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My contracts professor (while trying to make a legal point) asked everyone in the class if anyone was a wanna-be-writer.
Half the class raised their hands.
I began to feel a little nervous, but thankfully she moved on quickly.
She asked, (because we are reading the case Locke v Warner) if any of the budding novelists would pay $100 to an industry professional to get our material considered by them - no promises, just a look.

Of course, this is law school, and a contract class -- so this is a contracts question: 
Is there an offer, acceptance, consideration in this type of deal? 
...and me ranting for five minutes about how it is bullshit to pay anyone to look at your work...

I hear this once in a while.
Sometimes from authors.
They would pay X amount of money to cut out agents and have editors look at their material directly.
But... Um... what does that mean? 
Then there has to be some sort of quantifiable measures of response.
Did they REALLY consider it? 
Did they give feedback? 
Did they give the writer her $10-100 worth? 
What if they buy it - is there a conflict of interest here? Wouldn't the publisher make more money charging writers rather than publishing them? How can the quantify their reactions to books? The readers (who would probably be hired readers and not editors) would have to read quickly (as quickly as possible) and yet give great responses? It's a numbers game at this point...

I ranted in class about this, and my prof is like, "But is it a contract."
Me: ((sigh)) "yes."
Her: Thank you.


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 29th, 2008 12:28 am (UTC)
Pay to play is a bad idea. If I paid an editor to "look" at my work, by buddha, they'd better have a good enough return they'll buy it if they make suggestions.

It's a conflict of interest. Editor or Agent should never charge an author for 'looking'. I won't do it and I don't think anybody should.

Now, hiring a neutral party (editor, or hire for critique) is a different story. I still won't pay, but maybe some authors would/should. I'll take that back. If I could find a completely honest, aboveboard, and professional person to read my ms and give me feedback, I might consider it. So far, I've not seen anybody who I'd trust for a profession, honest, and reliable opinion.

As it stands, I have to rely on my critters. There are a few who don't hesitate to give honest opinions. Good for them.
Oct. 6th, 2010 10:10 pm (UTC)
Посмотреть драмы online в хорошем качестве.
Oct. 29th, 2008 06:39 am (UTC)
Yes, it's a contract, but a really bad one that I would never recommend.

I personally won't even take money for editing work. Even if I had the time to take it on at a high enough scale to make it worthwhile, ultimately all I can do as an editor is mark errors and offer my opinion (usually in bright green ink and a highly irreverent tone, at that). The author would probably be better off error-hunting on their own (at least at first), leaving for value-added services only my opinion... which is just an opinion at the end of the day. It may be rooted in some research and critical analysis, but it's still just one person's thoughts on the writing, and my opinions may not march with those of the editors to whom one is trying to sell the work.
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 30th, 2008 09:13 pm (UTC)
I saw that it was your birthday today. Happy birthday!!
Oct. 30th, 2008 10:40 pm (UTC)
Having received the LJ notification of your Birthday a couple of days ago, I posted my wishes that it be a happy one for you as a comment on what had been the latest posting in your Live Journal. As it turned out, when I checked my "friends page" the next day, lo and behold, not one but two new postings from you. I'd like to think that I was a little intrumental in causing you to return to posting now and then. But if not, I'll chalk it up to coincidence. Anyway, it's good to have you posting again. And HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!
Dec. 1st, 2008 03:01 am (UTC)
I'm sorry I didn't see this when you posted it.

Is an agent an industry professional? A real one certainly is. Is there an offer, acceptance, consideration in this type of deal? There, I'm not precisely sure. I know publishing contract and publishing law, but I couldn't spell out the rules and distinctions for offers, acceptances, and considerations.

It's nevertheless an interesting question. Unless the writer or the agent makes it very clear that something else is going on, an offer by an agent to look at a writer's work in return for a fee must be taken as an offer to consider it for representation, or an offer to represent the author and work. That's what agents do for writers.

If, for instance, the supposed agent writes back and tells the author that their work simply must be professionally edited, and recommends a specific freelance "editor", IMO and in the absence of notice to the contrary they do so as the author's agent. If the supposed agent is in cahoots with this supposed editor, and is taking a kickback on the overpriced, unnecessary, and inexpert job of editing they do, the agent has violated the author's trust.

Likewise, and once again barring explicit notice to the contrary, an offer by an editor or publisher to look at a writer's work must be taken as an offer to consider it for publication.

I was taught this very strictly as a newbie: writers send you their manuscripts in order to have them considered for publication. What you have the right to do is consider them for publication and say "yes" or "no". If you've established that manuscripts accompanied by return postage and an SASE will be returned, you return the manuscript. If you wish, you can send a letter with the manuscript that makes helpful suggestions, and/or explains why you aren't making an offer on this particular work.

And that's all you can do. You can't sell the names and addresses of your rejected authors to scammers (I've had offers). You can't make fun of their bad prose in public in such a way that the author and/or work will be recognizable. You can't pass the author's name on to their local SF club, or suggest that they attend the workshop you help teach. Et cetera. All you can do is say "yes" or "no".

One can go on like this a very long time.
Dec. 1st, 2008 03:22 am (UTC)
TNH --

You bring up some excellent points (some of which I break, more on this in a moment).

I recently read this entry on the blog of an author I admire greatly:


I LOVE his books, I think he's one of the sharpest men whose blog I've ever followed, and while I don't quite agree with his take on agents (cough), I usually pay special attention to the opinions of those I respect.

So, the question jumps out again -- can publishers do without agents if they get $50 a read?

I mean, I don't think so. At all. I think the only difference is that the publisher would get stuck with a lot of queries from people who think paying is the way to go, and perhaps aren't working on polishing their material as much because what they are essentially doing is paying for a critique (perhaps a short, short one, but a critique none-the-less).

(And for all writers out there, please don't send money to publishers - that's self-publishing - or agents - that's called a scam).

May. 30th, 2009 12:13 am (UTC)
Isn't HarperCollins already about to do this with Authonomy becoming their own POD service?

I don't know. You can look at this a variety of ways.

With all the ink, paper and mailing fees an author has to send out to agents and publishers, paying $100 to actually get it looked at by an acquisitions editor seems more economically sound since you might pay more than just to have your submissions rejected without anything but the cover letter read.

What if the publisher doesn't just list the book on a website, like PublishAmerica? What if the publisher actually puts the book into store shelves and has it listed everywhere for sale, does the marketing, and so forth? Is that $100 not well spent?

You have to look at this from the perspective of the author, not the agent who is being cut out. The author just wants to be published and paid for their work with royalties. They wouldn't submit to agents if agents weren't the gatekeepers for the larger publishers.

If authors could submit their work directly to publishers, they'd only get the agent after the fact, to work out the deal with the publisher. I think that's actually how agents originally operated.
Oct. 23rd, 2009 11:03 pm (UTC)
Any promtingtips how make this pure design of tool site better? I need to finish it soon :(
(no subject) - portolansrhpi - Oct. 24th, 2009 10:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 18th, 2011 02:56 am (UTC)
The whole point of having an agent is to have someone who knows the market, the publishers, what's real and what's fake, representing you. There are still plenty of publishers who will allow you to submit to their slush pile. Granted, you'll probably get rejected by an intern, but you're probably going to be rejected by the editor who "looks" at your work anyway.

Personally, I'll stick with the agent. It might be a little bit harder, but I'd rather have someone who knows what they're doing backing me up.

And Happy Birthday! ^^
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )