S.T. Literary Agency / Stylus Literary Agency

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


Proposed grading system?

Victoria, have you any suggestions for a rating system for agencies and agents?


Re: Proposed grading system?

>> Victoria, have you any suggestions for a rating system for agencies and agents?<<

I'm not really comfortable with this idea. One might possibly be able to come up with a way of assessing the prestige of the agent's track record, based on things like number of sales, publishers sold to, and average advance--but it'd have to be done in a way that took into account a lot of other factors, like the size of the agent's client list (10 sales a year for an agency with 30 clients is fine, but for an agency with 150 clients it's poor) and the importance of specialties (a top-ranked agent for commercial women's fiction might be a really bad choice for a fantasy author).

Plus, there are so many other things that factor into an agent's performance, like responsiveness, or office efficiency, or even personality, that are really hard to assess, not only because you don't have access to all this info but because people's preferences vary. Some people want an agent who will call them every week. Some people don't. Some people want an agent who will actively guide their career. Some people want to be left alone. So much of what goes into making an agent choice is subjective.

Another problem (assuming that any complaints received about the agent would figure into the rating) is the serendipitous nature of complaint-collecting. We have to depend on the complainants to come to us. We can't be sure they will, even where there's a substantial problem. Or if they do, how widespread is the problem? Two serious complaints may indicate a problem agency, or they may be a fluke. It's hard to see how a rating system could really be reliable under these circumstances.

I think it makes more sense simply to provide the information we have, and let writers make their own decisions.

- Victoria


Re: Proposed grading system?

instead of a rating system, how about a check list?

for ex,

Large Track list (100+ sales)
Mid-Size Track list (25+ sales)
Small Track list

number of clients to sales ratio for a given year.

Fees: Upfront, reading, or copying?

of course, numbers could change. Ease of query, length of time, etc.


cehck list

I'm not sure how good that would necessarily do either. An agency that sells 100 scripts a year (hypothetically), may only deal with comedies.

Giving out too much infomation isn't going to help people, and it may end up angering the agents. Just point out people who are shady and crooks, and let the invidividuals writers make up their minds.

WHat if your rating system offends some very powerful agents? Will you be sued for publishing info that affects your business?

Most places that publish lists or agents or producers don't recommend anyone, they leave it up to the individual writers to decide who to contact!



If you actually write a rating system that recommends an agent, and someone is extremely dissasified with that agent, you may leave yourself open to a lawsuit. On the www.wga.org's website, they are very clear not to actually recommend an agent.


Sneaky site

Just came across this while seeking an agent URL. When you reach the page, scroll down to any of the, ahem, agent lists on the left side and select one. No matter which type of agent you choose, the box on the right with the recommended agent for that category will open a window to ST.



Don't bother with most online sources of agents. Generally, you need a book, though sites like Done Deal, the WGA, a few other professional sites are good.

Your typical site will give you losts of "agents" in some palce out in the middle of the country, where you'll run disportionately into the Melanie types, or into simple, plain, inept types.


Re: agents

lol justino...

you're preaching to the choir. dave runs P&E


Re: Site URL

Good gad. It's not just the links to ST. This site has a truly astounding amount of misinformation.

- Victoria


Re: Site URL

That's okay. Could be that the icon next to my name doesn't show up in the right size. I probably listed it in the wrong block.



Here is the misinformation I found.

"Many literary agents take electronic submissions"

You do not submit a screenplay or a manuscript via email!

"Sending scripts to production companies is a waste of time"

THat's why you've called the prodco to see if they are accepting queries, or you've just queried them. If they are accepting submissions and are interested in your project, they'll ask you to mail the screenplay. That's not a waste of time.

"A literary agent needs to be WGA signatory"

I don't see how this is true for novelists. I'm a screenwrtier and while I am shopping around for WGA signatory agents, I would think that novelists would be shopping around for AAR signatory (or however you call them).

"Screenplay producers are constantly on the lookout for fresh and unique scripts that will move a theatre and enthrall an audience."

Yes and no. A lot of movies were originally books, novels, cartoons, or comic books. In these cases a screenwriter is hired to write! Spec scripts are those thought up of by a screenwriter independantly and then put out by the writer and/or his agent on the market.

"In fact, some book agents will not open submissions sent through postal mail."

Sure. These are agents looking to polish your manuscript. Those in house "editing services:

ST Did Me Right

ST Comments I love it!

You know . . .

I would really like to know how succesful any of you whinning babies are at actually MAKING A LIVING at writing anything . . .because, unless you are (and by inference of participating in this discussion - using an agent), you aren't qualified to give one wit of an asses opinion about making a living as a writer. That's MAKING a LIVING, not actually writing a book.

First, I personally make a good living as an author, it's all I do and I have more than a handful of books to prove it. Secondly, this vitriolic discourse here and elsewhere on the web regarding ST is irrelevant and I love it. Here is why.

First, I am an ST client and I am very happy with ST.

These negative comments are essentially sour grapes because ST has provided a way to by-pass the traditional staid foo-foo NY literary agency "let your manuscript languish until someone asks for it" crap. I am not famous, but I do make a decent living from my writing.

The fact is, and I am very qualified to state this, the traditional agency representation process disgusts me - as it should you all too. All sorts of agencies showed up at my door when I sold my first 10,000 books . . .didn't need any of them by then . . .

ST provided me with the two things I needed to get out and promote my own work - a web site and letter of representation. That's all I wanted, and needed, because what I am most, that most of you are not, is a businessman. Writing a book is fifty percent of the work, selling it the other 50%. The fact is that most of you so-called writers have no concept of selling your own art . . .you are too good for that kind of "in the trenches" dedication. Oh, I understand, "you have an agent." right . . .what a leech

Mr. Macdonald, you're a teacher, do you teach alternative marketing for writers? Using the Internet and so on? Independant publishing and real-world agency representation expectations? (note: I do not know Mr. Macdonald or of Viable Paradise, no disrespect, this is rhetorical.)

In fact, what's the difference between a writer paying for a class to learn how to market their work and paying a company like ST to actually do much of the same thing? Different purposes, same result.

Cluster functioning is what the traditional publishing industry is all about . . . doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results . . .

The fact is that majority of you wouldn't know how to hustle yourselves out of a wet paper bag . . .ST does. Where people make the mistake with their assumptions about ST is that they kid themselves about how much work ST will do for you and how much work remains for you to do for yourself. My books sell through my (ST) websites, go see how much it cost to build and administer your own web site . . oh, I see, that's not how it is "traditionally" done. Well, while you are languishing in traditionalism, I am selling books.

Most of you are simply parroting the (agency) crap that sustains the "old-ways" of doing things - this is the 21st century and most agencies are like doctors that don't accept acupuncture, or lawyers that won't use email . . .

Your bitching about ST is only a form of defense about an agency system that is broke . . .

I like ST because they are no nonsense and business oriented. I wish I didn't need a letter of representation at all to get a publisher to look at my work, or even a web site . . but some battles are best left unfought . . .because they are uneconomical to fight - remember, I am in business first, author second.

Ironically, there was an article recently in the WSJ that talks one man's difficulties dealing with the traditional publishing world and how he self published himself into a best seller.

ST offers me and their clients a clear limit of expense and none of the vagary of waiting to hear from an agent. While your manuscript is passively languishing on the floor of some agent's office in NYC, mine are active and in constant motion - and are always in a constant state of consideration by somebody. And that somebody, is somebody that can write checks, not somebody like an agent who knows somebody that knows somebody and name-dropping so on . . .

Finally, since I am a put up or shut up kind of person, if any of you wanna be authors wants some serious and genuine (no charge) advice on what it takes to be successful at writing, at least from the perspective of accomplishing what I have, you can call me directly . . .Houston time, 713.937.4125.

So, sfsassenach, Queen U, smiley and others here, tell us what kind of success you have had with agencies and, more importantly, why not be candid about what kind of failures or frustrations you have had.

Paul Anderson


Re: ST Comments I love it!

Hi Paul, just a few questions for you. Actually just one, now that I think of it.

First, I personally make a good living as an author, it's all I do and I have more than a handful of books to prove it.

Would you mind listing a few of these books? Liking to do research, I tend to fact check, and I would like to check the facts, if you will. You mention that selling your art is 50% of writing, then you probably wouldn't mind sharing the titles of your works. You might even sell a few through mentioning them here.

I sincerely wait for your reply.



Re: ST Comments I love it!

I will point out that I find it very interesting that I receive very few sour grapes letters from writers who have dealt with legitimate agents who have actually accomplished sales to royalty-paying publishers for many of their clients. On the other hand, I receive many such letters containing complaints from writers who have dealt with ST, Janet Kay, and others who charge writers upfront in one form or another and you appear to be the only writer who claims success with one of them. Sounds to me like you are apparently the only exception to the statistics or you are a troll.

So, Mr. Paul Anderson, what books of yours have sold that many copies? I'm interested in knowing the titles, ISBNs, publisher's name, and so forth.

aka eraser

Re: ST Comments I love it!

