Assumptions, assumptions

Remember how I told you that it is ALWAYS a strategic mistake assume that the readers of your queries and submissions know ANYTHING about the subject matter of your book prior to reading your work? No? Well, allow me to refresh your memory.

As I pointed out in my August series on manuscript revision with an eye to how an agency screener tends to read, authorial assumptions of readerly understanding can water down the intended impact of a manuscript. Obviously, this is true when the assumptions in question are inherently offensive to the reader — stereotyping, for instance, has taken down many a promising submission — but it is also the case where the text proceeds on the assumption that the reader has certain specialized knowledge of the underlying subject matter of the book.

In other words: it’s never a good idea to assume that an agent, screener, or even lay reader has ANY background that would free you from the necessity of explanation. (True of editors, too. But of that, more later, when I get to the part about ME, ME, ME.) Again, the question recurs: how sure are you about who will be reading YOUR submission?

You cannot always rely upon an agent’s background knowledge — even, amazingly enough, when the phenomenon in question is fairly well known. Just as you can’t get away with presuming that any given reader (again, read: agent, editor, or contest judge) will share your political or social beliefs, you cannot legitimately assume that the agent you covet WASN’T brought up in a cardboard box at the base of a mineshaft in an unusually warm part of Antarctica.

So while it’s already a poor idea to include too many pop culture references because they date your book, it’s also not strategically wise because your reader may not recognize them.

Partially, it’s a poor idea because you can’t be sure that the person reading your manuscript will be in your age group (or ethnic group, or sex group — that sounds racier than it is, doesn’t it? — or bridge club, for that matter). Your submission may as easily be read by a 23-year-old recent Columbia graduate with a nose piercing, eight tattoos, and an immoderate admiration for Benito Mussolini as by a 50-year-old Democrat in Armani.

At many agencies, in fact, the screening process would entail your work being approved by both. (In case you’re not aware of it, at a major agency, the agent herself is almost NEVER the first person to read a submission. Yes, even if she requested it from someone she met at a conference. It’s not at all uncommon for a manuscript to need to garner two or even three positive reviews from the screening pool before landing on the agent’s desk.)

Obviously, then, it would not be the best strategic move to make your work inaccessible to a reader outside your own age group — yes, even if you are writing a book SPECIFICALLY for readers in your age group. Screeners and editorial assistants tend to be young, so they might well need an explanation of, say, the quotidian effects of menopause.

How young, you ask? I don’t mean to scare those of you on Social Security, but practically the only editorial feedback I received on my memoir from the callow stripling assigned to it by my publishing house was flagged cultural references. The two that stick in my mind: next to Dacron, he had scrawled, “What is this?” and next to Aristotle, he had written, “Who?”

I’m just saying.

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but for the benefit of those of you new to this blog, allow me to emphasize that age assumptions can be especially disastrous in contest entries: I can’t tell you how many entries I’ve screened as a judge that automatically assumed that every reader would be a Baby Boomer, with that set of life experiences. As a Gen Xer with parents born long before the Baby Boom (my father had first-hand memories of hometown doughboys marching off to World War I; my mother’s elementary school best friend was carted off to a Japanese-American internment camp during World War II), I obviously read these entries differently than an older (or younger) person would.

More to the point, as would a judge in her late 60s — or 70s, or 80s, as often they are. Being a contest judge takes TIME, especially for those stalwart souls who are first round readers. They need to be able to read and comment upon dozens of entries within a short window of time, so contest judges tend to be either extraordinarily dedicated volunteers who are willing to forego sleep in order to help out, people like me who have extremely flexible schedules, or —  and this is far and away the largest potential group of volunteers — retired people.

Thus, like the Academy Awards, the average age of a first-round contest judge tends to fall in the charmingly graying range. Which — I hate to say it, but it’s often true — tends to place those who write for Gen Xers or Gen Yers at a competitive disadvantage in the average contest. Yet another reason it’s a pretty good idea to make sure that any piece you enter would read well for ANY English-reading demographic.

Just as with your submissions to agencies, you never know how old your readers will be.

Ditto for concepts, cultural phenomena, professions, etc. — and ditto fifty times over for phenomena that do not routinely occur on the Eastern seaboard. Many things are beyond the average Manhattanite’s ken. So if your protagonist is an Alaskan fisherwoman, it’s probably a fairly safe bet that an agent in NYC will have little to no idea what such a person’s day-to-day life would entail, other than that there is probably a boat involved. Possibly a net as well.

However, it’s not always as simple as that: for all you know, the agent of your dreams’ older brother spent half a decade on just such a fishing boat (it was right after our Jimmy ran off to follow the Grateful Dead for a couple of years, but the family doesn’t talk about that, unless someone asks about his missing pinkie finger.) And, wouldn’t you know it, Jimmy was an unusually prolific writer of letters home. While he was on the high seas, he was clinging to a miniscule desk below deck, scribbling away like Mme. de Staël, giving your agent a crash course in all things fishery.

And this presents a genuine dilemma for the writer, doesn’t it? You have to be prepared for both complete ignorance and intimate familiarity with your subject matter. The trouble is, of course, is that before you submit, you have absolutely no idea which.

In order to succeed in this business, of course, you will need to accept that you cannot control who will read your work after you mail it to an agency. If your romance novel about cruise line captain happens to fall onto the desk of someone who has recently experienced food poisoning mid-cruise (just before the mambo tournament, too!) and resented it, there’s really nothing you can do to assuage her dislike. Similarly, if your self-help book on resolving intrafamily discord is screened by a reader in the midst of a three-year fight with her siblings over Grandma’s estate (she promised the figurines to everybody, apparently), no efforts on your part can assure a non-cynical read. And, as long-term readers of this blog already know, a tongue just burned on a latté often spells disaster for the next manuscript its owner reads.

All you can do is concentrate on what you can control: clarity, aptness of references, and making your story or argument appeal to as broad an audience as possible.

That being said, I have another truth to spring on you, so brace yourselves: everything I have just told you about dealing with agencies and contests is roughly 47 times more pertinent — and more important — when dealing with an editor at a publishing house. But of that (ME, ME, ME!), more tomorrow.

In the meantime, keep up the good work!

The agency contract, Part IV: Show me the money

Did you think I was going to sign off on my series on contract explanation without addressing the issue most on the average agent-seeking writer’s mind? Perish the thought.

Yes, Virginia, the agency contract will specify the percentage of your advances and royalties your agent will get. And no, abiding by this is not left up to the goodness of your heart: if you are represented by an agent, your publication contract will specify that the publisher will send your checks to your agent, not directly to you. This means that any money you see will automatically have the agents’ percentage deducted from it.

Typically, in literary agencies, this percentage for is 15% for English-language North American sales. Script agents generally get 10%. In either case, the contract may either be on a yearly (or longer) basis or a per-project basis: find out which, so you are aware of the terms of renewal. If you are planning to write more than one thing, do be sure before you sign that your agent will want to represent everything you want to write.

These percentages are non-negotiable in virtually every agency on earth, so the point of examining your contract is not to gain haggling ammunition: it’s to prepare you for the day when a check arrives with fewer zeroes on it than your advance led you to expect. And no, a lower percentage does not usually mean a better deal for the author – it’s usually an indication that the agency is new, and is trying to attract high-ticket clients.

Pretty much every agency in the country takes a significantly higher cut of foreign sales: 20% or more is the norm. (For reasons I have not been able to fathom, my agency takes 23% of sales in the Baltic republics, so they’ll really score if my memoir takes off in Lithuanian.)

The higher price tag abroad is for a very practical reason: unless an agency has an outpost in a foreign country (as some of the larger agencies do) it willsubcontract their foreign rights sales to agencies in other countries, who take their cut as well. So if you suspect that your book will have a high market appeal in Turkey or Outer Mongolia, you might want to check up front whether your prospective agency has a branch there, or is subcontracting. The differential in commission percentage can be substantial.

“Um, Anne?” I hear a small, confused chorus out there piping. “Was the bit about English-language North American sales just a really complicated typo? Aren’t there other people in the world who read English — like, say, the people in England? Why aren’t all of the English-language sales lumped together, and the foreign ones together?”

Ah, because that would make sense, my friends. The industry likes to keep all of us guessing by throwing a cognitive curve ball every now and again, so this is going to require a fairly extensive and rather convolutedexplanation. Before I launch into it, you might want to pop into the kitchen and make yourself some tea, or fluff up the pillows on your ottoman. I’ll wait.

Okay, everybody comfortable? Here goes: from the point of view of your garden-variety US publisher, books published in the English language fall into three categories: those sold in North America, those sold in Great Britain, and those sold in other countries. Of the three, only those in the first category are considered English-language sales, for contractual purposes. The last two are considered foreign-language sales.

There — and you thought it wasn’t going to make sense…

So, perversely, if EXACTLY the same English-language book by a US author was sold in Canada and Great Britain, the author’s US agent would take 15% of the royalties on the first and 20% on the second. (This situation is not at all beyond belief: HARRY POTTER is, I am told sold in a slightly different form in the former Commonwealth than in the U.S. Why? Well, chips mean one thing to a kid in London and another to a kid in LA, and while apparently the industry has faith that a kid in Saskatchewan could figure that out, it despairs of the cultural translation skills of a kid in Poughkeepsie.)

This is why, in case you were curious, you will see the notation NA in industry discussions of book sales – it refers to first North American rights, minus Mexico. Rights to sell books south of the border, in any language, fall under foreign language rights, which are typically sold on a by-country basis.

However, occasionally an American publisher will try to score a sweet deal on a book expected to be a bestseller and try to get the world rights as part of the initial deal, but this generally does not work out well for the author. Why? Well, if a book is reprinted in a second language and a North American publisher owns the foreign rights, the domestic house scrapes an automatic 20% off the top of any foreign-language royalties accrued by the author. (If this seems a trifle technical, chalk it up to the rather extended struggle I had to retain my memoir’s foreign rights; back in the day, my now-gun-shy publisher wanted ‘em, big time. But they’re mine, I tell you, all mine!)

Be very wary of an agent who is not willing to offer you a written contract. Contrary to popular belief, verbal contracts may be binding (if some consideration has changed hands as a result of it, as I understand it; if you handed someone a $50 bill and the keys to your car after the two of you had discussed his painting a mural on the passenger-side door, I’m told that could be construed as a contract, even with nothing in writing), but as I MAY have pointed out, oh, 1800 times in the last 6 months, this is an industry where the power differential tends not to fall in the writer’s favor until after she is pretty darned well established. Protect yourself.

Do not assume, however, that you will ever see another copy of the contract again after you sign it. Make yourself a photocopy – yes, even before the agent has countersigned it – so you may refer to it later.

I know that this series has occasionally read as if agents are evil trolls, waiting under every bridge into Manhattan in the hope of defrauding innocent authors, but I am only trying to get you to put up your antennae when dealing with them. The vast majority of agents honestly are good people who love good writing and want to help writers – but as in every profession, not all of them are scrupulous about fulfilling their obligations toward their clients. It behooves us to be cautious.

Please, when the time comes: don’t be so flattered by an agent’s attention that you just agree to everything you are asked. That’s how good writers get hurt, and I don’t want to see it happen to you.

On to cheerier topics tomorrow, thank goodness! Keep up the good work!

The agency contract, Part III: double indemnity?

When last we spoke – electronically, that is – I was waxing poetic about the need to take a close gander at an agency contract before you sign it, to prevent unpleasant surprises down the line. (I know, I know: we should all have such problems. But by preparing you for them now, my hope is that you will be a happier camper in years to come. Or sooner, if you’re lucky.)

While you are looking over the contract, check to see whether you are signing with the agency as a whole or with the agent specifically: contracts come both ways. Agents move around all the time, and some agencies can have pretty short lifespans. If your agent retired, for instance, would you still be represented? What about if your agent started an agency of her own? Or, heaven forefend, died or decided to scrap her career and follow the Dalai Lama around for a decade or two?

My friend May, for example, found out too late that her contract was with her agent, not her agency: amazingly enough, no one filled her in on the possibility until after her agent had actually passed away.

Something of a surprise, as you may imagine; May hadn’t even known that she was sick. (After you’ve hung out around represented writers for awhile, you will start to notice how often authors are NOT informed about illness, imminent life or career changes, or sometimes even the firing of their agents and editors. We writers always seem to be the last to know.)

May was very sorry, of course, because she had liked her agent very much, but it never occurred to her that she no longer had representation. Until she received a letter from the agency, a couple of weeks later. Seems that the agency had hired a replacement agent – who did not represent May’s kind of work. So sorry; best of luck elsewhere.

No offer to help her find another agent, nothing. Just goodbye and good luck. Incredulous, May checked her contract and, sure enough, she hadn’t signed with the agency at all, only her late agent. She was back on the querying junket again.

Why the distinction? Well, it actually has more to do with the internal structure of the agency than your agent’s relationship with you — or any other writer, for that matter. Agencies vary quite a bit. Some are set up so the royalty money all goes into a common pool, funding the entire agency, and some are run like hairdressing establishments, where each chair, so to speak, houses an independent contractor, and no funds are mixed.

Why should your agent’s employment arrangements concern you? Well, if you are the client of an independent contractor-type agent, if she leaves the agency, you more or less automatically go with her. If your contract is with the agency, you probably will not. (May’s contract was the former.)

And if your agent has a track record of agency-hopping every couple of years – as many junior agents do; it’s a smart way to build a professional lifetime’s worth of contact lists – may I suggest that this is a contractual arrangement that may affect your life pretty profoundly?

My friend Katherine, one of the most talented writers I know, was thrown for an unexpected loop by such a move, and at least in the short run, her book’s marketing prospects suffered for it. Her contract left the issue a bit ambiguous, specifying that Katherine would be represented by Agent X AT Agency Y. So when Agent X, without any advance warning, suddenly decided to leave Agency Y to start her own agency, Katherine actually had a hard time learning whether she was still represented at all.

Remember what I said earlier about the writer’s always being the last to know?

And, to make the situation worse, at the time, a respectable number of editors at major publishing houses had their hot little hands on Katherine’s excellent book. Naturally, she did everything, short of turning up on the doorstep of her NYC agency, to find out what was going on with her contract.

After several highly frustrating weeks of telephone and e-mail tag, she learned that she had only three options: break her contract and sign a new agency agreement with Agency Y, but be assigned to a new agent whom she did not know (and about whom they would tell her nothing); break her contract and sign with Agent X in her new agency, or break her contract and seek representation somewhere else.

While the book was still out with editors. No matter what, her old contract was more or less defunct. Through absolutely no fault of Katherine’s.

Since, like so many of us, Katherine had spent years upon years seeking the perfect agent for her work, none of these possibilities seemed particularly appetizing to her. Option 1 would involve leaving a well-established agency for a brand-new one (which generally means living through months of office-transition disorganization); Option 2 would leave her and her book orphaned until someone at her agency decided to pick her up. And, since she had long experience with querying, Option 3 sounded a lot like putting her hand in a meat grinder for fun. She ended up following her agent – which, if her contract had not been ambiguous, is probably precisely what would have happened anyway.

My point is, unexpected things can happen. If you understand your contract, you will be much better prepared to deal with emergencies as they arise. Again: ask.

I shall wind up my series on agency contracts tomorrow, but in the meantime, a heads-up to those of you who have material out with important agents and/or editors at the moment: the Frankfurter Buchmesse – that’s the Frankfurt Book Fair to those of us stateside – has just ended, which may well mean that the agent or editor who should be reading your manuscript is either on a plane or abroad at the moment. A hefty proportion of the industry’s heavy hitters attend, often grabbing European vacation time on either end.

As a result, guess what piles up on NYC desks every October?

What this could mean for you: a slower response time than usual, in an industry already notorious for slow response times. Don’t panic; I assure you, the delay is not about you or your writing. Sit tight.

