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Writers Literary Agency / The Literary Agency Group / LAG /TLAG

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

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batgirl

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Hi Newt, sorry to hear that you had your hopes raised by these scamsters. (but remember they'll scam good writers as well as bad - they don't care) I believe (if you check the other threads linked in an earlier post) that you'll find a few people have tried to substitute other independent, really-third-party critiques, and have either been told 'this critique is not up to our standards' or that they aren't the kind of author the agency is looking for (insufficiently spoon-fed).
I'm going from memory, though, so check for yourself and don't assume I'm right.
-Barbara
 

Sherry Fine

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When a work doesn't sell.. what happens?

Dear Author:

We are keenly aware of the negative material on a lot of writer's message boards and I thought I would take a minute and give you more background than what you are getting (which as best I can tell is stuff regurgitated from years ago).

I know it is confusing to authors and I thank you for 'first seeking to understand".

I hope that you will view the professionalism of this reply, where we try to present both sides of the situation, and contrast that against the furor that will arise after this post. Hey, maybe the message board people will agree to be your Agent!

It is a fact that most authors (98%) can't get the time of day from an Agent. Why? Because invariably their work needs improvement and if an Agent takes the time to say, "I like the idea, but you need a little help" the Agent is blackballed by every writers blog on the net.

Some writers say, "it's the agency's responsibility to help the writer".. Maybe in the old days, but not anymore. An Agent's core competency is selling work and finding buyers, not editing. Do you really think that an Agent should contribute their valuable selling time to assisting a writer with editing/grammar/ and other mechanics? Some writers do, but not those that understand the power and clarity of focus on core competency in business. Most agencies go out of business in a few years, not us. Why, because we concentrate on selling, and let the editors and writers do what they do best, writing, improving, writing, improving, etc.

Furthermore, when a work doesn't sell, what typically happens is that the author adopts one of 3 postures, 1) you suck, you scammer you, 2) I'll improve, or 3) maybe I'll quit. Most of the material on the boards is from attitude 1.

At it's core, that's the real issue. Always has been. So, there's a situation where potentially great work is 'waiting in the wings' so to speak, and can't get access to the market. And, if the Agent offers to help, to coach, and to mentor, well, you see the boards reply.


What Do Buyers Think? That's what really matters.
==========================================
Buyers (publishers) love our model. Why? because they know that we've forced the writer to jump through a series of hoops to prove their mettle. And the writers whine, whine, whine, and the publishers say, "whew, thanks for bringing us great work and for filtering out the crackpots."

Where do you think the crackpots cluster? Right on the message boards because a successful writer is improving their craft, making submissions, and researching and writing.

I use the word 'cluster' in the marketing segmentation definition. Look on most of those message boards, and you will see advertising, newsletters, and other capitalistic products and services based on traffic generated by controversy. So now you understand that the point of the boards is to generate traffic and advertising revenues based on their niche in the market.


Anyway, that said, it actually does us a favor and we've come to thank these boards. They weed out two main categories of authors that we are actually glad to be rid of: 1) nervous authors that don't understand the nitty gritty of hard business and who can't make up their mind and who rely on others for their opinions, 2) the SFN's (writers that want Something for Nothing) who want it all, basically for free...

I place 4 bullets under my signature. That's our promise. It's simple and it's understandable, and I really do think you'd be hard pressed to find one of our clients that won't, even grudgingly admit that we've delivered.

Our Pledge To You:
==================
* We respect what you have accomplished thus far as a writer.
* We believe that great authors are made, not born. We are willing to develop talent.
* We pledge straight talk in a confusing and old-school industry.
* We can't promise a sale. We can promise a professional relationship.

So, in conclusion, this is what I would do, if I were in your shoes, "I'd proceed with us, eyes wide open, and see if we meet or exceed our four business tenets, A) Respect, B) Building Talent, 3) Straight Talk, and a 4) Professional Relationship.

Of course, if you'd rather us terminate our relationship now, no problem, fortunately for me, and unfortunately for you, there's 10 more to take your place, and you can go back to querying agents for the rest of your life, or you can just see what happens and see if maybe, just maybe, we are what we say we are.

Best to you whatever your decision.

Sherry Fine - VP Acquisitions

Just for grins, and so that you know we provide a service of value to aspiring authors, I would like you to see some of the unprompted quotes that we receive on a daily basis.

Our clients say it best. The quotes below are unedited and as you can see, quite from the heart. (We have lots more of these.) If you are really cynical, you will probably believe we made them up, but I promise you, we can prove every one of them.

=======================

"Just a note to say, whatever the outcome of my submission, it's refreshing to engage an agent who will a) take an email submission, b) turn it round as quick you've committed to do and c) actively work with a writer. Submissions are daunting enough anyway without having to wait ten weeks for an impersonalised slip of paper. Here's to you."

"It is refreshing to get an honest professional opinion of my work, it make me realise just how much I don't know about the written word and its presentation."

Dear Georgina, I'd like you to know how highly and gratefully I regard the clarity with which you explain the process as well as your reliability. I have complete trust in both your abilities and ethical standards. Best wishes, Judith

It's been a long time since I left school with considerable number of years passing before I became interested in writing again. I would like you to thank you for working with me and let it be known that I look at this as a new beginning and rebirth of my education.

You don't know how nice it is to have such timely responses. I am sure I am not the only writer that puts a lot of heart into their work and I have to say, I have "kept mine tucked away in the closet" for many, many years. I just enjoy writing, but didn't know if I would ever try and submit it to anyone. Making the decision to do that has been somewhat of a nerve-wracking process. Your timely responses and professional, yet "down-to-earth" responses are making the process a lot easier. At this time, I am not submitting my work to anyone else, because you have impressed me the most up to this point. Even if we do not end up working together, I felt it was important to pass this along to you.

Dear Georgina: Your professional zeal and resourcefulness cannot be overemphasized seeing the volatile-oceanic-wave called the American Hollywood with its impregnable sales frontiers.I hold you dearly to my heart in my every prayers towards our mutual success now and...very soon in sbsequent works.I doff my heart after your every professional spirit imagining the energy, sweat and travellings involved. Thanks for everything you stand for professionally.

Thank you for your constructive feedback. I found your critique of my work very informative, and it concluded many things that I already knew. I really do need to improve on my punctuation skills, and that has been something I have struggled with for some time. I appreciate your suggestions on materials to improve this, and I plan on taking an advanced grammar and puctuation class at the college I am attending. Several other points you made were also very informative. I know I have a long way to go before I am a "professional" writer, but I am glad that you agreed that the potential is definitely there. I'd also like to thank you and your company for staying in contact with me through this process. I would, and will, come back to your company if I need further material critiqued. Thank you again for your time.

I just want to say I have been rejected for years by Agents and Publishers. After awhile it all seems pointless. But I am in this for the long run and will never give up and never give in. Whether you accept me or not you have restored my faith and hope that someone out there is concerned and listening to what writings go through. I look forward to learning all that I can from you and your associates.

"After having reread all the information sent to me, I must say that I am impressed by the way your agency has handled the science, or art of appreciating new sources of writing. If only all agencies displayed your model the world may be a better place. Your FAQ has answered all of my questions and i am eager to get to work."

===========================

WE ARE CREATING THE MOST POWERFUL AGENCY GROUP IN THE UNITED STATES. Every author that we represent has been fully edited and we know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that their work is good enough for publication. Unfortunately, the ones that 'wash out', tend to grouse and *****. If you can make it through our process, then you will be in an elite group that buyers respect. We never promise a sale, but we can promise that if we present your work, it will get respect from our buyers.

Best to you in your career.
 

DaveKuzminski

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Sherry Fine said:

Some writers say, "it's the agency's responsibility to help the writer".. Maybe in the old days, but not anymore. An Agent's core competency is selling work and finding buyers, not editing.

Sherry Fine - VP Acquisitions
So, how come your agencies have only four sales thus far? Would you like to admit how many years those sales cover?
Sherry Fine said:

Just for grins, and so that you know we provide a service of value to aspiring authors, I would like you to see some of the unprompted quotes that we receive on a daily basis.
So, how come you don't show the names of the unprompted quotes? Afraid that someone will contact one or more of them to learn that's no longer their feeling about your agencies?
Sherry Fine said:
WE ARE CREATING THE MOST POWERFUL AGENCY GROUP IN THE UNITED STATES. Every author that we represent has been fully edited and we know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that their work is good enough for publication. ... We never promise a sale, but we can promise that if we present your work, it will get respect from our buyers.
What's this about the "fully edited" statement? I thought you stated above that you concentrated on sales, not editing?

It's very wise of you not to promise a sale since your agencies have only four so far. However, what about the works you present that don't sell? Are those respected, too?
 
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Richard

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Our clients say it best. The quotes below are unedited and as you can see, quite from the heart. (We have lots more of these.) If you are really cynical, you will probably believe we made them up, but I promise you, we can prove every one of them.

I'll believe you. No particular reason not to.

Of course, I do wonder why you didn't see fit to include a happy author for whom you'd made an actual sale for. They do exist, right? Because that's the biggest criticism, and the one I was expecting to see debunked here. After all, if it's "stuff regurgitated from years ago", it should be easy.

Although I must confess, at least a couple of the quotes seem a bit odd, due to being people who clearly weren't clients at the time of writing to you ("Even if we do not end up working together, I felt it was important to pass this along to you.", "Whether you accept me or not you have restored my faith and hope")

Which is a bit odd. I was expecting more from happy clients making money.

And stuff.
 
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DaveKuzminski

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Gee, Sherry, you're not going to refute the statement that your founding agency changed its name twice? Get with the program, Sherry. This isn't like you to miss mentioning that.

It just occurred to me that if we do a search on some of your standard claims, we just might find another LAG website, now mightn't we? Should be easy with one of those copyright infringement search programs. :)

Yes, Sherry, we're going to make it even harder for you and your cronies to hide.
 
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Cathy C

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I very seldom respond on this particular thread, simply because I haven't had enough dealings with your agency to warrant a comment, Ms. Fine. However, since you have taken the time (thank you!) to state your views, I feel it's only appropriate that I should give you the courtesy of asking some questions and responding to some of your direct challenges:

Dear Author:

We are keenly aware of the negative material on a lot of writer's message boards and I thought I would take a minute and give you more background than what you are getting (which as best I can tell is stuff regurgitated from years ago).


It is true that on a lot of message boards, there is information presented in a negative fashion. I don't believe that AW is one of them. We strive at all times to present information in a reasonable, polite manner. However, stating that we provide negative "material" implies that we're lying. I don't believe this is the case. We are providing what certifiable documented information we possess.

I know it is confusing to authors and I thank you for 'first seeking to understand".

We seek to understand as well because many authors are confused about publishing when they first get involved. However, I am not confused by any stretch of the imagination
.
I hope that you will view the professionalism of this reply, where we try to present both sides of the situation, and contrast that against the furor that will arise after this post. Hey, maybe the message board people will agree to be your Agent!

I'm not an agent, but there probably are some on the boards that lurk. I'll let them speak for themselves. However, I do resent the snark level of the last sentence since it implies that if the author turns you down, they will never be represented.

It is a fact that most authors (98%) can't get the time of day from an Agent. Why? Because invariably their work needs improvement and if an Agent takes the time to say, "I like the idea, but you need a little help" the Agent is blackballed by every writers blog on the net.

No, the agents who are blackballed aren't the ones who say that the author needs help. The ones who are blackballed are the ones who state that only by paying MONEY can they be helped.

Some writers say, "it's the agency's responsibility to help the writer".. Maybe in the old days, but not anymore.

I can assure you that the "old days" are today. I know a whole bunch of agents and they are more than happy to work with an author (for FREE) if they feel the work has enough promise that it could sell, but just needs tweaking of plot or characters or grammar.

An Agent's core competency is selling work and finding buyers, not editing. Do you really think that an Agent should contribute their valuable selling time to assisting a writer with editing/grammar/ and other mechanics?

Yep. That's part of the selling gig. Of course, no agent is going to take on a work that isn't pretty close to what a publisher is looking for. That's the difference. But no agent I know would EVER recommend a "book doctor" or paid editor to fix a book. If that level of correction is needed, how will the author then be able to accomplish later edits that the publisher requires? If the author is unable to accomplish this because they haven't learned the skill sets necessary, that will be remembered. No agent wants that reputation.

Some writers do, but not those that understand the power and clarity of focus on core competency in business. Most agencies go out of business in a few years, not us. Why, because we concentrate on selling, and let the editors and writers do what they do best, writing, improving, writing, improving, etc.

No, there are plenty of agencies that don't go out of business. The ones who begin to agent because of EXISTING contacts in the publishing business do just fine. But you're right that the ones who do little more than send manuscripts to a publisher's slush (which the author can do themselves), probably don't last long. How many editors from major houses can you name off the top of your head that if YOU, personally, called them on the phone tomorrow, they would a) know your name; and b) make time in their schedule to go to lunch with you if you asked so you could pitch your authors?

Furthermore, when a work doesn't sell, what typically happens is that the author adopts one of 3 postures, 1) you suck, you scammer you, 2) I'll improve, or 3) maybe I'll quit. Most of the material on the boards is from attitude 1.

Admittedly, sometimes it's difficult to find a home for a book. But that doesn't mean the author needs to improve or quit. It means the agent needs to work harder.

At it's core, that's the real issue. Always has been. So, there's a situation where potentially great work is 'waiting in the wings' so to speak, and can't get access to the market. And, if the Agent offers to help, to coach, and to mentor, well, you see the boards reply.

Only if you charge up front or DEMAND that the author pay up front. If you do it as part of your well-earned commission, everybody here would say "More power to you! Good job, Sherry!"

What Do Buyers Think? That's what really matters.

Ah, yes . . . the "buyers." I'd hesitate to call an editor a "buyer" to their face, by the way. They prefer to be called acquisitions editors or publishers. Frankly, when the word buyer keeps popping up in your discussion, I keep wondering if you have a different meaning to the word than that established in the industry.

==========================================
Buyers (publishers) love our model. Why? because they know that we've forced the writer to jump through a series of hoops to prove their mettle. And the writers whine, whine, whine, and the publishers say, "whew, thanks for bringing us great work and for filtering out the crackpots."

Name five, if you would -- by name. I know quite a few. I'd love to chat with them and see if they agree with your model.

Where do you think the crackpots cluster? Right on the message boards because a successful writer is improving their craft, making submissions, and researching and writing.

I resent greatly being called a "crackpot." Yes, writers improve, submit, research and write. But your comment implies that all published authors are unwilling to share information. We don't fear competition. There's no such thing as competition in book sales. There's plenty of room for everyone, which is why people like me, and James, and Victoria and Susan and especially Jenna, take the time and effort to try to educate fledgling authors.

I use the word 'cluster' in the marketing segmentation definition. Look on most of those message boards, and you will see advertising, newsletters, and other capitalistic products and services based on traffic generated by controversy. So now you understand that the point of the boards is to generate traffic and advertising revenues based on their niche in the market.

I haven't seen any advertising on this site outside of the "Promotions and announcements" board which people can view or not at their choice. The Google ads are carefully screened to make sure that no scams appear (or at least the owners TRY to make sure. Scammers are tricky beasts).


Anyway, that said, it actually does us a favor and we've come to thank these boards. They weed out two main categories of authors that we are actually glad to be rid of: 1) nervous authors that don't understand the nitty gritty of hard business and who can't make up their mind and who rely on others for their opinions, 2) the SFN's (writers that want Something for Nothing) who want it all, basically for free...

I guess I'm a #2, then. I expect payment from publishers for my product. I expect that payment to be offered WITHOUT REGARD to my checkbook balance. The nervous authors need to realize that #2 is POSSIBLE. When agents request money -- when publishers request money, nervous authors begin to think that #2 isn't possible. It is.

I place 4 bullets under my signature. That's our promise. It's simple and it's understandable, and I really do think you'd be hard pressed to find one of our clients that won't, even grudgingly admit that we've delivered.

