Beware When Searching for An Agent

         When I first started writing my novel, I had no drive to finish.  It was just something to do to amuse myself.  Last summer, I felt that if I didn’t finish it, my life would be unfulfilled.  So it is finished.  I started reading books by Evan Marshall, Donald Maas, James Scott Bell, and other successful people in the writing and publishing market.  Timidly, I emailed out a single query to an agent I found by searching online.  According to everything I read, I would quickly – or not so quickly – receive a rejection email.  Worse yet, I would receive no response.  To my utter disbelief, I received a request two days later for the first three chapters.  Joyously, I submitted it and waited.  Although I was assured I would hear something within the next two weeks, four days after submitting, they requested to see the entire manuscript.  I couldn’t sleep for days!  

             Image my shock when I was offered a contract the next week!  Me! A first time author!  They assured me that my work was good, but that they asked every author to have an independent critique.  I readily agreed and they emailed the form and request for the $90 critique fee.  I searched my ten resource books and found several that suggested a possible reading fee, so off went my money and my manuscript.

            I have been a teacher for over eighteen years.  I completely understand how my students feel when submitting a project to me.  I was biting my nails for days.  Would it be good enough?  What would they want me to change?  Would the agent change her mind after the critique said it was no good?  I read over the sample critiques on their website and shuddered.  I was pleased with my critique when it was returned.  It was helpful in several areas, but overall it was very positive about the work as it was.

            Over several months, nothing happened.  When I emailed my agent – who, by the way, I have never spoken with or received anything from in the mail – she suggested we take a more aggressive approach.   She assured me that the $150 covered the cost of printing and mailing only.  She sent me a form agreement which states that when my agent finds a publisher, the $150 will come out of her commission.  More cautiously, I send the signed agreement and my money back.  

             They sent me a list of publishers to whom they will submit my manuscript.  I wrote a Christian fiction romance, not to be confused with an inspirational romance.  (I learned the difference during my reading frenzy of “how to “ books.)  On the list, there was not one of the typical Christian publishers I expected.  Through email, she assured me that every one of the listed publishers has a Christian fiction division.  

            My last contact with her assured me –via email once again – that the “bundles” were ready to send out to the publishers.  

            I am currently seeking a new agent. Be careful of agents who do not follow the normal guidelines.  Though they may truly be a literary agent, it can be assumed they are not successful at placing too many authors with editors and publishers.         

Beware The Writer's Literary Agency

                After reading a recent article from another writer, I decided it is time for me to write this article. In my recent post about agents, I didn’t name the agency with which I was working and I believe that was a mistake – one I will rectify today.

                I will say it plainly. BEWARE THE WRITER’S LITERARY AGENCY!!!! As strongly as I say that, I will be completely honest and add that they did not do anything technically wrong. The problem is simply that they are not the standard literary agent. Here are some of the issues:

1.       I never spoke with my agent or anyone who sent me an email.

2.       Emails came from literally 10 different names; all communication came via email.

3.       Through them, I paid for a critique of my work which came back with a few words of advice, but no real substance. It was vague at best and did not address the storyline.

4.       When I signed the contract, it offered 6 months or 1 year.  I chose 6 months.  When the 6 months ended, they did not offer to renew the contract, just kept sending me emails.

5.       When I questioned the need for a contract, no one responded. I finally tracked down the phone number on the bottom of one of the pages of my contract and called. I reached a “customer representative” who was in the field and knew nothing about me or my agent. He simply took my information and assured me my agent would call. No one called.

6.       I received an email a week after my request for a new contract which I asked to be sent through the mail. The email was asking for my address; it was on my contract which they should have.

7.       Since there had been no offers on my Christian fiction novel, they suggested the Aggressive Agent package asking me to pay $175 for postage and printing of 10 “bundles” to be sent to editors and publishers.  I hesitated and agreed.

8.       They sent me a list of publishers which was the proverbial straw – not one of the editors listed were Christian fiction publishers, although after researching them, I found 2 out of 10 had Christian subsidiaries. I also had no idea what “bundles” they were sending out since anyone in the business knows a query must be sent first.

9.       I promptly emailed every person who had emailed me over the last 8 months and requested a refund.  Only 2 of them responded. 

10.   Although it took two weeks, several emails, and two phone calls, I did receive a full refund.

I posted all of this so that struggling writers out there do not waste 8-10 months waiting for something that will never happen.  I cannot validate any claims on sites such as Predators, making claims of wrong doing.  I can only share my experience with you.  Technically, the agency didn’t do anything wrong other then take advantage of an eager first-time writer.  Hopefully, I can save other newbies that roller-coaster of emotional rides when dealing with The Writer’s Literary Agency.

If you have any questions, please email me. I have listed a few agencies willing to accept unsolicited queries. I will add more as I discover them.