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Willow Words Literary Agency

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

DanielaTorre

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Seems the agency opened in January 2015. Doesn't seem to have any experience as an agent aside from selling her own books and quote, "As a published author in a variety of genres, Sheri has experiential knowledge about the writing and publishing process which helps the writers and authors she works with accomplish their writing and publishing goals and dreams." Hearsay, I suppose.

As for the authors, I'm not 100% sure the agent sold the books listed there. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

There's nothing listed in query tracker, PubMark, or Pred & Ed. So it could just be an entrepreneur looking to sell books. Nothing inherently wrong with that, but longevity and experience could be a factor writers should consider.

Here's her LinkedIN profile https://www.linkedin.com/pub/sheri-mabry-bestor/11/353/1b4.
 

HumbleScribe

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Weeping over this Willow

If the agent is truly experienced with must-have publishing biz connections, etc. yet refused/overlooked mentioning it, that would be a sign of unacceptably poor marcom skills (and hints of doing same to your manuscript).
Aside from the person having the right, as misguided as it is, to open shop *before* amassing said crucially-required experience, my bigger surprise is Chuck at WD showcasing her on his new agent listing.
I'd thought he'd learned that mistake after the dust-up of touting a seemingly similar inexperienced West Coast agent wanna-be a couple years ago (with the wannabe imploding with angry rants to his candidate authors, etc.)
Yet here he goes again in touting the same, apparently. His list of new agents are otherwise impressive agencies.
[Clarifying for newbies that a new agent can be feasible *if* they're employed by and under the careful guidance of a respected, experienced agency. And thereby having access to that agency's connections, reputation, etc.]
But not when it's an inexperienced person opening their own shop (without any experienced agents). FYI I've noticed this self-deluded trend happens mostly in America, compared to, say, UK agents. They seem to (generally speaking) have the humility or better research of the issue not to pull such a stunt (shrugs).

Despite my username, this is the one issue that boils my bacon -- because in this digitally connected world, come on, folks -- how hard is it for these wannabe agents to do an honest internet search of what they're trying to do and easily come across numerous cautionary articles explaining the fallacy of their stunt. Begging the question whether they did run into such articles / forums and stubbornly rationalized their decision to march ahead, damn the consequences and damage they'd do to their unwitting clients -- or were they so lazy they didn't bother researching things -- or a mixture of arrogance making them think they just. Couldn't. Be. Wrong.

Sorry, folks. If an agent has the chops to justify their existence, they'd also need to have the marketing competence for themselves and you to know to mention such experience -- clearly -- on their website and elsewhere. And no, writing a book (even getting it published at a traditional publisher) isn't what we're talking about. Nor is submitting clients' works to publishers who don't require agents to submit them.
We're talking about experience in the publishing business. With connections and a reputation. Or HAVING THE HUMILITY of starting as a junior agent at a real agency. Their ego's too big for that? Then let them flame on their own time and dime. And run. There's too many real agencies out there to try before such a desperate, predictably bad outcome. Just look at a pile of posts on this site documenting the folly otherwise.

That's my opinion, which I interpret as supported by a decade or more of intelligent articles / posts on AW and elsewhere.

If they're legit, why didn't Chuck explain how and why in his new agent post? Just doesn't add up. Then again, has WD finally weeded out the conflict-of-interest and questionable agents from their annual guides?
 
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Filigree

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(Puts on rant hat.) Because Chuck (and WD in general) have long been the literary equivalent of ambulance chaser lawyers. There's some good info there for writers, but they need to develop skepticism and understanding to weed out the inaccuracies and blatant frauds.
 

HumbleScribe

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As questionable as heresay is, I'll nevertheless relay (though keeping with AW's respectable philosophy, do your own diligence) the caution from a freelancer who mentioned the following to me:

"WD takes kickbacks to list agents, I believe."

(end of that person's comment).
That possibility and/or Filigree's post, between the two possibilities, likely explains what's what. I loosely understand that WD is segmented in its management structure, so it seems that someone, say, managing one aspect of its business might not be directly aware/involved in another division asleep at the wheel (competence) or outright possible kickbacks.

Looking through their 2015 NOVEL AND SHORT STORY GUIDE -- which they have the gall to add the subtitle of it being no less than "The most trusted guide to getting published" it yet again contains numerous obvious misguided charlatans posing as agents (however sincere some of them might be out of sheer ignorance, or calculated greed). That WD routinely blows off having being alerted to this ongoing stunt of listing these bad apples defies my reach that it could be sheer incompetence in listing them, year after year, despite being alerted several times. It would take a college kid, what, two hours to weed out those listings by checking AW forums and other sources. I'm usually not a conspiracy theorist, but the kickback scheme, regrettably, sure would connect the dots (ethics notwithstanding).

I'll end here since this broadens the scope beyond the agency listed in this forum, but I really do take an issue with what WD is doing on an ongoing basis. While I and others who've been around know about AW and other forums to cross-check, I wouldn't completely fault a newbie just getting their feet wet (who would discover sooner or later, if they're diligent, how to cross-check and what to check) but if the first thing they did is splash down the considerably expensive annual WD guides (there's at least three of diff't types of guides containing these bad apples, year after year), they might mistakenly both their chances by hooking up with such an agent. Shouldn't WD be strongly called for such? Or is it that long-time folks at AW are fairly well aware of WD pulling this and haven't had luck compelling them to operate their biz more responsibly? Personally, I found The Writer (mag) to be more in-depth anyhow. There's a few nice aspects of certain items from WD, but this needlessly tarnishes them.

I'd love Chuck to post a defense of their clear wrongdoing. Or at least someone over there to wisen up and pledge to clean house once and for all on said literary equivalent of ambulance chasing/kickbacks/whatever demons possess them.

Final point: by WD providing these scammers (be those unqualified agents misguided 'n well-meaning, or knowing frauds) a showcase, it is enabling them. Providing them a vehicle. Rather than
giving them a literary kick in the pants and chastising them.

I've noticed that this syndrome of deluded wanna-be agents (who don't shave enough off their inflated egos or greediness to pay their dues by interning/starting at the bottom as a junior agent at a real agency ran by a real agent) is far more prevalent in America than in Great Britain. For some reason, agents over there (generally) are almost always well qualified. There just doesn't seem to be that deluded or scammer mentality as wide over there. Perhaps it's in part due to a smaller population there vs. here. The bad apple agent just sticks out here, and should be called out, rather than supported by WD. WD should be SHAMED for this ongoing behavior they're getting away with. WD claims they're in the business to HELP writers, not sabotage them. And yet...
 
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CaoPaux

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Has announced a sale, to Sterling Children's Books.
 

Dan Rhys

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Very helpful info. If anyone knows of a good source for agents, that would be nice. I was on 1000 Literary Agents for years and was disappointed how many of them were no longer working for the agencies they were listed under, how many were out of business, and in one case a listed agent having been deceased for a few years.
 
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Shoeless

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Very helpful info. If anyone knows of a good source for agents, that would be nice. I was on 1000 Literay Agents for years and was disappointed how many of them were no longer working for the agencies they were listed under, how many were out of business, and in one case a listed agent having been deceased for a few years.

You might want to look into starting a Querytracker account. It's all "crowd sourced" in that the users themselves contribute data, but the free account still gives you a pretty comprehensive list of up-to-date information on agencies, genres agents represent, and even whether individual agents are currently accepting queries or are closed. If you want more in-depth data, such as average time to response, which genres, or MS lengths have been requested, and other detailed metrics, splurge for the premium account, which is less than $30 a year anyway.
 

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