Our Pledge To You:
==================
* We respect what you have accomplished thus far as a writer.
* We believe that great authors are made, not born. We are willing to develop talent.
* We pledge straight talk in a confusing and old-school industry.
* We can't promise a sale. We can promise a professional relationship.

You promise to respect. You provide to develop. You promise straight talk, and you promise a professional relationship. However, your straight talk doesn't tell them about the fee. It doesn't explain that REQUESTING a fee is UNUSUAL in the industry. You can't respect them if you don't believe they're capable of revisions without paid edits. So, you've broken three of your four promises.

So, in conclusion, this is what I would do, if I were in your shoes, "I'd proceed with us, eyes wide open, and see if we meet or exceed our four business tenets, A) Respect, B) Building Talent, 3) Straight Talk, and a 4) Professional Relationship.

Again, you've already broken three right from the outset. That doesn't speak well to the fourth promise, either.

Of course, if you'd rather us terminate our relationship now, no problem, fortunately for me, and unfortunately for you, there's 10 more to take your place, and you can go back to querying agents for the rest of your life, or you can just see what happens and see if maybe, just maybe, we are what we say we are.

Sadly, you're right that there are ten more. We're working very hard at this forum to whittle that number down a bit. Maybe next year there will only be five more. Crossing fingers!

Best to you whatever your decision.

Thanks!

WE ARE CREATING THE MOST POWERFUL AGENCY GROUP IN THE UNITED STATES. Every author that we represent has been fully edited and we know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that their work is good enough for publication. Unfortunately, the ones that 'wash out', tend to grouse and *****. If you can make it through our process, then you will be in an elite group that buyers respect. We never promise a sale, but we can promise that if we present your work, it will get respect from our buyers.

You are creating the most powerful agency? You're placing yourself at the same level as Writer's House or Donald Maass or Trident? Wow! I'll bet they'll be surprised. I doubt they've ever heard of you. Again, I'd love to know which editors you know personally. How many publisher mixers id you receive invitations to last Christmas? Which editors call YOU with upcoming lines to see which of your authors will fit the slots? These are all signs of powerful agencies. Where do you stand on the totem?


Best to you in your career.

Again, thanks. I'm doing fine.
 
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James D. Macdonald

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Gee, you guys aren't leaving me much to do. (Not to worry, I'll deal with "Sherry" anyway.)

Before I comment on that astounding post, though, let me give a little perspective on why "Sherry" may have showed up just now.

An author at PublishAmerica commented that he was considering paying The Screenplay Agency (one of the names Robert Fletcher is doing business under). This was picked up in the NEPAT Overflow topic here:

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=15336&page=117&pp=25

and

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=15336&page=118&pp=25

(Comments from "xhouseboy" and me, respectively.)

I went to the main Neverending PublishAmerica Thread (NEPAT), and made a request here:

http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=467304&postcount=29830

I asked that someone with access to the PublishAmerica Message Board (PAMB) let the author who was thinking of using The Screenplay Agency know that Fletcher's outfit was a scam.

Soon enough, it happened, both on the PAMB and (I presume) on another board where PA authors hang out.

I'm guessing that "Sherry" got a bunch of emails this afternoon telling her to forget about it, that they weren't going to pay for that critique, or treatment, or edit, or whatever they're asking for this week.

She's here to do damage control. Why here? Because the first place you come to when you Google "The Screenplay Agency" or "Stylus Literary Agency" is right here. Any of those PublishAmerica authors who Googled got an eyeful.

I see "Sherry" posted the identical screed four times.


http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=467714#post467714
http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=467713#post467713
http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=467710#post467710
http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=467707#post467707



Good for you, "Sherry," very industrious.

I'll only reply in one place, but I'll put this note in all four so folks can collect the whole set. Lots of people have already replied, identifying Sherry's major fibs, distortions, and omissions.
 
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MadScientistMatt

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DaveKuzminski said:
It just occurred to me that if we do a search on some of your standard claims, we just might find another LAG website, now mightn't we? Should be easy with one of those copyright infringement search programs. :)

Yes, Sherry, we're going to make it even harder for you and your cronies to hide.

Not that they are always that good at hiding. Most of their front names seem to follow a standard format: The [Insert Genre Here] Literary Agency. Also, this genre is often one that many agents do not handle, such as The Children's Literary Agency, or one that most agents won't touch with a ten foot pole, such as poetry. If this pattern holds true, if any of the following agencies ever come into existance, I'd immediately suspect that they are offshoots of the LAG:

The Song Lyrics Literary Agency
The Short Story Literary Agency
The Memoir Literary Agency
The Magazine Article Literary Agency

And what could be their most lucrative offshoot...

The Fanfic Literary Agency!
 

James D. Macdonald

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Before I begin on "Sherry Fine," here are some links to previous appearances by Robert M. Fletcher, and by his surrogates:

Robert Fletcher (01-13-2004, 10:09 AM): "First, let me thank you for first 'seeking to understand'. "

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=529&page=1&pp=25

Paul Anderson (posting as ST Did Me Right 02-27-2004, 05:02 PM) "ST provided me with the two things I needed to get out and promote my own work - a web site and letter of representation."

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=529&page=3&pp=25

Robert Fletcher ( 04-07-2004, 03:21 PM) "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."

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=529&page=6&pp=25

Robert Fletcher (04-22-2005, 06:27 AM) "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."

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=529&page=20&pp=25

Identical post by RobertF (04-22-2005, 06:25 AM) here, (different discussion follows):

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=8312

Peter Parente (MessageBoardAltView 03-17-2005, 12:01 PM): "It bothers me that you all have these expert opinions based on nothing and they are not even educated( sorry Dr., but the Dr. doesn't always account for common sense)."

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=8286

"Georgina Orr" (06-23-2005, 05:41 PM): "WE HAVE CONTACTED THESE PEOPLE NUMEROUS TIMES AND OFFERED TO ANSWER THEIR QUESTIONS ON A PUBLIC FORUM FOR THE BEST INTEREST OF THE INDUSTRY AND THE WRITERS."

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=8286&page=2&pp=25

"Georgina Orr" again (06-28-2005, 10:46 AM): "...I am not prepared to waste time replying to any of these posts... "

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=8286&page=4&pp=25



On The Literary Agency Group's track record of sales:

You'll read on these threads that they've sold both four books, and none.

Both of these statements are true. I'll explain why in a bit.

Two ads from The Literary Agency Group (Publisher's Marketplace and Publisher's Lunch):

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=529&page=24&pp=25

Lists leading clients as Paul Anderson, Michele Campanelli, and Denise Brown.

Paul Anderson is Robert Fletcher's business partner, and with one exception "sold" his books to a pay-to-play vanity press. The exception was a) before Fletcher took over ST Literary Agency, and b) doesn't require an agent.

Michele Campanelli:

See http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=529&page=7&pp=25

Here are the four books The Literary Agency Group claims to have sold (reprinted from http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=234687#post234687 ):

Denise Becker Shades of Brown Genesis Press

The author sold this book herself.

Pastor Billy Crone A Marriage Built to Last Mapletree

A startup LDS publisher, may not pay an advance. I don't know if Pastor Billy sold the book himself or not.

Victor Stenger Where Do the Laws of Physics Come From Prometheus Books

Stenger has been selling physics books to Prometheus on a regular basis since 1988. I don't know how ST was involved in this sale.

Dario Castagno Too Much Tuscan Sun Globe Pequot

The author sold the book himself.

That is, of the four books, two were definitely, and the other two probably, sold by the authors themselves.

That is how The Literary Agency Group can, simultaneously, have four books sold, and no books sold. They didn't sell those books, but they are collecting 15% of the royalties on those books. There is no possible way the income from those four books is supporting The Literary Agency Group's operations.

The Literary Agency Group advertises for vanity presses at Publishers Marketplace (09-24-2005, 12:56 PM):

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=529&page=37&pp=25

The Literary Agency Group advertises again for vanity presses (11-07-2005, 10:23 PM):

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=529&page=38&pp=25

I find it interesting that Robert Fletcher, Peter Parente, and "Sherry Fine," all use the phrase "just for grins" in their messageboard posts. Must be a grinning group down there in Boca Raton.

