Mildly bemused by the awful URL I check it out and was soon raising my eyebrow at the slightly odd request for £97 for each MSS he received. He described the money as a "token of intent" (alarm bells start ringing) and made several claims about how much success he would bring his authors, being a published writer himself, and previous publisher.
Well I was feeling cynical and irritated having received 2 rejection letters in 1 weekend so I decided to email Mr J. Hancock
What follows is our conversation
Dear Mr Hancock.
I've been reading your site, and was just curious as to which publishing
company you worked for and the title of your book, as I was unable to find such information myself.
Naturally, £97 can be quite a lot of money for some, and an unusual request when one considers that an agent is the employee of the author and not vice-versa. It seems if an author should provide tokens of intent, so should a prospective agent.
I believe my book has the potential to be very successful, and want to see
it in the best hands possible, so I hope you don't mind my checking the
credentials of potential agents before committing myself to any financial
Having sent it I felt slightly bad for taking the poor man on such bad faith - then received this email:
Dear Mr Morris
Thank you for your e-mail. I am sure your book does have the potential to be
successful. Sadly, I work very much from the basis of trust which is obviously
not present on your part.
Let me wish you every success in finding an alternative agent to represent
And then I got slightly peeved
Dear Mr Hancock
Evidently we work with different interpretations of trust.
I would assume that if one party expects unconditional trust, he should also give unconditional trust. However, you make clear that the price of your trust is £97.
This is an impasse on which we clearly will not agree, so I will bother you no more.
I wish you good fortune in your future projects and I hope that your 10 author's books will be easier to locate on the shelves than your own, which I seemed to have great difficulty is tracking down
Am I just being overly cynical? have I done wrong to poor Mr Hancock who is just trying to help out new writers and make a bit of spare cash from it.
Or do others feel the same way about these "offers" ?
I'm eternally glad for sites like this - where the other people are actually helpful and have a genuine interest in seeing you improve and succeed, rather than those like Mr Hancock who seem intent only only leeching off the dreams of others.
You did absolutely the right thing. No you are not being cynical. You are being honestly circumspect and skeptical and obeying the Latin Phrase "Caveat Emptor" - "Let the buyer beware." To be more direct and blunt, you are CYA. Covering your a**. And never stop. Learn early and it will start to just come naturally like breathing.
Here is the rule: If any agent ever has a reading fee: NEVER even bother contacting that agent. You got it? Never, ever, ever, ever, ever.
Is that clear?
And you must protect yourself FOREVER. I just shot a movie this past week. I am an actor and have made a good living at it for years. And still, they actually on the set asked me to sign a "RELEASE FORM." This is over and above my agent contract and the standard provisions from the Screen Actors Guild. And yet, they still try to pull this sh*it. (Mind you this does not happen often, just very occasionally. Almost everyone I have ever worked for is scrupulously honest - at least on my end.)
Now, nothing is stopping anyone from signing it. If an actor wants to be stupid they can. But the way they present these things is, they smile and tell you it is a "Standard Rider." BUT IT IS NOT. I tell them always, "That may be your standard rider, but it is not my standard rider." Riders are add ons to a contract. But the rider must be agreed to by both parties.
But a "RELEASE FORM" as this one was written gives them rights "IN PERPETUITY" to my image and that means beyond my death. This would give them all rights for commercial product offshoots, any marketing, ANYTHING they wanted to do. And it means I would be GIVING it to them. That means "FREE." Twenty years from now, something you did may become popular and they use it and make a fortune on it and you are left holding the bag. Think it doesn't happen? HAH!
I firmly but politely told them this is bullsh*t and they said they would "modify the rider," and I told them "Don't waste your time. It is bullsh*t."
Everything else was very pleasant; Creative people from the director to the crew to the caterer. But you have to watch out for even the "nice" ones ALL THE TIME. More people have lost the rights to their work due to a smile, that from a grimace!!!
NO LEGITIMATE AGENT CHARGES A READING FEE. Their only money comes from their commission on what they earn from you. No agent takes money from you until you make money. Remember, they take 10-20% of YOUR MONEY. You are not taking 80-90 of THEIR MONEY!
Legitimate agents do not leech. They work with and for you. And protect you. And they make sure you get paid. Some are better than others. And, in the end, you must always protect yourself first. You are the first line of defense for yourself, even before your agent. Never fear to question. Never fear to not sign anything before you check with an attorney (whom you will have to pay - but it would be money well-spent) or an agent. I can not emphasize this enough.
If I seem strong and adamant, you have read correctly.
Congratulations on what you did and passing it on to us.
Keep writing and submitting.
By the way, the person you speak of has the absolute right to put an ad (advert) like this anwhere he wants. One also has the right NOT TO ACCEPT THE OFFER. Just as I have the right to sign or not sign any contract. But always: CAVEAT EMPTOR!!!
another great resource is the anonymous blogging literary agent, Miss Snark. other than this forum, MS is the only site i make sure to read every day. she's honest and funny and loves gin ... what more needs be said? http://www.misssnark.blogspot.com
and remember, no matter how many the bastards, keep writing!
Paddy - you read minds - I was trying not to gush over Mac's pic myself!
It's sad when you find yourself going to a members' profile to see (a) if they have a website (b) if the pic is them (c) if they're heterosexual (d) if they're single (e) if there are any really good theatres, florists and restaurants in the locale where they live and (f) if you can afford to get wherever they live from Gloucester, UK!
Not that I did any of that, of course. Don't know why I mention it, really...
AdultFriendFinder this site certainly isn't!
Last edited on Wed Nov 29th, 2006 05:38 pm by Poet
poet, here are some answers to your questions. still not adultfinder, but hey, it's a start!
d: no, sorry
e: yes to all
f: i guess that depends on the balance in your chequing account. atlantis is a bit of a jaunt from gloucester. of course i do have to travel to london now and again to stock up on pg tips.
Hi Mac: Even with a '=)' on (b) and a ''maybe' on (c) you still had my attention - but with a 'no' on (d) my juices dried up a bit. I'm a one-being hermaphrodite! But please, put us out of our misery - who's the really good lookin' dame?
(Actually, if you are, or look like the pic, I don't care what the answer is to a,b,c,d,e or f! I have a villa in Telos - any good for a date? Paul is now getting over-excited and Edd is thinking about buying a hat at the prospect of the first stageplays-forum 'Blind Date' style wedding!)
Last edited on Thu Nov 30th, 2006 09:35 am by Poet
sorry to dry you up poet. just not in me to even fib about a d-like question. didn't want to burst your bubble, but can't betray my better half either - even in cyberspace. i'm just weird that way.
let's just say that there are definite resonances between the photo and me in real life. i'm going to leave it to your imagination as to exactly what those resonances are. either way, the villa sounds lovely. i'll let you know the next time i leave atlantis in search of a decent cuppa.