S.T. Literary Agency / Stylus Literary Agency

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

James D Macdonald

Re: Robert Fletcher, President, ST Literary Agency

Where to start, where to start?

Hi, Robert. Good to see you back. Sell any books lately? To anyone?

I certainly challenge any detractors to come out from under their cloaks of emails and post their names and phone numbers and addresses.

That's my real name over there to the left; since your pal Paul Anderson (or someone claiming to be him) emailed me today, I assume that you won't have any trouble finding me. I'm listed in the phone book.

I absolutely guarantee the lawsuits are going to fly.. let's see who cares to play.

Come off it, Robert. You aren't going to sue anyone. See, there's this little thing called "discovery," and you don't have the cojones to get near that "fire."

By the way, have you ever sold a book to a publisher? Any book? Any publisher?

Because we have decide to help new and unpublished authors, we have the audacity to cover our admin costs ($129) and you wouldn't believe the ire we have raised in the industry.

Can you name a new (and they continue to be unpublished, right?) author you've "helped"? Tell you how real agents cover their costs, Robert: They sell books to publishers. That's how legitimate agents make their money. You haven't raised ire: You've garnered contempt. What you're doing isn't audacious -- hundreds of bottom-feeding scam agents do the same thing every day.

First i'm going to give you some references from good clients.

Okay, let's see what you've got. Show me some sales.

Michael Sears ... We don't have a sale yet...


Strike one! Let's see how the next one goes.

Rev. Amy Snow, MA ... We don't have a sale yet...


Strike two!

<blockquote>Carl Bell - STL Author</blockquote>

Did Carl sell something? No? If he did you'd think he'd mention a sale, wouldn't you? Ball one.

<blockquote>I look
forward to the day when I make that first sale ... Gary Dover

That's a clean miss. Three strikes, yer out. Didn't you have even one author who sold something thanks to you? It looks to me like all four of those guys wasted their $129 (plus whatever else you charge ... it isn't just $129, is it, Robert?).

(Shall we talk, briefly, about that "Online Pitch Page" that these guys do mention? If there were a contest for the most useless thing that an author could have in his quest to sell a book to a traditional publisher, an Online Pitch Page would take second place. Why second place, you might ask? Because it's such a useless thing.)

Let's see what your next point is ... after you've proved out of your own mouth that you haven't managed to sell anything for any new writers.

Lighthouse Press is "in the process of formalizing a relationship with" y'all. Whatever that means. (I have my suspicions ....)

Lighthouse Press has its mailing address in Deerfield Beach, Florida. ST Literary is located in Boca Raton, Florida. Boca Raton is five miles by road from Deerfield Beach. How about that?

Lighthouse appears to be a miniscule local press; they boast of getting books into local bookstores. I imagine that means that if you aren't living in the Boca Raton area, you won't see your book on the shelves anywhere. They also boast that their books are available via Amazon and BN.com. Big whoop-ti-doo. So does PublishAmerica. So does every two-bit vanity PoD. No prize for that.

"While we have published authors with established credentials, generally our authors have built their reputations through The Lighthouse Press," says Lighthouse on their web page. This may not be the coup that you're building it up to be, Robert.

"All of our titles are available through Ingram and Baker & Taylor," Lighthouse says in the letter you quote here, which is the very minimum definition of "available for sale." Color me unimpressed. And yet ... you haven't even managed to sell a book to them. Oh, Robert, I'd weep for you if I weren't laughing so hard.

Now, let's look at Paul Anderson's books. Paul is a partner in your business, isn't he, Robert?

Let's see if I understood what you said here:

<blockquote>We've been incorporated since early 2003. I took over the company from a prior owner (SYDRA) and changed the way it did business.</blockquote>

Here's Paul's list of books, as you've given 'em:

<blockquote>A Call From the 21st Century, F Ed., ISBN 0-9653359-0-9</blockquote>

Doyle Publishing Company; (1997). A pay-to-publish place, before you took over Sydra. Not impressive, and not yours.

<blockquote>The Executive’s Guide to Customer Relationship Management ISBN 0-9653359-5-X</blockquote>

Not listed at Amazon. Not listed at BN.com. Not found at bookfinder. com.