On how The Literary Agency Group takes credit for books that authors sell themselves:

(06-29-2005, 10:34 PM)
" From the opening of the ST Contract: we will... write you the all-important and necessary cover letter saying that you have Agent representation."

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=263709

and here (07-26-2005, 12:42 PM):

An example of that "all-important and necessary cover letter." Discussion follows.

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=280041


=======

Other names, for the sake of search engines:

Jill Mast
Jennifer Dublino
John Rain
Robert West
Mark Bredt
Ann Doro
Dorothy Walker
D.A. Johnstone

====================

In a bit, a line-by-line on the "Sherry Fine" twaddle.
 
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James D. Macdonald

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Dear Author:

This appears to be the form letter that The Literary Agency Group (and its sub-scams) sends to authors who suspect the truth and start to ask questions.

We are keenly aware of the negative material on a lot of writer's message boards and I thought I would take a minute and give you more background than what you are getting (which as best I can tell is stuff regurgitated from years ago).

I'm certain you're "keenly aware." Your friend "Georgina Orr" said the same thing, but fluffed her golden opportunity to set the record straight. To help us out, do you suppose you could point to any positive material on any writers' message boards? Happy posts from clients whose work you've sold, for example?

As far as "regurgitated from years ago," the news that your agency isn't really based in New York City (the people in the building you claim to be based in never heard of you) is from May, 2005. (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=529&page=24&pp=25 )

Your ads seeking someone -- anyone -- who'd actually sold an option to Hollywood, and looking for vanity presses willing to take your clients' money in Publisher's Marketplace and Publisher's Lunch are from May, September, and November of 2005. Those aren't "regurgitated from years ago."


I know it is confusing to authors and I thank you for 'first seeking to understand".

I'm an author. I'm not a bit confused.

"Seeking to understand" is a phrase Robert Fletcher used in his very first posting here. I suspect that it's been part of ST's form letter to unhappy authors for years now (speaking of being regurgitated from years past), since you've had unhappy authors from the very beginning. The reason you've had unhappy authors from the very beginnig is, from the very beginning Stylus/ST/LAG and all its little sub-groups has been unable to sell books to publishers.

This is more evidence that your post here is just a slightly re-worked version of LAG's form letter to authors who start asking questions.

I hope that you will view the professionalism of this reply, where we try to present both sides of the situation, and contrast that against the furor that will arise after this post. Hey, maybe the message board people will agree to be your Agent!

This isn't a "reply" to anything. That phrasing shows this is a form letter intended for authors who are asking tough questions like "What have you sold?" Nor are you "presenting both sides." The bit about "the furor that will arise after this post," well, that's probably been added for the message board version.

[Lurkers: Please do compare the professionalism of the replies to "Sherry's" post with her vague and misleading letter.]

It is a fact that most authors (98%) can't get the time of day from an Agent. Why? Because invariably their work needs improvement and if an Agent takes the time to say, "I like the idea, but you need a little help" the Agent is blackballed by every writers blog on the net.

Most authors (98%) haven't written a publishable manuscript. Editing an unpublishable manuscript will give you an unpublishable manuscript. If agents do offer editorial advice to authors (and many, if not most, do), it's because the manuscript is publishable, but needs editing. Agents offer this advice to their clients -- not to everyone who writes them a query letter.

Some writers say, "it's the agency's responsibility to help the writer".. Maybe in the old days, but not anymore.

Actually, no. It's the agency's responsibility to find the best publishing deal for the author.

An Agent's core competency is selling work and finding buyers, not editing.

So, how about it, "Sherry"? What have you sold? To whom?

Do you really think that an Agent should contribute their valuable selling time to assisting a writer with editing/grammar/ and other mechanics?

You might as well ... you haven't shown any ability to sell anything, so your selling time doesn't seem to me to be all that valuable.

Some writers do, but not those that understand the power and clarity of focus on core competency in business.

What's your core competency, "Sherry"? Mine's writing.

Most agencies go out of business in a few years, not us. Why, because we concentrate on selling, and let the editors and writers do what they do best, writing, improving, writing, improving, etc.

With a grand total of four books sold (by the most generous estimate possible), you should have gone out of business years ago.

The fact is, though, that you didn't even sell those books. The authors sold them on their own, didn't they? (So much for your claims that an agent is needed to sell in the first place.)

Furthermore, when a work doesn't sell, what typically happens is that the author adopts one of 3 postures, 1) you suck, you scammer you, 2) I'll improve, or 3) maybe I'll quit. Most of the material on the boards is from attitude 1.

Do you have a reputation for trying to sell unpublishable works? Do you even submit works at all? What happened to those 68 "active conversations" you had last spring? How about the three that were "in negotiation"? Did none of those manuscripts sell? Why were you actively advertising this last autumn for vanity presses who would be willing to take your clients' money?

Are you so incompetent that you can't even find a vanity press on the Internet?

At it's core, that's the real issue. Always has been. So, there's a situation where potentially great work is 'waiting in the wings' so to speak, and can't get access to the market. And, if the Agent offers to help, to coach, and to mentor, well, you see the boards reply.

Access to the market isn't the hard part. Writing a good book (or even a potentially great one) is the hard part. You're turning slush into edited slush? It's still slush. Nor have you had remarkable success even with that. Where are your sales? At its core, that's the real issue: Where are your sales?

What Do Buyers Think? That's what really matters.
==========================================
Buyers (publishers) love our model.

Do they really? Then why don't they publish the books you represent?

Why? because they know that we've forced the writer to jump through a series of hoops to prove their mettle.

Writers don't "prove their mettle," nor should they be interested in "jumping through hoops." They write publishable manuscripts. Rather than "
we've forced the writer to jump through a series of hoops to prove their mettle" you mean to say "we've forced the writer to write a series of checks to prove their gullibility."

And the writers whine, whine, whine, and the publishers say, "whew, thanks for bringing us great work and for filtering out the crackpots."

Crackpots have been known to write great books. But expecting an agent to actually, you know, represent books to publishers ... doesn't make a writer a crackpot. Expecting the agent to make his money on a percentage of the royalties, not on a series of checks written by the author, doesn't make an author a crackpot. It makes the author realistic, or a professional.

Where do you think the crackpots cluster? Right on the message boards because a successful writer is improving their craft, making submissions, and researching and writing.

I have more books under contract to be written right now than you've sold to publishers in your life, even if I allow books that your authors sold on their own.

I use the word 'cluster' in the marketing segmentation definition. Look on most of those message boards, and you will see advertising, newsletters, and other capitalistic products and services based on traffic generated by controversy. So now you understand that the point of the boards is to generate traffic and advertising revenues based on their niche in the market.

So you're claiming that various folks at writers' message boards woke up one morning, and said "Gee, how shall we generate traffic for our ads? Ah! We'll pick on a totally above-board agency, well respected in the entire publishing world and famous for their success, and call them a bunch of scum-sucking scammers who've never sold a book in their pathetic lives! The controversy is certain to draw the curious!"

Anyway, that said, it actually does us a favor and we've come to thank these boards. They weed out two main categories of authors that we are actually glad to be rid of: 1) nervous authors that don't understand the nitty gritty of hard business and who can't make up their mind and who rely on others for their opinions, 2) the SFN's (writers that want Something for Nothing) who want it all, basically for free...

In other words, thanks to our warnings the only people who come to you are naive newbies who fell off the cabbage truck last night. These are folks who don't know that you aren't really agents. These are folks who don't see anything wrong in opening their checkbooks again, and again, and again.

By the way, I don't want something for nothing. I provide manuscripts that a lot of folks are willing to pay money to read. That's what I bring to the table. You claim you "respect" writers? Try showing a little respect.

I place 4 bullets under my signature. That's our promise. It's simple and it's understandable, and I really do think you'd be hard pressed to find one of our clients that won't, even grudgingly admit that we've delivered.

I'd be more impressed if you found even one of your clients who'll report that you've sold a book.

Our Pledge To You:
==================
* We respect what you have accomplished thus far as a writer.
* We believe that great authors are made, not born. We are willing to develop talent.
* We pledge straight talk in a confusing and old-school industry.
* We can't promise a sale. We can promise a professional relationship.

