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Rebecca Pratt Literary Group

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Brian P. White

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http://agentr.com/
Rebecca Pratt Literary Group
Lititz, PA

Has anyone heard of these guys? P&E just shows that they exist. Their website looks quite informative. I'm going to take a chance and query them, but are there any insights or experiences?
 

stormie

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Got this off their "Active Projects" page:

"We are pleased to present an assortment of superb fiction and nonfiction properties. Our fiction properties range from science fiction to historical fiction and suspense/romance. We are actively screening submissions in virtually any genre'. All of the books listed here are available for publication. Publishers or their representatives desiring additional information on any of these projects please contact Rebecca."


Doesn't sound right. Agents seek out the editors, not the other way around.

And under Finished Projects, one of the books is pubbed by iUniverse.

I also don't see anything about her experience in the publishing field.

Also I checked agentquery.com. No listing.
 
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Thedrellum

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She doesn't have a listing on QueryTracker either, and PM doesn't show any sales.

The website strikes me as off, and not only because it's unattractive (okay, that's a bit snarky, but I expect some presentation skills from my professional representatives).

3. While we are not traditional in that we make every effort to remain open to new writers and that we accept submissions by e-mail, we are traditional in what we expect to see in a query. You will impress us more with a good query letter than with a well-written novel. A lot of people can write well while very few are tenacious enough to do what it takes to become a published author.

How exactly is that not traditional? I suppose if this agency was started in the early 90s, then not taking queries by e-mail would be strange. Also, I would think most agents would be more impressed by a good novel as opposed to a good query letter. The query letter, after all, isn't what you're going to sell to readers.

4. Simultaneous queries to multiple agencies or publishers are frowned upon, but we understand why authors do it. We will read your query but if we ask for additional material we will accept it only if we are the exclusive readers at that level. In return we will promise a rapid turn around (understanding that at least two readers in our agency will be reviewing your work and that it takes each an average of 12 hours to read a manuscript--and that we receive more than one query per day which we also must read and evaluate). All of this is in addition to the actual work of servicing our signed clients.

Most agents understand simultaneous queries and even encourage them. And their description of exclusivity is a little strange. It takes them twelve hours to read a manuscript, the manuscript will be read by two people, so... a week at most? Lastly, they receive one query a day? That is not very many at all.
 

CarlyeKnight

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She doesn't have a listing on QueryTracker either, and PM doesn't show any sales.

The website strikes me as off, and not only because it's unattractive (okay, that's a bit snarky, but I expect some presentation skills from my professional representatives).

The fact that the site is in Comic Sans is a big enough turnoff for me. Yes, part of it is font snobbery, but it looks so bloody amateur.
 
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Momento Mori

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So many flags pointing to cluelessness on the website:

Rebecca Pratt Literary Group Website:
Writing a book is the easy part; selling it to a publisher and then to a market is very much harder.

Yes, but then selling a book does happen to be your job. You should therefore only be taking on books that you think you can sell.

Rebecca Pratt Literary Group Website:
You will impress us more with a good query letter than with a well-written novel. A lot of people can write well while very few are tenacious enough to do what it takes to become a published author.

Erm, what? A good query letter is meaningless if the manuscript is rubbish. Don't get me wrong, a good query letter will always help but that's why some agencies ask for the first few pages/opening chapters as well because it's possible to have a mediocre letter but have a great manuscript. (I say this as someone whose query letter wasn't stellar but who was signed on the basis of my first 3 chapters).

Rebecca Pratt Literary Group Website:
We will read your query but if we ask for additional material we will accept it only if we are the exclusive readers at that level.

Exclusives suck. I'd consider giving an exclusive to an uber agent at a respected agency if it was for a set period of time (and no longer than 3 to 6 months) but for these guys, no way.

Rebecca Pratt Literary Group Website:
We want to do a good job since our success as an agency is entirely dependent upon our ability to recognize and sign quality authors. We can not do it without your help and full cooperation.

Wait - it's an author's fault if you can't succeed as an agent? Erm ... no.

Rebecca Pratt Literary Group Website:
Our unique personalized approach goes far beyond most other agencies and includes:

· Personal review and critique of submissions. Our rejections typically include a detailed explanation of our decision. Accepted submissions also receive our suggestions for enhancement.

· Copyediting of submitted work. With the author's full advice, consent, and participation, we carefully review each accepted work for typos, grammar, etc. If we find larger problems, we report our findings to the author, who retains full control over his or her work.

· Careful review of marketing opportunities. We research appropriate marketplaces for each submission and contact editors personally to build rapport before submitting work.

