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February 9, 2006

Take My Logline … Please
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 03:30 PM * 110 comments

Let us consider The Screenplay Agency.

What shall we say about The Screenplay Agency? It’s owned and operated by Robert M. Fletcher, a gentleman who was fined $50,000 and forced to make restitution in Washington state back in 2001. Seems he was “offering and selling unregistered securities, acting as an unregistered broker-dealer and/or salesperson, and making material misrepresentations and/or omissions.”

Somewhere around that time, Fletcher got involved with Sydra Techniques, a literary agency out of Boca Raton, Florida. Sydra changed its name to S.T. Literary Agency, then to Stylus Literary Agency, then split up into the Christian Literary Agency, the Poet’s Literary Agency, the Children’s Literary Agency, and the New York Literary Agency; collectively The Literary Agency Group.

They are supposedly headquartered at 275 Madison Ave., 4th Floor, New York, New York … but when I visited there last year, and chatted with the security guard in the lobby, he was unaware that any of them were in the building. Nor did any of those agencies appear on his master list of tenants. What is actually at 275 Madison Ave., 4th Floor, New York, New York, is Corporate Suites, friendly people who offer “Virtual Office Solutions.” As they put it:

Our Virtual Office Solutions are popular with home-based professionals who desire a professional address and corporate facilities to meet their clients, out-of-state or international businesses who require a meeting place and business address in New York and traveling professionals who are rarely in New York.

In short, a mail drop for a guy in Boca Raton.

Sometime about early October of last year, a new agency cloned off from The Literary Agency Group: The Screenplay Agency.

They say:

The written word when combined with the visual power of media has the power to make us laugh, cry, expose our failings, and give us the tools to fix them. The right words can literally change the world. As literary agents for screenplays, it is our job and pleasure to bring our clients� vision and work to fruition “on the big screen”.

What else do they offer? A “Book-to-Film: Special Division.

The Screenplay Agency�s Book-to-Film Division offers an exciting new opportunity for authors of fiction, non-fiction or short stories who dream of seeing their manuscripts or prose on television or at the movies. For the first time, the Screenplay Agency’s Book-to-Film division provides the services of credited agents of film and television to assist you toward bringing your manuscript to the Hollywood community.

What have they sold?

Our Successes
We have at least 3 option agreements underway right now, and we’ve probably assisted with another dozen or so in the last few years.

In other words, a big handful of smoke.

Attentive readers will have noticed how many of the linguistic markers have popped up on those web pages.

The discussion of The Screenplay Agency on the messageboards where screenwriters hang out paralleled the discussions of the other Literary Agency Group sub-agencies on the discussion boards where other writers hang out.

Anyone who sent a logline to The Screenplay Agency got a form letter back from “Sherry Fine,” talking about its commercial potential.

This cruised along for a couple of months. Then an actual screenwriter noticed it.

Now, I’ve had several friends who have submitted material to these folks. From what I can tell, they all had exactly the same experience. They submitted a logline on the Agency’s website. A few days later, they received a form letter stating that the Agency had read the logline, were impressed with it, and would like to read the first twenty or thirty pages of the script. A week or two after sending their scripts in, my writer friends received a much longer form letter. This one stated that the Agency had read the script sample, and liked it so much that think that they might be able to sell the script and represent the writer. Exciting news.

But wait, there’s more! The Agency explains that before going forward with their relationship, they need to read “coverage” on the script. Whoops. More red flags.

Now this coverage could be sent in by the writer, but it has to be done by a reader with experience in Hollywood, and has to meet several specific requirements spelled out in the letter. If the aspiring screenwriter doesn’t have access to someone in Hollywood that can provide this coverage (and let’s face it, they probably don’t, or they wouldn’t be trying to get representation from The Screenplay Agency), the Agency will recommend an “outside” coverage service that can provide the needed coverage for the low, low price of only $99 (or something like that).

He decided to test The Screenplay Agency by sending in the worst logline ever seen, to see if it would be rejected.

Alas, this was not to be. Just like PublishAmerica and the Atlanta Nights sting, The Screenplay Agency happily accepted and offered a contract to the worst that a serious pro could dredge up.

Here’s the logline for “Friendship Alley” that was sent, and greeted with the happy news that an aqent thought it had commercial potential:

“WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THIRTEEN TWELVE YEAROLDS FIND A RED BIKE AND A MYSTIC CRYSTAL OUTSIDE OF THE SCHOOL DOORS ONE DAY? AN DAVENTURE OF MISTICAL PROPORTIONS!”

The tale continues as a thirty page excerpt from the script (which doesn’t have any children, or a bike, or a crystal, and is titled “Chicago”) is submitted, and accepted! Happy day! It has to be read to be believed. This is, truly, bad. My hat is off to a master.

One tiny detail. In order to represent this work, The Screenplay Agency needs independent outside coverage. A mere $95 charge…. Then, if the coverage is “green-light,” the script writer will have to buy a pitch sheet (a $189 charge). But, luckily, The Screenplay Agency happens to know of a third-party company that will give you, the writer, a package deal for only $245!

Only problem is that no one’s ever heard of these coverage agencies in Hollywood, and there’s no reason to believe that they’re truly independent of “The Screenplay Agency” and it’s “affiliate agencies.”

The saga continues as “Chicago” gets a “positive review.”

Meanwhile, other scriptwriters (real ones) have started to play: Sherry oh Sherry am I to be a Viktim to?

Here we meet the soon-to-be-a-major-motion-picture “The Venus Trap.” The logline for this one reads:

A young women ensnars her older gargantuan lover in her wiley, unsuspecting, forcibly recaltricant, web of lies, deceits and more dammning lies, before swalling up his life, family and possessions, before moving onto the next viktim.

Then there is the classic Ice Cube Boy (check this one out — really — you won’t be disappointed): She Never Met a Logline She Didn’t Like

The way Robert Fletcher reacts to criticism on the ‘net is by sending out sockpuppets and shills. I expect we’ll see them here soon enough. Do try to greet them courteously, and don’t let them see the knives and the stewpot until the very last minute.

[UPDATE 10FEB06] The astounding conclusion of the “Friendship Alley” story comes in I Spy Pt. 4 (of 3): The Saga Comes To An End�. What happens when “Danny Broderick” tries to call “Sherry Fine” on the phone? You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll struggle to control of your sphincters! (Great job, Warren Hsu Leonard. Bitchin’ phone.)



[UPDATE 14NOV08: If you’ve had any dealings with Robert Fletcher, or any of his businesses, the Florida Attorney General wants to hear from you.]

[UPDATE 11AUG09: Robert M. Fletcher, Literary Scammer. Bobby loses a lawsuit.]

[UPDATE 20AUG09 They’re changing their name (again!) to Strategic Book Group]

[UPDATE: 03SEP09: Attorney General Files Lawsuit Against “Literary Company”]



[UPDATE: 20JUN12]
Bobby has renamed his scam (again) to Strategic Book Publishing & Rights Agency (SBPRA), Publish On Demand Global, Best Quality Editing Services, and Best Selling Book Rights Agency, plus a dozen other names.

Comments on Take My Logline ... Please:
#1 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2006, 03:48 PM:

Mr. Macdonald, I'm very much afraid you are a bloodthirsty man.

#2 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2006, 04:07 PM:

Fidelio: Don't be afraid. He only drinks the blood of the unjust.

What I wanna know is whether anybody has attempted to sell them on a screen adaptation of Atlanta Nights.

#3 ::: Mac ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2006, 04:26 PM:

Oh gawd...Andrew, you've every bit as wicked a mind as Jim.

#4 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2006, 04:29 PM:

Oh, you can do better than that, Andrew. Send them Atlanta Nights AS IS, claim it's a screenplay, and watch them talk about its "potential."

#5 ::: Zak ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2006, 04:34 PM:

Oh, I wonder if they'd be interested in a film adaptation of the Voynich manuscript? I bet that would be a killer movie.

#6 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2006, 04:37 PM:

I've got a rabbit in my stewpot, but there's plenty room for more....

#7 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2006, 04:49 PM:

How about Atlanta Nights: The Bollywood Musical?

#8 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2006, 04:50 PM:

A couple of years ago an otherwise intelligent friend of mine once almost got caught up in the "actor" version of this. It was from one of those fliers stapled to a telephone pole or palm tree trunk, stating that film, TV and commercials were looking for "real people".