<blockquote>The Executive’s Guide to Customer Relationship Management, SBC Special Edition, ISBN 0-9653359-5-X</blockquote>

Not found, as above. This is a special-order, small run, pay-to-publish deal for a corporate customer, isn't it?

<blockquote>The Demand Generation, Return on Relationships, F Ed., ISBN 0-9653359-6-8</blockquote>

Doyle Publishing, 2001. Pay-to-publish, and two years before you took over Sydra. How were you involved in selling this book? Why was an agent needed at all? All Doyle Publishing asks is that the check clears, right?

<blockquote>The Demand Generation, Customer Managed Relationships, Siemens Ed., ISBN 0-9653359-6-8</blockquote>

Doyle Publishing, 2001. Same as above.

<blockquote>The Demand Generation, Return on Loyalty, Avaya Ed., ISBN 0-9653359-6-8</blockquote>

Same as the last one. Doyle Publishing, 2001.

<blockquote>The Digital Call Center, Gateway to Customer Intimacy, ISBN 0-9653359-1-7</blockquote>

Doyle Publishing, 1999. Again, this was pay-to-publish, and before you took over ST. Why do you want credit for this book?

<blockquote>Telecommunications, (ed. Bayche), ISBN 0-9704287-4-X</blockquote>

HIMSS, 2001. Anderson appears to be one contributor to a compilation published by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society. Exactly how an agent would be involved in this is obscure to me, and what role you specifically played, given the 2001 publication date, is likewise obscure.

<blockquote>The Future of Customer Service, pub. date May 2004 ISBN 0-96553-x-x</blockquote>

That isn't an ISBN, and the title isn't listed at Amazon or Barnes&Noble. The first few numbers of that partial ISBN tell me that it's Doyle Publishing again.

<blockquote>Shihan Te, The Bunkai of Karate Kata ISBN 1-886969-84-4</blockquote>

The correct ISBN is 1-886969-88-4. YMAA Publication Center, 2002. Again, before you took over ST if I'm to believe what you posted above. A small press specializing in oriental martial arts. No indication that an agent is required.

<blockquote>Did that look real, or do the cynical think I made all that up...</blockquote>

It didn't look particularly real, Robert. It looks a lot like No Sales. I also note that among those ten titles, two share one ISBN and three share another. That looks ever-so "made up" to me.


You know, that was one of Newsflash's favorite words too.

Now that "deal memo." You're making a deal with a guy who just found out that his own catalog deadline was the end of that same week? No publisher mentioned, no title mentioned, no author mentioned.... tell you what, come back when the book comes out, okay? Until then I'm sure you'll forgive me if I don't believe you. But let's say that's a real deal that you've got lined up. He's offering a percentage of net and you're accepting that? Man, you let that publisher screw you, and screw your author, big time.

<blockquote>We've seen exising clients that have paid their $129 and they are satisfied enough to be featured as a reference.</blockquote>

Paid $129 (or more, right, Robert? How much more?) and don't have a single sale to show among them. Poor naive newbie authors!

<blockquote>We've got a publisher that will tell you we are certainly doing deals and are real.</blockquote>

You mean Lighthouse? That isn't a small press, it's a miniature local press. Is he your golfing buddy? And why hasn't he bought a book from you yet?

Or do you mean that "deal memo," where some guy high-pressured you into taking a bad deal (Royalties based on net? Hoo-hah!) by telling you that you had Act Now to get into the catalog by the end of the week? You're a super-deluxe businessman, Robert? I've seen hamsters who were tougher negotiators.

Here's something for every writer to understand down to the core of his soul: If you can't walk into your local bookstore and find a book from a given press already on the shelf you aren't interested in publishing with that press.

<blockquote>And we've got an author with 30,000+ books sold, who absolutely will kick ass for himself and for us.</blockquote>

Is that 30,000 divided among ten titles? 3,000 copies each? Oh, man. And who's primarily published by a pay-to-play press? A guy who's your partner? And whose sales predate your takeover of Sydra? Come on, Robert, is that the best you can do?

<Blockquote>The negative comments on the web are from 1) people we didn't accept,</blockquote>

I'm not one of those people, Robert. Strike one.