The only "unique" features are the copyediting (which, to be honest, shouldn't be necessary if they're picking decent manuscripts) and the detailed rejections (which they shouldn't be doing because it's so time consuming and an invitation to author wank). The rest of it all seems bog standard to me.

Rebecca Pratt Literary Group Website:
Agents screen queries thoroughly, request additional information, suggest changes, provide some advice and encouragement (at least this agency does), all before agreeing to represent an author. By the time an offer to represent is made your manuscript will have been reviewed by a professional editor, the genre' will have been researched and the agent will believe that your manuscript can be marketed to the industry successfully.

The fact that they have to research the genre worries me.

MM
 

DeadlyAccurate

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Exclusives suck. I'd consider giving an exclusive to an uber agent at a respected agency if it was for a set period of time (and no longer than 3 to 6 months) but for these guys, no way.

A six-month exclusive? That's way, way too long.

As for this agency, they do show some legitimate sales, but some of the books I clicked on didn't even show up on Amazon and some of the others have publication dates dating back over a decade. The number of sales listed is quite small if the agency has been around long enough to have made sales for years.
 

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Are the "Finished Projects" actual sales or merely her clients' previous books?
 

IceCreamEmpress

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I'm going to take a chance and query them

Why?

Have you already exhausted the pool of agents who have sold books you've read and enjoyed? And the pool of agents who have a documented track record of selling books to the kind of publisher you'd like to work with?

And the pool of agents who don't spell "genre" as "genré" on their professional website?
 
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batgirl

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Just going through the Finished Projects (which seems an odd thing to call one's clients' sales).

The first one, a diet book, is published by Magni Book company. "Distributions are primarily through mass-market mail order, retail accounts, and television home shopping...We are also the exclusive licensed distributor for Tepota Hair Remover." I'm sure they're reputable, but I'd be surprised to hear that they pay advances.

The second, a 2008 mystery, is printed by Createspace, according to Amazon (the Project list calls it 'Terradan Works Publishing'. Author doesn't seem to have published anything else.

Three novels by two different authors, published by Medallion Press, a reputable press that sells, I think, mostly to libraries. Does it pay advances?

A 2005 memoir printed by iUniverse, as noted. No advance there. No other books found by this author.

A 2003 novel published by Novelbooks Inc, now out of business and mentioned here for dubious business practices. Author has published nonfiction tech books, no other fiction.

Two novels from Double Dragon, a reputable epublisher that does not pay advances. I can't find these titles on DD's website presently, so I don't have a publication date for them.

A 2002 tech handbook published by McGraw-Hill. Author has not written anything else.

The remaining books all by the same author, including both the paperback and hardcover editions of one title as two listings - 2002 by Da Capo on its Amazon page, Perseus and Plenum on the Projects page.
Another of his books is a 1998 pamphlet of 33 pages.
Two are co-written, published by Aspen 1998 and Springer 1993.

I'm not seeing a steady income here, even for part-time work.

-Barbara
 

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The top of the page does say Rebecca Pratt is the agent of record for the projects. So...yes? (I dunno).
Considering she signs herself Agent of Record in her bio, her use may be suspect. :/

It does look like she had some non-fiction sales back when she was a packager, but I have serious doubts about her effectiveness as an agent in the current market; especially for fiction.
 

Momento Mori

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DeadlyAccurate:
A six-month exclusive? That's way, way too long.

Like I said, exclusives suck and I'd only consider 6 months if we were talking an uber agent like Andrew Wylie.

MM
 

stormie

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Okay. Earlier today I had the sound turned off on my computer. Now I reclicked on her website and was assaulted w/ Ode To Joy. Nice music, but I jumped a little, not expecting that, not ever hearing that on any agent's website. It's not snarky to say that the website just doesn't give a writer the feeling that she's truly prefessional.

I also see this: "Writing a book is the easy part; selling it to a publisher and then to a market is very much harder." (bolding mine)

To the OP--go to www.agentquery.com. You'll find many good agents listed. Cross-reference w/ their websites. It's good you came here and questioned.
 

CarlyeKnight

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Okay. Earlier today I had the sound turned off on my computer. Now I reclicked on her website and was assaulted w/ Ode To Joy.
There's MUSIC?!* With that and the Comic Sans font, I wonder if she got trapped in 1997. Quick! Get her to the hot tub time machine!

*The Interrobang thread got to me, what can I say?
 

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The remaining books all by the same author, including both the paperback and hardcover editions of one title as two listings - 2002 by Da Capo on its Amazon page, Perseus and Plenum on the Projects page.
Another of his books is a 1998 pamphlet of 33 pages.
Two are co-written, published by Aspen 1998 and Springer 1993.

