May 30, 2010

Opportunists, Scammers and Sleazebags, Oh My!

Yesterday, I received another agent’s e-mail rejection. This one started off encouragingly but ended with the usual “not for us” statement. I was steeled for that but not for his suggestion that I spend $12 to purchase his book on how to find an agent!

I should have seen the pitch coming because his website was salted with ads for his book. He was making lemonade from submissions he considered lemons. I might have cried but laughed instead. His book appeared to be self-published. What am I to think about an agent who can’t get himself a publisher?

The book world is full of opportunists, scammers and sleaze bags so here are some simple rules to remember:

  • A responsible agent won’t reject your book and try to sell you his.
  • An ethical agent won’t charge you fees to read your submission.
  • If he/she offers you a contract, he/she will take the cost for services from the proceeds of the sale and not before. Agents who charge up front promotional expenses — mailing, phone calls, etc. — are making money off the writer and not from succeeding at their job.
  • An ethical agent doesn’t offer to edit your book for a fee, or send you to someone who does editing or work in association with any business that provides these services. To do so represents a conflict of interest. 
  • Look for an agent who sells books to mainstream publishers. If the agent’s credits are with small presses, consider whether or not you want to pay him/her 10% for a contract you could have obtained on your own. 

If this summary whets your appetite, go to “Writer Beware” to learn more. I’ve provided the link. As for me, I’ll wait for the next amusing rejection to share.