I have a hunch we shouldn't be holding our breath for the info.


Re: ST Comments I love it!

Mr. Anderson has a teeny conflict of interest he's not disclosing...he's an associate of Robert Fletcher, one of the people who runs ST.

Note he never actually says that ST has sold a book for him. Mr. Anderson is a self-published author whose career pre-dates ST's 2001 retooling into a fee-charging agency. Here's his latest book: www.customer3.com/custome...-book.html

- Victoria


Re: ST Comments I love it!

For shame! I never would have suspected such chichanery out of an author with 10,000 sales in non-fiction.

I also noticed that you described yourself as a leading researcher, writer, futurist, and author. Duh, aren't writer and author redundant in this instance? I'd hate to see what you concocted for the corporate world you're selling to. Do any of them ask what degrees you possess? After all, anyone can self-proclaim themselves to be a leading researcher and lots of gypsies claim to be futurists. Then again, maybe your clients aren't bright enough to distinguish your buzz words and predictions from those that Dogbert uses.

So, that brings us to this. Where's your expertise in fiction? Telling us about ST? If so, it's not good enough. Poor plot, a total lack of descriptive scenes, one-dimensional characterization, pitiful ending. With writing like that, it's no wonder all those other agencies passed you over.

By the way, if you were so successful and didn't need those other agencies, then what on earth did you need ST for? I ask because I'll bet that you haven't sold nearly as many from what they've done for you than what you did on your own.

James D Macdonald

Re: ST Comments I love it!

I make a living as a writer.

Writing is what I do, except for the one week a year when I teach writing.

(That's writing, not whatever kind of internet marketing the latest fad might be. If you haven't written a good book all the marketing in the world won't sell it.)

Mr. Anderson, let's see if I have this straight: You've self-published a series of books on How To Be a Telemarketer? Is that right?

And, since Victoria tells me you're a partner of some kind in the ST agency, maybe you can tell me the title/author/publisher of one book (just one!) that ST has sold to a legitimate publisher? Even better if ST sold a book for a first time author.



Most people by novels at brick and mortar retailers, at Wal Mart, etc. People are more willing to buy the books of authors they know (like Steven King).

You need a reputable agent in order to get sales at major publishing houses.

Aslo, since many movies were orginally books, a good agent can get you a deal there as well. Or perhaps a studio, if our book sold well, would decide to contact you via your agent, or entertainment attorney.

I'm a screenwriter, and I can say that there is no way to submit to a studio, or to celebrity attached production companies without a good agent. There are a few prodcos that accept submissions without an agent, for these the writer is much better querying them himself than relying on a scam agent that has a poor reputation.


shakes head

The sad state of the world sometimes makes me ill---I see so many writers who dream of being published get hit by scam after scam--

And yes, I have an agent, a good one. I am not self published, and no do not have a book out yet. But several top publishers are looking at a requested MS. Perhaps you need to understand how the book got requested.

My AGENT, not me, sent out query letters and made phone calls, and did the foot work to get these publishers to ask for the book. He made follow up calls, and when he failed with one editor he went on to the next.

He has a good track record and a good client list--Know John DeLancie & Leonard Nimoy (Alien Voices), and Peter David--well small fish me S.R.Howen is listed there with them. Sheesh--you make the agent world sound as bad as PA makes publishers sound.

Sad very Sad that you have to come and say we are all wanna be's and make it sound as if we are just bottom feeders.

I work as an editor.



Re: ST Comments I love it!

Paul Anderson, you are a miserable pismire, and a liar, and not nearly as literate as you ought to be if you're going to strut the way you do. "Qualified to give one wit of an asses opinion"? Man, you've got to keep better track of your words.

Victoria's outed you. You're an associate of the crooks who run the S. T. Literary Agency, formerly Sydra Technique, which suggests unpleasant things about you. You're self-published, which suggests unpleasant things about your "agents". Your books have received some of the most flatly deprecatory Amazon reviews I've ever seen, and the Amazon aftermarket prices for them range all the way from forty cents to a buck fifty-seven.

According to your own website, your latest book, The Future of Customer Service, "...is now available for your marketing and promotional use." The site goes on:<blockquote>INCLUDED WITH YOUR ORDER:<blockquote>•Custom imprinted cover with “Courtesy of your company name”.
•Custom Cover printed in company logo color.
•Two (2) page executive introduction for your company.
•Back cover url direct and sponsor note.</blockquote>Custom chapters and papers available.
</blockquote>Which is to say, it's one of those corporate giveaways nobody ever reads. You sure are the big cheese, you betcha.

