Saturday, November 18, 2006

Writing And Despair Happy Hour (Part 5)

The saga must continue....

Welcome to Part Five of the Writing & Despair Happy Hour!

Entitled:

The Totally Fictional Tale Of The Wannabe Literary Agent(s)

subtitled:

You Get What You Pay For & Then Some!


Once upon a time, not long ago, in a land where dreams always came true, and some very lucky people had money trees growing in their backyard, a little girl grew up as all little girls should grow up, playing with her friends and going to school. This little girl whose name was Babs, always wanted to be the most popular girl in her group of friends. She had brains and wit and good looks. But for some reason, no matter what Babs put her hand to, it came out all wrong. Thus after awhile, children being much smarter than adults give them credit for, her friends, who knew Babs very well, let her play with them but also learned to ignore her need for attention and demands to lead the group.

Over the years, as is the nature with humankind, Babs grew into a woman. And over the years she also watched her friends and other people, and began to understand that most people in her land where dreams came true and money trees were scarce but not too scarce, would be very willing to part with that money if someone would just promise them that their dream would come true. Unfortunately though, Babs, try as she would, never could excel at anything she was doing. This combination of knowledge of her fellow humans and her inability to excel forced Babs to some serious conclusions.

In short, Babs grew up into a very cagey, cynical woman.

Along the way Babs also learned that in her land of dreams everything was about presentation and as long as she could present herself in the right and proper manner, no matter how ignorant she was of the topic at hand, it would almost guarantee success among the more ignorant no matter what her track record in real production was. Babs knew that in selling dreams she could do and say almost anything she pleased. She could be pompous, self-aggrandizing, and full of her own self. After all if you sell dreams people will forgive you for almost anything.

Now since Babs happened to like reading and coupling that with her cynical though very true outlook on her world, and knowing that people would pay almost anything from their money trees to achieve their personal dream in the land where dreams came true, Babs decided to become of all things, a literary agent.

Now Babs may have been a lot of things but she was not stupid and she sure as hell was not going to do this for free. So Babs studied the weaknesses of her fellow inhabitants of the planet, and understood that though she could not be good at what she wanted to do, as the publishers and editors never took her seriously, she knew that she would never be able to sell them a manuscript from one of her clients. And thus Babs developed a unique idea. She would make money off her clients. It seemed fair. It seemed right.

"Hey, after all," Babs said to herself, "doesn't everyone agree you get what you pay for? So let them pay me. Who cares if I am good or not? All I have to do is convince those suckers that I can make their dreams come true if they are only willing to part with some of their money, and the rest is a piece of cake!"

And so, without credentials, without skills, without contacts and with only very mediocre abilities Babs set out into the world of publishing, literary agents and writers.

You see Babs truly discovered the secret of the siren call.




And so Babs opened up her agency. She advertised for clients. But she was real cagey. She demanded, as all her fellow agents did, query letters. And of course, hundreds and thousands of query letters began to pour in from all points on the globe, into the "Make Your Dreams Come True Literary Agency LLC". And when they began to arrive Babs just perused them to make sure that not too many spelling mistakes were made, (after all she could not deal with illiterates could she?).

Most of the query letters received the following answer, sent, mind you, to the query letter owner, in an envelope and a stamp paid for by the query letter owner. Babs had a good chuckle at that because she even saved on postage fees! And so the bait was placed on the hook of the query letter answer. And was it great bait. Guaranteed - 99% it would not fail to hook the fish. Babs knew how to hook them. Yes she did!
Dear Author:

We really liked your query and thought your work deserves merit. Please excuse this form letter, but the volume of business at Make Your Dreams Come True Literary Agency LLC has grown tremendously and though we refuse to give up our search for talented new writers such as you seem to be. Please send me your manuscript so I can make a studious and fair evaluation. Make sure you enclose an SASE as well, as due to the volume and nature of my business, the agency will not consider any submission without an SASE. If we like your work we will be in touch within 21 days and let you know how to proceed.

Good Luck

Babs
Oh, how happy Babs made hundreds of query letter writers. They finally found an agent who was willing to look at what they wrote. It did not matter that out of 120 query letters sent out for the same manuscript 119 form rejections came back. Because Babs was the one who said YES!

And so these hopeful authors, printed out their works on clean, shiny paper and with hope in their hearts and a prayer in their soul - they sent out their manuscript addressed to:
Make Your Dreams Come True Literary Agency LLC
Attn: Babs
with those coveted words on the front:
"Solicited Material Enclosed"

Now Babs had a very orderly system when those manuscripts came in. She would open them, skim them for around 5-10 minutes and place them in a pile on another desk clearly marked with the date of receipt. Exactly 21 days later Babs would open them again, take a look over her morning coffee, and if the spelling was not too bad, and the manuscript did not start with a sex scene (cause Babs found that disgusting), Babs would now send out her real hook.