She went in, and they offered her "representation" - for a fee. It was around $500, but for that, you got the added value of special access to audition listings and unlimited "free" headshots. Coincidentally, the same phone number was included in a series of Craig's List job ads offering $10/hr for photographers - no experience necessary.

I tried reasoning with her, telling her that a real agent made a percentage of money from the jobs they found you, and not from payment up-front. Mentioned that a subscription to BackStage West was likely to have the same "exclusive" listings that the bogus agency provided, and finally, that real headshots were not simply a snapshot of your face, blown up to 8x10 size - and they involved professional make-up and lighting specific to whatever style of photography they were using, and a session could last several hours.

Despite that fact that she was in her early 30's, and had worked in the industry in a crew capacity, she stubbornly ignored my comments, deciding that since I had gone to drama school, and was now working as a loan processor, I was a bitter wannabe actor who didn't want anyone else to succeed.

In the end, it was a link to a message board I sent her that changed her mind; the victim in the forums had been charged $350, his friend quoted at $200. It was the blow to my friend's ego that she was charged more that kept her from giving her last few bucks to these scammers.

Of all the various fake literary agencies run by these criminals, I wonder if the screenwriting arm makes the most money. While there is no shortage of people who would like to be writers (or actors), there are more who would like to be a STAR!

#9 ::: MikeB ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2006, 06:24 PM:

I've just had the sudden, inexplicable urge to impersonate a sockpuppet or a shill.

"You're all wrong about The Screenplay Agency. They are true professionals. They helped me place my script, 'The Crying Game', at a major studio, and now I own an offshore island and spend my days playing tennis and buying gifts for my harem."

I gotta learn to control these urges. Next thing you know, I'll be starting a fake literary agency just for the thrill of watching Mr. Macdonald take me down.

#10 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2006, 07:21 PM:

MikeB:

Last time I impersonated a sock puppet I spent a week coughing up lint and gooley eyes. Long story.

#11 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2006, 07:34 PM:

Charlie: With scenes in the snow-capped Himalayan mountains adjacent to Atlanta?

Years back, when I was an underemployed grad stud looking for work I came across a job ad offering opportunities for book reviewers. I thought it was a scam ('We pay you to read books!' it virtually screamed), so I didn't take it up. I wonder if anyone has taken such an offer up and found out the details of the scam.

#12 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2006, 07:54 PM:

The earn-money-reading-books scam works like this-- You pay for the list of people who need readers. You get a list of publishers Xeroxed out of Writer's Market. You write to them asking if they need first readers. They write back (if you remembered to include an SASE) saying "no." You're out the thirty bucks you spent for the list, plus postage.

#13 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2006, 08:00 PM:

Fragano: that might actually have been for real. I have no certain knowledge of current practice, but when my father had a summer free between college and his first job he did piecework reading books and writing synopses for consideration by movie producers. This was in 1919, so $5/book (IIRC) was a respectable amount of money. My first question would be what the ad wanted for qualifications, writing sample, etc.; I wouldn't want to guess without context.

As for the "agency" described here: who wants to do the Wikipedia article? It should be almost as much fun as the one about Publish America.

#14 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2006, 10:01 PM:

I've been reading more over at Absolute Write, and I've got to lift my hat to Sherry Fine - she writes very good quality evil misinformation. Her explanations of why forums like Absolute Write and sites like Predator and Editors can't be trusted have a glibness and surface plausibilty which leave me steaming with anger. I can well imagine a starry eyed would-be screenwriter falling for her tales of how it's only whiney loser writers who don't have the guts to stand tall, look the industry in the eye and do things the accepted (fee paying) way.

She's evil, sure. She deserves to burn forever in the deepest pit of hell, definitely. But she's got the moves.

btw - has anyone ever gone to the trouble of collecting urls to all of the wonderful writing related threads on Making Light over the years? This thread, slushkiller, Atlanta Nights, etc? Taken together they make the most amusing and helpful guide to writing/publishing/evil scams that I've ever seen.

#15 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2006, 10:13 PM:

oh - a bit more on sock puppets. There have been some news articles recently claiming that Nvidia (manufacturer of graphics cards for computers) have not only been using paid sock puppets to praise their products on message boards, but that they had the sock puppets post normally for a few weeks first, to establish their identities as 'regulars' and 'real people'.

Sleeper agents. Who'd have thought it?

(Boing Boing article: http://www.boingboing.net/2006/02/06/did_nvidia_hire_an_a.html)

#16 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2006, 10:33 PM:

Reading the letters sent by the people who buy the "Publishers Will Pay You Hundreds to Read Books!" scam often come close to inspiring violence against the dreckpiles who run them. (Admittedly, once in a while you feel that way about a slush ms, but that's another story.)

They are generally not from people who are looking for a soft touch, but from people who are working hard at dead-end jobs ("peanut sorter" sticks to the roof of my memory), and who haven't got any salable skills except that they like to read. The letters are highly formularized (the scammers usually send a "suggested form" for the query letter, or an actual fill-in-the-blanks form, and I'm really not trying to be mean when I say that it is apparent from them that very few have the language skills even to read slush. One of the stock line-items is "what makes you special," and some of those responses are a glimpse of the abyss.

The loophole that makes this technically legal is the usual "if it happened once" routine; some books -- almost always nonfiction -- are passed in manuscript to someone with expert credentials on the subject, and the expert receives a fee, usually of a few hundred dollars, for her time and knowledge. Thus, "people get paid hundreds of dollars just to read books." The part about having specialized knowledge never makes it into the pitch.

#17 ::: JKRichard ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2006, 12:24 AM:

Please, please, please Patrick and Teresa...please submit Atlanta Nights the screenplay. It was destined for Hollywood!
-=Jeff=-

#18 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2006, 12:41 AM:

I like the idea of submitting Atlanta Nights as a screenplay, I really do, but I think John Heywood's A Mery Play Betwene Johan Johan, the Husbande, Tyb, his Wyf, and Syr Jhan, the Preest would be better. And it's conveniently available , thanks to Mr. Macdonald.

#19 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2006, 01:51 AM:

It'd be too much work, maybe, but something like one of the blatantly anti-semitic Nazi propaganda films, translated into English, could be worth submitting to these people.

It might create headlines.

#20 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2006, 03:30 AM:

The thing about those films, Dave, is that they aren't remotely subtle; I suppose one could rewrite Der Ewige Jude so that it was about . . . some other religious group, or maybe space aliens, and Hitlerjunge Quex (which is about a nice young man who's killed by a gang of Communist street thugs, and allegedly has some factual basis) would make a swell Afterschool Special, but I'm not at all sure what purpose would be served. Formula can serve anybody's purpose; all that matters is who's kicking the dog.

Indeed, I suspect that their rewrite guy, even if he's not familiar with the movies I cited,* routinely makes changes to remove extreme ideas -- some of which were very likely deliberate, since extremists wanna make movies too -- and excuses it by saying "that's what Hollywood does, and you do it our way or it doesn't happen."

Anyway, here are some swell loglines, like anybody cares:

Pentateuch Nights
"It's the Bible . . . as an epic."

Hoover, Dammed if You Do!
"Celebrates our second greatest President, big construction projects, and Las Vegas."

Women are From Mars
"Like that Spielberg movie, with sex. May have to alter the title for rights reasons."

Rage of the Barbarian Women
"Do we really need to sell this? Women. Barbarians. Rage. Our poster line is 'The First Swords, Sorcery, and PMS Picture.' And really, how much is Sandahl Bergman gonna cost?"

*Yeah, I have way too much of this crap in my memory.

#21 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2006, 04:11 AM:

Holy scams, Batman! This is crazy funny.

In message twenty-six in the comment thread on the first post, a Paulo Joe Jingy has put forth what in my opinion is the goofiest brain-hurty bad logline submission yet.


The Title of Your Work:
The Citizen Cane Mutant


Logline/Synopsis:
A big mutant rat, name Citizen he try to kill everbody on kruse ship that sink. Then the peoples cane it to make die and it be reel mad
about that and attak them some more. Then people droun, but the rat he fall in love since it a love story.

#22 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2006, 04:12 AM:

One more thing: You guys might want to consider adding "new opportunity" and "for the first time" to the list of linguistic markers. Those sound real familiar, too.

