Friday, October 25, 2013

A Scam Agent Or A Scam Writer?

The submission comes from Lynn Garrett Literary Agent, but there is no literary agency named for Ms. Garrett in any search I could think of. There is a Lynn Garrett in publishing, but she is the religious books editor at Publishers Weekly. She works as a publishing consultant, doctoring books and linking authors to agents. As best as I can judge, she herself is not a literary agent.

And the e-mail address on her website doesn't match the one on the submission in my inbox, either.

So, based on the query letter, either Lynn Garrett has lost her mind or a writer is using her name for a fake literary agent, to make it appear as if he has representation.

I'd go with the author being cute, but the query letter seems to be written by someone who doesn't speak English as a first language, while the sample chapter suggests a writer of Southern or African-American heritage, based on the phrasing. In which case, I should feel sorry for the writer because he is clearly being scammed.

I do receive submissions from time to time, from authors who pay no attention to the niche that Newcastlewest Books fills. We are a micro-publisher, more than tiny, and our books reflect our Irish heritage, works of historical fiction that reveal how connected our past is to our present. So if someone submits a book that takes place in the States and there is no connection to the Emerald Isle whatsoever and the author makes no claim of Irish heritage, whoever submitted the packet must surely be carpet-bombing publishers based on a list drawn up on Publishers Marketplace.

Note to submitter: If you can't determine by a first name if the person you're addressing is male or female, don't just insert a standard 'Ms.' and hope for the best. I'm not female, and you'd have been safer to address the letter to me using my full name without the title. Just something to keep in mind for the next time you send an e-mail blast. Not that I'm going to reject you based on something that minor. No, not at all.

What other clues can I find in this submission that will help me determine if it is a literary agent or an author disguised as a literary agent?

Let us begin here. The novel in need of publishing runs 300,000 words. Not novella length at 30,000, no indeed. A huge brick of a book. You just know that the writer has not yet grasped the concept of editing, of not repeating things over and over when the reader got it the first time it was mentioned. In a remarkable coincidence, the synopsis provided is equally repetitive and says absolutely nothing useful beyond a character sketch that takes up so much space, saying the same thing again and again, that there is no room left to provide a plot outline.

The sample chapter is a lot of words that fail to move the narrative. The sentences suggest someone who isn't well-educated, in spite of the author's biography laying claim to a couple of university degrees. But if an author would invent a literary agent, why wouldn't he also create a false history to make him appear more competent?

As for the synopsis, an individual who can't distill their thoughts down to a reasonable essence couldn't compose a concise synopsis, and that tends to suggest that there is no Lynn Garrett Literary Agent but an author thinking he's found an ingenious way to get his foot in the door.

Sadly, I have to slam that door, and without informing him that you never, ever, open a novel with someone waking up from a dream. And you don't need to mention the content of the dream repeatedly, as if it's critical foreshadowing and it has to be ground into the reader's head or they won't get the action on page 299,878.

Not right for our list, I'll have to respond. Not right for anyone's list, until the author learns how to write by reading extensively.

1 comment:

Ken Tupper said...

We just received the same query at Divertir Publishing and, as is our standard practice, I Googled the agent's name to see if they were a fee-charging agency. Your blog came up as one of the first results. I sent the "agent" a nice rejection letter with a link to my blog on why we rarely consider manuscripts that are over 100,000 words.