And keep up the good work!

The agency contract, Part II

Yesterday, I started talking about the importance of understanding an agency contract before you sign it — and, indeed, of learning as much as you can about an agency before getting involved with it. Yes, I know: this reads as though I am talking about dating, and in a sense, I am. During the querying process, you are sending your book out on a series of close-to-blind dates, hoping to it will attract an agent. But not every agent is marriage material, if you catch my drift; writer-agent divorces are more common than you might think, usually on the grounds of irreconcilable differences.

Unagented writers don’t seem to talk, or even think, about this possibility much — after so much rejection, anyone who says yes to you can start to look pretty darned good — but let me assure you, amongst agented writers, the differentials between what we had expected our agents to do for us (send our work out promptly, for instance, or return phone calls within a month) and what they have actually done is a CONSTANT source of animated discussion.

My agent, of course, is a treat and a joy and a pleasure. Seriously, she is — and when a client writer can say that with such assurance in the middle of a fairly hair-raising revision on a tight deadline, it may safely be believed. Maybe I just have an unusually affectionate disposition toward people who make efforts on my books’ behalf, but I have to say, amongst the agents of my kith and kin (who are legion and literarily prolific, I am happy to report), my experience with my agent does seem to be a bit, well, anomalous.

I attribute this partially to the fact that writers are very often isolated from one another. If you don’t know another agented writer to ask, how are you going to know what is and isn’t normal in writer-agent relations? (Yet another terrific reason to join a writer’s group, eh?) For instance, it is not at all uncommon for an agent to be very slow — as in months — in getting a contract to a new client. I’ve known writers to be represented contract-less for a year or more.

Is this an indication that the agent who was wild to represent them a few months ago has cooled off? Not usually — but that is of course the first conclusion the writer tends to draw. Most of the time, agents who do this are just disorganized about something which is to them a rather low priority; from their point of view, all that’s important is that you have given them the right to represent your work, and that they have a signed contract with you before you sign a contract with a publisher. Since the signing with agent to signing with publisher time is often lengthy, what’s the rush?

Yet again, we see proof that writers’ sense of urgency (“I must overnight my manuscript!” or “I must make all of the revisions my agent wants by a week from Tuesday!”) does not always correspond with their agents’ (“I’ll send out that contract today…What do you mean, I said that five weeks ago?”) Moral of the story: try not to jump to the worst possible conclusions right away.

The result of this difference in urgency perception is often, alas, some pretty slow agency contract delivery times. Should this happen to you, go ahead and ask for it, if necessary once per month: believe it or not, agents sometimes think it’s been mailed out when it hasn’t.

The other reason that writers end up dissatisfied with their agents, I suspect, is that writers often do not have a firm grasp of either their new agencies’ policies, their agent’s expectations, and/or the provisions of their contracts before they sign. In the white heat of excitement over SOMEONE in the biz loving one’s work, it’s often hard to come up with good questions to ask.

Especially if you have not yet seen the agency contract. It’s in the mail, really.

This is definitely an arena where it is ENTIRELY appropriate to ask what-if questions, ESPECIALLY if you do not have a contract in hand. You will want to know about the normal MO of the agency — commission percentages, length of contract, how they submit to publishers, etc. — but try to work in a question or two about who your contact person will be OTHER than your agent. An assistant? The agency’s principal? The office tabby cat?

Why is this important? Well, if something happens to your agent — a leave of absence, an accident, a move to another agency, or even just not being in the office when a crucial call from an editor comes — the agency will be handling your interests. So you don’t just need to trust your agent — you need to trust your agency as well.

How might this affect you and your work? Well, put on your jammies, boys and girls: it’s story time.

I had been signed with my wonderful, amazing, devoted agent for less than six months when she had a baby. Miracle that she is, she managed to sell my book AND another client’s practically as they wheeled her off to the delivery room, but for some months, it looked very likely that the contract negotiations for my memoir might end up being handled by another agent. As it turned out, another agent held my hand during the rather nerve-wracking period between contract-signing and book delivery — which, in my case, was only about two months.

I think it’s safe to say that I was not always perfectly happy and level-headed during that intensely stressful period. I was lucky that I had been temporarily reassigned by my agency to a delightfully patient and kind listener.

More seriously, I was also still under the care of my interim agent when the first lawsuit threat came. (It came in waves, one in early July, followed by much silence, then another in early September, and a third the following March. Different allegations about the book each time, I might add, and none textually-based.) If my agency were not full of very competent, very supportive people, I might have been left to face the threat unadvised. Having known other writers who have had to deal with lawsuits over their memoirs (hey, I get around) without the help of an agent, I feel very, very fortunate.

And VERY glad that that I read my agency contract very well before I signed it, so I felt secure about the agency that would be taking care of me. Because, as it turns out, this was not a one-time phenomenon: I have a novel teetering on the brink of a sale now (see my post for September 30th, if you missed the big news), and my agent’s second child is due in roughly two and a half months. She and I seem to be on a similarly prolific timetable.

What might have happened, had my agency not been well prepared for this contingency? Let me tell you the story of my friend Lois, a writer of literary fiction. After a year and a half of quite cordial interactions, Lois’ agent just stopped answering her e-mails one day; returned phone calls became a thing of the past. And because Lois was, like so many writers, long trained in assuming that any silence must have something to do with the quality of the book, she naturally fell into hyper-revising mode. Yet when she meekly submitted a new version of her novel, she STILL heard nothing.

“Have I offended my agent somehow?” Lois wondered. After wondering about it for a couple of weeks, she concluded that she must have. She sent a formal (if vague) apology. Still no word.

Weeks dragged on into months, and after three, Lois had had enough. She called the main number for the agency, and demanded to know how she could terminate her contract with the agent. (She had not read her contract closely enough to have that information already, you see. But you know better than that.)

“Wait,” the astonished receptionist told her, “didn’t anybody tell you? She had to have emergency surgery. Poor thing, she’s been in physical therapy for months.”

Of course, Lois felt really small, but actually, I think that the agency should have been the ones apologizing. That many months sans agent, and the agency hadn’t thought to notify her CLIENTS? A quarter of a year can feel like a lifetime to an author whose book is being circulated.

Dear me, I got so carried away with my examples that I haven’t left room to write about contract specifics, so that will be the task of another day. In the meantime, keep up the good work!

What is this agency contract, anyway, and why should I read it?

I’ve been talking for the last few days about the need to look the gift horse of representation offer very carefully in the mouth before you sign anything — and even more carefully before you pay for anything. I’ve been trying to impress upon you, in with my patented brick-through-a-window subtlety, that anytime anyone asks you to pay them to help you advance your writing career, you should be wary. In fairness to the fee-charging agencies I’ve been discussing, they aren’t the only entities a writer should approach with caution.

You should approach signing with ANY agency with caution, armed with as much accurate information you can possibly glean about them. Because, contrary to popular belief and conference-circuit rumor, not all agents — or agencies — are alike. Even at equal levels of prestige, a writer’s experience being represented by one agency may be outrageously different than being represented by another. Expectations and office practices differ. So the more you can know about the agency before you hand your book to it, the better.

Yes, contracts are poorly-written, generally speaking, and it may be intimidating to ask the agent of your dreams probing questions, but it is VITAL that you understand how your new agency works before you sign the representation contract. Don’t assume that your agent will have explained everything important to you before ink hits paper; as I may have mentioned once or twice before, agents are extraordinarily busy people. Very nearly as busy as they think they are, which is saying something. As a group, they tend not to be overly given to explaining themselves or the industry.

Ringing some bells from my last few posts? It should be. This aversion to taking the time to explain the rules to those new to the game is one of the major causes of the assumption I mentioned a couple of days ago, the one about how all talented writers are born with an extra gene that serves as a universal translator for all of the quirks of the industry.

This is not to say that most agents will not answer direct questions — if you leaf through the standard agency guides, you will see that one of the most common dream client traits is the ability to ask good questions. In fact, the problems usually arise when the writer has NOT asked a question where clarification is necessary.

I know, I know: we’re all afraid of being nagging clients. Trust me, when agents talk about nightmare clients, they are talking about writers who call every other day to see if their books have sold yet. Or writers who miss their deadlines. Or even writers who pretend they understand publishing norms that they do not, and end up embroiled in I LOVE LUCY-level complications.

They are not, I assure you, talking about the writer who sends a polite e-mail or calls to say, “Um, when my editor said she wanted my manuscript to be 80,000 — 90,000 words, was that estimated word count, or actual?” (Far from a silly question, incidentally — the difference can be substantial.)

Most agency contracts are easy-in-easy-out affairs, covering either the selling process for a single book or a year’s or two’s time — a choice made by the agency, not the author. Some contracts, however, have a rollover clause, which stipulates that if the author has not notified the agency by a particular date that she wants to seek representation elsewhere, the contract is automatically renewed for the following year.

If you sign with an agency that favors the rollover clause, make sure you know precisely when the opt-out date is. Mark it on your calendar, just in case. And keep marking it every year.

Yes, I know: mistrust is the last thing on your mind when you are thrilled to pieces that a real, live agent wants to represent YOU. But trust your Auntie Anne on this one: honeymoons do occasionally end. Agents move from one agency to another all the time (if this happens, you will need to know with whom you have a contract, the agency or the agent; either is possible), and it’s not unheard-of for an agent to stop representing a particular genre even though she has clients still writing and publishing in it.

This is, in short, one contract to read with your glasses ON, and paper by your side to jot down questions. Then pick up that piece of paper, get yourself to a telephone, and start asking.

And try not to think of it as beginning the relationship on a confrontational note: it’s merely good sense whenever you are going to deal with a business with which you are unfamiliar, and it would never occur to a reputable agent to take your caution at all personally. Because, you see, it is not an individual’s word you are questioning, but a contract drawn up by other people. Naturally, it is in your agent’s best interest for you to understand it well enough to abide by its provisions.

Allow me to repeat that, because it comes as news to a lot of aspiring writers: unless your prospective agent owns the agency, it is the agency — not the agent whom you are prepared to love, honor, and obey for as long as you shall write and she shall sell — who sets the terms of your relationship.

What does that mean, in practical terms? If you are successful, THE AGENCY, AND NOT MERELY THE AGENT, IS GOING TO BE HANDLING EVERY DIME YOU MAKE AS A WRITER.

The agency will be producing those nasty, messily-carboned forms that you will be passing along to the I.R.S.; your publisher will be sending your advance and royalty checks to them, not to you. If your work is going to be sold abroad, the agency will turn your book, your baby, over to a foreign rights agent of ITS selection, not yours — and will be taking a higher percentage of your royalties for those sales than for those in the English-speaking parts of North America, typically.

That’s a whole lot of trust to invest in people who, in many cases, you will never meet face-to-face. Seriously, since almost everything in the biz is handled by phone, e-mail, or snail mail, I know plenty of writers who couldn’t pick their agents, much less the principal of their agency, out of a police line-up. (Not that you really want to be in the position to hiss, “That’s she, officer. SHE’S THE ONE WHO DIDN’T MAIL MY ROYALTY CHECK,” but still.)

So while asking a whole lot of pointed questions at the outset may seem mistrustful, doing so will actually substantially INCREASE the probability that you’re going to trust and respect your agent a year or two down the road. Ideally, you want relationships with both your agent and agency so comfortable that you have no qualms — and no need to have any — about simply handing the business side of your writing over to them and letting them get on with making you rich and famous.

You don’t hear about this much at conferences, but actually, that’s one of the best things about signing with an agent worthy of your trust: you can concentrate on your writing, confident that she’s looking after your interests in the big city.

Tomorrow, I’ll talk about what agency contracts do and don’t include, but in the meantime, this seems like a fine opportunity to remind you that soon, I shall be putting together a glossary of industry terms for your easy reference. So please, if there is a term that you would like defined (literary fiction vs. mainstream fiction, anyone?), leave a comment, so I may add it to the list.

Keep up the good work!

Fee-charging agencies, Part IV: non-charging agencies that charge fees

For the past few days, I have been examining agencies from the other side of the looking glass: not in terms of the well-advertised ways that an agency can help a writer make money, but instead how some agencies (and “agencies”) make money off writers by not selling their work. Today, I am going to discuss ways that ostensibly NON-fee-charging agencies charge their clients money, over and above the standard 15% of eventual book sales.

Some of you who went running to the standard agency guides after my last couple of posts were a bit startled, weren’t you? “But Anne,” I heard some of you out there murmuring, “I’m interested in an agency that the guides say charges for certain things — postage, for instance, or photocopying. Does this mean that I should avoid them?”

No — but this is an excellent question, one you should definitely discuss with any agent who offers to represent you. Hang on a moment, though, while I bring the folks who haven’t taken a gander at a guide lately up to speed.

The standard guides — the book ones, that is; the online guides tend not to — ask agencies point-blank whether they charge their clients any additional service fees or ask for upfront payments. (In the extremely reliable Writer’s Digest guide, the answers to this question are found under the TERMS part of each listing.) Pay attention: they are asking for YOUR benefit.

Most of the time, when non-fee-charging agents charge their clients, it is for office expenses: photocopying, postage, courier fees, and occasionally even long-distance calls, although this last practice has declined as long-distance calls have become cheaper. The AAR allows this, for much the same reason that the IRS allows writers to take query postage, letterhead, and printer cartridges as business deductions — these are all legitimate costs associated with selling a particular book.

Typically, these costs are deducted from your first advance check, but some agencies ask for office expense money up front; if you’re asked for hundreds of dollars, start asking very pointed questions about what they intend to do with it. However, the vast majority of agencies that charge these fees genuinely do try to keep the costs as low as possible. They just want you to pay for them.

Don’t be shy about asking — if your agency charges for such services, the costs should be spelled out in your representation contract, and you should discuss the details with your potential agent BEFORE you sign. Sometimes, the terms are negotiable, believe it or not. If the per-page photocopying charges seem excessive, for instance, it’s often worth your while to ask if you can make your own copies of your book and mail them to the agency; it’s usually cheaper per page.

For tips on how to go into the particulars of a proffered contract without offending anyone, see tomorrow’s blog. For now, let’s keep moving through expenses and tackle the upfront or reading fee.

The upfront fee is precisely what it says on the box: the agency either charges writers a fee for screening their submissions, as I discussed yesterday, or charges an advance against the advance, as it were. Again, the AAR frowns upon this, so if you are asked for such a fee by a member agent, feel free to report them.

Sometimes, though, the question of upfront fees is not so straightforward. There are agents who are technically non-fee-charging agents (i.e., they do not charge for an initial read) who nevertheless ask potential (and sometimes even current) clients to pay them for editing services. These agents will find a query they like, respond enthusiastically, ask to see the manuscript, THEN ask for a critique fee in order to get the manuscript ready for publication. Sometimes, they even sign the client BEFORE asking for the critique fee, so it comes as something of a surprise.

Usually, these fees are not very much — $50-$100 seems to be the norm — but essentially, such an agency is asking the author to pay their in-house editor’s salary. And yes, Virginia, some of the agencies that do this are indeed members of the AAR and thus are listed as non-fee-charging in the standard guides.

How can they pull this off? Because less than 2% of these agencies’ income, ostensibly, comes from providing such services. (Or they are lying about it in the guides. If neither the AAR or a standard guide receives a complaint that an agency is charging clients fees, the chances they are going to be caught in the lie are slim to none.)

Thus, a request for a critique fee from ANY agent should prompt you to ask some questions IMMEDIATELY, such as how much of the agency’s income is generated by critique fees rather than by commissions (it should be under 2%), whether the fee will be refunded after your first book is sold (this varies), and whether any and all fees are spelled out explicitly in the agency contract (they should be). If the answers seem at all odd, or if the agent hedges, PLEASE report it immediately to the AAR (if the agency in question is a member), Preditors and Editors (so other writers may be warned), and me (ditto).