That is how the infamous Killigore Trout got hooked. Oh yes he did.
Dear Killigore:

I loved your submission entitled "How The Universe Burped" and loved the idea behind it. However, based upon your submission, I believe your manuscript needs the help of professional editing. With professional editing I am sure I can sell this to a publishing house. Additionally as you know we do incur expenses in the submission process. All in all, all I am asking to only partially cover these expenses is a paltry $1000. Remember, publishing is a business. And in a business you get what you pay for.

Upon receipt of $1000 and your signature on our contract (it only locks you into a three year exclusive deal with us at $1000 a year which is a cheap price to pay for fame and stardom), you will officially be a client of the Make Your Dreams Come True Literary Agency LLC and will receive my personal, undivided attention. (And as a bonus I will send you your very own Member badge which reads: "Babs Loves Me".

I am excited at the prospect of us working together. Do not delay.

Sincerely,

Babs
And so Killigore and hundreds like him became clients of the Make Your Dreams Come True Literary Agency LLC. Once that money arrived Babs took the manuscript into a room in her office reserved for her "clients". This room she called "The Sucker Room" and there she officially filed the manuscript away.

You see Babs had learned life's lessons well. No publisher would return her calls. No editor would even read a letter she sent to them. She really could not do anything in the publishing industry. But Babs would be damned if she was not going to enjoy and make money from what she was doing.

Being Inept at running a bona-fide Literary Agency did not stop Babs for one moment. No sirree. It certainly did not. She was enjoying herself all the way to the bank.



And so it came to pass that others out there slowly but surely caught on to Babs. Not the authors mind you, because they were positive their dreams would come true. But in this make believe world where there is one Babs you can be real sure there will be others. They multiplied and multiplied. And then one day, one of the imitators who was making good money off of people's dreams and his incompetence, said to himself:

"Hey, this is dumb. If one Literary Agency makes me oodles of money, then ten will make me oodles times ten."

And with that discovery Dr. Whatmacallit proceeded to open ten agencies all under different names but all having the word "Literary" in it - to attract the dreamers. Oh, dear reader, do not worry. There was no need to open an office and no great expense was involved. All it took was a $10 dollars to buy an Internet Name and a three page web site. And of course, all that great expense was recovered with the first dreamer to submit their manuscript. Imagine that! Being able to scam people and claim it as a legitimate business expense to boot!

And so efforts were doubled and money poured in. Who said Incompetence does not pay off?



But..But..But...this is not the end of the tale...

For in writer land there were a few who did notice the absolute mediocrity, incompetence and ineptitude of these cynical, fee-taking literary agents. And they let out a cry. And they warned. And they pleaded. And they begged. The cry went forth:
"Literary Agents Do Not Make Money Until You Do. Money Flows To The Author - Not From The Author. Do Not Pay A Person Claiming To Be An Agent If They Ask For Money Up Front. This Is A Scam. And They Will Take Your Money & Destroy Your Dreams."
And the cry began to be heard. The incompetent agents noticed a big decline in their daily deposits of dream money. And they got up in arms. They were angry - oh yes they were. How dare someone call them at their game? How dare some impudent and actually published authors, editors, and bona fide literary agents who belonged to such silly groups as the AAR challenge them? No way. They would stop this insurrection. Oh yes they would. To the Lawyers they marched. To their word processors they went. They were going to shut down any business and any Internet Forum or Web Site that dared challenge them.

Because they knew the tried and true lesson of Power.




Postscript to Our Tale:

And so dear reader and writer and author at the end of our tale we must warn you. Though arrogance and intimidation did not work, you must be wary. Sometimes if you act like a fool, then you will certainly get what you pay for. Always remember that it is not only what you pay, but who is cashing that check of yours as well.

If you don't learn to rule your own Destiny, then Destiny is going to come and bite you right in the ass. Then you will truly be able to say to the literary agent you paid to fulfill your dreams:




A Short List For Your Reading Pleasure:

The Lies Scammers Tell About Us

Victoria Strauss --The IILAA, or, What You Do When They Won't Let You Into the Club

Writer Beware's 20 Worst Agents

Miss Snark is Damn Mad

Red Letter Challenge -update

Dumbest of the Twenty Worst

Victoria Strauss -- Redux

All illustrations above are from the Despair.com. All hyperlinks on the posters will take you to their original page @ Despair.com.





Don't Be Cheap! Leave A Comment Below. I Promise Not To Bite!


2 comments:

bes said...

It is too early in the morning here to laugh so hard. The rest of the house is asleep. ;)

Thanks, Teddy. This was a hoot.

Peggy said...

Alas, poor Babs may soon be out of a job - we can only hope.