Author Topic: My little dilemma (a glitch in the success story)  (Read 11190 times)

Offline teen-writer

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Re: My little dilemma (a glitch in the success story)
« Reply #15 on: February 23, 2008, 01:28:49 AM »
I queried them based a referral, but even the guy who referred me suggested that I keep querying.

But here's a snag. A quote from their website:

"WriteHigh reads manuscripts and partial manuscripts on the understanding that it is the only agency to whom the author is submitting his/her work."

Offline teen-writer

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Re: My little dilemma (a glitch in the success story)
« Reply #16 on: February 23, 2008, 01:45:34 AM »
Okay, here's the exact e-mail that I wrote:

"Let's say that Write High decides to represent me, and I still want to
weigh my options. The website says that you read a manuscript with the
understanding that you are the only agency reading it.

So if, hopefully, I get an offer of representation from Write High,
can I commence to query a few more agents just to explore
possibilities? This would take a few weeks, I suppose. How long would
an offer last?

I was going to ask this during lunch today but I had forgotten. I hope
whoever reads my manuscript enjoys it, and have a great weekend!"

Offline EJRuek

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Re: My little dilemma (a glitch in the success story)
« Reply #17 on: February 23, 2008, 03:43:17 AM »
Query other agencies, but do so quietly.  If after reading your full, if she still wants to sign you, then you ask her the hard questions, like about her sales to big publishers.  Honesty at that point on your side and on her side, once she makes you an offer for representation is imperative.  You need to know if YOU want to have her working on your behalf.  If you do sign with her, and you might be the client that lets her break into bigger publishers, bear with her for six months, then reevaluate where you are at.  Do not sign a contract that locks you in.  Remmeber, agents can be hired...and fired...just like they can drop you when they no longer think the relationship is working.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2008, 03:49:51 AM by EJRuek »

Offline joanjunkmail

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Re: My little dilemma (a glitch in the success story)
« Reply #18 on: February 23, 2008, 07:46:54 AM »
Thank you all for advice!

So here's what I think I'll do.

She'll give a reply within the next two weeks. As you said, no rush. I mean, the ball really isn't on my side of the court right now. If and when she OFFERS rep, then I have the ball. And I can throw it in any direction I want. My dad suggested that we call a distant connection we have in the agenting world (a film agent at William Morris, who works with literary agents), and ask him if he can get someone to THEN read the manuscript quickly. We'll tell him that there's an offer of rep. I'm not obligated to go with this agent. If she offers rep, I'll ask for a few weeks to consider. And then if I get more bites, I'll politely take on the biggest fish.

Sound good? I really need opinions.

<hijack> can i marry into your family?</hijack>

Here's a thought that has nothing to do with literary agents per se, but a lot to do with ethics.

1) don't lie
2) don't string someone along (send the queries out NOW, not when she's ready to offer you representation)
3) use every legitimate connection you have - THEN always be a connection others can use.

i spent 18 years developing connections for my son that i didn't have.  i am CERTAINLY not a brown-noser or a suck-up, nor have I ever advised my son to be one.  I simply put him in situations where he'd develop both substance and ties to people who can help him, regardless of what he chooses to do.  He's using some of these ties and connections right now to do what he wants (writing and producing internet sitcoms).  The thing is - although those connections he has brought him to 'this place', HE is developing the substance of the thing, just like YOU have written the novel.  He can take credit and have pride in his work - and, you better believe he's casting all his friends in it, because that's what you should do when YOU become the connection.

My advice is to be ethical, considerate and appreciative, but use any avenue you have available through accident of birth or accident of acquaintance or even automotive accidents (i wouldn't advise THAT, though...) to get YOUR novel published.

your words are the source of honor - not the struggle to get them published. 
be nice to me or zombies will eat you in my novel
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Offline yarnsome

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Re: My little dilemma (a glitch in the success story)
« Reply #19 on: February 23, 2008, 10:12:17 AM »
Way to go, JJM!  :up: I wish there were more people as ethical as you in the world!