As with a reading fee paid to a fee-charging agent, bear in mind that ANY upfront fee does not necessarily guarantee that the agent will sign you. In fact, with an officially non-fee-charging agency, paying an upfront or editing fee COULDN’T be a precondition for representation; it would be false advertising.

Again, all a critique fee EVER guarantees is that you will get feedback on your manuscript. This can vary from an array of simple summary statements (“The murder is believable, but the manuscript begins to drag when the posse of nuns arrives”) to very specific, concrete revision suggestions (“Switch chapters four and five, and lose all of the semicolons.”)

Don’t let the power differential blind you to the sensibility of doing a little comparison shopping before you agree to see if you can get the service they are offering cheaper elsewhere. If the agent suggests that your work needs hardcore editing before it is sent out, check out what local freelance editors would charge before you agree to pay their in-house editor.

Also, be aware that the quality (and quantity) of commentary varies WILDLY amongst agents who charge critique fees — just as it does amongst agents who don’t charge for feedback. As I believe I’ve mentioned roughly 200 times in the last four months, over and above certain technical matters, an agent’s response to a manuscript is largely subjective. I’ve known agents to give five single-spaced pages of specific guidelines on revising a manuscript, and ones who scrawled two lines on the back of the title page, handed the MS back to the author, and called it good.

Familiarity with the current publishing market is also quite variable; as anyone who has ever attended a large writers’ conference can tell you, MOST agents speak about the market in general as though they were intimately conversant with every aspect of it. This is just not how the industry works: agents specialize.

So while it is obviously in your best interest to make sure that the agent representing you has strong connections in your chosen genre, it is doubly important that the agent who is charging you for feedback has firm basis for telling you what aspects of your book will and will not fly in the current marketplace. Emphasis on CURRENT, because this is an industry whose tastes change on practically a monthly basis..

Before you lay down a single nickel or invest significant amounts of time in following the advice you receive in return for a critique fee, do your research, to make sure that the critiquing agent does indeed have a good grasp of your market. Checking the Publishers Marketplace database to see if she has sold anything like it within the last two years would be a good place to start, as would asking for a client list. Ask if you can talk to another client, preferably a published one, who has used the in-house editing service with success. Ask what about your book WILL sell; ask for comparisons to other books on the market.

And no, to a credible agent, these should NOT be offensive questions. If an agent who has already made a representation offer (or with whom you have already signed) is serious about feeling that your book needs in-house editing before he submits it to publishers, he should be able to give you concrete reasons why, not just platitudes about how tough it is to sell a book these days. Because, as many of us know from long, hard experience, manuscripts that aren’t already technically close to perfect very seldom receive representation offers: it’s not as though you would need to pay your agency to have someone switch the book into standard format, after all, or to make it coherent.

A good place to start the questions might be, “If you charged for this service, why didn’t you say so in your listing in Guide X?” Because if the agency is charging clients for services and not telling the standard guides about it, that should raise all kinds of red flags for you.

You need to be able to trust these people: if everything works out as it should, they will be handling the bulk of your income for years to come.

One final caveat about agents who charge this kind of fee: some of them do make good sales, but bear in mind that any agent who spends a significant proportion of his time critiquing the work of potential clients must necessarily spend a lower percentage of his time selling the work of his existing clients.

This is true of non-fee-charging agents as well, of course. So when you are searching for agents, give it some thought: do you really want to be represented by someone who spends half his time reworking his clients’ books. Or traveling around the country, teaching classes for writers? Or who spends a quarter of every workday maintaining a fabulous blog?

The answer may well be yes — these sorts of activities do undoubtedly add to an agent’s prestige. But there are necessary time trade-offs that will have an effect on you.

And at the risk of repeating myself, despite the glamour of having an agent go through your work with a fine-toothed comb (ostensibly) and the burgeoning market of increasingly spendy products and services available to the up-and-coming writer, it is possible to navigate these waters on the cheap. A good writers’ group can provide you excellent feedback for free; libraries tend to stock the newest writing books rather quickly, and it costs you only time and effort to research agents.

If you are willing to pay for services, do so for the right reasons, and not in the hope of jumping ahead in the agency queue. It may well be worth it to you to pay a freelance editor, rather than investing a year in a writing group to get feedback on your book, or to take a reputable weekend seminar on how to polish your novel, rather than reading all of the books available on the subject.

It’s up to you. Just do your homework, double-check the credentials of everyone who wants to charge you money, and try to avoid buying the proverbial pig in a poke. And, naturally, keep up the good work!

Fee-charging agencies, Part III: the reputable ones

I’ve been talking for the last couple of days about the loathsome species of self-described agencies that bilk writers out of their hard-earned dosh by requiring “Independent Evaluations” and similar expensive services as a condition of representation, as well as practitioners of another kind of lower-level predation on aspiring writers, selling lists of those who query them to editing services and magazines or tucking brochures for such services into rejection packets. Generally speaking, you cannot run far enough from agencies that operate in this manner.

Are you wondering why I keep harping on that advice? The reason is alarmingly simple: in this industry, writers are discouraged from asking too many questions. We’re just supposed to be able to find our way around the biz.

By instinct, perhaps. Or some highly specialized sense of smell. Maybe agents and editors think we writers have some additional internal organ that extrudes bile whenever our work is near a poor agent and spurts perfume near a good one. Or a unique brain synapse formation that gives us an electric shock every time we even consider placing a book proposal in a non-black folder or going for broke and using a typeface other than Times, Times New Roman, or Courier.

In any case, they certainly do seem to think we know a whole lot about the industry without being told.

The question of who is and is not a reputable agent is almost never discussed at writers’ conferences or in writers’ publications, so pretty much the only way you are going to find out about this sort of trap is from other writers. In the business, knowing about such pitfalls is assumed, in much the way that conference cognoscenti assume that every writer present already knows that a submission NOT in standard format will be rejected practically every time or that advances are typically not paid in one big lump sum, but in installments.

It’s yet another instance of knowledge equaling power in the industry, and I, for one, don’t consider it fair. One of the reasons that I started this blog was to give isolated writers — and aren’t all writers isolated, to a certain extent, by the nature of the process? — a place to learn the facts behind the assumptions. (For example: if any of the statements about proposal folders, typefaces, standard format, and advances in the previous paragraphs were mysteries to you, please check out the relevant categories at the right of these page.)

Since it is not an issue you are likely to see discussed elsewhere, then, let me be the first to confuse the issue by telling you: there are a few fee-charging agencies that are perfectly reputable. Which is to say, they are agencies who sell actual books to actual publishers, but who derive some significant portion of their income from other services they offer to writers.

Portion is the operative term here. To be considered non-fee-charging, an agency must generate more than 98% of its fees from its 15% share of their authors’ royalties. The AAR will not admit (or retain) agencies that rely more heavily upon other sources of income than that — on the grounds, I believe, that agencies that charge for a first read are essentially requiring writers to buy what most agencies offer for free. For this reason, fee-charging agencies are seldom listed anymore in the standard guides.

I have to say, I’m with the AAR on this one: I don’t think that a writer should ever have to pay an agency for a first read. Finding new writers is an integral part of how agents make their living; if they pick up the writers they have charged to submit material, they are being paid twice for the same work. It tips the already-stacked balance of power still farther in their favor – causing writers already reduced to begging for their attention to paying for it as well.

What’s next, rolling over? Fetching the latest copy of Publisher’s Weekly? Bringing them dead rodents as gestures of affection?

If a writer has been querying well-established agencies for a long time without garnering any positive responses, it might well be worth her while to run her query and chapters past more seasoned eyes, but those eyes can easily be found in a writer’s group that is free to join, or in a freelance editor who charges a flat rate per page or per hour. (See “How do I find an editor?” link at right.) With both, the writer never has to worry that there are hidden costs down the line.

However, if you do decide that you are willing to pay a fee-charging agent for a first read — and can accept the fact that his charging at all indicates that he either doesn’t sell enough of his clients’ books NOT to charge or doesn’t like writers much — make sure that you know in advance with which kind you are dealing, to avoid disappointment and unexpected bills.

How does one go about this, now that fee-charging agencies are no longer listed in the standard guides? Well, the most straightforward kind of fee-charging agent will tell authors up front on its website and in its literature that there is a cost associated with sending them a manuscript. Called a reading fee, the cost can run anywhere from $25 to $500.

To put this in perspective, a written manuscript critique without line editing, which is what the reputable fee-charging agencies provide, will usually run about $150 – $250. (If you are looking for line correction or substantive editing as well, the costs will be higher, of course: this is just for a basic read-and-advise.) But at least with an editor, you can negotiate up front precisely the type of feedback you want.

With an agent who charges to consider manuscripts, you have no such leeway. A higher price tag on a reading fee, alas, is seldom a guarantee of either eventual representation or more substantial feedback. Or, indeed, of any feedback at all: what the writer is buying here is simply the agent’s promise to have someone in the office read the manuscript to consider whether to sign the author, not advice on how to make the book more marketable.

Which is, I reiterate, a service that non-fee-charging agents provide for free, when they are interested enough in a manuscript to request it. Admittedly, though, fee-charging agents tend to be open to a broader array of manuscripts than their non-fee-charging brethren and sistern. Why not? They’re making a profit, and they will only pick up what interests them, anyway.

With few exceptions, the reading fee is nonrefundable, so do make sure that you understand clearly what you are being offered in exchange for your money. Look for a written critique, with no further commitment on your part — basically, what you would get from a freelance editor. Do some comparison shopping.

And don’t forget to use the same judgment you would use for any other agent. Ask what books the fee-charging agency has sold in recent years before you put dime one into the process. If your work is similar to someone the fee-charging agent already represents, it might be worth your while to submit a manuscript. If not, try non-fee-charging agents who represent work like yours first.

Had I mentioned that I would HIGHLY recommend that you stick with the non-fee-charging ones altogether, and go to a writing group or a good freelance editor for feedback? Either of the latter is FAR more likely to give you concrete advice (everything from “Did you know that your slug line isn’t in professional format?” to “Why does the protagonist’s sister’s name change from Gladys to Gertrude halfway through?” to “It pains me to say this, mon ami, but that scene with the hippopotamus on the carousel simply doesn’t work.”) rather than the generalities associated with manuscript reviews (“Your pacing needs to be tighter” or “Your protagonist should be more sympathetic.”)

Did I just hear a chorus of gasps out there?

That’s right: a fee-charging agent’s feedback on a rejected manuscript is not necessarily going to be any more substantial than that in any other rejection letter. If you honestly long to have a professional tell you, “I just didn’t fall in love with this book,” I assure you, there are PLENTY of agents out there who will diss you for free.

Which is precisely why the querying and submission processes are so incredibly frustrating, right? When we submit a manuscript over which we’ve slaved, we writers (unreasonable beings that we are, the industry thinks, with all of those strange internal organs and oddly-arranged brain chemistry) want to receive in return, if not an acceptance, than at least a brief explanation for why the agent is not picking up the book. That way, the submission process could be progressive: with professional feedback on what is and isn’t working, our manuscripts could be better each time we submit them.

Ah, we can dream, can’t we?

What we want, in other words, is for rejecting agents to give our work an honest manuscript critique: a once-over without suggesting line edits (although that would be nice), but giving us written feedback on how to make the book more marketable. What agents ACTUALLY give submissions, unfortunately, is manuscript reviews: a quick read purely intended to judge whether the book is marketable and if it is something they would like to represent. And that differential in expectations leads, in my experience, to a whole lot of heartache, second-guessing, and a horrible, creeping feeling of futility on our side of the Rubicon.

Obviously, no sane person would set up a talent-finding process this way, but if we want to get published, we do need to work with the status quo. So while I can utterly understand longing enough to receive professional feedback on why your work is not being picked up by agents to be willing to pay for it, I think that if you’re going to pay an agent to read your work, you ought at least to be guaranteed a manuscript critique, not merely a manuscript review.

Ask a whole lot of questions before you plunk down your cash. Including: am I really going to get anything out of this that a writing group or freelance editor could not give me? Because, hype aside, you would be paying a fee-charging agent who does not sign you for precisely the same services.

The moral of the day: you should be every bit as careful in dealing with a fee-charging agency as you would be in dealing with a freelance editor. Both are providing you services that should help you get your work published; as in any other service industry, there are good ones, and there are bad ones, and they tend to look as similar as good and bad orthodontists do. Do a little background checking — and make sure that you know precisely what you will be getting out of the exchange.

And, as always, keep up the good work!

Is anyone looking for a writing internship?

Hey, college students and anyone else who would like to get college credit while learning a heck of a lot about how the publishing industry works: FAAB (Friend of Author! Author! Blog) Phoebe Kitanidis is seeking an intern to help her with research for her forthcoming book. As anyone who has ever tried to get an internship with a writer can tell you, they are EXCEEDINGLY rare, but an unparalleled way to learn a whole lot about the industry VERY fast.

Seriously, if you are even thinking about writing YA, you should consider applying for this. Here are the specifics:
“Hi! I’m writing a book on middle school girls’
friendships, and I’m looking for an intern to help me
interview girls on issues like peer pressure,
friendship, and popularity.

This is a great project
for someone who’s passionate about writing and
publishing in the children’s or YA market. The
publisher’s happy to fill out paperwork for college
credit, and I’m willing to help you craft your pitch
or query letter for agents, and to answer any
questions I can about the publishing industry. Not to
mention, the project is a lot of fun!”

Anne here again. The job would be 5-10 hours per week, starting October 5th, and will be based in the Seattle metropolitan area. That’s not a big time investment for all you could learn from this opportunity.

If you are interested, tell me so via the comments function, below, and I’ll pass your info along to Phoebe. (Don’t worry; I won’t post the replies, so your e-mail address will not be spread all over the net).

Fee-charging agencies, Part II

Yesterday, I raised the red flag about the kind of “agency” that exists primarily not to sell its clients’ books to publishers, but to profit on writers’ frustration with the difficulty of landing an agent. There are many self-described agencies out there that apparently operate as fronts for high-priced editing services, tell writers that their work has promise, but that promise can only be fulfilled by enlisting the services of a specific outrageously expensive editing firm – which, of course, pays a kickback to the agency.

Sometimes, these kinds of agencies can be tough to spot, because it’s actually not unheard-of for perfectly credible agents to tell authors, “Gee, this could really use some professional editing,” and recommend a couple of good freelancers. I’ve gotten clients this way, in fact.

However, there’s a big difference between an agent’s giving a general piece of advice after reading a manuscript and agencies that either sell their query lists to editing companies (yes, it happens) or who include an editor’s brochure as part of their rejection packet in exchange for a commission.
This is a more subtle way to profit from querying writers, but to my mind, it’s just as ethically questionable as a specific referral + kickback. It’s using the power of rejection to make a sales pitch. Often, such agencies will have asked the writer to send an entire manuscript before suggesting the book doctor, which can make the referral seem very credible. The implication is, of course, that if the author hires that specific editor, the agent will offer representation at a later date, but these agencies seldom put that in writing.

No matter how complimentary a referring agent is about your work, such a referral is still a rejection, and you should regard it as such. Don’t assume that anything that’s typed on letterhead featuring the word “agency” is necessarily good advice on how to succeed as a writer.

Why should you be a tad incredulous? Well, when such a recommendation is made by an agent who allegedly knows the market, about a manuscript that he has ostensibly read carefully, it sounds like well-informed advice, but think about it: how do you know that the agent DID read the manuscript carefully — indeed at all, before recommending that you seek out a particular editor? Perhaps the agent automatically refers EVERY manuscript he rejects to that editing agency. Perhaps he gets a nice, juicy referral fee for each writer he refers.