<Blockquote> 2) people we fired, </blockquote>

I'm not one of those people either, Robert. Strike two.

<Blockquote>3) people that don't understand the real ins and outs of running a Literary Agency that will even work with brand new, unpublished authors.</blockquote>

I'm not one of those people either, Robert. You aren't batting too well today. Strike three. Yer out.

Here's the take-home lesson for every writer, young, old, unpublished, pro: ST Literary Agency takes your money and gives you nothing in return. You've heard the proof from Robert's own mouth.

<blockquote>We have sales...</blockquote>

Name one, Robert. I'm still waiting.

All that sending $129 (or more ... How much more, Robert?) to ST Literary gets you is your bank account $129 lower, and Robert's account $129 higher.

Real, traditional, legitimate agents are looking for promising new writers. New writers are getting legitimate agents every day. First-time writers are getting published by major traditional presses every day. All that it takes is writing a good book.

Listen up, people: Money flows toward the writer. The only place a writer signs a check is on the back.


Re: Robert Fletcher, President, ST Literary Agency

Nothing to add to Jim's comprehensive rebuttal...just raising my hand as someone who a) posts my real name and contact info; b) isn't someone who got rejected by ST; c) isn't someone who got fired by ST; d) isn't someone who's ignorant of the "real ins and outs of running a literary agency".

- Victoria


Re: Robert Fletcher, President, ST Literary Agency

Mr. Fletcher, why would anyone purchase an agency known for running a scam when it's so easy to start up a new agency without any stains on its reputation or is that just another scam?

Please notice that my real name is likewise posted. You've sent me emails before, so you know that as well.

In the meantime, your agency is remaining "not recommended" at P&E where I regularly receive emails from writers thanking me for posting that information because they saved their money from you. I'm proud of that.


Re: Robert Fletcher, President, ST Literary Agency

Who owned SYDRA? How many writers has Fletcher

Robert Neville

Re: Robert Fletcher, President, ST Literary Agency

James MacDonald you are the man!

You took Mr. Fletcher's asinine post and reduced it to the empty claptrap it is.

Please notice how Fletcher deftly sidestepped the byteaudio business, evasively claiming that "CEOs" are lawsuit targets. Yeah, right. If it weren't for ST and his other pursuits, Fletcher would be the "CEO" of a gas station, maybe.

Notice how angry and threatening he was. With his colorful past exposed to everyone, he couldn't bring a libel case before a court of kangaroos and expect to win a dime.

Notice how he sidestepped the fact of ST Literary having no legitimate sales. Notice how he neglects to mention that Paul Anderson is his business partner.

Notice how he attempts to elicit sympathy for his "employees" being hurt. The only thing that has been hurt has been his personal income.

My heart bleeds for him; Mr. Fletcher, Robert Neville is my name, I live in New York state, and it is a shame we share the same first name.


Re: Robert Fletcher, President, ST Literary Agency

:rofl :jump
An excellent post James.
Thank goodness there are people such as yourself and Victoria about who no doubt do much to stem the flow of the $129.00's +++ into the bank account of Mr Fletcher. (Sentence is too long I know, but so should Mr Fletchers' sentence be.)


Re: Robert Fletcher, President, ST Literary Agency

First blood goes to Kate Nepveu, but Red Mike gets the ears and the tail.

Dave K.: I can only think of three reasons why someone would claim to have purchased an agency that was already known far and wide as a scam operation. The first and least likely is that he's so completely clueless that he doesn't know how bad an idea it is, in which case he's not going to be much use as an agent. The second, somewhat less unlikely, is that he's a scammer himself, and is knowingly purchasing an established operation. The third, and this is the one I incline to, is that he's been part of the operation all along, and is only claiming to have recently bought into it so that he can disavow the outfit's earlier misdeeds and put up a sign saying UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT.

Mr. Fletcher: If you want to grow up to be a really good scammer --the kind that might, in a dim light, be mistaken for a legitimate agent --you'll drop that rude, bullying, hectoring tone. In this field, the only people who use that kind of language are fake agents, vanity publishers, and the minions thereof. What I know perfectly well, and (I am amused to note) you don't know at all, is that real agents never talk that way.

Now let's talk about ISBNs, and that list of books you presented that were published by your business partner, Paul Anderson.