#23 ::: Bryan ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2006, 04:36 AM:

Citizen he lookup in the eyes of the only human that show him love. He love him. Human cuddly wuddly him, says "From now on I'm gonna name you Ben."

amorous ending - fade

#24 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2006, 06:15 AM:

There's no reason to believe that "Sherry Fine" has a real physical existence. For all anyone knows that's just a name that goes on form letters sent by an auto-responder.

#25 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2006, 07:46 AM:

I remember reading a recent account in The New York Times about (I think) a theater group that did a "funny/satirical" version of that charming exploitation film where an evil Mormon trying to lure Our Heroine into polygamy is horsewhipped in the street. Yah, that'd be a loverly evening of quality entertainment for me...

#26 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2006, 08:25 AM:

I expect well see them here soon enough. Do try to greet them courteously, and dont let them see the knives and the stewpot until the very last minute.

Here, I'll set out the decoys:

u r all just jellus. Mc Donald sells frys for a living and u canonly DREEM about sellin a script to holywood. u think u r goin g to get some1 to spend 20millyun$ on ur movie and u yell about paying 200$? U R SO DUM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That ought to do it.

#27 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2006, 08:33 AM:

Why not submit Springtime for Hitler instead? ;)

#28 ::: Mark Wise ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2006, 01:08 PM:

I'd pay cold, hard cash to see "Atlanta Nights: The Bollywood Musical," but only if the musical styles changed as often as the writing styles. It's eclectic, therefore it can't be all bad.

#29 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2006, 04:43 PM:

"It's eclectic, therefore it can't be all bad."

Now I feel all old and cynical.

#30 ::: jrochest ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2006, 06:32 PM:

I think John Heywood's A Mery Play Betwene Johan Johan, the Husbande, Tyb, his Wyf, and Syr Jhan, the Preest would be better.

Hey! John John is much more respectable than Atlanta Nights! It has a better plot than the average Adam Sandler movie, and it's actually funny -- assuming you like cuckold jokes.

You don't like it, you try writing something that survives for 450 years.

#31 ::: Harthad ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2006, 07:15 PM:

Surely "Sherry Fine" came straight off a liquor bottle, "sherry fino" being a common variety of the stuff.

#32 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2006, 07:35 PM:

Hey! John John is much more respectable than Atlanta Nights! It has a better plot than the average Adam Sandler movie, and it's actually funny -- assuming you like cuckold jokes.

You do mistake me, sir, an you think it likes me not.

It's a win-win, for, do they reject the merry play on the grounds that its Englsh be intemperate and it's orthography irregular, why then they have not the taste to judge a fine comedy.

Yet, do they accept our play why then, they have not the understanding of a child, for 'tis plainly clear to all of sense and discretion that as a film for our modern tastes it will not do as is, nay, not evan if Alan Smithee did produce it.

#33 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2006, 07:39 PM:

"Sherry Fine" may well have come off a liquor bottle. I have reason to believe that "Georgina Orr" is based on George Orwell.

#34 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2006, 11:57 PM:

Jim: That's one hell of a simple scam, but it must generate a lot of very angry victims.

CHip: I got paid $5 a shot writing article abstracts for Sociological Abstracts when I was a graduate student, which was (a) fun, (b) did help pay the bills, (c) provided some useful supplemental education -- especially because a lot of the articles I read were relevant to my own interests in political science, and (d) made me the most published member of my department in the shortest possible time.

#35 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2006, 12:00 AM:

John M. Ford: That brought tears to my eyes. I can just imagine a middle-aged man or woman, lighting on the ad and thinking 'this may change my life', only to be out $30 dollars and have their dreams smashed again and again and again.

#36 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2006, 12:03 AM:

Harthad: That's just oloroso.

#37 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2006, 07:32 AM:

The absolutely simpliest and most elegant scam I've seen on the internet was this:

A gent had a web page up, on which he claimed that he had a scientific system to win the UK Lottery, consistently. It required entering a lot of bets, however, for a lot of people, which is where the web page came in. He'd allow you to share his good fortune and the fruits of his research.

You send him $5 a week, he'd place the bets according to his system, and he'd tell you when you won and send you your winnings!

#38 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2006, 05:10 PM:

Jim: That's an even bigger scam than the lottery. I wonder how many idiots took the chap up.

#39 ::: Zeborah ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 04:19 AM:

James, and anyone who's interested - I'm close to certain the first stage at least is an autoresponder. Or at least, they want to learn more about the goals and the work of my sockpuppet du jour, Sue Do-Nim.

Now, Sue's spelling and grammar weren't worse than normal, but she wasn't exactly subtle, either. The title of her movie was "Scammer!" and the log-line was "The inpiring tale of how one bored writer outwits a fake screenplay agency and exposes their evil machinations to the world."

She'd heard about the Screenplay Agency "from bloggers rubbishing you". Her work hasn't been edited because "I just made it up three minutes ago." Her bio? "I started writing as a kid and I'm still writing now. (I'm not a kid anymore.)"

--On the other hand, maybe it would make a good movie!

#40 ::: Barbara Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 10:24 PM:

This is almost as much fun as watching Atlanta Nights unfold. Wooo!
Curious - has anyone tried submitting the logline and script for some famous or recent film, and seeing whether anyone noticed? I mean, without doing a search-and-replace for names, or anything careful like that. Because any agency that would be willing to encourage the Citizen Cane Mutiny isn't going to worry about a little obvious plagiarism.
And indeed, the Citizen Cane Mutiny obviously borrows heavily from The Uninvited, a movie scathingly and entertainingly reviewed by Jabootu
-Barbara

#41 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 11:48 PM:

Or a logline for an unfilmable movie? That'll sort out "engaged intelligence" from "running on automatic."

#42 ::: Per Chr. J. ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2006, 06:22 AM:

Not quite the same thing, but there was a story in one of our dailies that one of our publishing companies uses graduate students in literature and/or modern languages as first readers, but pays them 1/3 of the salary the regular readers get. The students do, however, get to spend a day and a half in seminars at the company.

Quite a few people who do freelance work for publishing companies protested, and said that this was not a recruiting drive, but just a way to cut expenses, maybe even the fees paid to regular readers, translators, etc.

The company countered that regular fees are paid to consultants who have much more to offer than just a fresh degree, and that this was a valuable publishing industry experience, citing those one and a half day seminars.

I'm in a bit of two minds about this, because after all what is a small salary to some might seem perfectly fair to others, but I do hope that it is true that some of those involved in this will get beginners' positions in the publishing industry later on.

Per
Oslo, Norway

#43 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2006, 08:09 AM:

Teresa, is there such a thing as an unfilmable movie?

#44 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2006, 08:38 AM:

Paul: Sure. Manos, the Hands of Fate.

The fact that it was filmed doesn't mean it was filmable. :)

#45 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2006, 11:27 AM:

But if it hadn't been filmed, we'd never have heard The Haunting Torgo Theme.

#46 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2006, 03:37 PM:

Whenever my buddies and I watch MST3K: the Movie, which we do on a distressingly regular basis, we have some callbacks to the host segments. One of them is "We hear you, Torgo, but the virgins don't!", when that theme is played.

'Cause my friends and I just can't get enough of the multiple reference thing.

I believe it's Wikipedia that says that the reason the "movie" opens with that long driving sequence is because someone forgot to put the opening credits over it.

#47 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2006, 06:25 PM:

Unfilmable?

Hmmm... how about a plot where the entire action takes place in a pitch-dark cave, with a protagonist who depends on his sharp senses of smell and hearing?

OOOH, I've got an even better logline, also pretty well guaranteed unfilmable:

"riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs."

#48 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2006, 03:13 AM:

"the entire action takes place in a pitch-dark cave, with a protagonist who depends on his sharp senses of smell and hearing"
Clifton, I've read that book!

IIRC, it was set in the caves that lead from a nuclear shelter where a large group of people had gone when hostilities started. The time of the book was a few generations later, the lights & power had failed long ago, but there was still a strong prohibition about going near the entrance because of 'poisoned' air & water. They'd developed a tribal hunter-and-collector society where they told time by womens' cycles, navigated & hunted by a kind of echo-location, plus similar methods to what blind people use. Moving Large Objects was a serious offence.

