Thursday, August 1, 2013

MY BIG SECRET IS OUT

Last year this time I had a big announcement to make. I was proud and happy to tell you all that I had an agent. Well, yesterday my contract ended with my agent and I feel that I have to be honest about my experience. After all, that is what my blog is about.

When I met my agent last year, she had mentioned to me that she would charge me an X amount of money to edit and then represent my manuscript, but that I would not have to worry, as she would give me my money back as soon as she sold the manuscript, which she was confident she could do. I talked it over with my family and even though they discouraged me from dealing with this agent, I went ahead and borrowed the large amount of money from them and paid her the editing fee in order for her to represent my work.

I was desperate and I needed to make all the stressing and waiting stop. It had taken me 2 years to find someone who wanted to represent my work, so what if she wanted me to pay an editing fee? At least I will have an agent, right? After all, she had a proven record of sales to reputable publishers. So, I signed on for a six month contract and then my journey of more waiting and stressing started.

She did edit my manuscript and at first I thought she did a good job. She gave me an example of what my marketing plan and author’s biography should look like, as it was a copy of what one of her other authors had written. I wrote my own version and was only asked to do one correction. When it was submission process time, I made all the changes to the manuscript, and handed over the synopsis I had queried her with, along with the author’s biography and marketing plan I had worked on.

Months past and I did not hear anything. I was making myself sick worrying. I could not think straight or get much sleep. I kept thinking “please don’t let this be a scam”. I was still unemployed at the time, so there was no way of paying back my family the money for the editing fees.

So, I contacted her and she mentioned that we had gotten a bunch of rejections, all verbal, none on print and none of any help. More months passed and our six month contract was almost over. Once again, I contacted her to ask what it would all mean. She gave me three options. Renew my contract, self-publish or go at it on my own. I was ready to end the contract, but my siblings who I had borrowed the money from still believed and I signed on for another six months.

This time around I got even more restless. I can’t write, I can’t think, I am constantly on edge and I am worried about the money I have to pay back. I then go onto the internet and poke around and realize that there were other writers out there like me, who had written about having been approached by my agent and also asked to pay editing fees and that they knew that this was a scam and that all aspiring authors who were approached, should run.
  
I then decide to go back over my manuscript and realize that it had not been edited that much. I had not been asked to do rewrites. I few words were suggested to be removed, a few sentences deleted and my characters thoughts were told to be in Italics. I just found out that publishers hate it when italics are used in a manuscript. Realization? I had paid for not so good editing.

A few weeks ago I started doing more research on my agent and found out that she had been involved in various other scams over the years. She had recently started a new one where she asked other aspiring writers an editing fee too. They were not stupid like me, they did their research and found out that it was a major conflict of interest and it was something that no agent, truly bent on selling your work, would do.

I then approached a reputable source for information, which is when my greatest fear was immediately confirmed. I had been scammed and that I had been doing business with a disreputable agent that has been struggling to make sales in the publishing world and who was just stringing me along till my contract expired.

As a way to salvage some of my dignity and perhaps prove that she actually made an effort to sell my book, I had asked my agent for the list of publishers that my work had been submitted to. She had provided me with a list containing the names of 12 of the largest publishing companies in the US and then I was told from my reputable source, that this was not conclusive evidence to suggest that my work was ever submitted, as only the publishers names are given and never the names of the various imprints under which they function. So there is no saying who saw my manuscript and if anyone saw it at all. I was advised to proceed as I had never been represented at all, which is kind of depressing, but I was grateful for the honest and professional feedback from my source.

I guess many people will say that I am just bitter and resentful that my book was not sold. In a way I am. I just wish that I had never met my agent, who will remain nameless. What really makes me the angriest about all of this is the fact that she was always so polite. Why could she not have just told me that I didn't have a chance in hell and that my book would never sell? Why keep me on a string for a year, give me hope and have it all taken away? She kept suggesting that I self-publish and I guess that should have tipped me off. Why would I self-publish if I wanted her to help me get traditionally published?