The author is Ms. Pratt's father, and I believe she was the editor for the books, not the agent.

Medallion does pay advances, but those three sales are pretty old, and I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the authors were involved. (One of the Medallion writers, Scott Oden, has transitioned to bigger houses, and is now repped by Bob Mecoy.)

I've been getting questions about this agency for years. I don't believe there's any ill intent, but clearly there's a serious lack of contacts and expertise.

The banner at the top of the agency's homepage proclaims that the manuscript of one client is a finalist in the contest run by Eaton Literary Agency--which is mainly a front for paid editing services.

- Victoria
 

Brian P. White

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Thank you all!

Why'd I query them anyway? Because I'm still relatively new to this and am not sure how you check the track record of any agencies, publishers or authors. Because it doesn't hurt to see if they'd even be interested. Because there's a fifty/fifty chance that--though I don't imagine I'd be comfortable trusting them after all I've read above--my work could be that one thing that gets them on the map (I know, but ... just saying). Will I reply if they ask for more? Probably not ... but it'd be good to know that someone was interested.

After only doing this when I can fit it into my schedule for the last 17 months (The Army always demands our time--but that's what we signed up for!), there's still so much I have to learn. So, I'm bound to make mistakes. Your warnings help me minimize those mistakes and I thoroughly appreciate it. Have a great day!
 

DeadlyAccurate

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GUGuardian said:
Because it doesn't hurt to see if they'd even be interested.

And if she says she loves it, will you have the fortitude to say "thanks but no thanks?" The words "I love your book" are powerful. It can be hard to say no to someone who validates your hard work.

Because there's a fifty/fifty chance that--though I don't imagine I'd be comfortable trusting them after all I've read above--my work could be that one thing that gets them on the map (I know, but ... just saying).

Your book is not a test subject. After all the hard work you put into writing and editing and revising, don't throw it all away submitting to someone with inferior qualifications.

From all appearances, this agent doesn't have the qualifications to sell your book. Giving it to her, no matter how much she says she loves it, could end up wasting months of your time. Time in which that book might have gone on to sell if it had been submitted by a better agent.

Don't let agents play agent with your hard work.
 

Momento Mori

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GUGuardian:
Because it doesn't hurt to see if they'd even be interested.

Please don't think that I'm picking on you (because I'm not trying to) but I see that kind of comment a lot and while I understand that it's gratifying to have someone tell you that your work is good, if Rebecca Pratt doesn't have the expertise or contacts to sell your book, her opinion is no better or worse than that of a critiquer obtained through this site.

Also, while I don't think that this agency is a scam, there are plenty of scam agencies out there that make a point of telling you how good your work is solely to pick you up and then try and sell you other services (cough - Strategic - cough). That can be pretty heart breaking in the long run.

GUGuardian:
my work could be that one thing that gets them on the map (I know, but ... just saying)

Again, not picking on you but if you want an agent, then you shouldn't be thinking about being the one to get them on the map. Their job is to get you on the map because they're there to get you a publishing deal. There's nothing on Rebecca Pratt's website to suggest she can do that so why should you do her work for her (and pay her a percentage for the privilege)?

I hope you stick around AW and good luck with the army job.

MM
 

honeysock

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GuGuardian, there are no qualifications for calling yourself an agent. This particular agent is one of several (here's another, who's been an "agent" since 1998!) who seems to enjoy calling herself a literary agent and playing the part--taking queries, giving feedback, rejecting 99.9% of the authors who submit to her--without actually ever making any sales. Ms. Pratt has been playing the part for a looong time: I had a friend submit to her over ten years ago, having come across her listing in one of the Writer's Market books, I believe. She's NOT a bad person; she's just not a "real" agent.
 
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CarlyeKnight

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I'm cosigning all the above. Please don't feel like I was picking on you. We just don't like to see other writers getting screwed over (intentionally or not) after all that hard work you've done. All that work you've done on your novel deserves to be seen by a bona fide professional.

AgentQuery and Query Tracker are excellent resources (of course, check them out here for an idea of how they work) for finding yourself a good agent. You will get rejections; even the JK Rowlings of the world get them, but you keep plugging away and keep writing your next book when you get the time.
 

Brian P. White

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I completely understand and thank you for it. I prefer straightforwardness and getting to the point; I need the truth up front so I know what to work with--which I'm sure is antithetical for an aspiring fiction writer! lol

Since April 2010, I've made 140 inquiries and received 63 rejections. I know the only way to fail is to give up, so I'm going to keep at it--I'm GOING to get published! I wish I had the time (and attention span) to learn how to do this all right, but I'm doing what I can with what I have. Your insights and experiences greatly help me with that.

So, again, thank you all!
 
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