Good thing you aren't promising a sale.

So, in conclusion, this is what I would do, if I were in your shoes, "I'd proceed with us, eyes wide open, and see if we meet or exceed our four business tenets, A) Respect, B) Building Talent, 3) Straight Talk, and a 4) Professional Relationship.

We're back to the form letter to authors who are asking questions. I'd appreciate some straight talk: What's the source of your income?

Of course, if you'd rather us terminate our relationship now, no problem, fortunately for me, and unfortunately for you, there's 10 more to take your place, and you can go back to querying agents for the rest of your life, or you can just see what happens and see if maybe, just maybe, we are what we say we are.

Take my advice: Terminate the relationship right now. A bad agent is worse than no agent, and The Literary Agency is as bad as they come.

As to being what you say you are... what was it again that you said you were? Literary agents? If so, why haven't you managed to sell any books? That's what literary agents do.

Best to you whatever your decision.

Sherry Fine - VP Acquisitions

I have a question for you, "Sherry": Do you even exist, or are you an alias for Robert M. Fletcher?

Just for grins, and so that you know we provide a service of value to aspiring authors, I would like you to see some of the unprompted quotes that we receive on a daily basis.

Newbies in their honeymoon period, while they're still in love with the idea of having an agent.

Our clients say it best. The quotes below are unedited and as you can see, quite from the heart. (We have lots more of these.) If you are really cynical, you will probably believe we made them up, but I promise you, we can prove every one of them.

No, I entirely believe that they're real. But I looked and I looked and I didn't see one of them that thanked you for selling a book. Where are those testimonials?

=======================

"Just a note to say, whatever the outcome of my submission, it's refreshing to engage an agent who will a) take an email submission, b) turn it round as quick you've committed to do and c) actively work with a writer. Submissions are daunting enough anyway without having to wait ten weeks for an impersonalised slip of paper. Here's to you."

This looks like someone who'd just submitted a work and was waiting to hear whether you'd represent him. (You did offer a contract, didn't you?)

"It is refreshing to get an honest professional opinion of my work, it make me realise just how much I don't know about the written word and its presentation."

Pretty clear that this person doesn't know much about the writing world, either.
Dear Georgina, I'd like you to know how highly and gratefully I regard the clarity with which you explain the process as well as your reliability. I have complete trust in both your abilities and ethical standards. Best wishes, Judith

A letter to dear Georgina! Who's Judith? Does she have a last name? Does she have a sale? What would Judith say about your abilities and ethical standards if we were to ask her today?

It's been a long time since I left school with considerable number of years passing before I became interested in writing again. I would like you to thank you for working with me and let it be known that I look at this as a new beginning and rebirth of my education.

Here's the first educational tip: A fool and his money are soon parted.

You don't know how nice it is to have such timely responses. I am sure I am not the only writer that puts a lot of heart into their work and I have to say, I have "kept mine tucked away in the closet" for many, many years. I just enjoy writing, but didn't know if I would ever try and submit it to anyone. Making the decision to do that has been somewhat of a nerve-wracking process. Your timely responses and professional, yet "down-to-earth" responses are making the process a lot easier. At this time, I am not submitting my work to anyone else, because you have impressed me the most up to this point. Even if we do not end up working together, I felt it was important to pass this along to you.

Even if we don't wind up working together? Does this person have a lot of experience with you? Are you sure this testimonial is one you want to display?

Dear Georgina: Your professional zeal and resourcefulness cannot be overemphasized seeing the volatile-oceanic-wave called the American Hollywood with its impregnable sales frontiers.I hold you dearly to my heart in my every prayers towards our mutual success now and...very soon in sbsequent works.I doff my heart after your every professional spirit imagining the energy, sweat and travellings involved. Thanks for everything you stand for professionally.

Dear Georgina, again. Any "Dear Sherry" letters? Ah, well. Still haven't broken into Hollywood either, have you? How did you make out looking for someone who'd sold something there? Anyone take your offer?

Thank you for your constructive feedback. I found your critique of my work very informative, and it concluded many things that I already knew. I really do need to improve on my punctuation skills, and that has been something I have struggled with for some time. I appreciate your suggestions on materials to improve this, and I plan on taking an advanced grammar and puctuation class at the college I am attending. Several other points you made were also very informative. I know I have a long way to go before I am a "professional" writer, but I am glad that you agreed that the potential is definitely there. I'd also like to thank you and your company for staying in contact with me through this process. I would, and will, come back to your company if I need further material critiqued. Thank you again for your time.

How much did this author pay for that "constructive feedback"?

I just want to say I have been rejected for years by Agents and Publishers. After awhile it all seems pointless. But I am in this for the long run and will never give up and never give in. Whether you accept me or not you have restored my faith and hope that someone out there is concerned and listening to what writings go through. I look forward to learning all that I can from you and your associates.

"Whether you accept me or not...." I bet you accepted him. I bet his book hasn't sold, either. How many "hoops" did you make this poor guy jump through to "prove his mettle"? Is he still with you, or have you dropped him after he stopped writing checks?
"After having reread all the information sent to me, I must say that I am impressed by the way your agency has handled the science, or art of appreciating new sources of writing. If only all agencies displayed your model the world may be a better place. Your FAQ has answered all of my questions and i am eager to get to work."

Appreciating new sources of writing is a science? There's still only one source: Writers. And is this writer sure that the world would be a better place if LAG's model (the author pays, the agent cashes the checks, the writer has to sell his own books anyway) were displayed by all agencies?
===========================

WE ARE CREATING THE MOST POWERFUL AGENCY GROUP IN THE UNITED STATES.
Are there any real editors at genuine publishers who return your phone calls? Who even know your name?
Every author that we represent has been fully edited and we know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that their work is good enough for publication.

Then why isn't it being published? Ah, I see. You still haven't convinced any publishers that the work is good enough to get published. Two possible reasons come to mind. Either the work isn't good enough to get published, or you aren't actually submitting it.

Unfortunately, the ones that 'wash out', tend to grouse and *****. If you can make it through our process, then you will be in an elite group that buyers respect.


Weirdly ... all those books on the shelves in real bookstores? None of them came through your process. Could you explain that?

We never promise a sale, but we can promise that if we present your work, it will get respect from our buyers.

Could you name two or three of your buyers? Folks who've, you know, bought stuff?

Best to you in your career.

And best to you in your next one.
 
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HapiSofi

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Jim, do you mind if I play a couple of choruses of this song?

For purposes of this dissection, fictional dialogue will be inside quotes and italicized.

Sherry Fine said:
Dear Author:

We are keenly aware of the negative material on a lot of writer's message boards and I thought I would take a minute and give you more background than what you are getting (which as best I can tell is stuff regurgitated from years ago).
"Damn! You're on to us. I'm not going to reply to the specific material you've read online, since replying would only get me into trouble. Besides, it would be work."
I know it is confusing to authors ...
"I'm telling you now that 'it's confusing' because the rest of my letter is not going to make any sense, and I want you to think it must be your fault that you don't understand it."
and I thank you for 'first seeking to understand".
"Oh, good -- you wrote back. I get one more chance to pull the wool over your eyes."
I hope that you will view the professionalism of this reply, ...
For some reason, "professionalism" is a magic word for aspiring authors. You don't see it used a lot by real agents and editors, who definitely aren't in the habit of protesting their own professionalism. However, the word is frequently used by bad guys who are trying to intimidate baby authors. It's not on the list of red-flag words and phrases I take as prima facie evidence that the speaker is a scammer, but I'm automatically wary of people who use it.

BTW, my own definition of "professionalism" would have to include knowing that the word they want is perceive, not view, viz.: I hope you will perceive the professionalism of this reply.
...where we try to present both sides of the situation, and contrast that against the furor that will arise after this post. Hey, maybe the message board people will agree to be your Agent!
They will not present both sides of the situation the author has written about, because this is a labor-saving generic response. As such, it won't work well with perceptive authors; but Fletcher won't hang on to those anyway. There are enough suckers who will fall for it to keep him in beans and bacon, down there in Boca Raton, and that's all he cares about.

They will also not present both sides of any other situation. Fletcher has no interest in the truth. He couldn't tell it even if he wanted to -- he doesn't know enough about publishing.

Predicting "the furor that will arise after this post" is a classic piece of well-poisoning. Posts by Fletcher's sockpuppets always raise a stir, because they're full of fraud and falsehood.

"Maybe the message board will be your agent" is there to throw a scare into the author: "You'd better get down off that high horse. If we don't agent you, who else will?"
It is a fact that most authors (98%) can't get the time of day from an Agent. Why?
Because as Jim Macdonald has pointed out, most authors haven't written a saleable book.
Because invariably their work needs improvement
No book is perfect. The division isn't between perfect and imperfect, but between imperfect-but-saleable and imperfect-and-unsaleable. Anyway, that
's not the point. The real point is that if an agency takes on unsaleable books, and thrusts their authors into the arms of fee-charging evaluators, book doctors, "professional editors", whatever they're calling them this week, that agency is dishonest.
if an Agent takes the time to say, "I like the idea, but you need a little help" the Agent is blackballed by every writers blog on the net.
Liar, liar, liar. "You need a little help" is lightyears away from "Let me introduce you to my associate, whom you will be required to use, and required to pay." "You need a little help" is also lightyears away from the truth about the vast majority of these manuscripts. A little help will not make them good. A lot of help, even if done by thoroughgoing professionals, is also not going to make them good. Finally, if every writer is being remanded for "a little help," it's a scam.
Some writers say, "it's the agency's responsibility to help the writer".
Yup. So do editors. So do publishers. That's why writers pay the agent a percentage of the take.
Maybe in the old days, but not anymore.
Here we see the first instance of what will become a major theme in this letter: talking tough to the writers. There are times when that's appropriate, but none of them involve talking pure codswallop to the author, so that leaves Fletcher/Fine out entirely. They talk tough to writers, not to enlighten them, but to intimidate them: "Shut up! Stop whining! Who the hell do you think you are? How dare you object to my procedures! If you think you have rights, if you think you're entitled to civil treatment, you clearly don't understand how the industry works!" Et cetera. The thugs at PublishAmerica are the masters of this technique, but Fletcher's no slouch at it.
An Agent's core competency is selling work and finding buyers, not editing.
This is the same letter that says, "
We believe that great authors are made, not born. We are willing to develop talent" right under the signature?

An agent's core competence (not "competency") is recognizing good writers, getting their work ready for submission, selling that work on favorable terms to appropriate publishers, and in general mediating between clients and the problems of the world. Many of the best agents have significant editorial skills. It's part of what makes them good at what they do.
Do you really think that an Agent should contribute their valuable selling time to assisting a writer with editing/grammar/ and other mechanics?
I think that if writers need help on such an elementary level, the agency ought not be taking them on as clients.

I think that writers who need help with the basic mechanics of writing are not going to be made saleable by the fee-charging cronies to whom Fletcher refers them.


I think that if I were going to hire someone to fix my grammar, punctuation, and other problems of that nature, the person I hired wouldn't be the author of this letter.

Finally, I have to wonder: if Fletcher's selling time is so valuable, how come he never makes any sales?
Some writers do, but not those that understand the power and clarity of focus on core competency in business.
"The power and clarity of focus on core competency in business" is a string of business-speak cliches that has no connection to the text around it. Remember when I said their line, "I know it is confusing to authors," was there to soften up the reader for a letter that doesn't make sense? This phrase is the kind of thing I had in mind. If you go online and try to find an explanation of it, you'll find yourself wading though oceans of executive gobbledegook. Any explanation you cobble together that attempts to relate that phrase to the rest of the letter will be entirely your own creation. And if you don't go to all the useless work of trying to figure it out, your self-confidence will be undermined, because he's said something you don't understand.

(By the way? "Focusing on core competency" just means "working on, and paying attention to, the business you're already in." Like, if you sell seeds for kitchen herbs, that's your core competence. It's okay to put up a website to help sell them, but not if you forget that your business is selling seeds, not constructing bigger and better websites. Simple, eh? Most business-speak is just a fancy way to teach executives the commonsensical principles their office managers and secretaries already know.)
Most agencies go out of business in a few years, not us.
Here's one of the places where you can see that Robert Fletcher & Co. don't know anything about agenting and publishing. Real agencies don't make money fast. They make it long-term and slow, from multiple overlapping revenue streams.
Why, because we concentrate on selling, and let the editors and writers do what they do best, writing, improving, writing, improving, etc.
Why, because Fletcher & Co. aren't in the business of agenting. A churchmouse couldn't live off the commissions they've earned. They survive because they make their money off the authors.
Furthermore, when a work doesn't sell, what typically happens is that the author adopts one of 3 postures, 1) you suck, you scammer you, 2) I'll improve, or 3) maybe I'll quit. Most of the material on the boards is from attitude 1.
That's too painful. Let me give you the correct version of those sentences: "
Furthermore, when a work doesn't sell, the author typically adopts one of three attitudes: (1.) You suck, you scammer you; (2.) I'll improve; or (3.) Maybe I'll quit. Most of the material on the boards reflects attitude #1."

There. It's still factually wrong, but at least it doesn't hurt to read it.

Attitude #1 is commonly found among former clients of Fletcher & Co.'s agencies. This has nothing to do with whether their work sells or not. They take that attitude because Fletcher & Co. are scammers.
At it's core, that's the real issue. Always has been.
What's the real issue? They never say. This passage is more of that tough, knowledgeable-sounding codswallop which, on examination, turns out to not mean a thing.
So, there's a situation where potentially great work is 'waiting in the wings' so to speak, and can't get access to the market.
If you've written a book that people want to buy and read, you will get published. If not, you probably won't. In no case will Fletcher & Co. make the difference. They will never, ever help you. At best, they'll just get in your way. At worst, it'll be a lot worse than that.
And, if the Agent offers to help, to coach, and to mentor, well, you see the boards reply.
Liar, liar. This is the guy who's just been explaining that helping the author takes away from his valuable selling time.

Fletcher & Co.'s "help" consists of bunco-steering authors to confederates who'll charge them top prices for work of dubious quality and less utility. For this, Fletcher & Co. will receive illegal kickbacks from their cronies. The author will do all the paying.
What Do Buyers Think? That's what really matters.
==========================================
Robert Fletcher, "Sherry Fine", I take you at your word! What the buyers think is what really matters:
What most buyers think of Fletcher & Co.: Nothing. F&Co. don't send out many submissions.

What most buyers think when they do receive Fletcher & Co. submissions: "Ho-hum, agented slush. ... Nope, not buying this. Where's my stash of 'agent' form rejection letters...? Oh, there it is. [font=verdana, arial, helvetica](*log, stuff, seal*) (*thud*)[/font] ...Next!"

What the few buyers who're aware of Fletcher & Co.'s existence think of them: They think they've met pond scum that was more attractive, virtuous, and useful.
The small number of buyers who're aware that you exist didn't find out about you because you sell them books. They know your name because they're aware of the problem of scam agents. They know you're one of the worst of them. They show your (few, author-mailed) submissions to their editorial young, to teach them what to watch out for. They feel sorry for your clients.

That's what buyers think of you.
Buyers (publishers) love our model.
Liar, liar. Buyers don't give a damn about their model. Buyers care about authors and books. They don't buy Fletcher & Co.'s.
Why? because they know that we've forced the writer to jump through a series of hoops to prove their mettle.
As someone said in another thread, this is utterly irrelevant. Editors don't care about mettle and hoops. Editors care about books.

This and the next bit of quoted text are prime examples of a scammer trying to sound tough, knowledgeable, and intimidating, so they can scare the marks into quiet compliance.
And the writers whine, whine, whine, and the publishers say, "whew, thanks for bringing us great work and for filtering out the crackpots."
Nope. Publishers and editors don't say that. Filtering out crackpots is part of the agent's job. And if Fletcher & Co. were bringing anyone great work, they'd have sold some of it by now.
Where do you think the crackpots cluster? Right on the message boards because a successful writer is improving their craft, making submissions, and researching and writing.
And a successful agent is reading slush and phoning editors? Cuts both ways, boyo.