Other soi-disant agencies take the scam even farther, demanding that writers obtain a so-called objective evaluation (with a price tag that can run upwards of $100) of their manuscripts before even considering them for representation – and the fees just keep mounting after that. Typically, these “agencies” rush at writers with too-eager offers of representation, then after a contract is signed, billing the writer for every so-called necessary service the agency provides.

Rule of thumb: legitimate agencies don’t ask for your credit card information.

To add insult to injury, these pseudo-agencies typically do not send out their clients’ work at all. However, they have been known to sign a writer to a long-term contract that grants the agency 15% of any future sales of the book in question — without having done any actual agenting work on its behalf.

Obviously, such agencies should be avoided like the plague that they are, but unfortunately, they specifically prey upon writers unfamiliar with how the industry works — ones who do not know, for instance, that the Association of Authors’ Representatives will not admit agencies that charge such fees, and are always happy to tell a curious author whether they’ve had complaints about a particular agency. Or ones who do not know that the standard agency guides (Writer’s Digest’s yearly GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS and Jeff Herman’s GUIDE TO BOOK PUBLISHERS, EDITORS, & LITERARY AGENTS, also updated yearly), don’t list this sort of agency at all. Or ones who do not know that Preditors and Editors routinely lists all of the agents and agencies in the country, along with indications of whether they are reputable or not. Or ones who are unaware that in a legitimate agency, novels are virtually NEVER accepted for representation until the agent has read the entire book. (The fake agencies are notorious for asking to see a few chapters, then offering representation right way.)

These unscrupulous agencies, in short, prey upon the ignorance and hope of nice people new to the biz, and there is no pit of hell deep enough for those who prey on the innocent.

The moral: do your homework. Any reputable agency worth its salt should be willing to show you its client list before you sign, for instance, and it’s perfectly legitimate to ask if they ever charge their clients for services. Ask the offering agent point-blank if s/he is a member of the AAR, and request a schedule of any fees he charges.

It’s also a good idea to limit your search to recognized agencies. Check the agency guides. If you are absolutely committed to finding an agent online, be wary of an agency that seems only to have a website, without being listed in any agency guides. If you feel absolutely compelled to answer an ad (not a good idea, as established agencies simply don’t advertise), triple-check with independent sources before you sign ANYTHING.

There are some things for which reputable agencies do charge, however; I shall go into some of these tomorrow. In the meantime, remember that this is an extremely competitive business, the odds of which are not all that different per capita than getting admitted to an Ivy League school. Wouldn’t you be suspicious if someone on the street offered you admission to Harvard, if you paid him a fee, even if he is wearing a crimson sweatshirt?

Think about it: should you really be any less suspicious of an agency that offers to sell you your dreams on a similar basis?

Keep up the good work, my friends!

Fee-charging agencies, Part I: what actually occurs

A reader who wrote in to say that she had direct personal experience with the fee-charging agency mentioned in the last post, the New York Literary Agency, has been kind enough to provide the bulk of her correspondence with them people to Author! Author! I am posting it here, in the hope that when writers do background checks in the future, this correspondence will pop up in a web search.

It is rather lengthy, but please, if you are considering working with this agency, I would urge you to read it all, so you may judge for yourself. It makes for some pretty fascinating reading.

I am presenting this without comment. Naturally, I have removed the name of the author and her book, and eliminated as many of the names of persons as possible. All typos were in the original documents.

—– Original Message —–
From: “Cheri,” VP Acquisitions, New York Literary Agency
To: Author
Sent: Saturday, January 21, 2006 3:47 PM
Subject: NY Literary Agency: Thank you for your query.

Thank you for your query to the New York Literary Agency. Based on your query form information we would like to see more.

1) Would you please send us an electronic copy of your work for further evaluation? Please email your manuscript to (e-mail address)

2) Would you please answer these 2 questions in the body of the SAME email? (Just copy and paste the questions).

A. How long have you been writing, and what are your goals as a writer?

B. Do you consider your writing ‘ready-to-go’, or do you think it needs some polishing.

You may send either 3-5 chapters or the entire manuscript, whichever you are more comfortable sending. Your manuscript is completely safe within our company. We take care to properly manage all access and if we don’t end up working together, we delete all files.

Please DO NOT include any questions with your manuscript submission. If you have a question, please send it to where the proper people may address your question. Most of the questions you may have are answered on the website and at the bottom of this email. Pleasesee the FAQs below.

Our preference for receiving your manuscript is via email.
If the file size is greater than 5 megabytes you can mail it to us on CD,
but please only send it once, either by email or snail mail (we prefer
email). Our mailing address is: The New York Literary Agency, 275 Madison Ave., 4th Floor, New York, New York 10016. If you decide to mail your manuscript please be sure to INCLUDE your email address (very clearly) so we may reply and process your manuscript. Mailed manuscripts may take up to 30 days to reply/process. Emailed manuscripts are processed much more quickly. (If your filesize is over 5 megs we also just recently found a free service that will move large files. Take a look at We’ve used it successfully in the past. Just use my email address as the “send to” address.)

We believe we are very different than other agencies.
We believe that we are unique in that we are willing to develop an author and their talent. We like the metaphor of a business incubator as a description of how we will take time to bring an author’s work to the proper quality level, even if it takes months to do so. We take pride in the fact that we answer every email personally within 2-3 days.

Also, you may understand how a Literary Agency works, but many authors don’t, so please excuse me while I take a minute and let you know how the process works. As your Literary Agent, our mission is to assist you in finding a publisher and to coach you along the way in various options available to you. We don’t edit, we don’t illustrate, our mission is to sell for you. As for compensation, get paid on success only, meaning we only get paid if you get paid. Typically we will receive 10% of what you receive.

We do not charge fees, so our compensation is based on success only. Along the way, we may suggest that you continuously improve the quality of your work and or how it is presented. Once your work is deemed ‘presentable’, then we’ll start shopping it to publishers. We never promise a sale, but we can tell you that we have a model that works.

We look forward to receiving your materials.

Best regards,
“Cheri” – V.P. Acquisitions

PLEASE CHECK YOUR SPAM BLOCKERS. We do not click on whitelist links

p.s. You might as well get used to these long emails. Part of our filtering process is to see if you actually read them. Why the long emails? I spend my time doing two basic tasks, 1) managing submissions and evaluations, and 2) answering questions. If I can answer your question BEFORE you ask it, then the entire process will proceed much more efficiently. As a corollary to that, if you want long-winded, personalized emails where we dicuss politics, the weather, and how your day went, you will probably not enjoy our process. If you are as busy as we are, and you pride yourself on operating efficiently (it is a business after all), then you will enjoy how efficiently we focus on the point, and that is, whether we can work together based on your writing and attitude.

Typical Frequently Asked Questions
Q) Do you return manuscripts?
A) Sorry for the inconvenience however, WE DO NOT RETURN MANUSCRIPTS or MATERIALS due to the volume of submissions we receive. Please do not send us anything that you can’t replace easily.

Q) Would you prefer me to email or mail my manuscript?

Q) How should I attach my manuscript?
A) PLEASE DO NOT PASTE YOUR MANUSCRIPT INTO THE BODY OF THE EMAIL. Please send it to us as an attachment, otherwise it hangs up the mail system. If you can’t create an attachment, please get a friend to help you do so. I think we have every software program known to man (except Mac). However everything works easier if you have a pdf, .rtf, or .doc filetype. We also support Word Perfect and MS Works.

Q) Is my manuscript safe with you?
A) Your materials are safe within our company. If you are uncomfortable sending your entire manuscript, please only send 3-5 chapters. If we do not end up working together we will destroy and delete any copies of your work that we have. Furthermore the idea of people stealing someone’s work is a bit of ‘urban legend’. It really doesn’t happen.

Q) How long does this review take?
A) About 7-10 days. We’re faster than most other agencies.

Q) Why is there no phone number? I want to talk to someone…
A) Quite frankly, we are deluged with submissions. It is our policy to provide a contact number later in the process, assuming we would like to proceed with you. If you would like to talk with someone for the reassurance of hearing a voice, just email me and I’ll connect you to the proper party.

Q) Where are you located?
A) We maintain executive suites on Madison Aveneue in New York, NY where we meet with buyers. Other than that, we travel extensively and we have the good fortune to live in Florida, North Carolina, and California depending on the time of year. Sometimes we think that we live in airports. In today’s connected world, our physical location is meaningless.

Q) Why aren’t you in the Yellow Pages? I can’t find you listed?
A) Yellow Pages are ‘old technology’, and they cost money. We use toll free phone numbers and cell phones. Those simply aren’t in directories. We haven’t been in Yellow pages for 10 years. Buyers certainly don’t go to the Yellow Pages to find authors , just nervous authors.

Q) Are you a member of AAR, BBB, Alphabet Soup…?
A) We have chosen to belong to industry associations where the buyers are, such as the Publishers Marketing Association (PMA) through our parent company, The Literary Agency Group. We spend our money going to the big book tradeshows in the US, England, and Germany. BBB, AAR, and other organizations of that type mainly exist for nervous writers, and frankly, we have too many applicants as it is, so we choose not to spend time and money on those organizations. I hope that helps you understand why we belong to associations that help us sell your work, not organizations that help us recruit more writers. We prefer that you judge us on the professionalism of our communications and not whether we belong to an organization. In other words, we ask that you judge us based on our interactions together, and that you can make up your own mind based on our professionalism and courtesy not whether we belong to some organization.

Q) Tell me more about your company.
A) We are bigger than a small agency and smaller than a large agency. We have about 15 people total and as of 2nd quarter, 2005 we have over 60 active conversations ongoing with buyers and 3 option agreements in negotiations in our screenplay division. We just sold our 4th book deal (to a publisher in England) and we are confident of more success later this year. (A 5th deal is being signed as we speak). We market to the larger and medium sized publishers and producers. We have had 5 successes now in the last 2 years (fyi: most agencies only have 1 or 2 deals every couple of years, if that.). We’ve been around the block enough to have people that love us, and people that hate us. We will never ask you for money, so that’s one way to judge for yourself. Our commitment to you is that we believe that we should get paid only if we sell your work. Your commitment to us is that you will do what it takes to make sure your manuscript is the best it can be and that it meets or exceeds industry quality standards.

Q) You’re not a vanity publisher or a self-publisher are you?
A) No we’re NOT A VANITY OR SELF-publisher in any way, shape or form. We DO NOT sell to vanity or self-publishers. Our mission is to sell your work to TRADITIONAL publishers who will pay you (and us). And, that’s how we get paid. If we sell your work to a publisher, then and only then do we get paid (usually 10% which is the industry standard for Literary Agencies).

Q) What are you looking for during your evaluation?
A) We mainly look for COMMERCIAL VIABILITY in the work coupled with good solid writing skills. “Is it something that will sell?” is of paramount importance to us. (We ARE NOT scrutinizing every word, spelling, and grammar usage. There’s plenty of time later for that.) We believe that great writers are made, not born at least 99% of the time. But if a work doesn’t have commercial potential, then we want to let you know as quickly as possible. Being willing to grow talent, we believe in the old adage, “luck is when opportunity meets preparation and hard work”.

Q) How can you evaluate work so quickly?
A) Our mission in the Acquisitions Department is clear. We answer 3

1. Will the subject matter sell? Is it commercially viable?
2. Is the writing good enough, or would it be good enough with some degree of assistance?
3. Did you as the evaluator like the work and would you believe in it if you were selling it?

If we get the “3 yes” designation then you pass. The next item we look for in our filtering process is your willingness to listen or whether you are a prima donna who wants it ‘their way’. We will very quickly wash out a great writer with a bad attitude. Life’s too short for drama or problems.

Q) What if you find errors or problems with my manuscript? Should I spend time revising now, or later?
A) We receive very few ‘ready-to-go’ manuscripts. We believe we are unique in that we are willing to work with our authors along the way. Most manuscripts that we receive need some level of polishing before we can submit them to buyers. Some need very little polishing. Some need a lot. Over the years, we’ve learned that it is worth our time and effort to do what it takes to develop new talent. We’ve learned that incubating new talent makes good business sense.

Q) My manuscript isn’t finished….
A) As long as there is enough finished to determine your skills as a writer we are willing to look at your work. As mentioned previously, we take a long term view and we are willing to develop talent.

Q) Who are some of the authors you represent? Why aren’t they on your website?
A) We are proud to represent a very diverse group of authors. Our roster of authors includes authors with the following occupations:

* Doctors
* Lawyers
* Entrepreneurs
* Journalists
* Professors and teachers from universities, high-schools, and elementary schools
* Coaches
* Accountants and bankers
* Advertising Executives
* Stay at home moms… students, etc.

Here are just a few bios:

1. The author was born in Baltimore, Maryland and is a Professor at a major university. She is an author and editor of 16 books and 12 proceedings and monographs. She has written 50 chapters and 100 papers, and given more than 150 presentations nationwide. She has graduate degrees in Music, Science, and Education. She and her husband are now living in the British Virgin Islands, where her time is spent sailing and writing. She has published scientific articles and written more than a hundred concert reviews as a freelance music critic.

2. The author is a Fellow of the Royal Colleges of Physicians of Edinburgh, and of Canada, and a Member of the American Societies of Hematology,Clinical Oncology, Blood and Marrow Transplantation and the International Society for Cellular Therapy. For the year 2004-5 he was a scientific advisor to the Cancer Vaccine Consortium. He was a past recipient of the Elmore Research Scholarship of the University of Cambridge.

3. The author has also won numerous awards honoring him as one of the top sportscasters in the country. He has been richly honored as a professional speaker as well, thrilling audiences with his career highlights and inspiring messages. He has a rich history of being on the air in radio and TV for a quarter of a century, working in major markets such as Los Angeles, Chicago, London, Cincinnati and now Dallas. Before settling in Dallas, he lived in London doing on-air work for both the BBC and ESPN.

4. This author started singing professionally with the singing group The Montells in her early teens. They later signed with Golden Crest Records & then went to Atlantic Recording Studio were they recorded, Under The Broad Walk with The Drifters & Gee Baby. In 1997 she was elected into The International Poetry Hall Of Fame with her Award winning Poem. She appeared at The Crossroads Theater in 1998.

5. The author is a retired veterinarian living in Bethlehem, South Africa. He was in rural private practice in various towns before settling down in Bethlehem where he practiced for 35 years. For ten years or more he had a monthly column in Veterinary News. He also was the script-writer for the SuperSport TV series The ABC of Golf.

We DO NOT give out names or contact information except to qualified buyers.(If you’ll think about it, if you were one of our authors, you’d feel the same way. There are a lot of wierdos on the Internet. Sometimes we think that there is a higher incidence of psychosis among writers than any other occupation.)

Q) Is this an automated email? Is there a real person out there?
A) Yes, and yes, and yes… We personally review each query form that we receive for sentence structure, basic spelling and grammar, and whether the story idea/synopsis sounds interesting. This tells us which manuscripts we would like to receive.

Then, yes, we do use a form to provide these FAQs. Can you imagine typing this time and time again? We pride ourselves on using technology to be as efficient as possible. This allows us to work with authors from anywhere in the world. By automating certain elements of our communications we can spend more thoughtful time on your questions that are specific to you andyour situation.


Thank you again for your time in reading to the end of this email. I hope that you have a better feeling for our company and our acquisitions process.

I look forward to receiving your materials. And please pardon one more request.

IF YOU EMAIL YOUR MATERIALS TO US WE WILL ALWAYS NOTIFY YOU WITHIN 2-3 DAYS OF RECEIPT. Please refrain from asking “did you get it?” for at least 3 business days. If you haven’t been notified of receipt within 3 days, then by all means resend it (don’t ask, just resend it to the email address above. If it won’t go through, just ‘reply’ to this email and attach it.)

