12.21.2005

Miss Snark's sales figures

Could you please comment, Miss Snark, on how many sales you make in a single year? I ask in conjunction with this exchange at AbsoluteWrite


Q) Tell me more about your company

A) We are bigger than a small agency and smaller than a large agency. We have about 15 people total and as of 2nd quarter, 2005 we have over 60 active conversations on going with buyers and 3 option agreements in negotiations in our screenplay division. We just sold our 4th book deal (to a publisher in England) and we are confident of more success later this year. (A 5th deal is being signed as we speak). We market to the larger and medium sized publishers and producers. We have had 5 successes now in the last 2 years (fyi: most agencies only have 1 or 2 deals every couple of years, if that.). MS: Bullshit

AAR is the professional organization for literary agents. To apply for membership you have to sell ten projects in 18 months. Reputable agents, myself included, meet that standard. AAR membership is by agent; you have to sell ten yourself. It's not ten for the whole agency.

Other red flags:

"60 active conversations" is very convoluted way to say "60 projects being considered". My guess is that it means there are six books at ten editors or ten books at six editors. If they have "15 people", even assuming only half are agents, that's less than two projects per agent. HUGE warning sign.

To use my agency as an example: at close of business yesterday I have 27 clients, 14 active projects on submission to 37 editors. That doesn't count any of the stuff the foreign rights people or the film people are doing. I sold 16 books in 2005 with two more sales that will accrue to 2006 for tax purposes. I'm probably on the low end of sales numbers; I have colleagues who regularly sell 50 projects a year and I know two agents who sell over 100. All are either one, two or three person agencies.

"second quarter" ended in June. This is December. EVERY single agent I know can tell you the status of every single project they have right now, this second, probably without looking at notes.

The biggest red flag is the continuing ongoing defense of the agency. Reputable agencies or agents simply do not do this. We sell projects. If you don't want to work with us, fine. We don't engage in endless back and forth about whether we're legitimate. We know we are; if you think we're not, well then just "foad". We can and will tell you who we represent, by name and title. We don't need to answer basic questions in a convoluted way. Legitimate agents can answer these questions by rote, in a form letter, with one hand tied behind their back and drunk. It's utterly and completely basic. ANY agency who dithers around like this is full of crap. Avoid them.

Update: I googled "Childrens Literary Agency". The first item of 24 total was a sponsored link. All the other hits were authors or discussion boards. HUGE HUGE HUGE red flag. Reputable agents don't pay to be sponsored links on google (or advertise in Writers Digest/Market/Whatever mag) . Reputable agents have websites that work (this one didn't, at least for me), mentions at writing conferences, books sold, acknowledgments pages, and at the very least in Writers Digest listings or Gerard Jones Everyone Who's Anyone. By way of comparison, I googled myself (not Miss Snark). There are 30 listings spelled wrong, 43 spelled right and 186 for my agency name.

18 comments:

Dave Kuzminski said...

Thank you.

SAND STORM said...

Great post! I hadn't seen "foad" for awhile luv it! Your the man! er Miss your Snarkness:)

Linda said...

I am so glad that I am finding out about this agency before I got suckered in. I am submitting to legitimate agents now.

Bonnie Shimko said...

I get all itchy when I read stuff about writers considering going with smelly agents. Maybe it's because I came really close to signing a contract (their reply to my query letter and full ms) and sending $140 to a Florida (you'd think I would have seen the red flag) "agency" I found in the back of WD (EEK!).

The book was called Going to War with the Avon Lady. It was god-awful horrible (at the time, I thought it was wonderful).

Before I could write the check and look for an envelope, the "agency" owner called, wondering when she should expect the contract so she could start the submissions process.

I was all flattered by her interest and obvious eagerness and worked up the courage to ask what she liked about the book.

When she started hemming and hawing, my brain finally kicked into gear and began tapping its foot. "Did you even read the book?" I asked.

"Well, no," she answered. "But I used to be an Avon Lady."

The really sad thing about this (other than my stupidity) is that they're still advertising in WD and doing very well for themselves, I'm sure.

Ric said...

Ah, yes. I stumbled across this agency yesterday. New York Literary Agency. Also known as Sydra and a number of other names. Check Writers Beware and Preditors & Editors. All sounds very legit until they want to help you edit your work for presentation - using their editors, of course.

Miss Snark, in her housebound nastiness, spotted the scam right away.

Miss Snark said...

Sand, Miss Snark has been called many things in her checkered career as a literary agent. "man" has never been one of them..up till now.

Victoria Strauss said...