Fletcher/"Fine" is saying that crackpots "cluster" on the online boards because that's where writers exchange information and warning about his scam "agenting" operation. Writers who don't avail themselves of such information may be sitting at home, working on their writing; but they may have unpleasant surprises waiting for them when they go to sell it.
I use the word 'cluster' in the marketing segmentation definition.
See above, remarks on business-speak gobbledegook. This is another example of it.
Look on most of those message boards, and you will see advertising, newsletters, and other capitalistic products and services based on traffic generated by controversy.
Wrong. Traffic is generated by perceived value. Mere flamage won't do it. And participants on these boards aren't here to generate revenue for the people running them. They're here for the value they find in the discussion. Readers are here for the same reason.

Fletcher/"Fine" is trying to suggest that the operators of this board generate controversy purely as a means of drawing in traffic so they can increase their ad revenues. This is of course untrue. Jenna's downright twitchy about controversy.
So now you understand that the point of the boards is to generate traffic and advertising revenues based on their niche in the market.
We don't understand any such thing. The point of this board is to discuss writing and publishing.
Anyway, that said, it actually does us a favor and we've come to thank these boards.
Fletcher & Co. hate the online bulletin boards and other venues where people exchange information and spread the word about his fake agency. That's why their sockpuppets keep turning up at AW, doing their best (which is fortunately not very good) to silence their critics.
They weed out two main categories of authors that we are actually glad to be rid of: 1) nervous authors that don't understand the nitty gritty of hard business and who can't make up their mind and who rely on others for their opinions, 2) the SFN's (writers that want Something for Nothing) who want it all, basically for free...
"They weed out two main categories of authors whose fees we're sorry to lose: (1.) Authors who learn that our model of publishing is nothing like what's really out there, and that our business model is fraudulent; and (2.) Authors who expect us to be able to perform valuable and useful services on behalf of the writers we take on as clients."
I place 4 bullets under my signature.
Big fat hairy deal.
That's our promise. It's simple and it's understandable,
"And it's completely misleading. That's how we meant it to be."
and I really do think you'd be hard pressed to find one of our clients that won't, even grudgingly admit that we've delivered.
I've seen a lot of their former clients who say just the opposite. I've never seen a long-term client of theirs ... well, I've never seen a long-term client of theirs, period. But I've definitely never seen a long-term client of theirs who was willing to say they delivered squat.
Our Pledge To You:
==================
* We respect what you have accomplished thus far as a writer.
"We haven't read your manuscript, nor do we plan to do so in the future."
* We believe that great authors are made, not born. We are willing to develop talent.
"We're willing to develop talent as long as you do all the work, pay all the costs, and let us charge a commission every step of the way."
* We pledge straight talk in a confusing and old-school industry.
"We make simple, false, wholly misleading statements about a complex industry we've never gotten to know."
* We can't promise a sale. We can promise a professional relationship.
"'No sale' is a foregone conclusion. We can promise you a professional relationship as long as you understand that our profession is not "literary agent".
So, in conclusion, this is what I would do, if I were in your shoes,
"So, in conclusion, here's what I'm hoping you're sucker enough to do..."
I'd proceed with us,
NO KIDDING! After all is said and done, after carefully weighing all the considerations, they come to the conclusion that you ought to keep paying them to do nothing! Will wonders never cease?
eyes wide open, and see if we meet or exceed our four business tenets, A) Respect, B) Building Talent, 3) Straight Talk, and a 4) Professional Relationship.
"If you're fool enough to continue with us, you will indeed find out how we do on all those counts. Mind, you won't be happy; but you will find out."

BTW, I love the ordinals on their business tenets: A, B, 3, and 4.
Of course, if you'd rather us terminate our relationship now, no problem,
"If you decide to leave I can't do a thing about it, except bully you and try to undermine your confidence, hoping you'll be so squashed that you'll agree to go along with my scam."
fortunately for me, and unfortunately for you, there's 10 more to take your place,
They're being a bit crude and heavy-handed there, wouldn't you say?
and you can go back to querying agents for the rest of your life,
Another threat. I repeat: if you've written a book people want to buy and read, you will get published. If not, it's unlikely that you will. In neither case will Fletcher & Co.'s representation do you a bit of good, and they could do you quite a lot of harm.
or you can just see what happens
Why wait? I can tell you now. They won't sell your book, and they'll say it's all your fault.
and see if maybe, just maybe, we are what we say we are.
Again, I can answer that one right now: They aren't.
Best to you whatever your decision
"In spite of all my derogatory remarks and implied threats."
Sherry Fine - VP Acquisitions
Robert Fletcher's latest sockpuppet.
Just for grins, and so that you know we provide a service of value to aspiring authors, I would like you to see some of the unprompted quotes that we receive on a daily basis.
These may look like references, but all they are is quotes with no names attached. There's no way you can check up on them.
Our clients say it best. The quotes below are unedited and as you can see, quite from the heart. (We have lots more of these.) If you are really cynical, you will probably believe we made them up, but I promise you, we can prove every one of them.
If they were concerned about being believed, they need only have put real names on those quotes.

Note: in some cases I'm going to be excerpting bits from the quotes.
"Just a note to say, whatever the outcome of my submission, ..."
This author has neither been sold nor rejected. It's easy enough to say "Yes, we'll represent your work." Doing something with it is a lot harder.
"It is refreshing to get an honest professional opinion of my work, it make me realise just how much I don't know about the written word and its presentation."
"I am deeply unsure of myself, and grateful for any response."
Dear Georgina, I'd like you to know how highly and gratefully I regard the clarity with which you explain the process as well as your reliability. I have complete trust in both your abilities and ethical standards. Best wishes, Judith
"Dear Sockpuppet, I'm sending you an unsolicited testimonial, which vouches for moral characteristics of yours I'm not in any position to judge, and which doesn't sound like any author this professional has ever encountered."
It's been a long time since I left school with considerable number of years passing before I became interested in writing again. I would like you to thank you for working with me and let it be known that I look at this as a new beginning and rebirth of my education.
"If this is a representative sample of my prose, you have no business offering to represent me."
You don't know how nice it is to have such timely responses. I am sure I am not the only writer that puts a lot of heart into their work and I have to say, I have "kept mine tucked away in the closet" for many, many years. I just enjoy writing, but didn't know if I would ever try and submit it to anyone. Making the decision to do that has been somewhat of a nerve-wracking process. Your timely responses and professional, yet "down-to-earth" responses are making the process a lot easier. At this time, I am not submitting my work to anyone else, because you have impressed me the most up to this point. Even if we do not end up working together, I felt it was important to pass this along to you.
"Here's my credit-card number, the key to my safe-deposit boxes, and the passwords to all my accounts. Take me, you blazing hunk of agenty goodness, I'm yours!"
Dear Georgina: Your professional zeal and resourcefulness cannot be overemphasized seeing the volatile-oceanic-wave called the American Hollywood with its impregnable sales frontiers.I hold you dearly to my heart in my every prayers towards our mutual success now and...very soon in sbsequent works.I doff my heart after your every professional spirit imagining the energy, sweat and travellings involved. Thanks for everything you stand for professionally.
"Dear Sockpuppet, I have a mild neurochemical disorder and am even more vulnerable than your last correspondent. Please take me for all I'm worth."
Thank you for your constructive feedback. I found your critique of my work very informative, and it concluded many things that I already knew. I really do need to improve on my punctuation skills...
"Your critique has convinced me that I'm not a very good writer (even though my letter is quite passably written). I will probably give up on it. But I have very nice manners, so I'll write and say "thank you" all the same."
I just want to say I have been rejected for years by Agents and Publishers. After awhile it all seems pointless. But I am in this for the long run and will never give up and never give in.
"I am your natural prey. Thank you for inviting me to lunch. I'm sure it will be a learning experience."
...I must say that I am impressed by the way your agency has handled the science, or art of appreciating new sources of writing.
"Wow! You didn't turn me down. Everybody else has."
WE ARE CREATING THE MOST POWERFUL AGENCY GROUP IN THE UNITED STATES.
"We are so ineffectual at our ostensible profession that we shouldn't be called an agency at all."
Every author that we represent has been fully edited and we know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that their work is good enough for publication.
"We are lying through our teeth. We have no shame."
Unfortunately, the ones that 'wash out', tend to grouse and *****.
"Unfortunately, our fomer clients and many industry professionals are wise to us, and will say so, vigorously and at length, with many colorful illustrative details."
If you can make it through our process, then you will be in an elite group that buyers respect.
"We're lying again. We're such chronic and habitual liars that we probably lie to our teddy bears as we're falling asleep."
We never promise a sale,
"Which is only fair, since we never make them."
but we can promise that if we present your work, it will get respect from our buyers.
The natural respect editors and publishers extend to writers and their manuscripts has nothing whatsoever to do with Robert Fletcher and his various criminal enterprises.

