S.T. Literary Agency / Stylus Literary Agency

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

D.J.

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Ad, I'm sure you will help others by your post. I narrowly escaped their clutches myself. Thanks in huge part to this board. Now, at least you know that you are not alone. It's just a shame they can't be stopped. I know that thanks to several on this board others have been, so perhaps one day...
 
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victoriastrauss

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The Stylus Zone

Submitted for your consideration...

Imagine a vast subterranean cavern. Inside, a huge, pulsing, bulbous mass lies sprawled in a pool of noxious slime. If you were actually in the cavern, instead of just imagining it, you'd need a gas mask, because the vile stench of corruption and double-dealing would overwhelm you.

Near the mass squirm four smaller masses. They're just as appalling and slimy as their parent, but they aren't amorphous blobs: all of them have a vaguely recognizable shape. One looks like a little kid. One looks like a crucifix. One looks like the Empire State Building. One looks sort of like Walt Whitman.

But wait. Suddenly the parent mass starts rippling...now it's writhing...now an enormous bulge is swelling off its side, like Mount Saint Helens just before it erupted. The bulge gets bigger...with an indescribably hideous sucking sound, it tears away and plops onto the ground. Slowly, it acquires form...flat and rectangular, with blue card stock covers and two brass brads...

Horrors! It's...it's...The Screenplay Agency!

Yes, folks, Stylus has reproduced...again. Sigh.

- Victoria
 

DaveKuzminski

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Hmmm, there's not much left unless the LAG produces its own Watchdog Syte (tm) in order to give itself recommended status!



Watchdog Syte is an unregistered trademark belonging to David L. Kuzminski and Preditors & Editors (tm). (So there, Bouncin' Bobby, don't even think of using that one.)
 

MadScientistMatt

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Nah... they could form a complete, vertically integrated scam service, providing all you rip-off needs!

Start with a website dedicated to spewing bad advice to authors, along the lines of PublishAmerica's Authorsmarket.

Then steer them to a display site where they pay to have samples of their work displayed where agents can supposedly find them.

Then have one of their scam agencies find the authors and offer a fee-charging contract.

Next, steer them toward rip-off editing and critiquing services.

Once the manuscript is ready, send it to a vanity publisher.

Then once the author has a garage full of books, recommend a publicity service!

Meeting all your money-wasting needs!
 

DaveKuzminski

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They already have the rip-off editing and critique service offered along with publicity. If I'm not mistaken, they already have their own vanity publishing house, too.

Heck, if Bouncin' Bobby had been smart about this, he would have made each service a specialized business so they could send writers back and forth a few times before pronouncing the manuscript ready. Then after some fake subs to real publishers, they could recommend their vanity service, their distribution service, and promotion service. Bobby, I told you before I could design a better scam than you. Just don't believe me, do you?
 

victoriastrauss

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DaveKuzminski said:
Heck, if Bouncin' Bobby had been smart about this, he would have made each service a specialized business so they could send writers back and forth a few times before pronouncing the manuscript ready. Then after some fake subs to real publishers, they could recommend their vanity service, their distribution service, and promotion service.
But that would be way too much trouble, Dave! Because then they'd have to use a custom approach for each writer. This way they can do the boiler-room thing, where everyone gets identical treatment. It saves on time and staff.

My theory is that there's really just four people running the entire empire--Fletch, Jennifer, Georgina/Sherry/Jill, and Mark Bredt.

- Victoria
 

DaveKuzminski

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I would have guessed three. Four would lead to factions forming that would turn on each other and split the scam apart. Also, it's easier to keep control with only three especially when you also have to participate in the victimizing. Those things take time. It also reduces the odds that someone will pull a Desert Rose on you and become your competition.

I'm surprised that Bouncin' Bobby hasn't taken another page from the PA book by hiring temps.
 

victoriastrauss

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Question: what do you do when your literary agency has never sold a book, and you desperately need/want something approximating a track record?

Answer: YOU BUY ONE!!!

'Twill be interesting to see if any of the Stylus clones announces a "sale" in the near future.

I can just imagine the kind of publishers that might respond to such a solicitation. Maybe we should drop a note to C. Lee Nunn.

- Victoria
 

Dhewco

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I bet the Agency's clients that are fronting the bill.

I can see it now, "ASAP publishing agrees to publish the work if you pay them 2500 dollars. This isn't vanity publishing, it's something new and fascinating. You must join this new opportunity!"


LOL, I bet I'm close.


David
 

James D. Macdonald

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I guess his last ad didn't get any takers.

Here's the old ad, from this September:

http://www.publishersmarketplace.com/cgi-bin/displayJob.pl?job_no=1521

"Copublishing addresses reducing your risk as a publisher. We have authors that desire to avoiding the self-publishing stigma and wish to work with a qualified publisher.

"Furthermore, we have determined that they have the quality and the money to match their desires."

(Emphasis mine.)