I even deleted my posts from last year about how I got my agent, because I didn't want other people to do what I did and end up in a scam. Now I am not sure what I want to do next. I know I still want to write. I had found my calling in life. But do I go back to the query trenches and look for another agent? Do I skip the agents and just go for a publisher? What if I get scammed again?

So…that is my big secret. 

22 comments :

  1. I'm sorry, Murees, but NEVER sign with a so-called agent who demands a fee up front. That's rule no. 1 in the author/agent handbook. No legitimate agent will charge you an upfront fee for representing you. A legitimate agent gets paid when you get paid, which gives her or him the incentive to go out and sell your work.

    I'm sorry you got caught by this scammer. An expensive lesson learned.

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  2. I'm so sorry, Murees. What happened to you is terrible. I know that sort of thing happens to many people. The only good thing is that we learn by our mistakes, and we all make them. You must not let this ruin your dream. You must persevere and you will succeed.

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  3. A legitimate agent should also be able to tell you not only what imprints at each house he/she submitted to, but the name of the actual editor or reader it went to. I could put together a list of publishers and addresses, but it would mean no more than what this fraud did to you.

    You might want to talk to a lawyer to see if you have any legal recourse. Or at least tell this flim flammer that you're talking to a lawyer unless she refunds your money.

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  4. I don't know anything about publishers but I have been scammed before. A woman scammed us out of a piece of property. My husband became our own private investigator & ended up finding her. She's in prison for ripping off a lot of people. Sometimes, you have to call people out or they'll continue to hurt others. I'm sorry this happened to you. My thoughts are with you.

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  5. I'm so sorry that you had to go through all that. Don't give up. Next time you are approached by an agent you will at least have the wisdom from this experience to help prevent it ever happening again.

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  6. I'm sorry you had a wasted year. Like John says, no legitimate agent charges fees like that.

    As long as you don't hand over money, you're not going to be scammed again - you know what not to do now.

    If I was you, I'd re-read and refresh the MS then find someone who can give you an honest critique. Then you can move on.

    Good luck.

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  7. What a rotten experience!

    I say that you should give yourself some time to process it. Let yourself be bummed out and angry for a day or two, but then pick yourself back up, draw a line in the sand, and move forward.

    Her actions do not reflect on your book. They do not mean that your book wasn't good. It means she was a dishonest scammer and you came out on the hard end of it.

    You can do this. You'll publish an amazing book and this will all be experience and water under the bridge.

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  8. Please, please, please don't let one scheming A-hole ruin your writing career. You ask why she would string you along? Because, as you found out, she's a scam artist! It has NOTHING to do with the quality of your work and is no indication for how publishable it is. She's a scammer, she scams. Being polite and stringing you along is how she makes her money.

    I'm not published so take my advice with a grain of salt, but from what I've been reading online it seems like more and more writers are finding success self-publishing. Even people who have done both traditional publishing and self-publishing have said they had a better experience going it on their own. If you believe in your work, just do it. You can always get picked up by a publisher later.

    On a completely separate note, I think you are awesome so I nominated you for a Sunshine Award. You can pick it up here: http://bev-thebevelededge.blogspot.com/2013/07/at-long-last-sunshine-award.html
    I know this doesn’t soften the blow you’ve received but I hope you'll accept it and spread the love.

    You rock. Don't ever let anyone convince you otherwise!

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  9. Hey! I wish I had been around for you to talk to or ask questions. I feel horrible that this evil scam lady did this to you.

    In fact, I think you should put ALL her info up on your blog to warn everybody!

    What a &*(*&^%)@!!!!

    I'm so sorry...BUT...your writing and this evil person have nothing to do with one another. Just because she's a scammer doesn't mean that you shouldn't continue to pursue your dream of being a writer.

    Dust off. Write on.

    Email me if you need some vent time.

    hgardner28@gmail.com

    Thinking of you!
    Heather

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  10. Agree with Heather. Give the scammer's name so others will be warned.

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  11. John - It is an awful lesson learned and you are so right. I knew not to spend money, but I had hoped I was special. Stupid, I know.

    Deanie - Thank you Deanie. I am really trying to not let this get me down. But you are a fantastic example of what good can come of never giving up. I am really glad I met you.

