Saturday, March 28, 2009

Good agency goes bad

Originally posted March 19, 2009

Objective Entertainment is a big agency that deals with lots of celebrities, so I really didn’t expect much when I queried agent Ian Kleinert a few months back.
I was more ignorant then too.
I thought my journalism experience and my years as a stay-at-home mom were a strong enough platform for my nonfiction book.
My eyes are open now.
The proposal has changed and it’s much stronger.
So is my query letter.
So I expected rejection this afternoon when I found a response from Objective Entertainment in my inbox. But Objective Entertainment surprised me. The e-mail was not from Ian and it was far more appalling than a rejection.
It was from a woman named Tracey Ravenelle.
This is what she said:

“Thanks so such for querying us, but we are unsure that this premise would work in this tight market. All said we would encourage you to do what many of our clients have done prior and self- publish with a reputable, and recommended, publisher. This is a new age in publishing, and as evidenced time and time again, neither The New York Times bestsellers list nor major booksellers discriminate against the self published. Oftentimes, authors choose to get proactive in order to build a sales record and boost their chances of being picked up.
I would like your permission to pass along your information to someone who can help you get started on your path towards getting published. If you are ready to become proactive about your career we will let them know more details about your manuscript and how to get into contact with you. There are a lot of publishers that seem to have gotten the better of new authors, the two that we refer you to are not of that ilk, they have had a number of successes.”

Needless to say, I was floored.
This person has decided that she has the authority to speak for every agent and publishing house out there. Since she believes the market is too tight, apparently every agent will feel the same way. And I am supposed to accept that.
Now, I don’t want to reveal too much about my agent search, but I will say that I have every reason to believe that I will get a contract sooner or later and that I will publish in the traditional way.
Fortunately, I am not so easily deterred.
But I worry that other writers might be.
A little searching on Absolute Write proved that I am not the only writer who recently received communications from Tracey after querying Ian. In fact, other writers received precisely the same note.
I can assume only one thing.
Tracey, Ian and maybe some other folks at Objective Entertainment, are making money off these referrals to self-publishing houses. They are making money and they are preying on the ignorance of writers who might be inexperienced with publishing, and on their potential lack of self confidence to do it.
There is nothing wrong with self-publishing if that is what a writer wants.
But this is not friendly guidance.
This smells fishy.
Very, very fishy.

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