When author William S. emailed me his question, my instincts starting sending off warning signals. A former journalist, I can sniff out a pile of poo from several states
away. And this really stunk to me. A few clicks and I discovered the agency he refers to was a scam. (It helped that I knew another author who used this site. I recognized the hot air balloons – hot air being a fitting image for their site.)
Q: I have an submission agent who is interested in representing my work,
but they say i need a critique and should be inexpensive, usually
around $70-$90 depending on the Company I choose. Where do I find such
Before I posted a response, I wanted some more details. Did he mean a book doctor? William was kind enough to send me this direct quote from the "agent" who claims to want his work:
Do**. (As a serious writer, you should get one every year or two).
The critique should be inexpensive, usually around $70-$90 depending on the
Company you choose. It will tell each of us if the work is ready for
Marketing right away, or if more polishing is required. As we mentioned if
You have a critique already, great, if not, we can provide a referral for a
I would be cautious about signing on with this particular agent.
This email smacks of SCAM to me. Here is why:
- The all CAPS reminded me of a Publishers Clearinghouse mailer.
- The words "company" and "marketing" should not be capitalized – something a good editor/agent would catch.
- The company uses psychology to make you feel like you MUST be part of their network, but only a critique will even get your foot in the door. Of course, someone on their staff who owns a third-party would likely be available to take some time to read it for a small fee – a fee that will go into the company's pocket.
- "It will tell each of us if the work is ready for Marketing right away, or if more polishing is required." Are they not smart enough to know this for themselves? Any agent worth their salt will look an MS over themselves before they put their reputation on the line to pitch it to publishers. Even a cursory glance should give them some idea.
- In reviewing the agency Web site, I don't see any last names associated with authors they represent – supposedly to protect the privacy of the author. Huh? Most agencies would shout to the moon about the authors they represent.
- I do social media consulting, and that template is a very generic site template. There isn't even original banner art at the top.
- Most importantly, this company is on the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America site as a scammer. Check out the post.
I know authors who use book doctors to clean up manuscripts, and I've heard a few agents and editors at conferences say they like the idea of book doctors. Book doctors themselves are not bad, and I've heard good things about some. If you want a professional critique of your novel, Google "book doctors," or see the ads in the back of publications like Writer's Digest. Ask other authors for recommendation. Word of mouth is always the best advertising.
But get this professional critique because you want it, not because this agent tells you so.
Be sure to check out the WRITER BEWARE portion of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America site. It will save you a lot of trouble in the long run.0