There’s a tendency to think that people who get suckered into the agent scams still left out there – fewer of them now that watchdog sites have proliferated on the net – deserve what they get. No hopers who couldn’t get a real agent and are scraping the barrel… < ?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Recently, wearing my writer/mentor hat, I read an absolutely terrific ms only to discover to my horror that a few months back the author had signed a contract with the thoroughly scurrilous New York Literary Agency. (Lately more likely to be encountered as WL or Writers Literary Agency – part of a morphing technique that has taken them through four or five name changes of which we’re aware.)
Mostly getting hooked by these people is just sad. This time it could be very costly. The book needs work, but my best guess (and I’ve been in this business a long time) is it will find a first class agent and a ditto publisher. It wouldn’t surprise me if it then went on to sell many thousands of copies. It’s that good.
So what’s to prevent this crowd of pretenders claiming a piece of the writer’s action once the book’s on the bestseller lists? I’m no lawyer, but it certainly looked as if it could happen.
Except that it won’t. This writer is not just talented, but living a charmed life and apparently possessed of excellent karma. I raised the red flag. The writer then advised that a best friend is a well known copyright attorney. A letter was sent that absolutely covers all the bases.
We should all be so lucky.
Even better, make your own luck. Don’t go near any agent without a demonstrable track record of dozens and dozens of sales to major houses, a fully reachable office in New York (you can bend that one a little tiny bit – LA or Boston maybe, not Denver, not Wichita, not Boca Raton…), not a p.o. box, an OFFICE. Plus a reputation as a top class agent, which reputation can be verified simply by putting the agent’s name in Google.
And don’t believe the urban myth that says such agents don’t read new writers. Yes, Virginia, they do. They do. They do. For more on all this sign up for the free E-zine on the News page and get the latest issue. Happens it delivers the proof.