You came here to tell promotional lies on behalf of ST, which as Sydra Technique has a long history as a ripoff operation. I'm not saying they couldn't sell a literary property if someone held a gun to their heads, but I'm thinking it real loud. Sydra's been defrauding would-be authors for years, taking in quite substantial amounts of money but racking up few or no real sales.

I'll give you this much: you're a sleek liar. "What's the difference," you ask,<blockquote>"between a writer paying for a class to learn how to market their work and paying a company like ST to actually do much of the same thing? Different purposes, same result."</blockquote>It could almost sound reasonable. It's nothing of the sort. First, no honest agent works that way. Second, a class in "marketing your work" wouldn't turn anyone into an agent. Third, marketing techniques aren't what an author needs from an agent, nor what an agent employs on an author's behalf. Fourth, someone who pays to take a class has a fighting chance of being able to tell whether the lesson is pure gobbledegook. More to the point, he can tell whether the teacher shows up or not.

Some general remarks:

An author never sees an agent work. On any given day, an agent might be working their tail off, or they might be doing nothing. From the author's point of view, those days would look identical. I've known agents -- the real kind, not the ST kind -- to work long and hard trying to sell a book that, in the end, just didn't sell. What they took back to their client was the same thing a scam agent would tell their clients: "I've sent it out to this, that, and the other publisher. They didn't want it." In both cases, the author's disappointed. So is the real agent, because he's out all that work and he hasn't made a penny off it.

This is, by the way, one of the things that keeps honest agents honest about their assessments of a book's chances: the agent takes the hit along with the author. If you've been rejected by an agency, it's not necessarily because they think you're without talent, or they hated your book. Sometimes it means they don't handle that kind of book. More often, it means they're sufficiently uncertain about the book's commercial prospects that they don't want to risk the investment of time and effort they'd put into trying to sell it.

But a scam agent is under no such constraints, because the author is doing the paying, and the author will pay whether or not the book sells. I never cease to be amazed at vanity publishers and scam agents who profess their big-hearted willingness to "take a chance" on unknown writers. The one thing these guys aren't doing, ever, is taking a chance. Real agents and real publishers take chances all the time.

A lot of work goes into a real agent placing a book with a real publisher, but it doesn't take a lot of work to not-sell one. Aspiring authors tend to see agenting solely in terms of selling their books, because that's the breakthrough they're currently focused on, but a great deal of a real agent's daily work is done on behalf of books and authors that are already under contract. A book that doesn't sell is ever so much less trouble by comparison, aside from the "not getting paid" part; and scam agents have figured out how to get past that little catch.

I've read slush. I've seen roughly two-point-five bazillion submissions from scam agents. Of course, those are the ones who bother to submit the manuscript. They could just as well skip that stage with some of their clients' manuscripts. They know the things aren't going to sell, or would if they read them. Maybe they do read them. You couldn't prove it by the people who open the packages at the other end.

The inexperienced or self-made scam agents put all kinds of goofy stuff into their submissions -- marketing plans, author photos, cover suggestions, sales copy. So do the ones who've had the idea of selling additional "marketing services" to their clients. But most long-term pro scammers' submissions are utterly perfunctory. All that other marketing claptrap means you have to actually do something. With straight submissions, you just mail 'em out and wait for the rejections. It gives the best rate of return for the amount of work involved.

Mind you, auxiliary "marketing services" might be profitable if what they were actually selling people were instructions on how to do this marketing themselves. The outfit still wouldn't be obliged to do any real work for their clients. In fact, what they'd have would be yetanother variant in the "Make Money Fast" class of scams: making money by selling the public bogus or unworkable or unprofitable schemes for making money.

I'm just sayin'.


Re: S.T. Literary Agency

Ah SCREW!!!>: see nopw I feel even worse, I'm with S.T Literary too. I was hoping I wouldn't find any bad reports about them, I had to go looking didn't I? Anyway Now I feel like crap, Okay so what you're saying is that I lost 129.00 okay I can deal with that I've lost more than that before. thanks so much for the info I now know where to go from here.

James D Macdonald

Re: S.T. Literary Agency

Sorry about that, Phoenix. Yeah, you lost a hundred twenty-nine bucks. Chalk it up to experience.

What are other possibilities? In regards to what? If it's in regards to your writing, well, two pronged attack: First, start sending out your manuscript to publishers who are likely to buy it. (Don't bother sending it to non-traditional publishers.) Second, start trying to get a real agent. Start <a href="http://www.aar-online.org/" target="_new">here</a>.

If anyone, publisher, agent, anyone, asks you for money, run away. Money flows toward the author.