Yarnsome
Write till your ink be dry, and with your tears
Moist it again, and frame some feeling line
That may discover such integrity.
~~~William Shakespeare

Offline audal

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Re: My little dilemma (a glitch in the success story)
« Reply #20 on: February 23, 2008, 11:14:18 AM »
Hey Dan...

First of all let me apologize in advance, because this post is more cautionary than congratulatory.  But as Lannie mentioned, this is an adult business, so I have to take the kid gloves off and point out a few things in accord.

I have dug in & poked around a lot on WH's own website, and from what I've read, they sound nothing like an agency and everything like a team of what they call "book coaches."  This is perfectly fine - anyone can provide whatever service they'd like along the road to publication.  But to think they may soon call to offer "representation" is maybe a bit misguided.  They will offer assistance... and it may end up costing you.

This violates one key rule I have about this whole process: Money flows TO the writer.

Unless, of course, the writer fully accepts fees... but the truth is, if your manuscript is good enough, you will be able to place it with a more traditional agency.

To help me illustrate what I'm saying, I have culled a few passages from WH's own testimonials/endorsements section...

Quote
For us, she has been teacher, editor, research advisor, marketer, publicist, and cheerleader! She helped us shape our material and find our 'voice.' She helped us write a professional proposal, and then she told us which agents to contact with it. One of those first four agents--all contacts from Monique--now represents us.

Note how nowhere in here does it say "she has been agent."  Writers do not need this.  They can decide which agents to sumbit to perfectly well on their own.

Quote
Monique is so much more than a book coach. She completely takes the writer under her wondrous wings and navigates him or her through the tricky maze of agents, platforms and publishers.

If they're an agency, why would they navigate a writer through the maze of agents?  And again, note the primary "book coach" tag.

This to me is not a literary title.  It sounds more like just another service oft used by people who want help when they themselves feel that they cannot succeed.

Quote
When I wanted to be tutored by Monique, after one year of classes at UCLA, she cut her fees in half so I could afford lessons.

Sing it with me, people... Money flows TO the writer.

Quote
I had writer's block for 30 years. With Monique's help, I have a novel well on the way to completion. She has a marvelous technique for helping writers to begin their work and to have a clear idea where they are going with it.

A novel not yet completed by a first time writer will never be taken on by a serious agency.

Ever.

Quote
I needed an 'architect' to bounce ideas off and was lucky to find one in Monique Raphel High. Monique's unflagging enthusiasm for her students makes those trips 'back to the drawing board' a creative pleasure, rather than an unending chore.

This is fine - she may be popular on 'ArchitectQuery', but unless an agent is listed on AgentQuery, I raise red flags. And this outfit is not.  Not an outright disqualification of their legitimacy, just a caution sign.

Quote
Monique's one on one, hands-on approach in assisting her students to perfect their writing misses very little. Small changes accrue to make common writing excellent and excellent writing exceptional.

Sing it with me, people... Money... Flows...

Yeah, you get the point.

Quote
she provides the necessary technical assistance--proofreading; editing; character analysis; plot dissection; strategies for, and assistance with, acquiring an agent or publisher and...more. But she is also an honest critic, a sounding board for ideas, and your own private cheerleader. It is due to her assistance (and persistence) that I have aquired an agent, my children's book (the first in a prospective series) is making the rounds of publishers

Again, Dan, if you are willing to accept that you may end up paying for an intermediary step in the publication process that no writer has to take, then you can keep up the liaison.

Quote
I credit Monique with ‘cracking the whip’ to keep me working on my first novel, for helping shape the story as it progressed, and—perhaps most importantly—seeing me through the process of finding an agent and, ultimately, a publisher.

Notice that many testimonials are referencing the hunt for the agent.


A few other things from the site:

Quote
When the manuscript is finished, Monique and her associate, Susan Chin (currently on temporary leave-of-absence), give it a thorough edit. After the edit, they will ask whether you are interested in a Target Reader review.....  Payment is $0.40 per page of reading, and the target reader submits a written review.

Monique and Susan will tell you when your book is ready to be presented to an agent. You may or may not ask the WriteHigh Literary Agency to represent you. WriteHigh will never pressure a client to do this. You are free to find any agent you desire. Management clients, however, pay for WriteHigh services as stated in their WriteHigh Management (not Agency) contracts—by the hour, or by the project.

