A few simple questions....

From the comments section of the blog came a link to some site wherein very annoyed writers reprinted their emails with some poor fool who thought he'd found a fast way to make dough.

Herewith the list of questions asked of Agent HS:

1. How long has your company been in business?
2. How long have you been in the agent business?
3. What are your qualifications?
4. How many books did you sell in the past 3 years?
5. What publishing companies did you sell them to?
5. What are the titles and who are the authors and who were the publishers.
6. Could you give me a few names of satisfied clients that I could contact?
7. Are you a member of AAR?

Thanks for taking the time to answer these few simple questions.

For starters, if anyone sent me an email like that, I'd hang up on them too.

Tone, Snarklings, tone in your emails is important. This guy makes it sound like the fate of the free world hangs in the balance here.
This isn't an interrogation, and world peace doesn't depend on you getting straight answers.

First: the first question you ask is number 7.
If an agent is a member of AAR, they subscribe to a code of ethics and they have made verifiable sales. You can't just hang out your shingle and join AAR. They check on whether you've sold stuff. Trust me, they look. They also police their own. Screw up, and you're on the bad girl list. AAR takes that stuff seriously. (and they should)

Second, no way on hell's half acre am I giving you names and email addresses of my clients. I'll tell you what I've sold, to who and for whom, but giving out my author's contact info is the SUREST route to having the folks who've actually put cash in my slender reticule mad at me.

Third, questions 4 and 5 and 5 (interesting numbering system but ok) are all asking the same thing: What have you sold?

And this dear Snarklings is the crux of the matter. Why on gods green earth are you querying an agent if you don't ALREADY KNOW THE ANSWERS TO THE QUESTION???

Are you querying blindly off some sort of list? For all its usefullness Everyone Who's Anyone In Publishing lists names and addresses only..NOT what people have sold (mostly). Just emailing people blindly off that list gets you EXACTLY what you deserve if you end up with a scam artist.

You are not helpless children. You are NOT waifs. You are not innocents in the minefields of publishing dammit. You're adults. You change the oil in your car, you get your teeth serviced, you manage to get to work and raise reasonable replicants of human beings.
Due diligence before querying an agent isn't rocket science.

Do your homework, and you'll put the scammers out of business.
I've said it before I'll say it again:
every person who pays money to these folks could have avoided it if they'd spent five minutes doing research on the net.


Bill Peschel said...

"Due diligence before querying an agent isn't rocket science."

Especially these days, with the Internet. Even if you're not, check the library for Publishers Weekley and check out the deals for books similiar to yours.

Publishers Lunch used to give you a sample of deals for free, but they've cut back a lot. Now you gotta pay for it. Cheapskates (me, I mean).

Ric said...

Hey Guys, and the indomitible Miss Snark,

Lest anyone actually believe that I sent my ms or any money to our shyster in Florida, I didn't and wouldn't. I'm in this business to make money. I truly believe that my writing is worth getting paid for and not the other way around.

Not sure where I even got the name of that agent, but I suspect it was Writer's Market. Which means, as Miss Snark says, "due diligence"

Amazing that the email I received would show up on the net like that. I was trying to keep the snarkings from a lawsuit. Just friggin' amazing. Gotta love Google.

Ain't life grand?

Anonymous said...

Lovely Snark Queen, just as i think your policy on e-mail queries is short-sighted, once again i don't grok your attitude regarding not giving out clients names and phone numbers to prospective clients who would like references.
I have had some of the best and most-well-known Big Shot agents in the business and never has one refused to give me the names of references, including a Pulitzer Prize wining client and a couple of N.Y.Times best-selling authors.
These accomplished authors have always been willing to talk to me by phone, affirming that i was lucky to have their esteemed agent be interested in my work.
Even though these agents were VERY well known to all writers who did the lest research on the agenting industry, I STILL wanted to talk to actual clients.
Perhpas you are being overly protective of your clients in being unwillling to give out their names for references. You could always just exclude any client who objected to being used as a reference. I hope it hasn't meant any desirable fish jumped off the hook because of your refusal to give the names of client references. Regardless of your policies, I still love you anyway.

Anonymous said...

I have to fix my teeth, too?

I'm fucked.

Anonymous said...

You always say research an agent before contacting them, but how exactly do you go about doing that?

For instance if you have a name, Sarah Peters (made-up name), of an agent you think you would want to contact what would be your first step to finding out more about them? Do you google them? Is there a book you can look through? Search for their website? What???

Miss Snark said...

Dear Anon, about names and contact info. Perhaps timing is the answer. If I'm ready to sign someone, have made an offer, spoken to them on the phone, and they ask for references, I do give email addresses. I have permission from several clients for that.

What I do NOT do is hand that info out to some nitwit sending me a list of questions. Perhaps in my zeal to stomp on that guy's head (a favorite past time here at the Snark Penthouse) I over stated the case. I know it's a rarity that Miss Snark is not a model of decorum..but there you have it.

Anonymous said...

thank you for clarifying, Queen Snark--and of course I understand not giving out that info to someone whom you haven't already made an offer.

Laraqua said...

How the heck do you find out who agented what? After all, I don't think I've seen the agent's name written on the copyright page, correct me if I'm wrong.