I'm so excited to welcome back my good friend and awesome author Lilly Gayle and she has a scary story to tell. So read on.
Autumn, thanks for having me on your blog today. The timing couldn’t be better since my first historical, Slightly Tarnished, was released last week. It’s now available in both print and e-book format from the publisher at http://goo.gl/0O9Vk and Amazon at http://goo.gl/hpoci .
And let me tell you, this book was a long time in the making. It was originally entitled American Beauty. I wrote it in 1999 and quickly found an agent. She requested ten hard copies via snail mail. That’s a lot of paper and ink. But I printed out all ten copies of the 350 page manuscript, packed it in the box a case of printer paper came in, and sent it to Colorado. I never heard from her again. All calls went straight to voice mail. Emails and certified letters went unanswered. To this day, I don’t know if she died, if aliens abducted her, or if she changed the title of the book and published it herself.
So, I sent the manuscript to publishers and other agents. And the rejections started rolling in. Then some time in 2001 or 2002, I got a call from an agent who wanted to take me on as a client. She then recommended an in-house editing service. It wasn’t cheap. But she said if I paid for her editing services, she could almost guarantee a publishing contract when the edits were done to her satisfaction. Color me naïve.
I wasn’t a member of any writing groups at the time, and I knew nothing about legit agents. But I did look her up online, and she had a professional looking website and a long client list. She had to be legit. Right?
Wrong! But I fell for it, hook, line, and credit card debt. Yep, I put that $2,500 editing fee on my credit card and anxiously awaited the edits. She mailed the manuscript back about a month later, and there were just a few red marks throughout.
At first, I thought it was because I was such a good writer. But as I looked over her edits, I started to wonder if she was a good editor. She marked spelling and punctuation errors any critique partner could have found—if I’d had one at the time. And she made a few suggestions about cutting a line here and there. She mentioned nothing about the plot or clarifying character motivation. Nothing about pacing. Or conflict. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Then, after I made the changes and sent the manuscript back, she sent me a contract for a marketing plan.
WTH? A marketing plan? Wasn’t that what an agent was supposed to do for her 15%? Market the damn book? Apparently not at her agency. And her cheapest marketing plan was $2,500!
That’s when I said, “Screw you and the horse you road in on.”
Okay, maybe I didn’t use those exact words. But I did call to say she ran a scam agency designed to defraud clients and take advantage of desperate wannabe writers. And I filed a complaint with the credit card company. But it was too late to get my money back. I’d paid for a service, and she provided it—crappy though it may have been. So, I filed a complaint with the company. Like that did any good! The agent actually said, “You’ll regret not signing with us. In this current literary climate, it’s impossible to find agents and publishers willing to work with new authors, and no agent or editor will provide the one on one service we provide here at The ****** Agency.”
Later, I went online and did my homework. That’s when I discovered Preditors and Editors. (Yes, predators is spelled that way.) The website http://pred-ed.com/pubagent.htm had issued this warning for Agent X: Strongly not recommended. A literary agent with The ****** Agency. And more recently on 7/25/06: Agent X has a judgment against her in "Washington Superior Court (King County) for $8,320 for breach of contract, fraudulent business practice and consumer protection violations."
While surfing the net, I also found Romance Writers of America and a local writers’ group less than forty miles from my home. After joining RWA and Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, I learned legit agents don’t charge reading or editing fees or recommend in-house editing. A legit agent will charge 10-15% of sales and postage. Nothing more. If your agent charges fees, check them out before signing a contract.
I also found my critique partners through HCRW. And, I got a third agent—a legitimate agent this time. Unfortunately, that relationship didn’t work out, but that’s another story.
Then in 2005, I completed a paranormal romance and submitted it to Silhouette. The editor loved it and sent a revision letter. But after nearly two years, three revision letters, an editor change, and a line change, it was ultimately rejected. According to the second editor, the story wasn’t dark enough for the new line. Sometimes, luck and timing are everything. That’s when my longest standing critique partner, Amy Corwin, suggested I submit to The Wild Rose Press. So, I changed the name of the book to Out of the Darkness and submitted it. They published it last year.
The owners, editors, and marketing staff at TWRP are the best. They respond in a timely fashion and the books go to print faster than some publishers acknowledge receipt of an author’s manuscript. I was so impressed with TWRP, I revised American Beauty. Again. And changed the name to Slightly Tarnished. I submitted it a year ago. And Slightly Tarnished was released last week.
The Wild Rose Press is listed on Preditors and Editors. In 2008, the site had this to say: P&E is hearing good things about this publisher. And I 2009 and 2010, Preditors and Editors Poll results named TWRP as the number one e-publisher.
So, if you’ve never read a book by a TWRP author, now’s as good a time as any.
To learn more about Lilly Gayle, author of paranormal and historical romance: Where love is an adventure no matter the century. go to...
www.lillygayle.com & www.facebook.com/lillygaylebooks
Hurry! Time is running out. To enter to win a copy of my new release, IN THE PRESENCE OF EVIL, pop over to my website and read the details. And, don't forget next Wednesday is my release day party, right here. Join me for a good time. AJ