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.