Friday, January 13, 2012


So I've been working on the year-end filing.  This is a long process where I either actually file or scan everything that's been piling up.  Then I take the 2011 files and put them in a box for six or seven years and hope I never need to look at them again, and I create 2012 files and start all over.  This is just for business stuff like the phone bill, etc.  But some of the filing needs to go in author files, so I was doing that also.

I occassionally chat about Express Review™, a service I created, essentially, for really impatient and frustrated authors.  Or just the smart and eager ones.  If you've ever been to one of the Disney parks, you are aware of the Fastpass, which essentially lets you not wait in line.  Now, there may be another version that lets you just skip ahead entirely, and I recall such a version, but am not sure they still have it.  Anyway...that's what Express Review is about.  We request material (this is only for requested material) and ER provides a guaranteed response time.

Now, I've gotten my fair amount of grief over this service.  People say I'm charging a reading fee (I'm not; the fee is just for a guaranteed response time; we read everything) or that while I may be honest about it all, others will not be and I'm just giving them ideas on new ways to scam writers (like they need my help?).  And I've thought about doing away with it, but every now and then one of two things happens:

  1. An author gets all annoyed with me and demands to know why I'm taking so long to read his or her material.  They act like I'm being paid a giant salary just to review their material and have nothing better to do.  To these authors, I can say, "Well, we did request your material and we did offer you Express Review.  Did you order it?"  The answer, of course, is no.  And none of them then order it, but they also stop bugging me.
  2. I sell an author's book and I have to refund the Express Review fee.  Yes, I refund the fee.  If I request your material and you pay the Express Review fee and I take your book on for representation and I sell it, then I refund the ER fee.
And the reason I'm writing about all this today is that as I was doing my filing, I came across the file for an author whose book I sold last year.  I had completely forgotten that in December 2004, when he first submitted to me, he ordered Express Review, first of the sample chapter, and then of the manuscript when I requested it.  And in 2011, I sold that book.  Yes, it took far, far too many years, but at least you now know I never give up, and now he's going to be getting a refund check for his Express Review.

Now, this isn't the normal case, of course.  Most of what I read, whether or not it was an Express Review, I reject.  That's a fact of life.  But twice now I have had clients who ordered Express Review of their manuscripts, I took them on, and I sold their books.  And their fee was refunded.  And for those who got rejection letters, well at least they didn't wait forever to find out their work wasn't for me, and hopefully they found my comments helpful (part of the ER service is that there are no form rejects; I provide feedback explaining my decision with every ER).

So to me, as I sign off on a check refunding this client's ER fee from many years ago, this says that I did something different and for this client, at least, it really worked.  He got an agent and he got his book sold.  And I find that inspiring.



Ian Racey said...

Me too!

Ian Racey
Washington, DC

Andrew Zack said...


Trish MacGregor said...

Interesting posts, Andy! I'm putting a link to your site on your blog. Hope all is well.

Happy 2012!

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