Avoid them. Don't listen to their promises. They'll only bring you to grief.
 
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James D. Macdonald

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Fletcher & Co. hate the online bulletin boards and other venues where people exchange information and spread the word about his fake agency. That's why their sockpuppets keep turning up at AW, doing their best (which is fortunately not very good) to silence their critics.

Good catch there, Hapi. Compare and contrast
"Anyway, that said, it actually does us a favor and we've come to thank these boards." (Sherry Fine, 01-24-2006)​
with
"I absolutely guarantee the lawsuits are going to fly.. let's see who cares to play." (robertfletcher, 04-07-2004)

and
"We are beginning a series of lawsuits against her and other bulletin board moderators and posters." (RobertF, 04-22-2005)

and

"We're filing lawsuits against Victoria Strauss and a few other message board owners..." (Georgina Orr, 06-23-2005)


 
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James D. Macdonald

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Something else I just noticed in the "Sherry" letter:

In "Where do you think the crackpots cluster?" the word "cluster" is a verb. In "I use the word 'cluster' in the marketing segmentation definition," the word "cluster" is a noun.

Good going, "Sherry." Have you thought of hiring a professional editor? I hear there are some at that "sister company" of yours you keep recommending.


 

James D. Macdonald

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"Sherry Fine" says:

"Our clients say it best. The quotes below are unedited and as you can see, quite from the heart. (We have lots more of these.) If you are really cynical, you will probably believe we made them up, but I promise you, we can prove every one of them."

"Sherry Fine" also posts:

"Dear Georgina, I'd like you to know how highly and gratefully I regard the clarity with which you explain the process as well as your reliability. I have complete trust in both your abilities and ethical standards. Best wishes, Judith"

"Georgina Orr" posts:

1) The first category are the 'industry watchdogs'. These are people that derive some level of psychological benefits from 'exposing' fraud, scams, etc. WE HAVE CONTACTED THESE PEOPLE NUMEROUS TIMES AND OFFERED TO ANSWER THEIR QUESTIONS ON A PUBLIC FORUM FOR THE BEST INTEREST OF THE INDUSTRY AND THE WRITERS. They have refused or ignored our requests. What does that tell you? It tells me that they aren't interested in the truth, it tells me that they are interested in more visitors to their website. Also, they have blocked our rebuttal posts and deleted our prior posts. In short, a very one-sided message board!

Okay Sherry/Georgina/Robert: It's put-up or shut-up time.

I want Judith's full name, email address, and the title of her book. You want to call me "cynical"? Prove this is a real quote from a real person. Right here, right now. Let's see what she says about you today.

 

ADITDC

Quote:
Dario Castagno Too Much Tuscan Sun Globe Pequot


The author sold the book himself.

This is false...
 

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ADITDC said:
Quote:
Dario Castagno Too Much Tuscan Sun Globe Pequot
The author sold the book himself.
This is false...

Hi, there. Welcome to AW. Do you have more to contribute, like support, for your accusations? Do you have first-hand experience that contradicts this article from Chianti Classico Magazine?

The writer and critic Robert Rodi played a role in the enormous success of this book. It succeeded like a thunderclap. “At the beginning I auto-published and auto-distributed the book and I soon realized that it was a good idea. Three thousand books sold in 15 days and then a further 10,000. Then I was contacted by a U.S. publisher. “Why,” he asked me, “can’t we find this book in the United States?” “Yeah, why?” Because Castagno, enough but not too much of a prophet in his own country, fell, as they say, from the clouds. “Don’t worry about it,” the publisher said. “We’ll take care of publication and distribution in the States.” They tended to it and the result was as follows: Too Much Tuscan Sun sold more than 150,000 copies in the United States, it’s the bestselling book and Italian author in America and now it is being published in Germany, the Scandinavian countries and Australia And it continues to sell.
 

ADITDC

The book was self published only in Italy, Robert Rodi's (a dear friend) agent tried for 3 years to find a publisher in the US without success.
Castagno tried himself, only Fletcher replied and got hold of GPP that contacted the author asking "How come the book has never been published in the US if it has been such a hit in English in Italy?"
 

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ADITDC said:
The book was self published only in Italy, Robert Rodi's (a dear friend) agent tried for 3 years to find a publisher in the US without success.
Castagno tried himself, only Fletcher replied and got hold of GPP that contacted the author asking "How come the book has never been published in the US if it has been such a hit in English in Italy?"
Do you have any proof of this?
 

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ADITDC said:
The book was self published only in Italy, Robert Rodi's (a dear friend) agent tried for 3 years to find a publisher in the US without success.
Castagno tried himself, only Fletcher replied and got hold of GPP that contacted the author asking "How come the book has never been published in the US if it has been such a hit in English in Italy?"

Well, a columnist for a magazine that specializes on the book's topic says one thing. Some unidentified person who won't cite sources or provide verifiable information in defense of a convicted fraud says another. Who would you believe?
 

Roger J Carlson

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ADITDC said:
The book was self published only in Italy, Robert Rodi's (a dear friend) agent tried for 3 years to find a publisher in the US without success.
Castagno tried himself, only Fletcher replied and got hold of GPP that contacted the author asking "How come the book has never been published in the US if it has been such a hit in English in Italy?"
What an incredible coincidence that Robert Rodi is a "dear friend" of yours and you just happen to post here.

Oh wait. Maybe it's not so incredible. The hallmark of an internet hoax is that it is always told with one degree of separation. It usually starts with: "This really happened to a dear friend of mine." This gives the veneer of credibility without any substance.

Unless you're willing to back up your assertions with proof, please peddle it elsewhere.

Note: The next time ADITDC replies, it will be an indignant reply, blasting everyone with derogatory (and usually non-sequitor) comments that try to divert attention from the fact that he or she never answers the questions we've posed. He or she will be too busy to bother with the us small-minded, untalented hacks. All this, even though he or she wasn't too busy to start it.
 

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Roger J Carlson said:
Note: The next time ADITDC replies, it will be an indignant reply, blasting everyone with derogatory (and usually non-sequitor) comments that try to divert attention from the fact that he or she never answers the questions we've posed. He or she will be too busy to bother with the us small-minded, untalented hacks. All this, even though he or she wasn't too busy to start it.
Our inability to get published or get an agent will come up, too (despite easily obtainable evidence to the contrary). There will probably be a rant about how the publishing industry keeps down the talented little guy, as well. And then someone new who is definitely not ADITDC will jump in and mention how reasonable ADITDC is and how we're untalented, unpublished, unagented, bitter failures with too much time on our hands who post on messageboards and ruin the reputation of good agents.

Wow, we must've really hit a nerve with Fletcher and Co. this time, eh?
 

ADITDC

What an incredible coincidence that Robert Rodi is a "dear friend" of yours and you just happen to post here.

Robert Rodi is a dear friend of Dario Castagno
 

Roger J Carlson

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Wait a second. How does this:
The book was self published only in Italy, Robert Rodi's (a dear friend) agent tried for 3 years to find a publisher in the US without success.
Translate into Robert Rodi being a dear friend of Castagno? If you take out the parenthetical, it says "Robert Rodi's agent..." So which is it? Robert Rodi or Robert Rodi's agent? And why is it important that he (whoever it is) is a dear friend?

And more importantly, what is your source for the statement that he tried to find a publisher for 3 years without success until Fletcher & Co. stepped in?
 
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