I can remember the hero being curious about the terrible, fearful, thing called Darkness, which was supposed to be lurking everywhere around, ready to pounce, though no-one knew just what it was or looked like. Whether this was cogent commentary on the human condition, I am unsure.

Some of the descriptions & the way different aspects were worked out was quite good, but the eventual plotting was a bit weak — I had the feeling that the author found working out the world & society was the most fun, and finding a story to tell within it a bit of a struggle. Despite this, after a good 10 or 15 years, some scenes & ideas stuck quite well in my mind, even if the title & author haven't.

#49 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2006, 05:21 PM:

Paul: Sure there is. You could write a screenplay that specifies that the movie must be filmed within the next couple of years, and that it must star the real George Bush and Dick Cheney. Or, you could write one involving explicit on-screen gay nonconsensual sex between an adult and minor. Or, you could have the whole thing take place in zero gee.

I have not exhausted the possibilities.

#50 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2006, 06:00 PM:

Hitlerjunge Quex (which is about a nice young man who's killed by a gang of Communist street thugs, and allegedly has some factual basis)

Was his name Horst Wessel?

#51 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2006, 06:07 PM:

Xopher: Horst Wessel was by all accounts not a nice young man. Hitlerjunge Quexwas about this fellow

#52 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2006, 06:09 PM:

Aconite, that's very good. But you capitalized some things, and there's punctuation in it. Also there's a compound sentence, and verb agreement.

Of course, they also won't notice these things, so you're probably OK.

#53 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2006, 06:15 PM:

Wow. Yeah, I just looked up Horst Wessel. I'm glad he lived a few weeks before dying of his wounds. Wish I coulda been there to pour Crystal Drano into 'em.

#54 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2006, 07:55 PM:

Xopher: If that's what you'd do to a small time thug, what would you do to someone like Odilo Globocnik?

#55 ::: Barbara Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2006, 12:38 AM:

Epacris, I think that may be Dark Universe, by Daniel F. Galouye, published Bantam 1961.

#56 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2006, 01:28 AM:

Epacris: I was thinking as I wrote my post that surely somebody must have done that as a book, but couldn't think of one.

I thought of some other kinds of settings which are fine in books but essentially unfilmable, yet where you couldn't be so sure that somebody wouldn't try to adapt it. For example, I'm sure there have been SF novels told entirely as telepathic communications (like the telepathic interactions in The Demolished Man) but one can imagine someone filming around that and doing just the "visible" scenes. For another, the tour-de-force opening chapter of The Gameplayers of Zan takes place entirely in the mind of a young woman (ler) in an isolation tank, as she is coming to the decision to "un-mind" herself - but there are flashbacks and memories within it that someone could try to film. (I wouldn't have thought prior to Eternal Sunshine... that someone could successfully set a film inside a mind being erased; now I know that a good enough screenwriter and director can.)

"Unfilmable" is a challenge, and I think the best way would be to approach it via the limitation that the film medium must be visual and can address only the senses of sight and sound. Or via Joyce.

#57 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2006, 01:40 AM:

On scams:

I know there was a classic con game that involved contacting people, by mail, with a solemn offer of a secret way to manipulate the lottery (or stock market.) As proof, the con would tell the mark the last digit of the coming week's lottery draw (or how much the closing price of some stock would be up/down.) Then he'd write back the following week with the next week's last digit too. When that prediction too proved correct, and the conman finally contacted them in person, the mark would be slavering for the chance to turn over their life savings in exchange for the secret. Can you figure how it was worked?

...

For the lottery variation, the conman would send out N * 100 letters the first week, divided among 10 different predictions of the critical information. The following week he'd see what the actual result was and contact only the N * 10 to whom he'd sent the right prediction, and would again send that group 10 different predictions. The third week he'd clean out the N marks who he'd happened to send the right prediction to a second time. Similar deal for the stock prediction trick.

I don't think it would work well these days. Too much spam, I think too many people would just toss the initial contact right away.

#58 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2006, 04:45 AM:

This story came out here today, and I thought that here would be a place where people could be interested, or would know what the comparison elsewhere would be. It might be a warning to check the details in your contracts, too.

Penguin cuts authors' reprint royalties: Australia's biggest book publisher has made a historic move to cut back royalties for authors with books in reprint.
Penguin Books is now enforcing a clause in writers' contracts to drop reprint rates from an average of 10 per cent, to between 6 and 8 per cent.
"If an author goes to a publisher in New York or London, that's what they're going to be offered as a standard rate." said Bob Sessions.

Publisher cuts royalties to Australian authors (Excerpted transcript of a longer radio story)
. . . Australian writers enjoy some of the most generous royalty rates in the world.
After their book sales exceed a certain threshold, their royalties have remained at either an average 10 per cent, or been bumped up to 12 per cent or more.
But now the biggest market player Penguin publishing is about to change all that.
Penguin's publishing director, Bob Sessions, says writers' contracts have always included a clause for the lower rate for reprints, but it's never before been enforced". . .
"It looks to me like they're bringing things in line with their international company, but of course I think it's unfortunate for writers writing is not a very lucrative profession at the best of times, and I suppose as a company [Harper Collins], we really like to share the profits with the authors."
Not quite sure the best thread to place it in, but I don't want to add too much to the CPU-straining 'Slushkiller', and this is sorta about writing.

#59 ::: Mad Scientist Matt ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2006, 10:24 AM:

Clifton, looks like I had about the same thought at the same time. I sent the Screenplay Agency the following logline this Monday:

"A fish of soap reflected green velvet and turned on the wooly log."

In a sure sign that there was not anyone human actually reading the logline, "Sherry Fine" sent me their letter reading "Based on your query form information we would like to see your work and learn a little bit more about your goals and your work."

I'm tempted to send in a "script" that is actually a .DLL file where I have changed its extension to .DOC - a common tactic I've seen with dealing with other scammers.

#60 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2006, 12:20 PM:

Fragano: If that's what you'd do to a small time thug, what would you do to someone like Odilo Globocnik?
Um, who?

Actually my mayhem fantasies are generally more...creative. But I don't find them pleasant to think up unless I'm really beside myself. (OBL buried alive in the skin of a freshly-slaughtered pig was only the END of a loooong torture fantasy of mine, right after I lost friends and coworkers in 9/11.)

Right now I'm in a relatively pleasant mood and would rather not engage in revenge fantasies, if it's all the same to you.

#61 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2006, 02:28 PM:

Sheri Tepper's The Family Tree is unfilmable, IMO. (One of my favorite books, in part for the reason(s) it's unfilmable.)

#62 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2006, 02:57 PM:

Xopher: For an althist treatment of the man read Harris's Fatherland. Otherwise, take a look here: here

#63 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2006, 08:23 AM:

Heh. I love the moment in The Family Tree where the reader discovers just how badly they've been scammed. It's pretty easy for her to do, due to the way metaphor works.

The sad part is that that isn't the Patented Sherri Tepper Surprise for the book, even.

#64 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2006, 09:23 AM:

Clifton Royston: I would think the con would be \easier/ today. There's no postage or printing expenses in spam; there have to be a lot of suckers out there who actually read the stuff (not a large fraction, just a lot), or we wouldn't see stories about the wealth of the spammers who have been caught.

#65 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2006, 02:36 PM:

The Family Tree was the first book in ages where I actually closed it momentarily, set it down in front of me, and said "Whoa - did NOT see that coming."

#66 ::: k.mankiller ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2006, 12:27 PM:

Now I'm tempted to come up with a worse logline. Perhaps, "Diarrhea: the musical. Singing cockroaches, eat your hearts out!"

#67 ::: Miles Odonnol ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2006, 07:08 PM:

I just sent Amazon Books this email:
I assume that by now you must be aware that the "New York Literary Agency" and the "Children's Literary Agency" are not literary agents, but branches of a scam operation that survives by preying on unsuspecting authors.
My question is: Why do you continue to carry their advertisements?
I have enjoyed Amazon services in the past, but if you continue with this unconscionable practice, I will make other arrangements for obtaining books.
I take this seriously, and I hope you do too.
-Miles

#68 ::: Miles Odonnol ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2006, 07:36 PM:

Amazon responded, via email:
Thank you for writing to Amazon.com with your comments about Literary Agency advertisements.