Now he says:

Our 'out-of-the-box' thinking literary agency is willing to assist you with printing costs or publicity costs up to $2500* per book to publish and promote our authors' work.

That would be the out of the Cracker Jack box, mind you.

Now we know that Bobby hasn't sold any books to date. His only income has been from his hopeful authors. I'm willing to bet that the $2,500 is coming straight from the authors' pockets, not from his.

If Bobby gets any takers, that is. (And, Bobby, we're prepared to laugh at the publishers you dredge up, too. If you want I can save you some time and give you the addresses of American Book Publishing Group and Trident Media of Washington, D.C. right now.)
Please email me and let me know what kind of manuscript you'd LOVE TO SEE....

I can answer that for you, Bobby. A well-written book that's likely to find a wide readership. Want to know what genres specific publishers are looking for? Get a copy of Writers Market. I bet the bookstores in Boca Raton either have 'em or can order 'em.


If you have any well-written books that random strangers might want to read ... hey, guy, want to hear something radical? A whole new paradigm? The publisher will pay you!

Last spring Bobby said:
At this time the process that Ms. Strauss decries as a foul scam has 68 manuscripts under request by publishers, 3 book contracts in negotiation, and 3 movie options in various stages of negotiation.
Now, in his latest ad at Pubishers Market, Bobby says:

I have 3 of these in early stages as we speak, and I'm only doing 12 next year, so only 9 are left.

What happened to the 68 manuscripts you had "under request"? Did they all fall through? Oh, Bob, I'm sorry to hear that.

Are the "3 book contracts in negotiation" the same as the "3 of these in early stages as we speak"? Nothing's changed from 4/22 to date? Say it's not so!


Joint Venture Publisher Wanted: =========================== Our 'out-of-the-box' thinking literary agency is willing to assist you with printing costs or publicity costs up to $2500* per book to publish and promote our authors' work. What? Huh? A Literary Agency pays $2500? To a publisher? Did I just read that correctly? ==================================== A literary agent wants to partner with a publisher and pay money on the author's behalf?!?. .. wait a minute.. ... what is this? it's not self-publishing..it's not vanity either.. what is this?

Ok, here's the deal, by putting my money where it counts, SELLING BOOKS, the publisher wins, the author wins, and my agency wins. I call it 'priming the pump', it's a simple concept really, and I wonder why no one has thought of it before. Put yourself in my agent shoes for a minute. I could pay an employee-agent $5,000 per month to sling manuscripts at the publishing community with only sporadic results, AND the negotiation is adversarial. However, if I can put that same money behind a book that I believe in, well, that creates a serious win-win-win for the author, the publisher, and our agency.
 

James D. Macdonald

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I could pay an employee-agent $5,000 per month to sling manuscripts at the publishing community with only sporadic results, AND the negotiation is adversarial.

M'boy, didn't anyone explain it to you? Agents work on commission. If that employee-agent wants $5,000/month he's going to have to sign $33,333 worth of contracts that month. (Not at all impossible, especially if you have "depth off the bench" as you like to put it.) If he doesn't sell books, he doesn't get the commisssions, he gets a job in some other field. Really.

Meanwhile:



And, I Guarantee the Quality and Commercial Viability. I believe in these books and authors. ================================================ I'm guaranteeing it with my money, aren't I? Every book that I would support has been formally edited and is ready to go. Take a look at these sample bios and books.

* * * * * . The author is a Fellow of the Royal Colleges of Physicians of Edinburgh, and of Canada, and a Member of the American Societies of Hematology, Clinical Oncology, Blood and Marrow Transplantation and the International Society for Cellular Therapy. For the year 2004-5 he was a scientific advisor to the Cancer Vaccine Consortium. He was a past recipient of the Elmore Research Scholarship of the University of Cambridge. * * *

* * * * The author was born in Baltimore, Maryland and is a Professor at a major university. She is an author and editor of 16 books and 12 proceedings and monographs. She has written 50 chapters and 100 papers, and given more than 150 presentations nationwide. She has graduate degrees in Music, Science, and Education. She and her husband are now living in the British Virgin Islands, where her time is spent sailing and writing. She has published scientific articles and written more than a hundred concert reviews as a freelance music critic. * * *

* * * * * The author is a retired veterinarian living in Bethlehem, South Africa. He was in rural private practice in various towns before settling down in Bethlehem where he practiced for 35 years. For ten years or more he had a monthly column in “Veterinary News”. He also was the script-writer for the SuperSport TV series The ABC of Golf. * * *

* * * * * The author has sold 4,000 of his motivational and self-help books through seminars and tradeshows abroad. The author is actively promoting his work in the UK and is looking for a partner to expand his work into the US. He will support sales with extensive travel and personal promotion. * * *

* * * * * This author has a definitive book on the people and history of Poland. According to the 2000 Census there are at least 10 million Polish-Americans in the US. We are test marketing to Polish-American clubs as we speak.

What do I notice about this?