IF YOU SNAIL MAIL (POST) YOUR MATERIALS TO US, PLEASE ALLOW UP TO 2 WEEKS FOR NOTIFICATION OF RECEIPT. Why? It has to be forwarded to a special evaluator that handles ‘paper’. And remember, we cannot return materials, so no need for a SASE.

Whew! Thanks again and we look forward to hearing from you and looking at your work.

Best regards,
(Name omitted) – VP of Acquisitions
We Grow Talent

—– Original Message —–
From: “Cheri,” VP Acquisitions, New York Literary Agency
To: Author
Sent: Sunday, January 29, 2006 9:24 PM
Subject: NY Literary Agency: Thank you for your submission.

Thank you for sending us your work for evaluation. It has been received successfully and it is now being sent to our evaluation team.

We have NOT reviewed it at this time. The review process takes about 1-2 weeks.

Also, we ask that you please see the list of Frequently Asked Questions at the bottom of this email. Our goal is to answer every question you may have BEFORE you ask it. We try to be as efficient as possible so that we can review your work more quickly. (We know you will appreciate this too!)

Please do NOT send us any additional work during the review period. We wish to complete our review of this work and then, if appropriate, we can discuss your other works.

We expect it to take about a week to get back to you with our evaluation. If you haven’t heard from us in 2 weeks, please get back in touch with us because perhaps an email has been missed.

We take pride in the fact that we reply more quickly than most agencies.

Thank you for sending your materials electronically, that’s one of the reasons we can work so quickly to reach a decision. We believe you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how quickly we can reach a decision. (However some authors hold this against us, can you believe it?)

Best regards,
“Cheri” – VP Acquisitions

In an effort to save time, here are answers to a few questions that we typically receive at this stage. I think we are doing something right, here’s a comment I just received and I think it nicely states my goal of efficiency.

I do like the way you have organized your acquisitions process. It is efficient yet personal, answers almost every question that could be asked, and reflects your agency’s experience with the business. Your prompt responses are impressive, although I have learned to be very patient with certain publishers. I always try very hard to meet deadlines, because I know how much it is appreciated by those in the business. I think I would be very comfortable working with you.


Here is a quote from one of our clients that we assisted with improving
their work.

“I just wanted to thank you for your critique of my manuscipt. Not only was it completed in a timely manner but you also provided me with some very useful advice in regards to how I can improve my writing. You were very professional and honest, which is a privilege to experience. My sincerest gratitude for your help and guidance.”

I didn’t send my entire manuscript, don’t you need the entire manuscript to make a decision?
By combining your synopsis and query form with the writing you sent us, we can determine if the synopsis is adequate and interesting, and whether your writing style and skills are capable of being brought to professional industry standards. In other words, what we have is enough for us to determine if we want to work with you. (The ugly truth is that we can usually determine if we like your writing and writing style within the all-important first chapter.) After that, the rest of it is about your attitude. We like to work with pleasant people.

We like to work with pleasant people in a professional manner.
We are absolutely committed to a professional relationship and professional communications. As you may have noticed, we have included that as one of our top 4 signature items. We sincerely ask that you hold the same professional attitude in our communications as well. If we make a mistake, or if you don’t like the way we do things, you DO NOT have permission to flame me. People describe me as ‘laid back – with attitude’. Any snippiness on your part and I have the full support of my managment to fire you on the spot, and I will, and it’s irrevocable. I’m sorry for the hard line, but we’ve been around the block enough to try and get rid of the bad apples as early in the process as we can. We very much look forward to a great relationship, over the long term, together. Thank you for understanding, we hope you feel the same way. Life’s just to short for mean people or drama.

What’s next?
If we believe your work has commercial viability, we will let you know with a “positive review” and inform you about how we bring your work to the marketplace. Because we are vertically integrated in the publishing world, we have the ability to do more with an author than most other agencies can do.

How long does this evaluation for commercial viability take?
We know waiting is the hardest part and we’ve been in your shoes. We will do everything we can to get back to you as quickly as you can. By now you probably understand a few dynamics of this industry. First, most agencies and buyers are absolutely swamped, and second, this is the slowest moving industry in the world it seems. So, if you haven’t heard from us in 2 weeks, please drop us an email about your status. Our best guess though is that you will hear from us in about 5-10 days. We maintain enough readers and evaluators to keep that level of service.

I Have Other Work, May I send it?
Please allow us to decide if we wish to represent this work. Later we can discuss your other manuscripts.

I just made a revision, should I send it?
No, please don’t send a revision, illustrations, etc. We have enough to determine commercial viability. Writers are constantly revising their work. If we represent you, we will spend time making sure that everything is just right before we send it out. We have plenty of time.

I Have A Few Questions For You and Your Company
We are happy to answer your questions, however, we would appreciate it if you wait until after our review and notification. At that time we will provide you with quite a bit more information, or we will pass. By waiting until the review period is over to ask further questions we will each save time. However, if you have a burning question, or just want to see if I’m really out here, then email me directly and I’ll get back to you within 2-3 days (excluding vacations, weekends, etc.)

Is my manuscript safe?
Your manuscript is completely safe within our company. We take care to properly manage all access and if we don’t end up working together, we delete all files.

Is this an automated email?
What do you think? Do you think I want to type this every time I receive a manuscript? Really though, let me give you just a bit of indication of how much work this is… first I have to receive the manuscript, open it, make sure the file transfer worked, forward it to a reader, mark it into the database, and then notify you of receipt. Then I have to get it back,see if I agree with the review, mark it in the database, and then let you know our results. All this occurs during a 5-10 day period and at the same time, I’m answering questions and dealing with problem, anomolies, sick days, vacations… (I think you get the point! Anything I can do to save time saves each of us time and money.)

And I do apologize for the form letters, it’s just that well.. I try to be as efficient as possible and I appreciate your understanding that my role with you is pretty cut and dried, i.e. yes/no/maybe. Later, if you work with our company, you will spend MUCH MORE personal time with the Agent assigned to you. In other words, the time for personal time is later, if we enter into relationship together.

Thanks again for your time and your consideration of our Agency,
(Name omitted) – VP Acquisitions

p.s. As we mentioned we pledge courteous, timely, and professional communications… here’s an unsolicited letter from one of our clients that really is what my job is all about.

I have not yet opened the contract email that you sent but I just wanted to reply here and thank you for being so kind to me. I have put my heart and soul into this work and have been written off by a number of agents. With the vast majority of them it seems as if they don’t even look at the work, they simply discard it. You make me feel like you really do care about my writing and about the success of my book. In a world of people who tend to be callous and unfeeling you really do make me feel as if you care about me and my work. I can’t tell you how much that means to me. Thank you so much.

—- Original Message —–
From: “Cheri,” VP Acquisitions, New York Literary Agency
To: Author
Sent: Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Subject: NY Literary Agency: Positive Review

Thank you for everything that we have received from you thus far. Our review team believes that your work has commercial potential and we would like to proceed further with you. We believe we would like to represent you.

Basically, we feel that your concept and writing thus far has potential and that if polished and presented properly, we can sell it. To take the next step, please let us take a minute to tell you a little bit about how we think and the way we do business.

Best regards,
“Cheri” VP Acquisitions

p.s. We apologize in advance for the length of this email. This is at the behest of our lawyers. They like it when we say it the same way every time. If this email appears truncated at the bottom, please let me know.

INCUBATING TALENT: We Are Willing To Develop New, Fresh Talent.
We did see a few improvements are needed, but don’t worry, we receive very few ‘ready-to-go’ manuscripts. Most manuscripts that we receive need some level of polishing before we can submit them to buyers. Some need very little polishing. Some need a lot. Over the years, we’ve learned that it is worth our time and effort to do what it takes to develop new talent. We’ve learned that incubating new talent makes good business sense.

We’d hate to lose a good writer by not accepting someone who is willing to improve. There are very few literary agencies that will take the time to develop talent. Most barely return emails. We’ve answered every email you’ve sent us, and we’ve kept our promises regarding turnaround times. We hope that you will acknowledge that our level of communication and professionalism already far exceeds that of other literary agencies. We pledge this same level of professionalism and courtesy in all subsequent communications should we work together.

You don’t know us, and we don’t know you. We like your work, and hopefully so far, you appreciate that we have treated you professionally and efficiently. Yes, we use forms, but that’s so that we have more time to answer your questions about specific problems or nuances. We are looking for authors that are reasonable in their expectations and in their own evaluation of their work. We don’t want prima donnas.

If we were in your shoes, we believe you should be looking for a professional relationship with professional people who will ultimately benefit your writing career, whether your work is sold or not. We never promise a sale. However we do promise that we will work with you on a professional basis and do what we can to promote you and your work to our buyers.

What do we mean by “Polish Your Work”?
As you would imagine, we are very, very concerned about what we present to our buyers. At a minimum they expect the mechanics of punctuation, grammar, spelling, and format to meet or exceed industry standards.

I think you would agree that your work can use some level of polishing. However, we don’t think you should take just our word for it, we would like to have an independent review of your work that shows you where the improvements can be made.

From a trust factor, it’s like an investor trusting a certified public
accountant … if there is an independent review on the table, we can each relax and trust each other, and spend our time strategizing marketing, not arguing over whether the work is ready to present or not.

What we have learned over the years is that nothing is more invaluable than having a unbiased, critical review of an author’s work as a roadmap for bringing the work to market. In writing circles this is called a critique. We want you to have a critique of your work. You might already have one, or you may need to get one. Here’s what one author had to say about his critique.

Dear “Cheri”: The critique was more favorable than I had anticipated. I’m a long time editor, of academic works, and I know from experience that good authors appreciate good critiques. As for my own writing – again academic — I have always taken criticism well. I don’t always go along with everything the critic says, but I try the best I can to incorporate anything I feel is worthwhile. And that’s what I did today. Within minutes I was at my desk and my laptop, trying to find out what I could do to satisfy this critic. I also wanted to judge how much work would be required, how long a re-write would take, and so on. If you have that option, you can pass along my thanks to the critic. And you can say that I will try to turn it into a popular book, not an academic treatise. As an academic, I’ll never be able to put that aside completely, but I’ll do my best. And I suspect I can do
it within a month or two. You service is phenomenal.

HAVING A CRITIQUE PROTECTS YOU from unscrupulous agents. Having a critique protects US from egocentric writers who think their work is just fine like it is. If the critique says, “green light – good to go” then we can start marketing immediately. If the critique says, “some improvements can be made in grammar, punctuation, etc”, then we can pause with you while those changes are made.

Here are some links for sample critiques from one of our vendors that we respect. (We realize that not all of these apply to you, but we want you to see how versatile and powerful this critique format is.) Also, please realize that a critique is a fast overview. It is NOT a line edit.
(Links omitted)
YOU MAY ALREADY HAVE A 3RD PARTY CRITIQUE A good number of our applicants do. (As a serious writer, you should get one every year or two).
As we mentioned, if you already have a 3rd party critique, please let us know. It must match the level of detail that you see in the examples above. If you have an associate that you believe can do your critique, then be sure to send us their credentials first for approval.

Please don’t try to critique your own work. (Yes, we’ve seen that happen and we can tell immediately.) Also, many people ask if they can get a friend to do the critique, or a teacher, or an associate. The answer can be yes, but the problem is that if they don’t do editing for a living, then it’s like asking anyone to do something for free, it takes longer, and it may not be done correctly.

The critique should be inexpensive, usually around $60-$90 depending on the company you choose. It will tell each of us if the work is ready for marketing right away, or if more polishing is required. As we mentioned if you have a critique already, great, if not, we can provide a referral for a critique service.

As we’ve mentioned before, we need a common platform of trust from which to begin the representation process together. Many authors wonder if the critique just leads to more and more editing. The answer is NO! Editors are very integrous people, if they say a work meets or exceeds industry standards, then we can all trust their opinion. Once an editor says ‘good to go’, then everyone can move to the next step.

In summary, the critique protects you from unscrupulous agents that will try to tell you that you need endless rounds of editing. Once you have a critique you are in a much stronger position in your writing career.

PLEASE NOTE: WE ARE NOT ASKING FOR MONEY.We want you to have a critique by a qualified industry professional.
MANY AUTHORS MISUNDERSTAND THIS SIMPLE REQUEST. We don’t want you to pay us, we want you to have a critique to start our relationship so that we can start from the same page. (If I told you the number of writers that accuse us of using this to take their money, you would be flabbergasted.)

Many authors ask, “why we don’t do the critique as part of our Agency?”.
In the old days, perhaps that occurred. However in today’s competitive world we must focus almost entirely on our core competency, which is selling your work. Our company relies on editors to work with you to bring your work to industry standards. We are not editors, we are sales professionals.We contract out all editing work. (As you might imagine, it turns out that editors are usually lousy salespeople, and we love the editors we work with dearly). This point is worth spending extra time on, we aren’t editors, we are sales professionals, and those are two VERY different skill sets.

———- One more positive response from an author about the critique ———————————-

Dear “Cheri”: Thank you so much for your quick responses and professionalism. It was so refreshing to hear an unbiased critique of my work for the first time. I have hungered for it since I’ve been writing. Someone actually read the whole script and took the time and care to provide a professional critique and show me the areas that need improvement. I am so determined to make my work a success, and it helps me to know what my strengths are and where I need improvement. Thank you, and please pass on a big thank you to my editor.

Please review the critique sample links above. Think about how powerful an ‘excellent’ critique would be to the selling process and how it will give us the confidence we need to put our reputation on the line for you.

Think about how it protects you, protects us, and how it provides a meeting point so that we can trust each other and move forward on the same page

Thank you again for your time and consideration. We look forward to working with you and developing your writing career together.

“Cheri” VP Acquisitions

P.s. Instructions for the next step are at the bottom of the email after the FAQs below

Typical FAQs that we see at this stage:

Q) I have a critique, what do I do?
A) First look at the critque and compare it to the examples above. Many critiques are long on plot and character development. The critique that we prefer includes that PLUS a strong focus on the mechanics.. i.e. punctuation, grammar, format, and spelling. If your critique does not address those mechanical elements we will ask you to get a new one. However if your critique is reasonably close to our examples, then simply let us know that you have one, and we’ll send you the contract, and then you put your critique in with the contract when you send it in.

Q) I need a referral.
A) We will provide you with a referral to someone we trust and who discounts their prices to our clients. You can certainly use any qualified person to do the critique if you know one, but they MUST have been in the industry.

Q) How long should a critique take?
A) It should take about two weeks. It should cost no more than $60-$90. It should be thorough. Many “old style” critiques are long on plot and short on mechanics. The critique that we desire will not only include commentary on the plot, it will also critically review grammar, spelling, punctuation, and the mechanics of writing. We know, we know.. it’s all of our least favorite aspect of writing, but to succeed as a writer, your mechanics must meet or exceed industry standards.

Q) Do I have to pay for it or does the publisher provide for the final polishing and editing?
A) Both…. As your agent, we need it to be ‘great’ before we will pitch it, and then, if the publisher wants to make changes, then they will pay for the changes they desire.

Q) What if the critique says my writing is horrible? Will you still represent me?
A) The critique will never say that your writing is horrible. The critique will point out your strengths and weaknesses. It will come from a coaching point of view, not from a judgmental point of view. As we’ve mentioned earlier, our Agency is different in that we are willing to develop talent. We will not fire you because of a poor critique.

Q) My teacher/friend/pastor/writer/PhD/English Teacher…… can do the critique right?
A) Yes, maybe… we’ve seen very poor work from PhD’s, teachers, and most writers. If they haven’t had a stint as a true editor, then usually they aren’t going to do a good job.

Q) My work is my work, It’s special and i’m not changing anything…
A) That’s fine, but we do insist that spelling, grammar, and punctuation meet or exceed industry standards. We have a saying, “if you put 10 editors in a room you will come out with 15 opinions”. Ultimately, the final decision is yours. If you don’t agree with them, we are on your side, especially about subjective items. On the mechanics and formatting issues we side with the editors.