Sorry, but I just don't like this.  I'm not suggesting that this is a scam at all... they're very upfront about what they do and that's commendable.  But...

Quote
WriteHigh does NOT want you to spend money. But a manuscript full of comma splices, repeated vocabulary words, misplaced modifiers, etc., looks as bad as uncombed hair. It’s better to find a professional to fix what you obviously have not been able to figure out.

...just because they don't WANT you to spend money doesn't mean they won't up and one day say, "I'm sorry, but this is gonna cost you..."

OK, I'm worn out trying to dissect this situation.  Below are links to a few more things that popped up when looking into the outfit - hopefully they'll help you form your thoughts about what's going on.

All that said, congratulations on having a finished product that's receiving positive response.  And in answer to your question... HELL YES, keep querying!  If you've got a hit, you can bypass all that WH might have to offer.

http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=84468

http://grandgesture.blogspot.com/2007/07/this-is-red-flag.html

http://grandgesture.blogspot.com/2007/10/what-about-manuscripts-sold.html

Whew.  I'm done.  Sorry for the negativity, Dan, but I would HATE to see you get sucked into something that turns you off to the publication process.  You live here - you know all to well that this is a city that preys upon the hopeful.  Don't buckle, stay vigilant, do your homework with every last agent/publisher/etc that lands on your radar screen, OK?

And GOOD LUCK!
Quillkeepers' Tavern Management: Slingin' Cocktails & Wisecracks Since Mid-August.

Offline EJRuek

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Re: My little dilemma (a glitch in the success story)
« Reply #21 on: February 23, 2008, 12:03:07 PM »
Karma to audal.  I wish I could give you fifteen, but the board won't let me.  Such research for someone!!  *bows*

Offline Chelc

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Re: My little dilemma (a glitch in the success story)
« Reply #22 on: February 23, 2008, 12:35:22 PM »
hmm.
okay, so dan...my first thoughts were uh-oh, doesn't sound like a good situation to be getting yourself into! and then as the posts and advice kept going...my suspicions got worse.
I guess all I have to say to help is...trust your initial instinct. it knows what it's talking about.
and the fact that you are even questioning them in the first place should be telling you something...

Offline teen-writer

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Re: My little dilemma (a glitch in the success story)
« Reply #23 on: February 23, 2008, 12:58:53 PM »
So it seems like the only question remaining is: do I keep querying now, or wait for a response from Write High?

Offline Chelc

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Re: My little dilemma (a glitch in the success story)
« Reply #24 on: February 23, 2008, 01:01:12 PM »
So it seems like the only question remaining is: do I keep querying now, or wait for a response from Write High?
I say query...

Offline Alien

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Re: My little dilemma (a glitch in the success story)
« Reply #25 on: February 23, 2008, 01:26:18 PM »
A bit of a peeve for me: the expectation of exclusivity.

In a previous life I spent years both managing and working as a real estate AGENT. Granted, a different type of agent, but the legal theory of agency applies to any type of agent. And there is no pre-paperwork obligation to exclusivity. The more I keep seeing this stuff around ("We expect exclusivity") the more it irks me. There isn't a real estate or loan agent alive who hasn't been "shopped" while dedicating time and effort to a client they end up losing. It's part of the business model and partly why an agent must gain five clients to close two transactions. I can't sympathize with literary agents who expect instant exclusivity.

And ethics? Is it ethical for an agent to restrict your potential market while they have no commitment to you? I certainly don't think so. Exclusivity expectations are words to dissuade the timid with no teeth in them--they serve to protect an agent who doesn't want to get caught spending time on something that may never result in a paycheck (literary agents may argue that even when they sign authors they have no certainty of landing a deal and therefore it's truly unfair to abuse them--hogwash--no different for many other professions). Unless you feel morally obligated because of some asserted verbal commitment, void the exclusivity expectatiion at will. My soap-box-cents-worth.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2008, 01:30:12 PM by Alien »

Offline Patrick

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Re: My little dilemma (a glitch in the success story)
« Reply #26 on: February 23, 2008, 02:02:00 PM »
Keep querying, and if WH responds, ignore them.   They have nothing to offer you that you won't learn on your own.  As has been said plenty of times already, you are young and you have a good start.  Keep writing and you will learn without having to pay someone to teach you. 

Offline EJRuek

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Re: My little dilemma (a glitch in the success story)
« Reply #27 on: February 23, 2008, 05:19:53 PM »
A bit of a peeve for me: the expectation of exclusivity.

