Ah truth, they say it sets you free but me, I’m not entirely sure about that. I think it depends on the kind of truth you tell. My truth today is embarrassing. I always said “I’m not dumb enough to fall for that!”
But it seems I was.
Here’s how it happened. For nearly a year I’ve had this manuscript, all 86000 words of it, floating around on my computer. I’ve edited and cut and written and scratched and changed a lot of things about it. I even conned my sister into reading it. She was highly complementary and what I said then sis, still holds: When this damn thing gets published you get the dedication.
Actually I don’t think I used damn but you get the idea.
Let me say that it’s been rejected. Three times. Two agents never read more than 5 pages and one never read anything but my (admittedly sucky) query letter. I was told it wasn’t the right ‘thing’ for them. One agent did me a wonderful favor by sending a handwritten note with helpful suggestions; I’ve mentioned that before.
So when I sent it one last time after a few months of letting it languish in its little folder on my computer imagine my shock and excitement when someone asked to see more.
They wanted to see the entire manuscript. Eagerly (and here’s mistake number two, see if you can figure out number one) I sent it off after spending 12 hours editing it for any typos and correcting this ‘ to “ this. Since I wrote it on a German keyboard the required “ was missing from all the dialogue. You think that’s fun to fix?
Not so much. But fix it I did. 12 hours of fixing and final editing and I am not making that up. When you’re talking about that many words it takes a long time to make sure every single one of them is thoroughly polished.
The response came sooner than the ten days. This ‘agency’ (and I use that term soooo loosely!) said they wanted to represent my manuscript and sent me a contract. What writer wouldn’t absolutely freak out that after only the fourth submission they had an agent. I (again stupidly) signed the contract, waited for their countersign and prepared to if not make it rich at least be able to afford the expensive mac n cheese.
And here’s where I was royally duped and I have no one to blame but myself.
Ask yourself, How does publishing work? Do I pay them or do they pay me?
Yep, they pay me. But this agency asked me to get a critique, which in itself isn’t super unusual as legitimate critiques exist. They could recommend a good agency (themselves) and it wouldn’t be very expensive using their client discount.
$89 later I had a signed contract and a critique in progress which would take about three weeks to complete. The following week (four days after I had the option of cancelling the contract) I got the urge to Google Mr. McScammy which I had failed to do previously (mistake numebr 12,927). It turns out he’s extremely well known!
He’s well known for stealing people’s money, securities fraud and smashing people’s dreams into oblivion. As I read more and more at the great site Writers Beware the sicker I became, the farther my stomach fell and the more I wanted to curl up in a ball under the coffee table.
I am supposed to be smarter than this. I am supposed to be Smarter Than THIS!
But I wasn’t. I got duped and scammed and robbed of $89 but that isn’t even the part that stings the most. The worst part is losing the confidence this false representation gave me. The confidence of know that I had finally made a small foothold into this insane world of publishing.
It’s been a week plus now and I climbed back out from under the table, the contract has been terminated (in writing by us both) and I’ve dusted off that manuscript and my low lying pride and sent it back out into the world for another chance. This time with bona fide legitimate agents. Whether it’s a yes or another polite no remains to be seen. I do know one thing, I hope I am never stupid enough to fall for another scam like this. For everyone else they’ve duped (and the list is very long my friends) I hope we get our day in court, our money back and that no one else suffers from falsified dreams.
I can only hope.
Because I am in contact with the Attorney General in Florida where a suit is being brought against this person I am unable to reveal the name of the agency or agent in question. But use your imagination and Google away, it’s not hard to find.
To find out if you are dealing with a legitimate publish or agent you can visit this site Literary Agent Research, scroll to the bottom of the page. Simply register for free to see if they are reputable. You can also make inquires in the forums at Absolute Write.