As Jim Macdonald has pointed out, there are serious irregularities in their ISBNs. Both editions of the Executive’s Guide share the same ISBN. Even more startling, all three titles in the Demand Generation series have the same ISBN. The book on the future of customer service has a severely defective ISBN that’s a truncated version of the Doyle prefix followed by an impossible double check digit.

Real books, the kind that get warehoused by distributors and sold in bookstores, don’t share ISBNs. There are many good reasons for this, but the big one is that in sales and distribution systems, the ISBN is the book. Titles are secondary. If Paul Anderson's sold the 30K copies he claims, he didn't do it through normal distribution channels.

The other thing I’d guess, unless you’ve really screwed up the format on those ISBNs, is that Doyle Publishing is Paul Anderson’s own imprint. Why? Because the first eight digits of those ten-digit ISBNs are taken up by the publisher prefix, and the last digit of an ISBN is always a check digit mathematically generated from the preceding digits. Bowker assigns prefix lengths based on the size of the publishing operation. Doyle must be tiny, because its long prefix means it can only generate ten ISBNs, 0-9653359-0 through 0-9653359-9, and it appears that Paul Anderson’s used them all up on his own titles.

Is that your idea of impressive credentials? Pretty pathetic, guy.

James D Macdonald

Re: Robert Fletcher, President, ST Literary Agency

Doyle Publishing looks like a commercial short-run printer. I wonder if it's possible that they just buy ISBNs in blocks of ten, when they need 'em?

Kate Nepveu


HapiSofi wrote:
Bowker assigns prefix lengths based on the size of the publishing operation. Doyle must be tiny, because its long prefix means it can only generate ten ISBNs, 0-9653359-0 through 0-9653359-9, and it appears that Paul Anderson’s used them all up on his own titles.
Going slightly off-topic for a moment out of curiosity: so what would happen if Doyle, or anyone else, ran out and needed more? Do they go back and have a digit chopped off their prefix? Do they get a different, equally long, prefix?

(And are these new, the tag-lines under one's name on the left, such as "Tells it like it is"?)

[Edit: Uncle Jim and I cross-posted, it looks like, and I think his post answers my question.]

James D Macdonald


The smallest block of ISBNs you can get is ten ($225), the largest is 10,000 ($3,000) (see <a href="http://www.bowker.com/bowkerWeb/" target="_new">Bowker.com</a> for more details). I had thought of buying a block of ten and selling them off one by one on eBay, but Hapi, in private correspondence, tells me it would be Wrong.

As far as Sydra -- I seem to recall that Sydra started out as a small-but-honest agency, no fees, minor track record. Then one day they changed: Started charging fees, accepted everyone who submitted (and included a check), and stopped making legitimate sales. They also automated their call-backs, so that anyone who'd ever contacted the agency got repeat letters and sales pitches. The company that set up that system, Zephyr Associates and Partners (www.zap-inc.com), claimed that Sydra Techniques had boosted their income into the seven figure range ... but who believes boasts from a dot com?

So perhaps no one bought a scam agency. Perhaps a scammer bought an honest agency, to trade on that agency's name and sales.



>>So perhaps no one bought a scam agency. Perhaps a scammer bought an honest agency, to trade on that agency's name and sales.<<

That's my impression, based on the research I've done. Part of the appeal may have been that Sydra already had a WGAE member number. However, the previous owner was aware of the change in business model, because I received a letter from him not too long after WB started warning about Sydra's fee-charging, defending the practice. And Sydra's fee-charging contracts were initially issued under his name.

- Victoria


Re: S.T. Literary Agency

I'm an ST Literary author interested in seeing whether or not other ST Lit authors are receiving the same exact emails that I am. This is not including the Author Intake Form or the original correspondence, but subsequent emails such as the "ST Lit Submittal List" and the follow ups. Are we all being told exactly the same things?

Please forward your ST Lit emails to:
[email protected]

Feel free to delete identifying into if you like. I'm only interested in the body of the emails.

Truth Seeker


Re: S.T. Literary Agency

The truth is on the way TruthSeeker.

MacAl Stone

Re: ISBNs on e-bay

...I dunno...I'm still trying to let go of this idea--I think it's sort of brilliant, in a skewed way.

