Hi there! I may not know much about books with good taste, but I sure know about books that taste good. So I decided to open a literary agency (since my owner is a bit irritated that my taste in fine literature extended to library books, and I want more and better food). I'm highly qualified:
- I've already sold as many manuscripts to commercial, advance-and-royalty-paying publishers as all but two of the agents listed under "Literary Services" and "Literary Agent Data" in the classified ads, and I'm less than a dozen behind those two.1
- I charge much lower fees than they do. I don't charge for anything prior to sale of a manuscript no reading fees, no contract fees, no marketing fees, no monthly billings of phantom telephone calls, no photocopying and mailing fees for manuscripts not sent to realistic markets. Even if I did, I could document each justification for a charge with real, unfabricated evidence.
- Since I already know how to chew up a book and spit it out, I'm sure that I can edit just as well as they can. My training in English literature is just as extensive as is theirs (and I can maybe get My owner to let me borrow one of his books if I need a reference… maybe not).
- I promise to be just as diligent in sending manuscripts to appropriate publishers as they are. I'll even show my clients just as many rejection letters from appropriate commercial publishers as they do. Plus, I'm not on any editorial blacklists yet!2
- I have had as much contact with and experience evaluating commercial-quality manuscripts as any of them do I drooled on a couple of client manuscripts that my owner had left around.
- I have more close relationships with acquiring editors at commercial publishers than any of them do. OK, it's just my owner's ex, but that's one more than any of them can legitimately claim. I'm also a close personal friend of the Koi Wonder.
- I don't have any clear grammatical or spelling errors on my website.3 Do you really want someone who won't proofread their advertising to write the cover letter that a publisher will see first if it ever gets sent, and if the publisher even opens the package?
- I have really good phone manners. I don't curse, or swear, or leave messages on my answering machine for months without reviewing them. I never send abusive letters or e-mail, either. If you're looking for a new agent because one of my competitors said "Bite me!" when you complained about nonresponsiveness, I promise that you'll never have to do the same with me I'll just drool on you or pee on your shoes.4
- I'm much cuter! Really have you seen the self-portraits some other agents post on their websites?5
I promise to give your manuscripts just as much attention as would my competitors. It might even get more attention, because I can make a manuscript or book last for hours.
Send me your tired prose, your huddled manuscripts yearning to be seen, the wretched refuse of your teeming correspondence courses. Send these, the unpublishable, tempest-tost to me. I lift my leg outside the publishers' doors.
1911 East Main Street
Urbana, Illinois 61802
Average response time is sixteen to twenty minutes
Notice for the humor-impaired: While the preceding is clearly a pitiful attempt at humor, Lucy and her owner stand behind every factual assertion made or reasonably inferrable from its text. Although Lucy can't document the claims, her owner can.
- Writer's Digest, January 2002, pp. 6667. Only two of the nine agents listed have verifiable sales to commercial publishers. One of these two has sold less than a dozen manuscripts in ten years, the majority of which are from the same previously published author. The other has only a handful of verifiable sales to commercial publishers, over a similar period.
It's actually worse now. In the April 2008 issue, pp. 9295, there are fewer agents listed... but Lucy has the same number of verifiable sales to commercial publishers as the "agents" listed. Most of the slack appears to have been taken up by "self-publishing" and "printing" services (and the slightly smaller total volume of classifieds).
- A 2002 survey of editors at commercial fiction publishers disclosed that about twenty agencies were explicitly on blacklists submissions from these agencies would be returned unopened due to prior submissions from those agencies. Each one was a known fee-charging agency. These results were largely confirmed in early 2008, with the exception of an agent who is now serving time at Club Fed for mail fraud.
- Lucy's owner will give a free dog biscuit to the first three people who e-mail with correct statements of the objective grammatical error(s) (not just style choice(s)) in Lucy's little ode.
- Lucy's owner has copies of such correspondence from some of the more-prominent fee-charging agencies. He even let Lucy drool on one of the letters.
- Yes, that's a published book in Lucy's mouth, although the title was added for... other reasons. Yes, it was a library book, although it's been Photoshopped in for amusement value (replacing what was actually in her mouth). This picture is an example of a transformative fair use.
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