Who Pays....part two

I thought agents were routinely reimbursed some portion of their expenses to attend a conference. They show their receipts, and get up to $250 reimbursed (for example).Normally that reimbursement is a cost factored into the overall registration fee, and not broken out (in small part) as this seaside conference does it.Breaking it out means the individual conference goer shoulders a slightly higher proportion of the agent's expenses than the model where every conference goer, knowingly or not, subsidizes these costs, but, either way, it seems to me that the net effect is the same -- agents are reimbursed in whole or in part for costs.I don't think it is the same as reading fees.

Agents do attend conferences at no cost. ALL their expenses are paid (not just $250--you can't get me for less than $750 these days). There is a difference however in charging conference attenders $20 to meet with an agent one on one and paying expenses. (The conference that started this discussion says it's not going to pay expenses next year, it's going to give a $250 honorarium and then split the meeting fees. I'll be interested to see who comes to the conference).

Look at it this way: you want to meet me to pitch your manuscript. You fly to New York and come to my office. You sit down in my conference room and remove Killer Yapp from your ankle. You pitch your book. I give you an invoice for $20. Does that sound like a reading fee to you? Pay to play? It does to me. The only difference is I didn't have to leave NYC.

Covering an agent's expenses makes the agent a guest of the conference and the sponsoring organization. When you start giving them money to read stuff, you're not a guest, you're contract labor.

It's also a BAD idea to get people used to paying reading fees. "It was ok over here at the Lone Ranger and Tonto Writing Conference for Wayward Cowgirls but it's not ok to pay an agent direct?"

The reason I am so adamant about not paying agents is that it's the road to abuse. I'm not just whistling Dixie here either; reading fee scandals were common place in the 90's. And how many times do I have to say "Dorothy Deering" anyway.

Reading fees are a bad idea. Agents in AAR aren't allowed to charge reading fees in any form.


kmfrontain said...

It's an education reading your blog. Just looked up Dorothy Deering and found her on sfwa.org. And for those of you who want the webaddress without Googling:


I am wondering if the mental health treatment program she was ordered to undertake ever helped her. Somehow I doubt it. Anyone that could go that far to defraud a large number of people seems a hopeless case.

Miss Snark said...

There's a book out about her too. TEN PERCENT OF NOTHING. It made me want to scream and pull out my hair. I HATE that she's called a literary agent cause she's nothing but a fraud artist.

Ric said...

Research, Research, Research.

Never pay.

How hard is this?

Met my neighbor at a wedding reception the other night, he was bragging about his new novel, just published. I asked about his agent, nice guy. I looked the guy up and his web site says, "Send $350 and your manuscript."

My neighbor's book is printed by Publish America. Look that up on Absolutewrite.com and you'll really get an earful.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Oh, no Publish America is a POD. Some people are just so driven that they just want to see their name in print.

If you have a built in audience that's fine, like say, being a traveling evangelist or a lecturer or something like that. But when your looking for a general readership...its a death sentence.

Once you do that no royalty publisher will touch it.

And the editing is usually horribly nonexistant!

kmfrontain said...

How do you know royalty publishers won't touch it? Did you read some report? If so, what? Or do you have an "in" with royalty publishers and they all told you this? There are enough rumours on the net without adding to them. Give us proof.

Miss Snark said...

Bonnie knows that cause I told her. And everyone else on the blog. Most royalty paying houses do NOT pick up books that have been previously published. There are exceptions. We can go into that in detail again if you'd like.

Think of it this way: most people don't win the lottery. There are exceptions. Lots of people play because, regardless of the posted odds, they think they have a good shot at winning.

kmfrontain said...

Naw. Don't bother. I'll just go off and play the lottery as usual. ;-)

G. Jules Reynolds said...

Not to mention that PA apparently ties up the rights for seven years, which puts them even lower on the sludge-feeding scumbucket list. This, I've found, is a good tidbit to tell those who are planning on "following in the footsteps of authors like [insert rare self-published success here]", but rather than ponying up the money are going to be "published" by PA to get enough reviews and sales and hot cabana boys to go hit up the big boys. If someone feels they *have* to do something like that, PA is the worst possible way to do it, because rights... SHOULD lightning strike, and hell freeze over, and pigs go flittering past on delicate fairy wings... yeah. you'd need those rights.

And of course, no discussion of PA is complete without a mention of Travis Tea.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Thanks for the defendin', Miss Snark! Atlanta Nights might be the one book that actually makes money out of being published by the PA, because it's so contrived and bad. I've been ROLF since I read A.C.Crispin's account of how you guys at SFWA pulled it off! Good job at expose!