    John - You are so right. Technically, she did provide a service, just not a very good one. My source just told me to let it go. The best scenario is that I can walk away unscathed and that she did not inflict more damage than she did. But I appreciate the advice, honestly.

    Sarah - That is so true and you are just so kind. Thank you.

    Annalisa - Thank you Annalisa. You are so right. I am kind of afraid of my MS right now. But I know I should go back to it. I still love the book. I guess that is why I was so stupid. I loved the book too much.

    Katie - Thank you so much for your kind words and for giving me some hope.

    Beverly - Awww! Thank you for the inspiring words and the award. I will definitely spread the love.

    Heather - Thank you so much! You are always so kind. I wanted to post her info too, but my reputable source said it would be best if I didn't. But if people email me at mureesdup@yahoo.com, then I will tell them who it is, just so they know not to work with her.

    John - I really wanted to do that, but for legal reasons I can't say. Can you believe that I can get in trouble for telling the truth? But if you email me at mureesdup@yahoo.com I will tell you.

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  12. Jaime - Sorry for only responding now. For some reason your comment went into my spam folder. Thank you for your kind words and I am sorry that lady scammed you. I know karma will get these scammers back.

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  13. Oh Murees I am so sorry.

    It is so brave and wonderful of you to share with us. We can all learn from this.

    That person will get theirs in the end. Karma baby, karma.

    Do you have a better business bureau or something similar where you can give this scam artist a bad report?

    Don't stop writing. You are strong. We are here to support you.

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  14. I'm sorry to hear about your bad experience! I hope it'll get better next time.

    www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

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  15. Wow. That's just terrible.

    You shouldn't give up on your writing if that's what you love to do. Don't let her take that from you.

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  16. Hi Murees - that is so sad that someone feels they can stoop so low.

    Sadly it is the way of the world with some people ...

    But you'll come fighting back - good luck with moving on and getting your book published ..

    Cheers Hilary

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  17. hey Murees...
    feeling so bad for you.. It really sucks when all you do is hard work and then all of it goes in vain.

    Always learn from your mistakes my mum says all the time. Do a background check next time :)

    Take care dear !!

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  18. Jai - Thank you so much. I appreciate the support. I already contacted a reputable source and let them know what had happened to me. They will let other writers know about this agent and hopefully others won't make the same mistake I did.

    Gina - Thank you. I am sure it will get better.

    Tonja - Thank you. I think that is a great way of looking at it. I won't let her take that from me too.

    Hilary - Thank you so much for your kind words. I appreciate it, as it always makes me feel better.

    Jyoti - Thank you. I did some research, but I guess not enough. Thank you for stopping by and providing some support.

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  19. Murees, I am so sorry to hear about this unscrupulous #%&@&!!!!
    Don't let this incident stop you from writing or fulfilling your dream!
    Writer In Transit

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  20. Michelle - Thank you! I am trying to get back in the writing groove. I do feel so much more liberated knowing that I had told all of you about it.

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  21. Hi Murees,
    I landed here from a random google search and your sad experience just prompted me to comment.
    Don't beat yourself for what happened. You were the victim here and this has nothing to do with your writing, and kudos for being so open here for other writers.
    Never never give up. The publishing business is very hard and we do learn from our mistakes. We all go through stuff like that eventually. Even published authors.
    Keep at it, there is a big chance your manuscript was seen by no one.
    Gather a huge list of editors who take unagented submission for paranormal romance (look at Diana Fox's list) off the top of my end, I'm thinking Avon, Tor/Forge, Berkley, Sourcebooks, Harlequin Nocturne, also Samhain, Entangled and Carina Press. Look at their specs on their website and submit away. Then you will have a good idea of where your writing is.
    Remember most writers don't sell until their 4-5 manuscript.

    Best luck and feel free to contact me anytime with publishing questions,, no one should have to go through what you have!

    Marie-Claude :)
    marie-claude@mcbourque.com

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  22. Marie-Claude - Thank you so much! You are very kind and your words really cheered me up. Thank you so much for the helpful advice. You are just amazing.

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