Q) What do the buyers/publishers think of this model that you use?
A) Frankly, our buyers know that when we pitch a work, that we’ve put the writer through the proverbial wringer! Our buyers know that our writers can understand a contract, comply with reasonable requests, and that we’ve weeded out the ‘something for nothing’ writers that are basically lazy about their craft. This hyper-competitive industry will only reward the best, and that’s our commitment to our buyers, and to you.

Q) How do I know that this won’t turn into endless rounds of editing that I have to pay for?
A) At some time and some place, we have to trust each other. We believe that this is where it has to start. Your risk is $60-$80. Our risk is that our internal cost of our time with you at our hourly rate is easily greater than that amount. (And you never pay us for that time, we don’t charge any fees as we’ve mentioned earlier). So, we’ll spend the time to work with you if you’ll do your part to make sure your work is the best it can be. Unless the critique points out the need for substantial rework, there shouldn’t be any more fees. That’s why we require an independent 3rd party for the critique. This protects YOU from an unscrupulous agent, and it protects US from egocentric writers.

Q) I’m still nervous, what does your contract say?
A) First you keep the copyright to your work, and second, you can fire us in 90 days. Our contract includes the following two clauses designed to protect you. There are no payments to us in the contract unless we sell your work.

Here is the exact language in the contract:
1)The copyright and ownership is specifically retained by the AUTHOR for this work and all works submitted to, and accepted by, the Agent. The Writer does not grant to Agent or any other party any right, title or interest of any kind in any copyright, ownership and/or any other intellectual property right contained in or as a part of any work of the Writer submitted to the Agent. The Agent agrees to make no claim to any such right, title or interest, however denominated.

2) The Writer/Producer may terminate this Agreement after 90 consecutive days of no sale by Agent.


So, if you don’t like us, or we don’t perform, you can fire us in 90 days, and we clearly state that you keep your copyright so there is no chance of us claiming your work. We don’t know how much more ‘safe’ we can make it. (If you think we are going to steal your work, then you are too paranoid to work with us anyway and we’re happy if you decline). Other than that, the contract is for one year duration, and we ask for a reasonable 10% if we sell your work.

Please “Reply” to this email with one of the following three statements:

1) I understand how a critique protects each of us and will improve my writing (or validate that I’m as good as I think I am). Please send your contract and a referral for a critique service. I will get the critique underway as soon as I hear from you. We have to start trusting each other somewhere and I am committed to my writing as a business.


2) I have a critique already. Please send me your contract and I will include my critique with the contract when I send it in.


3) “Thanks but no thanks, I’ve never heard of such a thing”.. or some variant of that…


In conclusion, no matter what your reply, I truly and sincerely wish you the best in your writing career and I want you to know that I have enjoyed our interaction immensely thus far. Continue to follow your dreams, and it is my deepest hope that you succeed with your writing career.

I remain, yours truly,
“Cheri” VP Acquisitions


Q. How long have you been writing, and what are your goals as a writer?

A. About eight years, off and on. Now I write full time, and am working on my fourth book. To become published and give people their money’s worth when they buy my work.

Q. Do you consider your writing ‘ready-to-go’, or do you think it needs some polishing.

A. I feel my work is ready to go, I think if I edit it one more time it will
fall apart. But, I know there is always room for improvement.

—–Original Message—–
From: Author
To: “Cheri” VP Acquisitions, New York Literary Agency
Sent: Thursday, February 02, 2006
Subject: Re: NY Literary Agency: Positive Review

Dear Ms. (Name removed), I have a question for you. I read the critique response to “Book Title”, am I wrong in assuming that only the synopsis of the manuscript was critiqued? If so how could anything be gleaned from simply reading the synopsis?

I feel a critique could be very helpful!
thanks, Author

—– Original Message —–
From: “Cheri” VP Acquisitions, New York Literary Agency
To: Author
Sent: Saturday, February 04, 2006
Subject: RE: NY Literary Agency: Positive Review

Your background, your writing skills and the subject matter were very easy to say yes to.. why waste any other time?

Our mission in the Acquisitions Department is clear and very “cut and dried”. We answer 3 questions:

1. Will the subject matter sell? Is it commercially viable?
2. Is the writing good enough, or would it be good enough with some degree of assistance?
3. Did you as the evaluator like the work and would you believe in it if you were selling it?

If we get a “3 Yes” designation then you pass (at my level).

The next item we look for in our filtering process is your willingness to listen/make changes/, what your goals are, and what your overall demeanor is. We will very quickly wash out a great writer with a bad attitude.

After that, we leave it up to the experts to really dig in and get detailed.

Best regards,
“Cheri” VP Acquisitions

Please excuse any delay as I have been traveling with limited access to emails.

Our Pledge To You:
* We respect what you have accomplished thus far as a writer.
* We believe that great authors are made, not born. We are willing to develop talent.
* We pledge straight talk in a confusing and old-school industry.
* We can’t promise a sale. We can promise a professional relationship.

p.s. Missed Emails, Spam, Whitelists, and other reasons for lapses in communications. We are very, very diligent about returning every email that we receive within a couple of days. The same is true for our vendors and suppliers. IF YOU DO NOT RECEIVE A COMMUNICATION AND YOU BELIEVE THAT YOU SHOULD HAVE, PLEASE, CHECK WITH US AND WE WILL SEE WHAT HAPPENED. Please don’t jump to negative conclusions. The Internet is not 100% foolproof and we are very sensitive to our clients’ expectations and our promises about timely communications.

—– Original Message —–
From: “Cheri” VP Acquisitions
To: Author
Sent: Saturday, February 04, 2006
Subject: NY Literary: Contract & Critique Referral

Congratulations and my warmest wishes for our mutual success! And again, we thank you for your understanding and your acceptance of our business philosophy. We look forward to working with you and because you have indicated such a strong commitment to your work you can rest assured that we will be excited and committed to doing what we can to work just as hard for you!


1. Attached is our Contract for Agency Representation.
It is simple and straightfoward and we’ve used it for years. It is also
non-negotiable. I’m happy to answer any questions that you may have, but 99% of the time we will not make a change to it if requested. If you want to have a lawyer look at it, by all means do so, but we’ve spent great time and energy with our lawyers making it simple enough for a business person to understand.

You don’t have to be nervous because you can back out very easily. We very clearly state that your ‘out’ from the contract is that you can fire us in 90 days if we don’t perform or you don’t like our services for any reason. This rarely happens, but it’s there for you if you want it.

Your work is completely safe and remains your work. You keep your copyright and this contract is only for the work you submit, not all your works. (You can discuss other works later with your agent).

We are not trying to tie your hands in any way, and as you will see from the contract, we only get paid if you get paid. There are no other payments to us.

We ask that you regular mail us two signed copies of the contract. The address is within the document. International authors can either fax the contract or mail it. Please allow up to 30 days to receive the counter-signed contract back in the mail. The contracts are sent to our NY office and depending on the travel schedule of our President, it may take that long to get them signed and back to you.

We ask that you get the critique started in parallel with sending in the contract. Send in your contract at the same time you are getting your critique. Don’t wait for the critique to send in your contract.

2. Referral for the Critique/Evaluation
As we mentioned in the prior email, if you have a critique or evaluation similar in format to those we sent you earlier please send it to us along with your contract. (Don’t email it separately, we have a hard time matching it up. Simply print it and put it with your contract). If you want us to tell you if what you have is acceptable then email it to me as quickly as you can.

If you do not have a critique, please email the following address and tell them that we referred you (address omitted) All you have to say is ““Cheri” referred me”.

They will send you a very clear set of instructions on how to proceed with the critique, send your manuscript, payment, etc.

Writers Literary offers a discounted price to referrals that we send the ($89). We send them so much business that they will prioritize your work and this will speed up the entire process. We can also lean on them if we need to make them work more quickly!

When they complete your critique they will send it to you and to us at the same time. Remember, we are unique in that we are willing to help you develop your talent, so there is no need to worry about what the critique will say.

What’s Next?
During the next 30 days we should receive your contract and your critique. Once we receive your contract and your critique is finished and in our hands, you will be put in touch with your Agent. At that time the Agent will review the critique with you and the two of you will develop a strategy to market your work as quickly as makes sense given the information that we see in the critique.

The Agent will then become your primary contact and will answer questions, guide you, and hopefully, before too long, come to you with the good news of a sale! (Note: we never, never promise a sale, that’s a checkbox for you within the contract by the way).

I am happy to answer any questions that you have and I have enjoyed our interaction. My sincere best wishes for your writing career.

Best regards,
“Cheri” VP Acquisitions

If you can’t open the pdf attachment, try clicking on this link (link omitted)

A Few Frequently Asked Questions (I can’t resist, you know me by now)
Please send the contract in parallel with getting the critique. That way
we’ll have you in the system when the critique is finished. Don’t wait to send in the contract until your critique is completed. Send the contract in immediately and please allow 2-3 weeks for notification that we received it.

If you need an extension, simply email me and we automatically grant one, so don’t stress if for some reason you haven’t heard from me. Non-US authors are automatically granted an extension.

If you have a critique already please be sure it matches the thoroughness of the critique example we sent you. If it doesn’t we will reject it. If it does, we will move forward quickly. If you want me to look at it just email it to me.

What’s Next? Once the critique process is complete you will be connected to the Agent that will be working with you. You will discuss ‘next steps’ based on the results of the critique. As we mentioned in a previous email,we are willing to develop talent so there is no need to worry unduly about the results of the critique.

We look forward to working with you. Once we receive your contract and enter it into our system you will receive an email confirmation.

In the meanwhile don’t forget to contact to get your critique started. They will tell you exactly how to proceed. Send in your contract in parallel with having your critique done.

Please note:
If for some reason you don’t get your contract back in a timely fashion (say 30 days) please email and they will find out what went awry.

I have enjoyed interacting with you but my role with you is now finished. I am in charge of new author acquistions only. If you need help with something let me know though, and I’ll endeavor to assist you.

Best regards,
“Cheri” VP Acquisitions

> —–Original Message—–
> From: Author
To: Writers Literary, Editorial service to which NYLA referred her
> Sent: Saturday, February 04, 2006 8:07 PM
> Subject: critique info.
> Dear Sirs,
> “Cheri” referred me to you for a critique of my book.
> thank you,

—– Original Message —–
>From: (Name omitted) Writers Literary
>To: Author
>Sent: Sunday, February 05, 2006 8:48 AM
>Subject: RE: critique info.
>Re: Discounted Critique for The New York Literary Agency
>Thank you for requesting a critique from Writers Literary. Congratulations on your acceptance by a leading Literary Agency. You’ve achieved quite a milestone and we are honored to assist you with your writing career.
>An Invoice is below at the bottom of the email that reflects the discount that you receive because of your Literary Agency affiliation.
>Here are some Frequently Asked Questions about the Critique Process. If you don’t see the answer to your question here, please feel free to email me.
>”Lulu”- VP Administration
>Writers Literary
>============= FAQ
>Q) How Do I Send You My Manuscript?
>A) Please wait until we receive your payment. Then your Project Manager will ask for a fresh copy of your manuscript via email. We have a very difficult time with hard-copy. However if you need to mail your work, please let us know.
>Q) What are the qualifications of your editors/critics?
>A) We have had great feedback from our clients regarding our editors. Following are credentials for some of the editors that work for us. You can see that your work will be in skilled hands! Click on this link to see some of their credentials.
>Q) How long does it take?
>A) About 10 business days (2-3 weeks) to deliver the critique to you after payment is received.
>Q) What does the critique look like? Will I get a copy?
>A) You will be sent a copy of the critique when it is completed. Typically, for expediency, we will also send one to your Literary Agency as well.
>Q) I have revisions, should I send them to you if they haven’t started the critique yet?
>A) No please don’t send revisions while we are in process. It is doubtful that you will have changed enough to substantially change the critique, so please don’t send in revisions if we have already begun the process.
>Q) How does the process work? Do I send you my manuscript or will you get it from the Agency?
>A) First, we will receive your payment and we will then introduce you to our Project Manager who will be in charge of your critique. The project manager will need a fresh copy of your manuscript. She will give you instructions at that time, so please hold your manuscript until you hear from her after your payment is received.
>Q) I sent in my payment and I haven’t heard anything….
>A) Sometimes, with all the spam flying around, email can slip through the cracks (on both sides). Please if after 4-5 business days, if you haven’t heard from us that your payment was received, don’t hesitate to recontact me. PLEASE CONTACT (email address) FOR ALL
>If you have any other questions about payments or process please let me know. Other than that, please wait to hear from your Project Manager after payment is received.
>Thank you again, we look forward to working with you and wish you the best in your writing career.
>Best regards,
(Name omitted) – Critique Payment Administration
>p.s. Just to ease your mind a little bit more about the process, here’s
>some praise we recently received.
>”Thank you so much for your quick responses and professionalism. I received the critique back from Paula, and it was so refreshing to hear an unbiased critique of my work for the first time. I have hungered for it since I’ve been writing. Someone actually read the manuscript and took the time and care to provide a professional critique and show me the areas that need improvement. I am so determined to make my work a success, and it helps me to know what my strengths are and where I need improvement. Thank You, and please pass on a big thank you to Paula.”
>”I am writing to you via my wife’s email because there was something wrong with mine and I apologize for the inconvenience. As for the critique on my manuscript: Wow!! Thank you so very much for your honesty and for your straightforward analysis. After reading the MS so many times, I guess I never saw the grammatical errors that seem so blatant now. I will follow your suggestions and try to analyze my writing with a close eye on grammar. I cannot thank you enough for your help. I wish you could help me with the entire work but I know that if I do not try to improve on my own, I will never learn and I will always be dependent. I don’t know what the New York Literary Agency will do now and I am mortified at the prospects. I will keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best.”
>”I would like to thank you for this critique, it is refreshing to get an honest professional opinion of my work, it make me realise just how much I don’t know about the written word and its presentation.It’s been a long time since I left school with considerable number of years passing before I became interested in writing stories.I would like you to thank the critique for me and let it be know that I look at this as a new beginning and rebirth of my education.”
>Payment Information Form
>IF YOU DO NOT RECEIVE A PAYMENT CONFIRMATION EMAIL IN THE STATED TIME FRAME PLEASE EMAIL: and we will determine what happened. (Usually we get back to you more quickly than that, but sometimes we do take a vacation or sick day).
>INVOICE: Critique
>Schedule of Administrative Fees:
>1 New Author Critique
>Total Due = $89

Please do not send your manuscript to this address. This is
>an accounting email only. Once we receive your payment you will receive full instructions on where to send your work.
>I hereby authorize Writer’s Literary & Publishing Services, or their credit card processor, to charge my credit card a one time fee of $89 USD only.
>Card Number: _____________________________________________ Exp. Date:
>Name on Card:
>Exact Billing Address of Cardholder: __________________________________
>City, State Zip, Country:
>CVV2 Security Code: (3 digits on back of card, or 4 digits on front for
>Amex) __________
>Email for us to notify you when the card is processed:
>We strongly prefer an electronic copy of your materials sent via e-mail, however, if you are unable to e-mail your materials, please mail them to: (address in Florida)

—– Original Message —–
From: Author
To: New York Literary Agency
Sent: Monday, February 13, 2006 12:04 PM
Subject: Book critique

I have sent your $89.00 as requested on Feb. 7,2006, for a book critique, you should have received it by now. Please respond.

