Less Than Zero

I'm pretty sure Ann and Victoria buy their fall wardrobe here

They've posted yet another entertaining (remember I like people blown up or eviscerated on page one) story about a "literary agent".

If you need to detect whether a literary agent is legit ask two questions:
1. What do you charge me before the work is sold?
2. What have you sold?

Only ONE of those answers should be zero.
I bet you know which one.

These people


Anonymous said...

Ten-four. I'll tell'em Miss Snark told me to ask.


Senile in St. Louis said...

I wonder what would happen if I submitted a 300,001 word novel?

Anonymous said...

Ive been following that post over the 4 installments and think it is wonderfully caustic, sad and funny all at once. I feel sorry for anyone caught out by that agency but can't help thinking this guy Hill was/is crazy!

A useful site and an excellent public service!

Unfortunately some people are so desperate to get published it clouds their common sense and judgement and allows dodgy agencies to flourish. Rock on the "Writer Cops"!

cudd said...

Wow. That's really sad.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you could make this a multiple choice option to make it easier.

Anonymous said...

I think Victoria and Anne are right--the person behind Hill & Hill agency was /is mentally unstable. With a lot of time to do this. And not a lot of profit.

It's a bizarre story, but it's also a good reminder that we have places to go to ask questions and verify accounts, etc. Thanks to Absolute Write and everybody else.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I'm sure it just feels so good to hear something that isn't... I just don't feel I am the right person to represent this work... People will fall for anything.

This Hill guy seemed particularly nutty, though.

Anonymous said...

This is the stuff of a 20/20 or Dateline report. In one of the links, I noticed that Chris Robbins was finally indicted. Before I realized that the Robbins Agency was a scam, I queried her and received a phone call days later offering representation. All from a synopsis and sample chapter. SHe made the whole deal sound sexy and sweet. Even mentioned that she could envision selling movie rights. She even mentioned that AAR allowed agents to backcharge clients for certain fees and many times William Morris backcharged well over $10,000 for copying, submissions. etc. Then she hit me with the annual fee of $3,200. Red flags went up immediately.

I told her I'd think about it and did my research. A week later, she called me back telling me that she lost her hard drive and was calling people to remind her of what thier situation was. I told her I wasn't in a position to spend that kind of money and she even offered me a payment plan. Nice to see she got her reward.

Anonymous said...

His mommy didn't raise him right. The guy thrives on being the center of someone's attention.

I suggest therapy or the swift and strong application of a two by four to any portion of his anatomy, the location to be determined by the people he has swindled.

If they can't agree, then it's piƱata time and we all get a shot.

archer said...

From the ACCrispin blog:

Hill got off on feeding fictions to his clients, on making them trust and depend on him, on creating an imaginary world in which he was the ruler of their dreams, able to lift them up with the promise of a publishing contract or dash them down with news of its rescission--all at his pleasure.

That is SO much fun as a premise. Richard Gere as Hill. Paris Hilton as Authorette. "They love your book." "I love YOU." [Sounds of bedsprings]

Nancy Beck said...

I followed the Hill & Hill saga on Absolute Write; yesterday, I decided to check in at Writer Beware, and read through all 4 entries.

What a bizarre, weird thing is the owner of Hill & Hill. To not do it for the money must be a first in the world of scam literary agencies/agents.

You can't make up this stuff.


MichaelPH said...

The Hill scam was certainly an odd one...the money made by the "agency" wasn't huge by any stretch of the imagination. Someone was either crazy or just liked a low-grade grift.

Anonymous said...

"I wonder what would happen if I submitted a 300,001 word novel?"

You'd be out $85.

Anonymous said...

While not every bizarre story would make a good novel, this one sure makes for intriguing serial reading.

I agee with Victoria Strauss - there must be some mental problem with this guy.

And I love the Brooklyn site!

Anonymous said...

Outfitters for superheros?

I was hoping I could order something. A cape maybe. Or some sexy boots in red with a six inch heel. I guess Miss Snark doesn't get her stilletos there.

Anonymous said...

People will believe what they want, and, what will make them happy. I once worked for a client and after doing a basic edit on his ms he gave it back with his own corrections. I'm not perfect and didn't give it a second thought until I saw what he'd done. He'd simply changed what I'd corrected and put back all the mistakes. This went on for a month, until Word Perfect actually popped up with the screen that read something like this:"Word is unable to continue auto correct because there are so many grammatical errors." These were all errors the client wanted to remain...I quickly dropped the nitwit, with a printed copy from Word Perfect as my reason. He's the type that would pay to enter a contest and not think twice...there are many more, too.

Anonymous said...

What a tale, huh? I found it a day or two ago and was riveted by the wrinkles that are still forming. Now it's 'refund cheques' to some people, only with the dates wrong or other errors that would make them harder to cash.

Sad thing is, some folks in the Absolute Write thread are saying they won't have anything to do with any agents again. They don't seem to have figured out that key item:


Rocket science?

Trish Ryan said...

A Superhero supply store! Just what I've been looking for :)

In making purchases, remember the sage advice of the costume designer from "The Incredibles": NO CAPES!

Anonymous said...

Miss Snark, I love your sense of humor!, i.e. where Ann and Victoria buy their clothing.

I think that you and I were separated at birth. We have that funny gene, yanno?

Anonymous said...

What a shame that people have time to read more than the first few sentences.

Bunneh said...

I've been following this one as well, and, man, that's one seriously effed up situation. Honestly, the best advice I've ever, EVER been given is that if an agent asks for money, you hit the road (preferably at a run).

Dave Kuzminski said...

Quite possibly the post-dated refund checks were mailed out with the intention of claiming to other writers that he didn't scam anyone that those who felt they were cheated were refunded their money. He's not as crazy as he appears. He's not gone yet, either. Bank on him appearing in a new agency guise.

Sue O'Doherty said...

Very appropriate link, Miss Snark--that "Superhero Supply Store" belongs to Dave Eggers!

writtenwyrdd said...

I find it particularly disturbing that in the FAQ, practically every line mentions money, the payment thereof, or (did I mention this?) money. Why that wouldn't make a potential sucker feel a bit uncomfortable with the whole thing is beyond me.

Beautiful Food Gardens said...

Love the superhero store!

xksox -- radioactive socks that turn on your super-game-playing abilities!