In a previous life I spent years both managing and working as a real estate AGENT. Granted, a different type of agent, but the legal theory of agency applies to any type of agent. And there is no pre-paperwork obligation to exclusivity. The more I keep seeing this stuff around ("We expect exclusivity") the more it irks me. There isn't a real estate or loan agent alive who hasn't been "shopped" while dedicating time and effort to a client they end up losing. It's part of the business model and partly why an agent must gain five clients to close two transactions. I can't sympathize with literary agents who expect instant exclusivity.

And ethics? Is it ethical for an agent to restrict your potential market while they have no commitment to you? I certainly don't think so. Exclusivity expectations are words to dissuade the timid with no teeth in them--they serve to protect an agent who doesn't want to get caught spending time on something that may never result in a paycheck (literary agents may argue that even when they sign authors they have no certainty of landing a deal and therefore it's truly unfair to abuse them--hogwash--no different for many other professions). Unless you feel morally obligated because of some asserted verbal commitment, void the exclusivity expectatiion at will. My soap-box-cents-worth.

The problem is, Alien, it's a buyer's market, not a sellers.  There are a a million-million writers trying to get published, and one million good writers trying to get published.  There are how many legitimate literary agencies?  So they can afford to run writers through the hoops.  The nice thing is that writers are leveling the playing field a bit in that, with sites like these, they are educating themselves and other writers.  The exclusivity, though, is something I would only grant a top agent, and then only if I really thought they were serious, not just going to "lose" the manuscript amongst all the others they put calls in for as happens much too often.

Offline Abigail

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Re: My little dilemma (a glitch in the success story)
« Reply #28 on: February 23, 2008, 05:25:08 PM »
Have to wonder...after reading everything Aud found...if WH helps you find an agent and is in fact not an agency in itself, then WHY do they want/need exclusivity?  The only reason that comes to mind is that maybe you would find an agent on your own and no longer be in need of their services, which you pay for...


just a thought,
Abi
Literature is alive...don't strangle it with superfluous verbiage!

Offline isinglass

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Re: My little dilemma (a glitch in the success story)
« Reply #29 on: February 24, 2008, 06:00:41 AM »
I took this from the Writers Beware website. (Sorry -- I don't know how to make it a hyperlink.) Write High isn't on their Beware list, so I didn't include it. Nor is it listed in Preditors and Editors as Not Recommended, but I took a look at their website, and truthfully it raises red flags with me, especially the potential conflict of interest part.

FWIW.
________________________________________

WRITER BEWARE'S
THUMBS DOWN AGENCY LIST
Page updated: 1/10/08


Below, in alphabetical order, is a list of the currently active literary agencies about which Writer Beware has received the largest number of complaints over the years, or which, based on documentation we've collected, we consider to pose the most significant hazard for writers. All have two or more of the following abusive practices:

1. Fee-charging--including reading fees, marketing or administrative fees, retainers, processing fees, and other forms of upfront or flat-rate charges that are made as a condition of representation.

2. Paid editing or publishing referrals--including placing clients with vanity publishers, promoting their own paid editing services to clients (a conflict of interest), sending clients/potential clients to an outside editing service that pays kickbacks for referrals. Several of these agencies are no more than fronts for editing services.

3. Conflicts of interest--several agencies are under common ownership with editing services or vanity publishers, which are recommended to clients without disclosing the connection.

4. No or minimal track records--many of these agencies have never made a single sale to a commercial publisher. None has a significant recent track record.

5. Nonstandard author-agent contract terms--including perpetual agency clauses, claiming commissions on clients’ future works even if the agency had no hand in selling them, billing clients for normal business overhead such as travel and entertainment.

6. Unprofessional practices--such as sending form letters or postcards with boxes for editors to check off and return to indicate interest, "bundled" queries (several queries in the same envelope), "blitz" or shotgun submissions (submissions to a dozen or more publishers simultaneously, often without careful targeting), “packaging” a submission with unnecessary extras such as author photos, cover mockups, or sample illustrations.

7. Misrepresentation of skill or experience--including representing themselves as competent to sell manuscripts despite poor or nonexistent track records, lying about sales, and claming placements with vanity publishers as legitimate commercial sales.