Writer Beware has been following these folks for a long time. Children's Literary Agency is the same as Christian Literary Agency, New York Literary Agency, Poets [sic] Literary Agency, The Screenplay Agency, and Stylus Literary Agency. All (which exist under the fictional umbrella of something called The Literary Agency Group Inc.) are owned and operated by a single individual, who runs the operation out of Florida. The agencies' "prestigious" New York City address is a mail drop. The operation includes at least one editing service, Writers [sic] Literary & Publishing Services, which is presented as a "sister" company.

The agencies' current M.O. (previously, they charged various kinds of "marketing" fees for submissions that we suspect were mostly not made) is to require a critique as a condition of representation (cost: $60-80--guess which editing service is recommended?). The critique lays the groundwork for more editing recommendations (cost: $99 to over $2,000). Evidence we've gathered suggests that what comes next is a couple of months of silence, after which the agency lets the writer know that all avenues have been tried and there's no joy, so sayonara.

As far as we know, none of the agencies have made any sales to commercial publishers. The operation has been in business, in one form or another, since 2001.

harridan said...

I am horrid.

I do very well at keeping up the appearance that I couldn't care a wit who our lovely Miss Snark is.

But I do care. Only because I love puzzles and mysteries, yet need some finality.

When Miss Snark mentions how many hits she can get with her real persona on google searches, I just growl. Must be the Aries in me. I have the NEED to know. LOL

I will now go off to bake or clean or some such thing required of the christmas season.

Sherryl said...

Children's Literary Agency is such a scam that even here in Australia we know about them! Their reputation smells that bad.
Thanks, Victoria, for alerting us to the other trading names.

Charity said...

A friend of mine signed a contract with CLA, afterwards they said she should send them $200.00 for editing services they often use.

I told her to refuse, and when she said no thanks they released her form their contract.

Remodeling Repartee said...

harridan,

You are such an Aries, as is Mr. Remodeling Repartee. All this guff, but no thoroughness, no stamina, no umm, sneaking about through the archives when Miss Snark is on vacation.

This Scorpio has gleaned the following:

Miss Snark is a single agent office.

Miss Snark's agency is an LLC.

Miss Snark's agency is in NYC.

Miss Snark has never been an editor.

Miss Snark represents Mysteries, is looking for Chick Lit but doesn't do Romance.

Miss Snark sells to the same editors as agent Jenny Bent of Trident Media.

I dispair over discovering your identity Miss Snark, but I'm driven to desperation when you and KY head for the country. I know you need a vacation at times to keep snarky, and continue your extraordinary and wonderful blog, so I will heretofor try to control myself.

Remodeling Repartee said...

Oh and now more. I can't help it.

Miss Snark had 16 sales in 2005, or 18 since two will post in next year, but may well have been listed in PM.

Fire up the PM search engines and let the games begin.

I know, FOAD to me. Miss Snark has probably thrown in a few red herrings, in stilettos.

Miss Snark said...

Just to really make your life difficult I should warn you that not all of those sales are reported to Publishers Marketplace.

Feel free to obsess...I have my own obsessions so I can't fault you a bit.

kim reid said...

I hope no one figures it out. Miss Snark wouldn't be able to give such candid advice if her identity was revealed, not to mention the lost mystique. Hopefully RR is right about those red herrings.

Anonymous said...

Bonnie, there are very good agents that operate out of Florida, and many other states. Roberta Brown, for instance, is in Florida. Kristin Nelson is in Colorado. Do not let "location" be a red flag. Lack of sales is a red flag. CLA's "location" is supposedly Madison Ave. but they suck.

Bonnie Shimko said...

I was at B&N last night and thumbed through the current issue of WD (hadn't seen one in over a year). I was happy to discover that the Florida agency I mentioned above was no longer advertising for clients. Maybe they have a full list and numerous sales. Could be.

Bonnie Shimko said...

Anon,

I don't know Roberta Brown, but I do know Kristin Nelson. She's just the sweetest person and a top-notch agent. Her Denver location is certainly not hurting her sales or her reputation.

I don't know why I included the part about Florida (maybe a senior moment) because I know there are excellent agents in all parts of the country (world). It's the experience in the publishing world and the contacts that count. My first agent was on the west coast and she's also excellent. My present agent worked for Russell & Volkening for a dozen years and has lived in a small town a bit north of the city for about the same amount of time. She's so fantastic that I hope she represents me forever.

I stand corrected on my location error. Thanks for pointing it out. I really did know better.

Bonnie

Anonymous said...

http://brownliteraryagency.com/

She represents women's fiction, especilly paranormal romance and erotic romance. Her clients include bestsellers like Angela Knight and Emma Holly.