What the fuck is wrong with you people?

The post on Snake oil word merchants has brought some VERY interesting email to the Snark box. Here's the first one:

This is the text of an EMAIL rejection letter.

Thank you so much for sharing your work with us.

We are grateful that you thought of us, and that you took the time to query. Unfortunately, this is not quite what we're looking for right now. Please keep in mind that this is not necessarily a reflection on your work, but merely a reflection on our current needs.

As a way to give something back in return, we would like to give you some free, practical tips that you can use to help strengthen your future queries. We have pasted an excerpt below. (Please forgive us if you have already read this.)

Thank you once again, and best of luck for continued success.

Here's the part that makes this slimey: we would like to give you some free, practical tips that you can use to help strengthen your future queries.

It's EXACTLY the same baited hook that drew writers into paying reading fees several years ago.

Now, the next part is the one I like best

-TITLE- is a short e-book (80 pages) which can be downloaded instantly, and read in a day

(an 80 page e-book in Adobe PDF file format which can be downloaded instantly for $24.95)

Gee, I hope they don't want to give me too much more in return, my Amex will burn up.

Who are these guys kidding?
$24.95 for 80 pages of PDF file?
Hell, you can buy Pat Walsh's book for $14 and that includes paper and ink.

Ignoring the obvious huckster overtones, I ask you
what's the point of this?
If it's to "be of help" --give the shit away on a web site. God knows half of us do that anyway.

If the point is to make a buck -step up to the fucking plate, write a proposal and sell it to a publisher.

The irony of a MAJOR literary agent in NYC selling his/her work as POD doesn't escape the ever watchful Snarkster.

No wonder writers think agents are weird.


ScaramoucheX said...

This is a strange and terrible jungle you navigate, Snark...and I bet you're good at it...thanks for the post.

Paul Jessup said...

an 80 page e-book in Adobe PDF file format which can be downloaded instantly for $24.95

That should set off warning bells for any writer. The "free helpful tips" should as well (I've never recieved anything like this- but I would be offended if I had). That's really slimey. It reminds me of that poetry contest scam that runs in an ad in the back of Writer's Digest. I knew five girls that all entered that contest (and won- wow! howaboutthat)in high school and then coughed up the 60$ to get the hardbound book that they *won*. Disgusting.

Anonymous said...

Very slimey. Very, very slimey.

One tiny correction: An e-book is not "POD." POD (Print On Demand) refers to self-published or small-press-published books (real pen and ink books) that are printed as they are ordered -- hence the title.

E-books are not "printed" and therefore don't fall under the same category. They are simply "E-published." And unless you want to sell them on Amazon, you don't even need to buy an ISBN.

kitty said...

Actually, Pat Walsh's book is cheaper than that (new). Amazon lists it for $11.20. B&B has two prices: $12.60 for non-members and $11.34 for members.

I bought it on POD-dyMouth's rec and read it cover to cover. Excellent! No false hopes and lots of advice punctuated with a bit of wit.

kitty said...

I meant B&N (but you probably knew that).

Ellen Fisher said...

I'm confused. They're offering "free helpful tips" for $24.95? I must have misunderstood the meaning of "free" all these years. Maybe I'd better go check my dictionary...

And I second what someone else said above-- POD is "print on demand"-- a printed book, in other words. An ebook is an electronic document.

BTW, I had a small publisher try a similar thing on me once. They rejected my manuscript, but they were willing to tell me what was wrong with the manuscript-- for a mere $180, I think it was. They'd be willing to look at the manuscript again only if I paid them for a critique. Needless to say, I marked that publisher off my list very quickly:-).

Anonymous said...

So: who is it? Any reason to protect identities, here?

Pam said...


The author was pretty easy to find, unless more than one agency is advertising its PDF files with the phrase "which can be downloaded instantly, and read in a day."

I'm a bit surprised at the culprit's identity. Miss Snark wasn't kidding when she said "big name."

(I hope I won't get anyone flogged by posting this. A thousand pardons if I do.)

Peter L. Winkler said...

Noah Lukeman. Why not name him. It's right there on his web site for Pete's sake.

I'm of two minds on this. Agents are salesmen. That's all they are. He's selling a product.

It is overpriced. At the same time, based on the sample at his web site, it might be well worth reading for many wannabe writers. They're clueless and prone to fall for scams anyway. The $24.95 they give Lukeman might teach them something. A reading fee paid to a scammy "agent" will be completely wasted.

Price relates to perceived value. To me, this ebook isn't worth the price because I don't think there's anything new there for me. However, a tyro may learn a lot. If they take Lukeman's advice, it may advance their career. Then it's worth the price.

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