Perhaps I'm morally challenged, or perhaps just ignorant, but why would it be Wrong?

The guy trying to sell his own kidney a few years ago? I could sort of understand what was Wrong with that--but still, it was HIS kidney, for cryin' out loud.

James D Macdonald

Re: ISBNs on e-bay

It would be wrong because each ISBN not only uniquely identifies the book, it uniquely identifies the publisher.

MacAl Stone

ISBNs on e-bay

aHA. Okay, thank you, Unc. I'm not usually so obtuse. For some reason, even after Hapi's post to that effect, I missed the significance.

James D Macdonald

Re: Robert Fletcher, President, ST Literary Agency

Lookit this! Robert has been holding out on us. He has another author!

Over at <strike>Sydra</strike> ST Literary's home page, in addition to the so-far-unsold writers Gary Dover, Michael Sears, and Rev. Amy Snow that you've brought up, and your self-published partner, Paul Anderson, you list another person: Michele Campanelli.

I'm surprised you left Michele off your list above ... she's the most impressive of the lot.

She has four books available from Fictionwise.com (an ebook publisher).

These seem to be reprints of earlier works. Tell me -- does Fictionwise require an agent to submit? Are these deals that you worked out for Ms. Campanelli?

What has she got on the shelves? <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1589430174/ref=nosim/madhousemanor" target="_new">Keeper of the Shroud</a>, which came out in 2002 from Americana Publishing, Inc., back before you took over ST. How were you involved in selling this book?

She's got Margarita: The Case of the Numbers Kidnapper, a December 1999 release from Hollis Books. Hollis, regretfully now out of business, was a PoD publisher. How were you involved in selling this book?

And she's got National Best-selling Short Stories, which, alas, is from Writer's Club Press, an imprint of iUniverse. iUniverse is a pay-to-publish vanity PoD. How were you involved in selling this book?

Those National Bestselling Short Stories are a collection of her shorts that appeared in Chicken Soup for the ... Soul, Chocolate for the ... Soul and similar books of inspirational shorts. Both Chocolate and Chicken Soup are flat-fee markets, and the Chicken Soup books pay on publication. An agent isn't involved in those transactions at all, it seems to me.

She also has Football Girl and Jamison, both from Ebook Castle, currently unavailable. Ebook Castle doesn't appear to have published anything that wasn't by Ms. Campanelli. How were you involved in selling these books?

So you see, Robert, I'm still one of those detractors who's claiming that ST has never sold a book, and that you make your money solely from the fees you charge of hapless authors.


Re: Robert Fletcher, President, ST Literary Agency

>>Hollis, regretfully now out of business, was a PoD publisher.<<

...that charged a fee.

- Victoria


Re: Robert Fletcher, President, ST Literary Agency

After reading several other threads, I was wondering about the rumors of book piracy by St Literary. I sent them a manuscript nearly a year ago (no, I did not give them any money) but I never told them to destroy the manuscript. "Ms. Jill Mast" was my contact. I have read elsewhere that is not her real name, accoring to another thead her name is Jill Mevorah. A man named Harwood on one of the the writers.net threads says she or another employee makes regular trips to Asia to sell manuscripts to publishers there without the knowledege of the authors. Is there any proof of this, and if so, what can be done to stop them?


Book Piracy

This sounds like new writer paranoia to me. Many new writers waste a huge amount of time worrying about piracy and plagiarism. For unpublished work, piracy/plagiarism is rare to nonexistent. This truly is not something that anyone needs to worry about.

An agency like ST has a nice cash-generating business. Each client generates $129 up front, plus an average of $140 every month or two (10 submissions at $14 apiece). With hundreds of clients, this really adds up. There's no need to actually sell any books.

Plus, manuscripts--many of which I'm sure are of dubious quality, given that fee-charging agencies like ST typically sign up everyone who submits, no matter how awful their work is--are not exactly hot items on the black market. It's not like the drug trade. It's not so easy to place manuscripts with foreign publishers, even unscrupulous ones.

- Victoria


Re: Robert Fletcher, President, ST Literary Agency

Debra, these are foolish worries. Have you sat down and thought about this? Which Asian market do you imagine would be buying previously unpublished English-language trade fiction or general nonfiction from Sydra?

