Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Writer Beware - Agent Scams

We writers are generally a trusting lot.  We want to believe the 'agents' out there are going to represent us, get a sale and we'll both profit. 

And, most of the time there's validity to that hope/belief.  Most agents are legit, trying to make a living, and get downright excited on  many levels when their clients succeed.

But, there are the bad apples in the lot, as there are in any industry, and it's a good idea to know what red flags to watch for. 

Here are a few I've experienced or known about:

A.. Think about it carefully if an agent solicits you.  I got stung by this once earlier in my career after a couple of books had been published.  I loved the fact he approached me to represent me, but didn't do my research thoroughly enough and got stung.  That guy turned out to be a jerk of monumental proportions.  There are times an agent may approach you and it could be a very good thing, but don't just jump.  Check out the situation thoroughly first. Then decide.

B  If the agent you've contacted tells you your work is wonderful, fabulous, you're going to get rich - right after he/she does the needed editing - at a price, run, don't walk, in the other direction.

C. The agent charges a fee to read your manuscript.  Nope, no way.  Don't do it.

D. If an agent offers a contract the day after you sent your manuscript for his/her consideration, back off.  Be realistic.  Anyone needs some time to read your work.  If the offer is too quick you can be sure it hasn't been read.  So why, then, would he/she want to represent you?  Think about it.

E. Now here's one that should give every writer pause.  If the agent you've contacted replies with a letter that's written poorly and has many spelling errors think again.  And if his/her favorite manner of communication is through a form letter and he/she can't be bothered to pick up the phone or jot you a quick Email in response to a question or an opportunity, then this probably isn't the agent for you.

F. If an agent comes up with excuses as to why he/she can't/won't tell you who else they represent, consider it a warning.

G.  If you have an agent who 'represents' you, but dodges phone calls, never talks to you and doesn't want to discuss your work and where it's being sent, this is a very bad sign.  Run.

With all these warnings you might be thinking, gads, who wants an agent?  But as I said above, there are many reputable and great agents.  Just do your homework. Check out the red flags. If you see any whether from your own checking or hearing from other writers, keep looking. A reputable agent will recognize you are his/her client and your success is their success.  Don't let an agent intimidate you because he/she knows the business and you don't.  If the relationship doesn't feel comfortable from the start - then don't start it.

Keep looking.

Here are a few references that might be of help to you:
Agent Query   

Use your twitter account - search #agents #agencies #LiteraryAgents and be creative and thik of more and see what you come up with.

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