I’m not sure if this section is special, but on the home page of Writer’s Workshop Advice Section, the title Meeting Literary Agents and Other Matters is in a different (but similar) colour to the other headings. …We’ll find out.
(Actually, I’ve just discovered it’s not the home of the Advice Section, either that or it can’t make up it’s mind… I clicked on Literary Agents under the Advice tab to navigate there. I think the internal navigation system may be a bit confused!)
There are five links in this section (though one is a second link to the US vs UK article – which is fine: it should be easy to locate):
How to Meet Literary Agents
In this post, the structure is just downright confusing. In the paragraph about “pouncing” on literary agents, I am unsure until right at the end whether this is something I’m being warned off or recommended.
There is also missing information. For example, “If that means using outside help (as for example the sort that we offer), use outside help.” Okay, so the sort offered here and… what? I think if you’re selling something and offering advice, it’s vitally important to validate your advice by providing other options besides your services. Definitely recommend getting family, friends, readers and other writers to look at your work, go to writing groups and use writing websites. Then, if you want a professional, personal service and are prepared to pay for it… there’s the sort offered by Writer’s Workshop (and it’s not like I’m saying they should recommend rival services, is it?). Exclude the free options, and this is bad advice.
Writers’ conferences is not a new thing on me, but reading about them here brings up new (unanswered) questions – such as how much do these things typically cost, and which kinds of agents (established, new career, fact/fiction, sales-oriented, et cetera) attend, and why? I can see why writers would attend – agents not so much so.
The Getting Published Event
This… is out of date. Even putting an “Our Last Event” subheading between the out-of-date advertisement and the heading whilst nothing else is in the pipeline would be better than leaving an out of date page on an active website.
Literary Agent Fees
This page is good. It’s interesting to actually get numbers in examples – and actually the first time I’ve seen this anywhere! It also lists what the literary agent does to earn their fees, which is great, although this has already been done on Do I Need A Literary Agent? I actually think it is better suited to this page (I complained about it’s placement before). In principle, repeating information is okay as not everyone will read the entire site, but I would still cut it out of the first place on this occasion.
Also don’t expect much from the link at the end, as it goes back to the Advice Centre and not to individual articles (and now I know the website this well, I even know where it should link to!).
Should you Ever Pay a Reading Fee to Literary Agents?
No. The answer is no and it says no – emphatically, but without skimping on the explanation, so this post has already done it’s job well. Someone has made a thorough bodge of updating it, though, starting off with:
“We’re in the process now of compiling an online directory of literary agents. It’s going to be sortable, have very rich data in every agent and will be enriched with our own recommendations and advice – and absolutely no one knows agents better than we do. [The database exists now, by the way. It’s called Agent Hunter and it’s fab.- HB]”
I’m hoping this will be tweaked and sorted out in time. Especially as the “it’s going to be good” doesn’t sit well beside claims elsewhere of being the best and only.
And here are some of the great reasons why not to pay a reading fee:
- “at £350 per client, agents have an incentive to offer representation as widely as possible. That means they take on poor quality manuscripts. Which means that editors distrust those agents. Which means their representation is worthless. Possibly even unhelpful.”
- “And you don’t need to pay so much as a string bean to an agent, unless that agent makes money for you. ” = combine this with the advice about agents being worth every penny of their commission and you have a very healthy business relationship going on here
- The advice offered to the commenter
Mm, better no agent than a bad agent who makes you look bad beside them!