For starters, if some Asian publisher bought one of Sydra's manuscripts from Jill Mast without your consent to the deal, it was an illegal sale, and it would have no effect whatsoever on your ownership of your book. Furthermore, if Jill Mast were capable of selling manuscripts to publishers, she'd have done it over here, and Sydra/ST wouldn't have racked up its record of zero sales.

(Selling western books into Asian markets is hard, even when they're already a finished product, and they're something obviously desirable like ESL textbooks. What I hear is that the process requires that you form many personal relationships, which is a euphemism. It takes persistence and resources: a task for a national Publishers' Association, or one of the industry's bigfoot conglomerates, not an undermotivated little nest of scammers.)

And why in the world would Asian publishers want a bunch of rejected manuscripts that couldn't get published in their home markets? They don't need them. They have their own writers and their own literature. Really. (Rule of thumb: if they make their own movies, they produce their own literature. You can count on it.) Mind, I'm not saying anything against your work. I'm sure it's wonderful. But if Sydra couldn't sell your manuscript here, they didn't sell it in Asia, either.

If you're talking about the Far East, here's another rule of thumb: Hiring experts who have high-level language skills in a foreign language is very expensive. Selecting raw manuscripts, editing them, and putting them into print is likewise expensive, also troublesome. Buying foreign rights to already-published books is cheap and easy. Depending on local law enforcement patterns, piracy may be even easier.

Let me pause here to say that I can't see where this fear of illegal Asian sales is coming from. This is odd. As far as I can tell, most westerners go their entire lives without realizing that Asian book publishers exist, much less worrying about what they're doing. To be fair, many westerners are unclear about the existence of their own publishing industry. I think they believe that books are deposited in the racks by the Book Fairy.

Being afraid that someone is going to steal your book is one of the standard irrational worries of beginning authors, but they don't usually worry about Asians. Is there any chance that the guys at Sydra claimed at some point that they were marketing their clients' books to Asian publishers? Because if that's what's driving this anxiety, you can relax: they were lying like a rug. Such a claim would qualify as a Spanish Prisoner con: "We have submitted your book to a publisher in a far country..."


Start with the Chinese-speaking world. English-language publishing in business centers like Hong Kong primarily consists of magazines and newspapers. They do some English-language books, but those are primarily textbooks. I hear they're now doing some reprints of public doman English-language literary classics. As I said earlier, if Chinese publishers perceive a market for contemporary English-language fiction, they'll either buy up inexpensive foreign rights on books already in print from conventional publishing houses that have an established track record, or they'll pirate them. (I've heard that their government was trying to crack down on piracy, but so far I haven't heard that it's working.)

Japanese English-language publishing is slicker and more diverse, but it follows the same general pattern, except for the casual piracy. I know the Japanese book industry also buys rights to and translates a relatively small number of titles each year. Good translations take time, and they aren't cheap. Those kind of resources are unlikely to get spent on unknown and unproven books by unknown and unproven authors.

Korea's not all that different, except that when they've pirated books, they've tended to do it in hair-raising quantities, with four-color printing and efficient global distribution systems. But they pirated books that were already an easy sell, not original titles.

Which reminds me of another rule of thumb: If someone steals, publishes, and markets your book, you'll hear about it. They might change the author's name. They might change the names of a few major characters. But rewriting an entire book is far more trouble than buying one on the cheap. If you're really worried, you should periodically google for recognizable plot points and other likely search strings. It'll give you something to do while you're indulging your irrational worries.

Onward, then, to India, which has the third-largest English-language publishing industry in the world. While I'm sure they do buy some foreign rights, and import some titles -- which, like books for the Japanese market, are going to come from established sources -- what they mostly publish are Indian authors. India has a spirited literary scene, and there are a great many Indian authors. (I hear they make movies, too.) I'm sure Indian publishers have their own uniquely indigenous heaps of authentic Indian slush. Why in the world would they want to illegally purchase someone else's slush?

