Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Publishers who think "outside the box"?

I view articles published, author sites (authors I read), and visit a couple agent sites (this obviously being one). I do not visit on-line communities where writers publish their issues/stories. I am not interested in hearing rants of writers or hopefuls, however legitimate they may be. It is hard to judge truthfullness [sic] when one is reading a passioned [sic]statement made of a rejection or amidst a problem. Such rants may lose their heat once time has passed. Therefore, I do not wish to be colored by an opinion or two that may change once a writer has cooled down and realizes the merit or truthfullness [sic] in said rejection or a problem is corrected to satisfaction. That being said, I have read some articles on publishers offering deals outside the norm in the industry. One such publisher seems to invite only agent free author submissions. While the deals sound good, and some authors have made it without agents when they started, do you think it wise to submit to this type of publishing firm? And do you think it wise for anyone other than an author with publishing success to seek these type of deals with or without an agent? Thank you for any time/attention you can give this query.—Christine Staeven, Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Without knowing more about these deals made "outside the norm," it's hard for me to comment. That said, a publisher who actively seeks only authors without agents clearly is trying to avoid something. Otherwise, why fear agent involvement? My guess is that they know an agent will understand something the average author does not and call them on it.

I know of even some major publishing divisions interested in doing non-standard deals, such as a net share of each dollar earned, rather than a royalty based on MSRP. And these can be good deals for some authors, though likely better for most publishers.

Publishers do not come up with such "outside the box" deals to enrich authors. They devise them to enrich themselves. Thus, I would be wary.

Given that many an editor in the business has no idea what his or her publishing house's contract says or what it means, I think it always wise that authors use an agent who has several years' experience.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Are you aware that the Google Ads on your blog sidebar are ads for, and links to, vanity presses and literary agents that have a “Not Recommended” listing in Preditor and Editor? My research on you indicates that you are a valid agent so it seems odd that you would have those kinds of ads on your blog. Then I thought maybe you weren’t aware of them.—Liz Wolfe, author of the Skye Donovan Photographic Mysteries

Dear Liz:

Thanks for your email and congrats on all of your success. Unfortunately, Google doesn't let me control who advertises with them, other than that I can ban "adult" sites, which I certainly do. While some advertisers may be vanity presses, in the end, those might be the right option for some authors.

As with any advertisement for any product, the editorial content and the ads are not necessarily connected. New York magazine is full of ads for escort services. Does that mean the editors of New York endorse those services? Of course not. Not any more than they promise you the guy who wrote the personal ad in the back of the magazine isn't a serial killer. Everyone answering an ad must due his or her own due diligence and look after his or her own interests.

If you answer a personal ad and your head ends up in a freezer, it's not New York magazine's fault. And if you answer a Google ad and it belongs to a scam artist, that's not my fault, either. Caveat emptor!