To all aspiring AW authors who seek a literary agent, I offer the following tale. Whether I was a wise ant or a foolish grasshopper I leave up to you.

Recently I sent a query to Linda Langton. She quickly asked for a partial of my novel, and then a week later asked me to mail her the full manuscript on paper. A few weeks later her assistant contacted me. Here is most of her message:

“Thank you very much for sending us your book and for your patience in our reviewing process. We now have had five readers review your book, and we think it is marvelous. You have a lot of potential for a commercially published novel in today's market.

“We thought it was a fast-pace, easy read, and most of the characters were consistent. You have a very strong writing style and your book kept us wanting more. However, though we very much enjoyed it, we don't think it is quite ready for publishing yet. We think you are very close, but an overview/assessment done by a professional editor will help make it ready for today's publishing standards….”

It seemed odd that neither Ms. Langston nor her five readers could offer any specific feedback. I asked for guidance about what Ms. Langton wanted me to do, and she sent me this reply:

“Katelyn has passed your email on to me to send to an appropriate editor. As you know we loved your story and want it to work for the commercial publishers. We believe that you would benefit from an overview/assessment for you to follow to direct you where the work is needed. It is almost there in our opinion.

“The cost for a critique/assessment for a book of over 100,000 words would be $1,175 and the editor I would like to use is a published author who has won a PushCart Prize and O'Malley Award and he teaches writing in colleges in the New York and New Jersey areas.

“He gets booked very quickly and I have told him about you and so if you could kindly let me know if we can help, so I can ask him to keep the time available for you, I would appreciate it.

“We are all looking forward to reading your reworked book when it is ready, Thomas.”

Getting paid over a thousand dollars for about ten hours’ work would be a sweet deal for Ms. Langton’s editor friend. Based on the fact that in her offer there was absolutely no assurance of representation or even of positive results, I politely declined. I have not heard back from her since.