I will be sure to pass your message on to the appropriate department in our company for consideration. Customer feedback like yours is very important in helping us continue to improve the selection and service we provide.

Thank you for shopping at Amazon.com. We hope to see you again soon.

Please let us know if this e-mail resolved your question:

If yes, click here:
http://www.amazon.com/rsvp-y?****
If not, click here:
http://www.amazon.com/rsvp-n?****
________________________________

WELL, it was not.
Not took me to Amazon's further complaints page:

What could we have done better?

Our goal is to answer your questions quickly, completely, and accurately the first time. We apologize for not meeting your expectations. Please give us another chance to help you. Complete the form below rather than replying to the e-mail response you received.
________________________________

I did, though beginning to weary:

What you could have done better:
Assure me that you will discontinue carrying ads for "New York Literary Agency" and "Children's Literary Agency," and do it. As of now, the ads are still running on the Amazon website.

Why do you support this scam operation, well known to prey on unsuspecting authors?

I know you want to make money; we all do. But can I appeal to your conscience here?

Hello?


#69 ::: Iry ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2006, 11:08 AM:

does anybody know a real agent who can read my script? I am from Europe, and I can only afford myself to SEND a script by e-mail. All these stories sound so dangerous.

#70 ::: SAM ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2006, 03:15 AM:

Unfortunately I had the same experience. But I believed in it, payed 80 and 140.
Thoug I must admit critique helped me and looked professional.
But after all the negative things I found over that agency I have decided to cancel the contract.Luckily 90 Days have not passed yet.
Curious though... I confronted my so called agent with one of the bad articles... and never heard of him again.. WISH I READ THIS SITE BEFORE I STARTED!
SAM

#71 ::: Cris ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 02:06 AM:

Thanks to places on the web such as this I was able to get out of a New York Literary Scam. The following is the abbreviated version of our email banter:

Date: Sat May 6 09:46:01 2006
From: Sherry - VP Acquisitions
To:
Subject: NY Literary Agency: Thank you for your query.

Thank you for your query to the New York Literary Agency. Based on your
query form information we would like to see more.
_________________________________________________

Date: Wed May 10 11:58:05 2006
From: Sherry - VP Acquisitions
To:
Subject: NY Literary Agency: Thank you for your submission.

Thank you for sending us your work for evaluation; it has been received
successfully and it has been sent to our evaluation team.

We have NOT reviewed it at this time.
The review process takes about 1-2 weeks.
_________________________________________________

Date: Sat May 20 12:51:34 2006
From: Sherry - VP Acquisitions
To:
Subject: NY Literary Agency: Positive Review

Thank you for everything that we have received from you thus far. Our review
team believes that your work has commercial potential and we would like to
proceed by offering to represent you.

We feel that your concept and writing thus far has potential and that if
polished and presented properly, we can sell it. To take the next step,
please let us take a minute to tell you a little bit about how we think and
do business.

To take the next step, please read the information below and follow the
instructions at the end of this email.

Best regards,
Sherry Fine - VP Acquisitions
_________________________________________________

After agreeing to proceed with the contract you get:


Date: Tue May 23 16:50:33 2006
From: Sherry Contract - VP of Acquisitions
To:
Subject: NY Literary: Contract & Critique Referral

Congratulations and my warmest wishes for our mutual success! And again, we
thank you for your understanding and your acceptance of our business
philosophy. We look forward to working with you and because you have
indicated such a strong commitment to your work you can rest assured that we
will be excited and committed to doing what we can to work just as hard for
you!
_________________________________________________

Then I start seeing things posted all over the web about NYLA being nothing but a ripoff outfit. I start sending "Sherry" emails asking for an explanation.

Date: Fri May 26 21:39:52 2006
From: Cris
To:
Subject: RE: NY Literary Agency: Positive Review

I'm seeing some shady stuff about your organization. Is it true you are not legitimate? Only exist to fleece someone like me?
Unless you can satisfactorily answer my concerns, consider this email notification my termination of our contract.

I go into quite a bit of detail with most of what we read here and other places detailing horror stories of NYLA. It seems that by asking for them to explain these stories and clear their name, they just got mad, defensive, and put the monkey on my back as being the bad guy for asking the questions and not trusting them. I was called a "skeptic".


Date: Sat May 27 16:00:50 2006
From: Cris
To:
Subject: RE: NY Literary: Contract & Critique Referral

If we're to 'trust' one another and you're looking to gain my trust and confidence, let's be perfectly open and honest here. Give me the titles of the 4 books you have sold... who published them.. and who are the authors? No big secrets of sensitive information. This information should b public knowledge and you need these things in order to find a book at Barnes & Noble or the library.

And the information didn't come from a disgruntled anonymous poster. Its all over the web listed with other companies too. Help me to trust you by giving me mor info.

From: Sherry Fine - VP Acquisitions [mailto: SherryContract@newyorkliteraryagency.com]
To: criscpo@excite.com
Date: Sat, 27 May 2006 16:13:48 -0500
Subject: RE: NY Literary: Contract & Critique Referral

Here are just a few sales, not all. One is Dario Castagno who wrote "Too Much Tuscan Sun" which is now in 3 languages and was nominated for a Ben Franklin award (published by Globe Pequot). Pastor Billy Crone is due to be published soon with his work, "A Marriage Built to Last" . We have one sale to a publisher in the UK and another sci-fi sale just occurred as well. We are very proud of our track record. Of course we wish it were more, but when you consider that most agencies only sell 1 deal, we feel that we're doing pretty well


Date: Sat May 27 16:08:54 2006
From: Cris
To:
Subject: RE: NY Literary: Contract & Critique Referral

Thank you very much. We're beginning to get on a little better footing now. I know you understand that your business will be checked on and you understand that when NYLA is listed all over the web as swindlers it causes me great concern.

After I verify what you have just given me, I'll be back in touch

From: Sherry Fine - VP Acquisitions [mailto: SherryContract@newyorkliteraryagency.com]
To: criscpo@excite.com
Date: Sat, 27 May 2006 16:28:16 -0500
Subject: RE: NY Literary: Contract & Critique Referral

I look forward to your reply.

Best Regards,
Sherry Fine - VP Acquisitions


Date: Sat May 27 18:40:38 2006
From: Cris
To:
Subject: RE: NY Literary: Contract & Critique Referral

I have just emailed Dario Castagno and await his reply. I also read his press releases. His book was already a hot seller as a self-published book. This hardly qualifies as a stellar performance in selling it to an American publisher. And who is The Boston Publishing Group? You go on to tell me of a Pastor Billy Crone... due to be published? Doesn't count. The question was, what are the 4 titles, who are the authors, who bought them? You haven't answered. Why?

Is Writer's Literary, who is doing the critique, owned by the same company or person/s that controls New York Literary Agency? Was there actually a conflict of interest when I received your email recommending their service... and their service alone?

Isn't it true that legitimate publishing houses edit a text as they see fit before they print it. True, the better a manuscript is the easier it is to present to a potential buyer, however, the author isn't really required to do major line editing before its presented. I can see a critique, some advice.... but do you really require a client to spend thousands of dollars on editing services before its presented to publishers?

Your recent replies have been impressive but incomplete. All I need are simple answers to simple questions. Questions raised by interent postings and websites you still have not adequately answered. Please don't insult my intelligence with another ambiguous auto-response. You say you can back-up your claims of authenticity....well, do it. If we are actually going to move forward with a professional working relationship you better start showing me who and what you really are. I'm not desperate enough to fool myself... I can walk on.
If you are legitimate I would like nothing better than to proceed. If you are in fact shady I can't waste my time. All I'm doing here and now is giving you the opportunity to clear your name with me so we can proceed.


At this point "she", (or whoever it is) just runs out of road, gets mad, and says now, since I'm a "Skeptic" they will "Pass" on me as a client. They don't like to work with skeptics.


Date: Mon May 29 09:04:44 2006
From: Sherry Fine - VP Acquisitions
To:
Subject: RE: NY Literary: Contract & Critique Referral

*I'm sorry that you've fallen into the 'skeptic' category already. Frankly, we've been at this for years, and we have so many applicants, that we look for reasons to say no, not reasons to say yes. We don't want to work with skeptics. The Agent-Writer bond is a fragile one anyway and we have enough data to know that eventually, a skeptic tends to turn on us, one way or another. So, I'll save each of us time right now by making the call, as tough as it may seem to you. So, the end result is, we've chosen to pass on you at this time.

* I can assure you that we are separate companies. They have proven themselves to be reliable and honest and they provide us with priority turnaround for our authors. They also asked us if we wanted a referral fee, and we declined and said that they should pass the savings on to our authors, so you get the benefit of our relationship and a discounted price because you were referred by our agency.


If you will notice, there were only responses to the first two questions, and not very good ones, but the last two were completely ignored. And most interesting is that on the very same day I got the kiss-off from "Sherry", I received an email from "Mary-Senior Agent" saying:

Date: Mon May 29 17:45:57 2006
From: Mary - Senior Agent
To:
Subject: Critique Analysis


Dear Cris

Hello, this is Mary, Senior Agent at the New York Literary Agency.
Please allow me to introduce myself (Mary@newyorkliteraryagency.com )
and my administrator, Andrea (andrea@newyorkliteraryagency.com ). Together
we will be working with you to first prepare you for marketing, and then to
begin the process of selling your work.

If you have administrative, clerical, filing, or other items to discuss,
please take them up with Andrea. If you have questions about the marketing
and agenting, please take them up with me.
A very nice critique! The editor said, "there's not much to change, and
that you can probably make the changes yourself". That's almost rare, so we
congratulate you. We call this a "CR-GOOD" designation

Many of our authors that get this CR-GOOD designation feel as though there
should be more to change. This isn't the case. Frankly, you've received the
top designation that the editors offer and we'll move directly to marketing
because of it.

Best Regards,
Mary- Senior Agent

She tells me my work is so good, they are just going to move directly to marketing. I said to her:

Thank you for the quick response and good news. However, before we proceed there are a few small details we need to resolve.

Earlier today I received an email from Sherry telling me I was dropped. I'll let you read it for yourself:

Date: Mon May 29 09:04:44 2006
From: Sherry Fine - VP Acquisitions
To:
Subject: RE: NY Literary: Contract & Critique Referral

See below

I'm sorry that you've fallen into the 'skeptic' category already. Frankly, we've been at this for years, and we have so many applicants, that we look for reasons to say no, not reasons to say yes. We don't want to work with skeptics. The Agent-Writer bond is a fragile one anyway and we have enough data to know that eventually, a skeptic tends to turn on us, one way or another. So, I'll save each of us time right now by making the call, as tough as it may seem to you. So, the end result is, we've chosen to pass on you at this time.

If we are able to overcome this little obstacle I also think its appropriate for me to know you and Andrea's full names (last names) and a contact phone number...since you say we will be proceeding directly to the marketing phase.

Thank you, Cris A. Cannon

After this I also sent a response to "Sherry's" dismissal:Date: Mon May 29 14:34:06 2006
From: Cris
To:
Subject: RE: NY Literary: Contract & Critique Referral

Thank you for the courtesy of a reply. Frankly, I didn't really expect to hear back at all. If you don't already know I would like to share the following critique synopsis....

There Is Yet Time

War In Heaven, War On Earth

by Cris A. Cannon

This is an intriguing title and it WILL draw your potential readers in. The current synopsis is catchy, intriguing, and well written. It will entice readers into picking this book up and reading it.

These sentences are powerful. They set the tone. This is an excellent beginning. The dialogue is easy to understand and follow. Illustrations are not needed for this adult religious manuscript. The text provides a clear image of characters, settings, and events. Nice work.This is insightful, interesting, and well written. The target market will love it. Well done.

Cynthia Sherman, critic

The Writers Literary & Publishing Services

1355 W. Palmetto Rd. #257

Boca Raton, Florida 33486

ofc: 888-808-6193

http://www.writersliterary.com


With that said, I would like to point out... If this critique is genuine and your firm is genuine in that you represent clients and their work to publishers with the intention of selling the work for publication and thus earn income for your client and yourselves... and you get angry, refuse to disclose who you are with long winded sidestepping answers, and decide after offering a contract to represent me to withdraw and drop me simply for asking questions of reference, shows me that what I have been reading stating you're just a con operation must be true.


I gladly accept your decision to pass on me and this should conclude our business. I find it very hard to believe a legitimate Literary Agency would pass based on a client asking a few questions to determine you are who you say you are. Thank you for this enlightening and educational experience in the world of literary conmen.

It would seem that "Sherry" and "Mary" got their heads together and have indeed "passed" on me as a client... even though my work rated so good as to be able to go directly to marketing... because I am a skeptic and asked questions about who and what they are. I guess the lesson to be learned is, "keep your mouth shut and don't ask any questions of the agent or agency because this, not poor writing, will get you kicked to the curb." Interesting, isn't it?

#72 ::: Bill Dee ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 07:11 PM:

Just thought you'd like to hear Ms. Fine's explanation. To bring you up to speed, I sent some of work and got her $99 email. I then sent her this response:

Sent: Wednesday, May 31, 2006 6:12 PM
To: Sherry@thescreenplayagency.com
Subject: Re: Screenplay Literary Agency: Positive Review


Sherry:

If I had used my head I would have Googled your organization before my belief you had my best interest at heart. Unfortunately, I ran a check last weekend and most of the posts I read said you'd take this course. Then after the "critique" by your sister organization, you would want an edit--costing more money. Then after you've wrung all the money you could out of me, you'd drop the script saying it had no commercial viability.

Does the word bait and switch mean anything to you. It must take a special kind of person to be so heartless they prey on people trying to improve their lot in life.

Bill D.

She answered:

There is a strange belief within the literary community that believes that NO ONE should ever pay, or be asked to pay, any fee, of any kind, in seeking representation for their work.

And, within certain parameters, they are absolutely correct. If you rank in talent among the top two or three percent of writers in the world, if you are only interested in being published by one of the top twelve mass-market publishers, if you are a noted celebrity with built-in market power, if you are at the center of some event that has captured world attention and have information the public wants to know or can be convinced they want to know, if you have a connection to the world of publishing and can be granted a personal audience with a publisher then, by no means should you ever pay anything to have your work represented or published.

This faith also believes that it is wrong for marketing people to participate in any profits that might arise from assistance provided to emerging authors in the preparation of their work. It is okay for McDonald's to own potato farms and beef ranches. It is okay for Time-Life to own printing presses and paper mills (not to mention television networks, radio stations, newspapers, bookstores, etc.) But, for some reason, anyone who wants to be a manuscript marketer (literary agent) must be willing to do so at his own expense, solely on speculation, regardless of the caliber or quality of the author he is representing to avoid being labeled a scam artist or worse.

The result of this faith is that 97 (probably 99) percent of the writers in this world cannot obtain representation or publication. Under this belief system I would refuse to represent anyone who did not meet the special categories I listed previously. I would not invest my time and money in anyone that wasn't a sure bet.

Good luck to you


Best regards,
Sherry Fine - VP Acquisitions


She forgot: McDonald's doesn't send you to the potato farm to buy the plant before they let you purchase their French fries.

Bill

#73 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2006, 02:55 PM:

Anyone who's had any problem with The Screenplay Agency (or any of The Literary Agency Group's sub-groups), should get in touch with Writer Beware. Important information for you!

Writer Beware Blogs

#74 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2006, 09:58 AM:

OH MY GOD! HOw could I be so blind???? The CLA made me buy a critique and I got the EXACT same response from Cynthia Sherman!!!! The same! The same! This is something that I found a few minutes ago, that a writer pasted in, saying it was the result of his critique he bought through the CLA. I got the exact same critique! I can not believe it! I know I should dump them right away, but you guys, it is soooo hard to let go of the only connection to publishing you have had in your life...
CRITIQUE RESPONSE

This is an intriguing title and it WILL draw your potential readers in. The current synopsis is catchy, intriguing, and well written. It will entice readers into picking this book up and reading it.

These sentences are powerful. They set the tone. This is an excellent beginning. The dialogue is easy to understand and follow. Illustrations are not needed for this adult religious manuscript. The text provides a clear image of characters, settings, and events. Nice work.This is insightful, interesting, and well written. The target market will love it. Well done.

Cynthia Sherman, critic

#75 ::: Elias McDaniel ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2006, 07:45 PM:

What I see quite a bit of here is people talking about the process and how the process differs so much from the mainstream that theres no way it could be real. I happen to agree with this thought (and its clearly been illustrated in the postings), however, Im wondering if there is anyone out there - person, webpage, blog etc which illustrates someones experience who has actually signed with these guys? Its hard to go to Dateline, 20/20 or 60 Minutes with their process means theyre a fraud.

Thanks,
EM

#76 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2006, 08:04 PM:

People who've actually signed with these guys have posted (check the links given in the main article).

What those folks have in common is: They've been charged money, and they don't have sales. Check around and you can find their names.

To date, "Sherry Fine" has yet to sell a script. Which is okay, because she's yet to sell a manuscript either.

Literary fraud is tough to prove because it's hard to tell the difference between deliberate fraud and bonejarring incompetence. Yet ... these guys are clearly fraudsters.

#77 ::: Max Wilson ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2006, 11:33 PM:

I've sent off a couple of lame loglines to this group, just waiting to see their automated response. I'll keep you posted.

#78 ::: Lopa ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2006, 04:53 PM:

you guys just saved my dad lot of trouble. he is in india and communicated with so called NY literary agency and received exactly same mails given above.after almost 10 exchange of mails, he told me (i am in USA)if i can send them the dollar amount.thats when i started to do little research and found this website. thanks to all for saving us money ,time and much more....
thanks
Lopa

#79 ::: David Hill ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2006, 03:03 AM:

I got the same crap from them and I thought I was going to get published. Isn't it funny how seeing our dreams over the horizon can blind us to the jagged rocks ahead. Does anyone have any advice on how a writer can get published? Do I just start sending my book out to publishers or what?

#80 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2006, 10:41 AM:

Does anyone have any advice on how a writer can get published? Do I just start sending my book out to publishers or what?

Send your book to real publishers and useful agents, in accordance with their guidelines.

A real publisher gets books onto the shelves in physical bookstores. A useful agent has sold books you've heard of.

You might want to read these threads at Making Light:

Slushkiller
On the getting of agents

Follow the various links.

#81 ::: Gary Buglass ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2006, 06:06 PM:

Apologies for the length in this post but I'm sure you'll find it interesting.

I wish I had come across this message board sooner! I fell for The Screenplay Agency's "promise" when I approached them in March this year. I paid $95 for a pathetic critique and since the second draft of my screenplay was re-submitted I've received two responses. The first one was this --

Dear Gary,

Sorry I haven't been able to get you a proactive report on any marketing results. (You beat me to the punch by a few days

In the past month there have been a couple of "internal matches" that were relatively close to your work from the Look For Now (LFN) database
process. I am in the process of following up to discover if any of them will agree to review your work. I will be continuing to work for you in this manner over the next month if that's ok with you. It's slow, but it is a good place for us to start and for you to get used to the slow
pace of the industry, which is almost tougher than writing!

Circle back to me in about a month if you have not heard from me before then. During the next 30 days, if we don't have anything more concrete
from the LFN process, we will shift gears and get more aggressive and
discuss other options.

All the best,
Mary Bluestone
Senior Agent


3 moths past and I heard absolutely NOTHING so I sent a query e-mail - only to get the exact same e-mail sent back to me - word for word..including their promise..."During the next 30 days, if we don't have anything more concrete from the LFN process, we will shift gears and get more aggressive and discuss other options"...complete bull because more than 30 days have past and they haven't shifted gears or discussed ANYTHING with me thus far.

The latest e-mail I got from them when I sent another query a few days ago is a peach. Read this --

Gary,

Sometimes the LFN process can be maddeningly slow.

At this time, we are planning ahead and asking certain authors about whether they would like to create a website to assist us with marketing
your work in more circumstances.

If you remember, email and having a website is one of the methods we use to market your work. It's more aggressive than just waiting for the LFN database to give a hit. The way having a website helps us is that we have a certain group of buyers that we send an email pitch to. You can
also reference your website in any communications that you initiate.

The pitching website mimics your hotsheet, except it's placed on the web in an attractive and industry accepted format.

If you would like to be included, you must have a website that the buyer can click to. Uf you have one of these websites it gives us many more
options with marketing your work, so if you can afford it, we strongly suggest that you have it.

If you would like to proceed in this manner, we found a web creation and hosting company that does a great job and we have negotiated a greatly
Reduced price for our authors ($145 total cost.) That's the only cost for the website for up to 2 years, and it includes creation, and hosting for
that time period. Of course if you can get a website done yourself that's fine too, it needs to match our format exactly.

So, let me know your thoughts about proceeding with a website, or if you'd rather wait and let the LFN process continue to move along.

I look forward to your reply.

Mary Bluestone
Senior Agent

CAN YOU BELIEVE THOSE SCAM ARTISTS OR WHAT???????? What a change from the very start huh? From the lame promise "we never charge a fee until we sell your work" to "we have negotiated a greatly Reduced price for our authors ($145 total cost.) That's the only cost
for the website".

This made me suspicious so I did a background check on them. You can get a webpage elsewhere for a heck of a lot less than $145, if such a thing was useful for selling a screenplay (Which is it isn't) and if anyone pays this $145 for a website, then you get a pitch for the "Aggressive Agent Program", which will cost you $95 for submissions to 5 "potential buyers".

It felt like, by this time, my dreams of Hollywood were over so I sat down and sent them the following e-mail:

Dear Sherry,

Please accept this e-mail as a request to terminate my contract with your so-called agency.

The reason I'm firing you is simple -- Lots of legitimate places have received scores of complaints about this agency (and all your related ones) regarding charged fees, promotion of your own paid editing services, and submissions of material in haphazard fashions to inappropriate publishers (if submitted at all). You use a boiler room-style operation, with clients receiving substantially identical e-mails and responses.

Your service for the critique is described as a "sister" company but in fact appears to be under common ownership with yourselves (this is a conflict of interest: if you make money by recommending critiques or editing, how can the writer trust that the recommendation is in his/her best interest?).

I’ve also become aware that yourselves, and all of your spin offs, have no commercial book or script sales whatsoever, despite your bogus claims to the contrary.

The writer’s guild of America has warned me in a personal e-mail to myself that you sign a contract with every writer that submits. Then you ask for the critique and after giving one that calls for many changes, you refer writers to another company (yeah, sure!) that charges fees. Strange fees.

The LFN process is an old (and failed) scam of your‘s. Basically, you charge fees to make your living. Literary agencies -- real ones -- make their money by selling books to publishers/screenplays to producers. Not by charging fees. Not by having their authors pay fees to "sister companies" you pretend are third party’s -- but in reality are companies that you also happen to own. So your claim of
“We do not charge fees.” is borderline fraud!
You send people like me to other people (who just happen to be you) to pay fees.

Why is it that real agents announce their deals and successes? Why do they post their addresses and phone numbers? Why don't you??

You promise to respect. You provide to develop. You promise straight talk, and you promise a professional relationship. However, your straight talk doesn't tell us about the fee. It doesn't explain that REQUESTING a fee is UNUSUAL in the industry. You can't respect us if you don't believe we’re capable of revisions without paid edits. So, you've broken three of your four promises.

I may be new to this industry but I know enough about literary agents to discover all your fibs, distortions, and omissions.

I want to terminate the relationship right now. An unprofessional, fraudulent, bad agent is worse than no agent at all , and The Screenplay Agency (and all your little affiliates) is as bad as they come.

Thanks for wasting my time "Sherry" (or Robert M. Fletcher -- or whatever the Hell you're calling yourself this week)!!!

Gary Buglass

The reply I got was short and sweet --

Gary,

I'm sorry this hasn't worked out. Please accept this e-mail as receipt for termination of your contract.

All the best with your writing endeavors

Sherry Fine - VP Aquisitions

Notice how she didn't even try to defend her "agency"? I URGE ANY ASPIRING SCREENPLAY WRITER/ AUTHOR TO STAY WELL AWAY FROM THIS USELESS AGENCY. IT IS A COMPLETE WASTE OF TIME AND THEY DON'T EVEN DELIVER THE "PROFESSIONAL BUSINESS RELATIONSHIP" THAT THEY KEEP PROMISING.

Now I see why they always quote "We never promise a sale"..... Because they're not professional enough to succeed.

#82 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 09:36 PM:

Breaking news: The Literary Agency Group has renamed itself as the Writers Literary Agency.