Consider: First, it's alien, written by Anglo-Americans for the Anglo-American market; and in most cases the Anglo-American market will have already rejected it. That doesn't bode well for its success elsewhere. Second, they'd be betting against themselves. If the book flops, they lose money. But the more successful it is, the greater the chance that the rightful author will hear about it, with hard times to follow. Third, why should they bother? They truly have no shortage of writers there.

Neither Southeast Asia nor Indonesia nor Mongolia nor Tibet are likely markets for your book. Shall I go on? Do we draw the line at the Urals or the Caucasus, or just east of the site of the former walls of Vienna? This Asian publisher who buys Sydra slush doesn't exist. As someone once said about Spanish Prisoner cons, the wonderful thing about them is that not only is it unnecessary that the prisoner exist, it's not even necessary that Spain exist.

A man named Harwood said something on one of the writers.net threads. I could register as Harwood and say something else. So could you. So could anyone.

Do you want to know what happened to your manuscript? I can tell you right now. You didn't send them money, so they threw it away. This happened a long time ago. They probably opened the package the manuscript came in, just in case there was a check inside. They may have recorded your name and the title of your work. They did not read your book.

Book publishing doesn't happen in a vacuum. It's a commercial industry, and it's part of the world's communication system. Moreover, it's entirely staffed by people who write stuff at the drop of a hat, and leak information at every pore. If you want to know something, you can go and search it out. If you can't find the specific thing you want to know, you can find out information about everything surrounding it, which is very nearly as good, and sometimes is better.

Logic. Probability. Causality. Available mechanisms. The same things you use to build a convincing narrative can be turned around and used to examine how convincing the narratives are that others try to sell to us.

James D Macdonald

Re: Robert Fletcher, President, ST Literary Agency

As to where folks might have gotten the idea that Fletcher was planning to sell manuscripts in the Far East, it probably came from Fletcher himself, in this very thread:

"ps. Did I mention that we are AGGRESSIVELY courting buyers and distribution in CHINA? Now that's a virgin market with BILLIONS of buyers! New authors are even better for them for a number of reasons, so maybe we'll find the gold for our clients after all."

For the reasons Hapi outlined just above, if he can't sell in the US, he darned-straight can't sell in China, but it sure makes a pretty picture for the starry-eyed newbies he's trying to snare, and it would be hard for them to check up on him.

That doesn't stop him from saying on his own web page, "We are currently negotiating distribution in China (there's lots of readers there!)"

For the people who aren't familiar with the Spanish Prisoner con game, here's a description.


As long as we're looking at ST's homepage, look at this bit:

9) Name some of your recent/top clients who were authors.

Paul Anderson, Gary Dover, Michael Sears, Rev. Amy Snow, Michele Campanelli... the list goes on and on.

That's fascinating. Three of the five top clients have yet to sell a book. I wonder what kind of sales records the bottom clients have? The other two have already been extensively discussed. Their sales seem to be a) to pay-to-publish houses, or b) prior to Fletcher's takeover of Sydra, or c) the kind that don't require an agent at all.


Re: Robert Fletcher, President, ST Literary Agency

Actually Harris Literary Agency, an agency that can't sell in the US--at least not often, and not to large publishers--managed to sell five of its clients' books to a Chinese publisher, and the books appear actually to have been published (in translation), if the pictures of the covers on the Harris website can be trusted. But this is the ONLY example I have ever encountered of a non-selling fee-charging US agency legitimately (or presumably legitimately--neither I nor anyone I know has been able to find anything out about this Chinese publisher) placing books overseas.

I also know of just ONE incidence of a questionable agency (which had never placed a book with a US publisher) selling a book to a foreign publisher without the author's knowledge. That's ONE, out of the thousands of reports and complaints I've received since 1998. As Hapi said, though, "If someone steals, publishes, and markets your book, you'll hear about it." The author discovered the theft when the publisher contacted her directly to ask a translation question.

- Victoria


Re: Robert Fletcher, President, ST Literary Agency

I guess in my case I might worry about it a bit, since my book is set in Asia with Asian characters, etc. But I am not going to worry...


Re: Robert Fletcher, President, ST Literary Agency

Whew! Is that a load off my mind. (Yes, I'm a newbie) My husband told me I shouldn't worry for nearly the same reasons, but I guess I needed to hear it from my fellow authors. Thanks for all of your input.