From: Writers Literary
To: Author
Sent: Monday, February 13, 2006 12:52 PM
Subject: RE: Book critique
My apologies, I’ll try to figure out what’s wrong. To speed up the research, would you please send any payment details that you have such as the date you sent the payment, how it was sent, whether it has been withdrawn from your check, etc, to (e-mail address omitted) I will immediately research this for you.
Thank you.
Payment Processing

— Original Message —–
From: Author
To: VP Acquisitions, New York Literary Agency
Subject: Book critique
Dear “Cheri”,

I contacted the critique service as you requested, (email address omitted) sent off the $89.00 fee through our credit union on Monday, they received the money on Tuesday, (I called the credit union to make sure) but for some reason the critique service has not received it, or at least they have not let me know they have received it after I sent them an e-mail asking if everything was in order. Diane at the service said she would do some research to see what was going on with the sent $89.00 fee. Please see what you can do on your
end, “Cheri”.

thank you


Thank you for the opportunity to assist you by providing you with a critique of your work. As a fellow writer, I wish you the best in your writing career and I hope you find the information below helpful and useful. We have found that this format is the easiest way to present our findings to you. Please fill out the top portion of the form and return, along with your manuscript to:

This information is to be provided by the author:

The Current Title of the Work:

The Current Synopsis of the Work:

The Current Length of the Work (# of words):

Market/Demographic Focus:

Describe The Main Character (if applicable)

Describe any Supporting Characters (if any)

—– Original Message —–
From: Critique Administration
To: Author
Sent: Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Subject: RE: critique response

Dear Author,

Thank you for your information, which has been forwarded to one of our editors. I will be back in touch as soon as I am in receipt of your critique. The process takes approximately two weeks from the date we receive your completed information, (give or take a few days depending upon holidays and time constraints).

If you have not heard from me, please contact me. Sometimes, emails go “missing” so your communication would be helpful in catching something of this nature. Many thanks!

Continued best regards,

“Lulu,” Director of Critique Fulfillment
Writers Literary & Publishing Services

—– Original Message —–
From: “Vi” Writers Literary
To: Author
Sent: Wednesday, February 15, 2006 8:08 AM
Subject: Writers Literary – Critique Administration

Dear (Author),

Your critique Wire Transfer payment has been received. Thank you!

Please fill out the top portion of the attached critique form and forward it, via email, along with your manuscript (even if you have already done so previously). I apologize in advance for any duplication of effort on your part; however, in order for my department to be expeditious in getting your critique done quickly, it is most helpful to have the manuscript in the same email as the critique form. Thank you for your assistance!

Once we receive the completed critique form and manuscript, both will be forwarded to one of our editors who will develop your critique. The process takes approximately two weeks. Once the critique is received back from the editor, you will be sent a copy and one will also be forwarded to your referring agency who will then contact you to review it with you.

Important!! Please email the critique form and manuscript to: (e-mail address omitted)

We will then get started.

Best regards,

Critique Fulfillment Department
Writers Literary

—– Original Message —–
From: “Cheri” VP Acquisitions, New York Literary Agency
To: Author
Sent: Thursday, February 16, 2006 3:49 AM
Subject: NY “Cheri” Out Of Office

I will be out of the country with no access to emails or voice mail until Sunday. Please excuse any delay in my communications during this time. I expect to be caught up by Tuesday or Wednesday.


—–Original Message—–
From: Author
To: “Cheri” VP Acquisitions
Sent: Thursday, February 16, 2006 1:55 PM
Subject: Re: NY “Cheri” Out Of Office


Don’t send out the dogs! It was a false alarm! My credit union sent the money in the wrong name. And they are the best in town! Anyway, the book has been sent to the critique service. Hope you had a great trip!


—– Original Message —–
From: “Cheri” VP Acquisitions
To: Author
Sent: Tuesday, February 21, 2006 9:00 AM
Subject: RE: NY “Cheri” Out Of Office

Whew! Please note:

In the future, send all administrative communications to (email address)

I have enjoyed interacting with you but my role with you is now finished. I am in charge of new author acquistions only.

“Angie” and her administrative team will take good care of you. Ask “Angie” about any questions related to receiving your contract or the process of the critique and then meeting the agent once all the paperwork and preparation is in place.

I wish you the absolute best success and I have enjoyed our e-meeting together.

Best regards,
(Name omitted) – VP Acquisitions

Our Pledge To You:
* We respect what you have accomplished thus far as a writer.
* We believe that great authors are made, not born. We are willing to develop talent.
* We pledge straight talk in a confusing and old-school industry.
* We can’t promise a sale. We can promise a professional relationship.

p.s. Missed Emails, Spam, Whitelists, and other reasons for lapses in communications. We are very, very diligent about returning every email that we receive within a couple of days. The same is true for our vendors and suppliers. IF YOU DO NOT RECEIVE A COMMUNICATION AND YOU BELIEVE THAT YOU SHOULD HAVE, PLEASE, CHECK WITH US AND WE WILL SEE WHAT HAPPENED. Please don’t jump to negative conclusions. The Internet is not 100% foolproof and we are very sensitive to our clients’ expectations and our promises about timely communications.

—– Original Message —–
From: New York Literary Agency
To: Author
Sent: Sunday, February 26, 2006 6:16 AM
Subject: Literary Agency – Contract Administration

Dear (Author),

You should have received your executed contract in the mail by now, and if not, you should within the next few days. If you do not receive it within a week, please let us know.

Once again, we congratulate you on your commitment to your writing career and we compliment you on what you have achieved thus far.


The Contract Administration Department

Note: Please do not reply to this email. ContractAdmin is a singular use email only. “Cheri” and the Acquisition Team have enjoyed working with you thus far. Since their role is very focused on acquisition of new talent, if you have questions or follow-up comments please contact “Angie” at (e-mail),as she is in charge of administration and preparing you for working with the Agent. “Angie” be your administrative contact for the duration of your time with us.

Important: If you have not made arrangements for obtaining a critique, please contact: (Writers Literary e-mail) immediately.

What’s Next?

Once the critique is in the hands of your Agent, they will review yourcritique with you and, based upon what is contained within the critique, discuss what is necessary before beginning the sales and marketing of your work.

p.s. Missed Emails, Spam, Whitelists, and other reasons for lapses in communications. We are very, very diligent about returning every email that we receive within a couple of days. The same is true for our vendors and suppliers. IF YOU DO NOT RECEIVE A COMMUNICATION AND YOU BELIEVE THAT YOU SHOULD HAVE, PLEASE, CHECK WITH US AND WE WILL SEE WHAT HAPPENED. Please don’t jump to conclusion. The Internet is not 100% foolproof and we are very sensitive to our clients’ expectations.

—– Original Message —–
From: “Lulu” Administration, Writers Literary
To: Author
Sent: Tuesday, February 28, 2006 2:41 PM
Subject: Writers Literary – Critique Administration – Reminder

Re: Critique Information Reminder

We are performing our monthly audits and verifying the status of your critique. Thank you for taking a moment to verify our accuracy.

Our records show that we are awaiting receipt of the critique form and/or manuscript/script in order to complete your critique.

If this is in error (and yes, it happens) please email me with any details you have. We sincerely apologize if we have missed an email containing your information or if we have acknowledged receipt of your information already, yet you are receiving this message. Given that we have several
people who process the information that comes through to Writers Literary, sometimes there are errors on our part and our database may simply not be reflecting the correct data.

Should you need the critique form to be sent to you again, please let us know. All information and inquiries should be sent to: (e-mail address)

Continued best wishes for your writing career.

“Lulu” – Director of Critique Fulfillment
Writers Literary & Publishing Services

—– Original Message —–
From: “Vi” Critique Administration, Writers Literary
To: Author
Sent: Friday, March 03, 2006 5:43 PM
Subject: Writers Literary – Critique Administration

Dear (Author),

Your critique has been completed (see below) and for expediency it has also been forwarded to your Literary Agent. Your agent will review the critique and get back to you within a few days to discuss the results with you. If you have NOT heard from the agent within five days, please contact them.

Thank you again for your commitment to your writing career. At Writers Literary we stand ready to assist you in all phases of bringing your work to the top quality possible and if you decide that future improvements are necessary, we hope you will allow us to assist you.

If you have any comments about your critique (good or bad) please let me know. We are always trying to improve our processes and customer service.

Many authors can make their own changes suggested by the critique. However, some authors try to make their own changes, when they really don’t have the skills necessary to do so. Therefore the Literary Agency that you work with has asked us to provide the following information to them as well (see below):


Editor’s Notes:

In my opinion as the person that has reviewed this work, the changes or
Improvements suggested by this review can be made by the author.

______ (Yes, Probably, Maybe, No) This is a 4 point forcing scale.

The amount of work needed to bring this to industry quality standards is:

____ not much
____ some
____ a lot

Remember, the purpose of the critique is to get an unbiased plan of action to bring your work up to professional standards. Your agent will work with you and this information to do so.

“Vi”– Writers Literary Services
Critique Administration

—– Original Message —–
From: “Hal,” Senior Editor, New York Literary Agency
To: Author
Sent: Saturday, March 04, 2006 2:53 PM
Subject: Critique Analysis

Hello, this is “Hal,” Senior Agent at the New York Literary Agency. Please allow me to introduce myself (e-mail address). And my administrator, (Name omitted, e-mail address) Together We will be working with you to first prepare you for marketing, and then to Begin the process of selling your work.

If you have administrative, clerical, filing, or other items to discuss, Please take them up with (assistant). If you have questions about the marketing And agenting, please take them up with me.

Please DO NOT cc everyone as that creates make-work as emails are forwarded And duplicated.

If you haven’t heard from someone, please let me know as I am your senior Contact. Sometimes, with all the spam flying around, email can slip through the cracks (on both sides).

Now that those details are over, let’s get started.

I received your Critique and have reviewed it. (You should have already received It from Writers Literary but if not, it is attached here again. Please always check your Spam filters to see if it may have ended up there.)

It is our recommendation, and we’re sure that you would agree, that the Indicated improvements are implemented before we submit your manuscript to Potential buyers. It is absolutely critical that we submit only top quality Works to our buyers.

The reality is that buyers are inundated with so many manuscripts they can Pick and choose those that are as close to perfect as possible. This saves Them money and effort and allows them to get a better idea of what the Finished product will look like so that their decision process moves more Quickly.

At this time we have to make a decision based on the results of the Critique. Our basic question is this, “based on the critique results, can the author Make their own changes, or should they be required to work with a Third-party editor to make the improvements called for in the critique?”

1) Our first choice is for you to use an editor to assist you.
2) ——————————————————————–
3) In many cases the author is so close to the work, that they can no longer be
4) Objective about making changes. It also helps to have someone to ask
5) Questions of, etc. (Note: you can get started with an editor for around $150ish).

2) You may decide to make the changes yourself.

We realize that in many cases the author feels that they can make their own Changes, or they need to save money, or they just want to do the changes Themselves.

If this is your decision, please realize that we may perform an internal Critique on the changes you have made, and if we find that more work is Needed, then we will request that you work with an editor. However, we may Find that your changes are acceptable, and we may move forward.

There is no right or wrong answer to the above question, just what’s best For you, me, and the work.


I hope this explains the options available to you at this time. Just to Repeat, if you make your own changes, then we may require more work, or we May not. Obviously we’ll have to review what the changes look like. If you Use a third party editor, then we know that the work was done correctly and We can move forward. (As an example of why we like to suggest a third party Editor, think of an accounting auditor. This is an independent third party That certifies that certain standards are met).

Please let me know which way you would like to proceed given the results of The critique.

If you have any other questions or would like to proceed in a different Manner please let me know. This is a slow-moving industry and we can afford To take our time to bring your work to the highest possible level before we Pitch it… you know the old saying, “you never get a second chance to make A first impression”.

I look forward to your reply.

Best regards,

“Hal,” Senior Agent

Attachment: Critique form

Critique Section – This information will be provided by the Critic:

The Current Title – How catchy is it? How well does it convey the information in the manuscript?
I don’t find this a very catchy title.

The Current Synopsis – How catchy is it? Does it intrigue?

This synopsis sounds interesting, but there is no need to give a chapter by chapter summary.

The Current Length of the Work – Is it appropriate for the target market?


What is the power of the opening 3-5 sentences?

The opening is fairly good.

Dialogue (if any) – Describe and comment.


Mechanics – Grammar:

There are errors in grammar and punctuation throughout the script. I have edited the following paragraphs to show some of them. I have highlighted the words and punctuation marks I added and have put in bold the words that have to be deleted:

There are some long, convoluted sentences that have to be rewritten for correctness and clarity, eg: (OMITTED TEXT)

Throughout the script, there are too many long, involved sentences. It sounds as if the writer has tried to cram as much as possible into each sentence. It reads better when you break up some long sentences into shorter, simpler ones. The aim is to make your script easy and enjoyable for people to read. Readers don’t want to have to struggle through long, complicated sentences.

It’s better not to use unnecessary phrases that add nothing to the meaning of the sentence but just make it sound longer and wordier. Making a sentence longer and wordier does not make it sound more impressive. The convention nowadays is to write tight. Simplicity is valued over ornate writing. Clear, simple, focused writing is easier to understand and a pleasure to read. When you make your sentences long and convoluted, that makes the book harder to read and people are more likely to be put off and choose to read something that is easier to understand.

Mechanics – Spelling:

There are some typos, eg: (OMITTED TEXT)

Mechanics – Punctuation:

There are various mistakes, including missing commas. I showed some of them in the paragraphs I edited above.

Mechanics – Formatting:

The manuscript should be typed in Courier 12, double-spaced.

Is there a need for illustrations? (Children’s, non-fiction, etc.)


Other / Conclusion

This is an interesting story, but the script has to be edited to correct the errors in grammar and punctuation.

—–Original Message—–
From: Author
To: “Hal,” Senior Editor, New York Literary Agency
Sent: Sunday, March 05, 2006 1:29 AM
Subject: Re: Critique Analysis

Dear “Hal,” thank you for getting in touch with me so quickly. The only thing is, I have a problem. I cannot afford an editor. So where do we go from here? You sound like a very smart man, and since we have a contract, what do you suggest I do?

—– Original Message —–
From: “Hal,” Senior Editor, New York Literary Agency
To: Author
Sent: Sunday, March 05, 2006 7:40 PM
Subject: RE: Critique Analysis

Dear (Author),

We completely understand cash flow challenges, so no worries! Take your time. This is a slow moving business and we’re in it for the long term. We like you and your work and we are willing to wait.

At this point you can use the critique as your guide and make the changes yourself. You can submit them to me when you feel you are ready and we will take a look at it again at that time. If you do not wish to make the changes, we can take your work as is and go directly to marketing. The choice is yours.

Please let me know how you wish to proceed.

“Hal” – Senior Agent

—–Original Message—–
From: Author
To: “Hal,” Senior Agent, New York Literary Agency
Sent: Monday, March 06, 2006 1:36 PM
Subject: Re: Critique Analysis

Dear “Hal,”

All right, I will make the changes, and we will go from there. I was amazed when I went back over the book and saw that the critique analysis was correct. I found mistakes I did not know were there. Hell, I thought I was perfect!


—–Original Message—–
From: Author
To: “Hal,” Senior Agent, New York Literary Agency
Sent: Tuesday, March 07, 2006 12:31 AM
Subject: We have a problem

Dear “Hal,”

We have a problem. I received a message telling me that the New York Literary Agency is a fraud. That the agency and staff earn their money, not by selling books, but by referring writers to a critique service (their own) and by referring writers to an editorial service (their own). I believe a person accused of fraud should have a chance to explain. What say you, “Hal”?

I hope this is not true. A literary agency can make a lot more money selling a good author’s work then by defrauding them.

Thank you,

—–Original Message—–
From: Author
To: “Hal,” Senior Agent, New York Literary Agency
Sent: Wednesday, March 08, 2006 12:09 AM
Subject: Here is your chance.


