that ALL of the companies they represent have the same reaction to the idea.

The second reason is just flat out silly. The author is no more or less likely to contact the agency in this case than if they had submitted to the agency directly. And I imagine most agencies are perfectly capable of dealing with situations like this, given that they, you know, have to do so anyway if they accept queries.
 
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CaoPaux

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Site is down but recently cached, so I'm hesitant to call it dead....

Victoria, did you ever receive more info on/from Mr. Dougherty?
 

CaoPaux

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Site gone completely. *signs death certificate*
 

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