Q: An agency wants to represent me but also wants me to pay $90 to have my memoir “polished” by someone they approve. I have read “grab the first agent” but also “do not pay any reading fees”.
A: Eek. Sounds dicey, Warren – I would get away.
My first question is: What agency is it? A simple Google search, or a search in my book and its competing books/websites will tell you if it’s reputable or not, and if it has good sales. But my guess is: It does not good sales and is not reputable (though I cannot be sure).
You should never be paying upfront money like this. If a manuscript needs editing, you will most commonly just get a rejection letter. Or the agent may be nice enough to say “Strong story, but this needs editing and more work.” However, a big red flag is when an agent mentions money or personally refers you to an editor. Is there a kickback in place? Who know. What happens is: You get your work “polished” by this editor, whatever the hell that really means, and then you still have no guarantees. You lost $90, and your manuscript may or may not be better, but you still have no guarantees. The agent will just say no.
Want more on this subject?
- Talking money: How royalties and advances work.
- Will agents try to scam you with costs?
- What is a book auction?
- Got a burning question about publishing? Send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I may answer it on this blog.
- Confused about formatting? Check out Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript.
- Read about What Agents Hate: Chapter 1 Pet Peeves.
- Want the most complete database of agents and what genres they’re looking for? Buy the 2011 Guide to Literary Agents today!