Paying to move to the head of the line

Dear Miss Snark,

I love that you're going to take partials via e-mail. I hope it's contagious. Save a tree and keep me from having to break my pink piggybank to pay postage.

Here's something I'd like your take on. Two established and highly recommended (by RWA or others) say on their web sites that I can get my work read faster or a critique of my query letter and partial if I send a check along for between $65 and $150.

Granted, we authors are kept out in the dark about what agents are looking for, and the mind-reading course I took hasn't kicked in yet, but is this the answer?
Or, is this a function of the piss-poor economy? Or, is something else afoot that only you, genius-agent know about? Please advise.

Forever Yours,
A Bodacious Snarkling

This is a function of a someone who has seen a way to make money unethically.
Don't do it.
Do not pay agents until they sell your work.
Reading queries, and the slush pile is part of our job. Charging people for it, or saying you can "tip the doorman" to get in faster is unacceptable.

Frankly I'm surprised RWA hasn't flagged this practice as the overt snakeoil chicanery that it is. You may quote me as needed.


harridan said...


If Bodacious knows of an agent on RWA's "acknowledged" list who is suggesting a check would get a faster read well...

Bodacious should be contacting RWA to let them know.

I'd love to see the actual site to know if it's just a tongue in cheek thing. But honestly, on a professional level what agent would make mention of it on their site if they didn't mean it?

Miss Snark says such things, but it's on her blog, a WHOLE different animal.

Bodacious! Don't pay money for a read. EVER. Think on the ramifications of that. If you now pay for a read, what will you pay for in hidden costs with the agent later if h/she signs you on?

Kate Davies said...

Yes! Pass this info on to RWA. That request does not meet their standards for recommendation, and that agent should not continue to be on the list. Period.

From RWA's website: Agents must prove that they are commission-based and do not charge fees to authors beyond reimbursement of verified expenses that are not deemed excessive and are agreed to in advance by the author.

Anonymous said...

Andy Zack did something similar as a fund raiser for his favorite charity. He did make it clear that you couldn't send him the money, you had to send the receipt. I thought it was a novel way to raise money for charity.
At the same time though, he got so bombarded with partials he has cut off submissions until next year.

Existential Man said...

hmmm...so you're now gonna accept partials via e-mail but not queries or the full manuscript?
well, I can smell I'm a step closer to victory in our bet months ago that you'd sooner or later be taking queries via "e" as well...at least you've made it to first base...when you "re-evaluate" and realize the whole game is easier electronically and collapse at my knees begging forgiveness and admitting defeat, here's what I expect: you fly out to the West Coast in them stiletto heels of yours, and graciously treat me to dinner at one of our local fancy restaurants...you drink waaay too much of your favorite gin and then beg me to take you home and get snarkolicious with you while Mr. Clooney watches through a one-way mirror.

Harry Connolly said...

Miss Snark, what do you think of this article: The Safest Way to Search for an Agent by Victoria Strauss?

Anonymous said...

I better keep my eye on that E-man. He looks like he's measuring My Miss Snark for a liplock.

Bernita said...

Miss Snark, beg??
Perhaps Existential better put his dom/sub fantasies back in his ...er...ah...
I don't freaking THINK so.

Anonymous said...

C'mon! Miss Snark and, to a lesser extent, Andrew Zack, have provided means for us to have our Qs and Synops reviewed. Judging by the responses, it is a welcome proposal. Personally, my writing groups consist of a bunch of sycophants barking a chorus of obsequious observations meant as critiques. What I need is a practiced eye. And though I don't like the idea of imposed reading fees, the poster said this was an offer; that is notably different.
Bodacious-to whom do I make out the checks?

Bonnie S. Calhoun said...

Bernita, too funny!

E-man, you'd better watch out for Killer Yapp and any parts you'd like to expose.

And finally, the "collapse at my knees begging forgiveness" quote....you must have our Miss Snark confused with some other docile, pollyanna like, person passing themselves off as Miss Snark!