It would seem you and the rest of the staff at New York Literary Agency, have been very busy. Everywhere I look on the Internet, when I ask about the agency, I get information that the New York Literary Agency is only a scam. And that you all have been doing a scam for at least six years!

Here is what you can do. Send me an email stating that you no longer represent me, and send back my contract. If you do this, then I will be satisfied. If you do not do this then I will contact the police in Boca Raton, Fla. The Better Business Bureau in Boca Raton, Fla. then start with the police and Better Business Bureau in New York since you have an address there as well. Not to mention the FBI, since I am sure they would like to know what this agency is up to of late. I am sure they have also heard about you as well.

The ball is in your court!! Let’s see if you are smart enough to end this!

—– Original Message —–
From: “Hal,” Senior Editor, New York Literary Agency
To: Author
Sent: Thursday, March 09, 2006 4:44 PM
Subject: RE: Critique Analysis

Dear (Author),

I like authors that like to work for themselves, and who are open to assistance as well. So, yes, make your changes, and when you send it to me we’ll decide if it’s ready to go at that time.

“Hal,” – Senior Agent

—–Original Message—–
From: Author
To: VP Acquisitions, New York Literary Agency
Sent: Friday, March 10, 2006 6:46 PM
Subject: WHAT GIVES?


Are you playing games? Before I found your name all over the Internet with a bad rep, you were always so quick to respond.

Hmmm, I wonder why.

—–Original Message—–
From: Author
To: Administration, Writers Literary
Sent: Friday, March 10, 2006 6:47 PM
Subject: WHAT GIVES?

I am not hearing anything from anyone. I wonder why?

—–Original Message—–
From: Author
To: “Jo”- Administration, New York Literary Agency
Sent: Friday, March 10, 2006 6:50 PM
Subject: WHAT GIVES?


Suddenly I am not hearing from anyone. Why do you think this is, “Jo”?

—– Original Message —–
From: “Hal,” Senior Agent, New York Literary Agency (NOTE: SIGNATURE BELOW DOES NOT MATCH ORIGIN)
To: Author
Sent: Friday, March 10, 2006 9:31 PM
Subject: RE: We have a problem

Dear (Author),

First, let me assure you I DO NOT get paid as you mentioned below. I do not work on commission and I get no “kick backs” what so ever. I do not know of anyone in our company that works this way either. If I did, I certainly would not have to work the hours I do. (You will notice it is 6:32pm on a Saturday evening)

As far as the negative comments that are out there about us, here is what our company says….

Please let me apologize in advance for any ‘attitude’ that this email contains. We are asked to comment on that blather all the time, and the sorry truth is that good authors have missed their chance at quality representation because our business model has angered a bunch of wannabe writers. Our successful authors don’t have time to frequent those boards, and if you can find a non-self-published author on the forums, let me know.

It’s funny how people will believe something from someone they’ve never met, vs. someone they have interacted with over time.( i.e. me.), but at least you’re asking for more info, so I commend you for that.

We used to spend time and energy trying to get them to present both sides of the same story on the forums, but frankly it was a waste of time and we have too many applicants anyway.

If you have any specific questions, I’ll answer them, but this ‘comment on what I found” is a waste of time and energy, which I frankly don’t have any more of. (excuse the bad grammar).

Make up your own mind based on our own interaction. I’m very, very sure that I’ve treated you professionally, and that I’ve responded to every email you’ve sent.

Otherwise, best to you in your career, I hope you can find another agent that will treat you with the respect that I have, but I doubt it.

Best regards,
“Cheri” – VP Acquisitions

Here is our ‘form’ rebuttal:

First, let me thank you for ‘seeking first to understand’. I apologize in advance for the length of this email but we want you to be able to make an informed decision about how to proceed.

We are keenly aware of the negative message boards out there and frankly we are very concerned too. Please allow me to give you our analysis of the situation and a suggestion about how you might proceed.

There appear to be three categories of people on those boards.
1) The first category are the ‘industry watchdogs’. These are people that derive some level of psychological benefits from ‘exposing’ fraud, scams, etc. WE HAVE CONTACTED THESE PEOPLE NUMEROUS TIMES AND OFFERED TO ANSWER THEIR QUESTIONS ON A PUBLIC FORUM FOR THE BEST INTEREST OF THE INDUSTRY AND THE WRITERS. They have refused or ignored our requests. What does that tell you? It tells me that they aren’t interested in the truth, it tells me that they are interested in more visitors to their website. Also, they have blocked our rebuttal posts and deleted our prior posts. In short, it’s a very one-sided message board isn’t it?

2) The second category are people that have worked with us, for whom we haven’t been successful, and they are blameful, pointing fingers, etc. Basically just jumping on the bandwagon because they would rather feel ‘took’ than acknowledge that their work wasn’t good enough to sell.

3) The third category, for whom we feel the most sorry for, are authors such as yourself who stumble into this mess. Many of these authors just decide not to continue, and may lose the one real chance that they ever had to secure representation. Contacted any other agencies lately? How has the response level been? Wouldn’t you give us just a few points for responsiveness?

So, what to do?….
First, we challenge you to actually go through the message board and to find anything of substance. What we see is repeat, repeat, and each time something is repeated, it gets more and more outlandish. Our favorite, was that “we steal work and sell it to China”. ugh.

Go through the boards and send me any SPECIFIC questions you have. (I’ll actually save you some time, and answer some now because we’ve heard most of them… )

Q) You charge fees.. that sucks.. no one should charge a writer anything…you should get paid only if you sell something… and various flavors of this misconception.

A) We really don’t charge fees. We ask the writer to improve their work and a critique and editing (sometimes) is part of that process. The odds are so against new writers that we’ve learned that we can only invest our time with writers that are willing to pull their own weight. Writers that aren’t willing to pull their weight we call the “something for nothing” writer, who is regurgitating old mantras about how if an agent charges anything, they are bad. Guess what,
if your last name was President Clinton, we’d waive our fees too.

Q) You’ve never sold anything… the author sold it.. blah, blah

A) We now have 4 deals. The most recent is with an UK publisher. (Note: because of the vitriolic people on these boards we don’t post our deals because the instant we post a name, the really creepy and scary people that hate us start sending this crap to the posted name. We’ve got the documents and if ever needed our lawyers can pull them out.) We assisted every author with the contract on those 4 deals. We actually have emails from the publisher complimenting us on the fair job we did for our author. Yes, in two of the deals the author found the relationship, two of them, we found the relationship. In all 4 deals we provided SIGNIFICANT value to the contract negotiation and the post-publishing supoort. The thing that is
lost in all this is that very, very few literary agents have even one deal under their belt. Also, we did a measurement in April and we had 68 open and active discussions with buyers about our authors’ work. We expect a few more deals by the end of the year. You might also be interested to note that we also find really bad contracts for our authors and we recommend that they don’t accept them. We’ve seen more contracts than anyone you know and we bring that expertise to our clients.

Q) You use Form Letters and you are impersonal…

A) True or false, we have answered every email that you have ever sent us? I know the answer is true, and you know it too. To me, that’s personal service. Yes, we use form letters for billing, acquistions, status reports, etc. Our lawyers like us to say it the same way, every time. Do you really want to hold that against us? By using every method possible to keep our admin costs down, we can spend our money selling for our authors, it’s that simple.

Q) The people who work at your company are scam artists, thieves, and have records… etc.

A) This is the grapevine at it’s worst. We aren’t, we aren’t and we don’t. Have you ever heard of mis-identity, or identity theft. We have learned that it’s impossible to curb this situation. Also, did you ever ask yourself why writers have used pen names since time began, and why agents are so hard to get to? It’s because every agent that we know has been literally stalked by some crazy writer. We’ve had them drive by our house. creepy and wierd.

Q) If all this is so untrue, why haven’t you done anything about it?

A) We’ve tried, we’re filing lawsuits against Victoria Strauss and a few
other message board owners, but for the most part, anyone can say anything, so we have just learned to live with it, and to hope that the real authors, the ones we want as clients, can see through it as what it is.

So, in conclusion, if you want to spend your time looking for any real and substantive items on the boards, please do so and let us try to answer the question as best we can.

Please let me repeat our business model. We want writers who are willing to help themselves. However, in the end, you must be the one that has to decide what you want to do. If you are unwilling to spend any money to improve your writing, then please go away. If you are willing to take a small chance with us, then give us a try.

Either way, we wish you the best in your writing career.

p.s. I think this person says it very well…

In closing, I’d like to mention that on several sites that I’ve perused, your agency has been given a bad reputation for problems that I myself have not experienced. Given this, I felt that I should tell you personally that I have been very happy with the level of service your company has given me and at no time have I ever felt uncomfortable about working with you, even after having a dozen web sites try to warn me that you are “unfair”. It is my opinion that some of these sites really ought to look into the writers posting these complaints, but it is only my opinion, so I’ve kept it to myself, except of course to share it with you. In any case, I’ve felt you’ve done a wonderful job up to this point, and that you deserve some thanks for everything that you do… so, er, thank you.

Please, make up your own mind based on our interaction.

And before you lose what might be a decent chance at success, we suggest that you at least stay with the process until you see our contract.

Our contract is very simple and it has the following clauses that protect you:
1. There are no fees. If your work needs improvement, then you are responsible for that. If you think your work doesn’t need improvement, then good for you, but we rarely, rarely, see ‘ready to go’ work. Rarely, and I mean rarely. If you think WE should pay someone to improve YOIUR work, then we really are glad to get rid of you now.

2. You can fire us if we don’t perform, easily and cleanly after any 90 day period where we don’t make a sale.

3. You keep all rights, copyrights, etc.

I promise you those 3 clauses are in the contract, so, you can believe what you read, or you can give us a try and make up your own mind.

I know you are nervous, however, what’s your real risk? Ask yourself that.

Our successful authors have answered that question for themselves, and frankly, they don’t have the time or energy to hang out posting on boards, they are following their success and their dream, and I hope you do the same.

Whatever your decision, I wish you the best.

The quotes below are unedited and as you can see, quite from the heart. (We have lots more of these.) If you are really cynical, you will probably believe we made them up, but I promise you, we can prove every one of them.


“Just a note to say, whatever the outcome of my submission, it’s refreshing to engage an agent who will a) take an email submission, b) turn it round as quick you’ve committed to do and c) actively work with a writer. Submissions are daunting enough anyway without having to wait ten weeks for an impersonalised slip of paper. Here’s to you.”

“I would like to thank you for this critique, it is refreshing to get an honest professional opinion of my work, it make me realise just how much I don’t know about the written word and its presentation.”

It’s been a long time since I left school with considerable number of years passing before I became interested in writing again. I would like you to thank the critique editor for me and let it be known that I look at this as a new beginning and rebirth of my education.

“Thank you for my critique. I couldn’t believe how fast I got it! Frankly, I don’t think it is humanly possible to top the phenomenal service I have received from you. Not only did you keep me apprised of the situation every step of the way – a critique within days of your receipt of my manuscript! I was utterly amazed to say the least! I must congratulate you and all your team for the high level of friendly, efficient service and professionalism that you give your clients. I am HUGELY impressed!”

“As for my critique, I could hardly believe that could write such a WONDERFUL one about my work. The fact that she said she loved this story made all the years and years of writing and keeping the faith worthwhileI THANK YOU, CYNTHIA, THANK YOU! Your positive words abou my work have made my whole year!!!!!!!!!”

“After having reread all the information sent to me, I must say that I am impressed by the way your agency has handled the science, or art of appreciating new sources of writing. If only all agencies displayed your model the world may be a better place. Your FAQ has answered all of my questions and i am eager to get to work.”


So, as you can see, some clients love us (and some clients hate us, but hey, that’s life in real business). We respect that our service is not for you, but we did want you to know that we have many more clients that like us, than hate us. That said, I wish you the best in your writing career. If you would like to reconsider, we are open to it. If not, we wish you the best and hope that you will find an agency with a soft spot for new authors.

—– Original Message —–

From: “Hal,” Senior Editor, New York Literary Agency
To: Author
Sent: Friday, March 10, 2006 9:31 PM
Subject: RE: Here is your chance.

Dear (Author),

I just sent you an email with an explanation but unfortunately for you you were too impatient to wait for it. So, fulfilling your wishes……

I am sorry that this didn’t work out.

This email shall serve as formal termination and dissolution of our Literary Agency Contract for Representation.

“Hal,” – Senior Agent

—– Original Message —–
From: Administration, Writers Literary
To: Author
Sent: Saturday, March 11, 2006 8:10 AM
Subject: RE: WHAT GIVES?

Dear (Author),

I am sorry. This is the first email I have received from you. After checking your account, I see that your critique is complete and you should have received it around March 3. By copy of this email to the Critique Fulfillment Dept., they will forward you another copy.

Please let me know if there is anything else you need. Thank you.

Best Regards,

Writers Literary

—– Original Message —–
From: “Cheri” VP Acquisitions, New York Literary Agency
To: Author
Sent: Saturday, March 11, 2006 10:14 AM
Subject: RE: WHAT GIVES?

Still am, but not wasting time convincing anyone.

Best regards,
“Cheri” – VP Acquisitions

Our Pledge To You:
* We respect what you have accomplished thus far as a writer.
* We believe that great authors are made, not born. We are willing to develop talent.
* We pledge straight talk in a confusing and old-school industry.
* We can’t promise a sale. We can promise a professional relationship.

p.s. Missed Emails, Spam, Whitelists, and other reasons for lapses in communications. We are very, very diligent about returning every email that we receive within a couple of days. The same is true for our vendors and suppliers. IF YOU DO NOT RECEIVE A COMMUNICATION AND YOU BELIEVE THAT YOU SHOULD HAVE, PLEASE, CHECK WITH US AND WE WILL SEE WHAT HAPPENED. Please don’t jump to negative conclusions. The Internet is not 100% foolproof and we are very sensitive to our clients’ expectations and our promises about timely communications.

—– Original Message —–
From: “Vi” Critique Administration, Writers Literary
To: Author
Sent: Saturday, March 11, 2006 4:52 PM
Subject: Writers Literary – Critique Administration

Dear (Author),

Attached is a copy of your completed critique that we emailed to you on 3/3. Below is a copy of the email that accompanied it. By separate email, I will send a copy of an email that your agent sent to you on 3/4.

“Vi” – Writers Literary Services
Critique Administration

Dear (Author),

Your critique has been completed (see below) and for expediency it has also been forwarded to your Literary Agent. Your agent will review the critique and get back to you within a few days to discuss the results with you. If you have NOT heard from the agent within five days, please contact them.

Thank you again for your commitment to your writing career. At Writers Literary we stand ready to assist you in all phases of bringing your work to the top quality possible and if you decide that future improvements are necessary, we hope you will allow us to assist you.

If you have any comments about your critique (good or bad) please let me know. We are always trying to improve our processes and customer service.
Many authors can make their own changes suggested by the critique. However, some authors try to make their own changes, when they really don’t have the skills necessary to do so. Therefore the Literary Agency that you work with has asked us to provide the following information to them as well (see below):


Editor’s Notes:

In my opinion as the person that has reviewed this work, the changes or
Improvements suggested by this review can be made by the author.

______ (Yes, Probably, Maybe, No) This is a 4 point forcing scale.

The amount of work needed to bring this to industry quality standards is:

____ not much
____ some
____ a lot

Remember, the purpose of the critique is to get an unbiased plan of action to bring your work up to professional standards. Your agent will work with you and this information to do so.

“Vi” – Writers Literary Services
Critique Administration

—– Original Message —–
From: “Lulu”- Administration, Writer’s Literary
To: Author
Sent: Monday, March 13, 2006 6:31 AM
Subject: RE: WHAT GIVES?


Your email is confusing. ???

“Lulu” – Director of Critique Fulfillment
Writers Literary & Publishing Services