In the cases where Fletcher gives the qualifications of the writer, he doesn't mention what the book may be about. In the case where he mentions what the book is about (a definitive history of Poland!), he doesn't mention the author's qualifications.

For all we know the books those eminent folks are hoping Bobby will sell are children's books: The Adventures of Patsy the Poodle or some such thing. Or perhaps a 16,000 line epic in heroic couplets on the discovery of lactose, or a book proving beyond the shadow of a doubt that the works attributed to William Shakespeare were really written by William McGonagall. Who knows what pigs may be lurking in those pokes?

Isn't it odd that he didn't team the author with the book?

Qualifications don't make a book: The slush pile is full of unreadable manuscripts by PhDs.

Alas, the world is full of venal "publishers" who only ask that the check clears.

(Hey, Bobby, did you check with Doyle Publishing? You know, the guys who did Paul Anderson's books? I bet they'd take this deal. How about Lighthouse Press? Weren't they signing some kind of agreement with you? This deal was exactly the sort of agreement I expected to see. How about Tree of Life? I thought that you and the publisher were pals.)
 

victoriastrauss

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What I find interesting about the author list is that it demonstrates that you don't have to be an ignorant, uneducated dummy to fall for a literary scam. Not that this has to be demonstrated to me--I hear every day from smart people who've gotten entangled in such schemes--but that's the popular view of writers who get scammed, and I often get tired of pointing out that it's false.

- Victoria
 

No Complaints

Writers Dissatisfied With Stylus

I know this posting will seem out of place on a message board that has nothing nice to say about the Stylus Literary Agency, but I must break the chain of complaints and voice my satisfaction with the way they have treated me since May of this year. Other than a small critique fee I would have had to pay for even if I had gone to a critique service outside of the one Stylus referred me to (which was my choice), I was never asked to pay for anything else. Georgina has been kind and understanding, and her response to my numerous e-mails has always been quick.

I don't feel Stylus is trying to get rich by charging me $25 for a critique that I was very much pleased with. I believe they want to make money by helping a first time author get published. I am happy to have found Stylus. Finding an agent for representation is difficult for an unpublished writer. Unless they give me reason to be dissatisfied, I will continue to have Stylus represent my work and find a place for it. For the most part, I think that getting published has alot to do with how good the writer is.
 
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DaveKuzminski

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How about sharing the critique with us? I'd really like to see one of their critiques.
 
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D.J.

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No Complaints, I had an offer for a contract from them too. They said to ask any questions, so I did. I'm still waiting on a response for months now. I sent my questions several ways so they would have no excuse of not getting them.
It sounds like they have come down on their asking price for a critique. This is probably due to more people finding out about them.
This is now November, so what have they done so far towards helping you professionally in these 6 months? Well, other than taking your money for a critique? Then I don't know if that helped you professionally or not. Please tell...
 

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The Missing Post

DirtyChef said:

"William Powell The Road to Hebron The Lighthouse Press "

I can confirm this book was never printed or sold. The author recognises great similarities between his own experiences and many others posted on this forum. The thing that started the warning bells was when they stopped being careful with their form replies, and sent him word-for-word duplicate emails they'd sent him previously. He sent back a word for word duplicate of his own response, and they were too dumb to spot it.

Then their emails started pushing an editing service, and it all looked like a scheme to separate mugs from their cash. He writes 'After all, my monstrous ego knows my stuff doesn't need editing - anyone who thinks otherwise is clearly not a bona fide Agent.'

Lighthouse Press? Well yes, there was apparent interest there. RF wrote: 'Lighthouse looks like they can't follow through economically. I'm advising that we move on. I talked to the owner yesterday and he's looking for
cash.. damn.'

18 months on and Lighthouse are still going, but haven't remembered the book. RF doesn't appear to have reminded them it was once something they were dead keen on. Shame he can't stretch himself just a teensy bit - maybe it's easier making money through the other business interests
 

KatherineB

Children's Literary Agency has identical authors....

I got an email from Sherry Fine of Children's Literary Agency describing her roster of authors.... it corresponds, WORD FOR WORD, to Fletcher's description of his authors, as quoted on this thread by James McDonald.
She explains her vagueness by writing:

"We DO NOT give out names or contact information except to qualified buyers.
(If you'll think about it, if you were one of our authors, you'd feel the
same way. There are a lot of wierdos on the Internet. Sometimes we think
that there is a higher incidence of psychosis among writers than any other
occupation.)"

Yes apparently there are a lot of wierdos, but that's a very polite way of putting it.

Thanks to everyone here, I only wasted time with them, not money. But there's no doubt about it. Sherry Fine & Children's Literary Agency and Fletcher's ST Literary Agency are one and the same.
 

Donna Pudick

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ST/Stylus Literary Agency

Author intake form? What the hell is that? Fourteen dollar submittal fee? Even Fed Ex charges a third of that for a normal sized ms. A submittal to a publisher takes one or two phone calls to the right editor at the right p-co. Efficiently run agencys have very little overhead, as long as they handle only what they can afford in a fiscal year.