(If folks want to link the name "Writers Literary Agency" to that thread from their own blogs and webpages, I wouldn't be upset.)

#83 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2007, 07:13 PM:

Y'all might be interested to learn that The Screenplay Agency has changed its name to Writers Literary Screenplay Agency and its URL to http://www.wlscreenplayagency.com/

#84 ::: Hilary Hawke ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 03:01 PM:

Hi all,

Sherry just emailed me a contract, complete with a PHONE NUMBER and an address where, if I choose to go the (much discouraged) hard copy route, I can send it.

Here they are.

888-426-0460

Contract Administration Department
845 Third Avenue, 6th Floor #6016
New York, NY 10022

Oh, and BTW, my new agent, as this marks the end of Sherry's involvement with my project, is Georgina Orr.

#85 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2007, 08:33 AM:

NEW ALERT FROM WRITER BEWARE: Writers' Literary Agency & Marketing Company (formerly The Literary Agency Group)

The Literary Agency Group, a business owned or controlled by Robert M. Fletcher of Boca Raton, Florida, changed its name in February 2007 to Writers' Literary Agency & Marketing Company (a.k.a. WL Writers' Literary Agency).

This umbrella group includes or has included the following agencies:

* Christian Literary Agency
* New York Literary Agency
* Stylus Literary Agency (formerly ST Literary Agency, formerly Sydra-Techniques)
* WL Children's Agency (a.k.a. Children's Literary Agency)
* WL Poet's Agency (a.k.a. Poet's Literary Agency)
* WL Screenplay Agency (a.k.a. The Screenplay Agency)
* Writers' Literary & Publishing Services Company (the editing arm of the above-mentioned agencies)

Since this company began operating in 2001 under the name Sydra-Techniques, Writer Beware has received hundreds of complaints and advisories of fee-charging, editing referrals, and other questionable practices. We're not aware that the company has a significant track record of commercial book sales under any of its names, despite its claims to the contrary.

Writers who have had trouble with Robert M. Fletcher or any of the above-named companies, and who are or were residents of the state of Florida, please get in touch with Ann Crispin at anncrispin@aol.com (or beware@sfwa.org , if the AOL address bounces), even if you have previously contacted her. Please provide complete contact information.

=============

One more thing, for the benefit of Google: Another name associated with this scam agency is Mary Bluestone.

#86 ::: Nigel ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2007, 02:30 AM:

For years I have ranked on Robert M. Fletcher of Boca Raton, Florida, and his cadre of smiling con men, d/b/a Sydra-Techniques, ST Literary, Stylus Literary, and so forth, ad infinitum. It seems the name changes every week, nowadays. Presently, I believe his latest front is "New York Christian Children's Literary Agency" or something hokey like that.

During that time I have attempted to find other agents to hawk my three novels, made endless submissions, and WASTED MY TIME AND EFFORT while doing so.

Anyway, I reported Robert M. Fletcher to the FTC for internet fraud years ago, to the Florida BBB and the Attorney General in 2004, and as of yet I have not received one response from any of these agencies.

Typical. Evidently, no one cares what he does, excepting for the State of Washington; they collared him for securities fraud in 2001, you see.

I must confess I have grown to admire Robert M. Fletcher in a strange sort of way - he's so damn brazen that it is unbelievable, and seems to be able to deflect all attacks with the alacrity of a Kung-Fu master.

I swear, the man is indestructible, sort of like the "planet killer" on Star Trek.

So - using Fletcher as an example, perhaps I should open my own "Literary Agency", you know, like uh - "Top Literary Agency, LTD", or something equally corny, charge 75 bucks or thereabouts to "read" their screeds, and them offer to "represent" them, for maybe 200 bucks or so.

Then I'll simply shotgun manuscripts to various publishers so they can shred them, unopened. Afterward, I'll cut 'em loose with a form letter after six months or so, and then on to the next batch of suckers.

I say becoming a "literary agent" sure beats servicing computers for a living.

That's exactly what Bobby Fletcher does, and he makes a damned good living at it, and has done so for nearly seven years.

The moral is: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Maybe I will open my own "literary agency" after all and watch the money roll in. I'm deadly serious, I'm sick and tired of watching other clowns rake in the bucks, while I install hard drives that cost $60.00 for $99.95.

Then I can laugh while folks like Dave Kusminski put my agency on his "not recommended" list - as if it will make any difference at all - just ask Robert M. Fletcher while he drives around Boca Raton in his Ferrari!

#87 ::: Jordan ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2007, 06:31 PM:

Although I approach all of these with caution anyone know what the deal is with this company? www.soyouwannasellascript.com
May good things come your way.

#88 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2007, 07:10 PM:

Nigel @ 86: Then I can laugh while folks like Dave Kusminski put my agency on his "not recommended" list - as if it will make any difference at all - just ask Robert M. Fletcher while he drives around Boca Raton in his Ferrari!

How many Ferraris do you think the man would have without the watchdogs like Preditors and Editors and Writer Beware?

Some people do their research too late to avoid being taken, and some decide to ignore the warnings. You can't save everybody. But plenty of people have avoided being scammed because they did research and listen to what they found out.

You're right: getting officals to take literary fraud and cons seriously is hard. Typically, there have to be a lot of complaints, the money involved has to reach a certain threshold, and there has to be someone willing and able to explain to the officials exactly what makes that particular case fraud or a con, because if someone doesn't know how legitimate publishing works, they don't know when something's wrong with a setup. So go to places like Writer Beware and find out how you can get involved with a bigger group that may make a bigger impact.

#89 ::: Ron Pinkney ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 01:14 AM:

I'm going to vindicate every writer who's been scammed by Robert Fletcher/Sherry Fine/Mary Bluestone/Georgia Orr.

My name is Ron Pinkney and I'm currently represented by Canyon Rock Entertainment. A good friend of mine was scammed by "The Screenplay Agency" for more than $800.

When I found out, I was so angry that I wrote a letter to "The Screenplay Agency" and I offered them a challenge. They could send my script to whatever crooked critique service they were using at the time, and if I got any less than a -RECOMEND- I would pay them $1000 to help me make that script marketable.

If I received a -RECOMEND- then they would have to swallow that $95 critique fee (which I did not pay) and get my script optioned within 90 days. Sherry Fine accepted my challenge, and he/she had my script critiqed for free. I got a -RECOMEND-. (I'm sure that the reader who did my coverage was fired, but he's better off, and a great scipt is un-mistakeable.)

Sherry sent me a contract, signed me, and then offered me tons of marketing strategies such as LFN (bullsh!t), Website (bullsh!t), and Trade Shows (horsesh!t). I declined them all, demanding that they keep their word or fire me. To my surprise, they didn't fire me.

That was Jan of 2007. Today is Aug 30, 2007. They haven't sold my script or fired me. I still get e-mails from Mary Bluestone begging for my patience as the LFN process is slow but effective. Whatever, I've moved on, but I'm not done with these crooks yet.

I can't replace the hundreds of thousands of dollars that people have lost to "The Screenplay Agency" and their affiliates, but I can offer a suggestion to every writer who's been duped and wants justice.

1. Write your a$$es off and get a "real Coverage" from a respectable service like Hollywoodlitsales.com, Tvwriter.com, or CanyonRockScreenplays.com.
2. Build some street cred by winning a few writing competitions, and get a "real -WGA Signataried- Agent". Agents love street cred because street cred equals money.
3. Sell your screenplay/manuscript/teleplay and use that accomplishment to gain celebrity.
Last but not least,
4. Use that celebrity to warn other writers about Robert M. Flecher and his affiliates, until he has nowhere to hide, and no more fraud-money coming in.

This is my plan, and I will do everything in my power to succeed at this plan. I hope you all join me.

#90 ::: Pete Rodgers ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2007, 11:43 AM:

I have read Ron Pinkley's exclamation toward the scammers and the honest companies that wish to work diligently to improve one's writing. I have to agree that Canyonrockscreenplays helped my writing and gave me the educational forum to improve my marketing and networking.
So, thank you Ron for the efforts of keeing the scammers at bay. We all appreiciate it!
In the meantime, I'm glad to hear you are represented by the same company that has taken me under their wing. For all others interested in honesty, fairness, and real editing, join Ron and I at canyonrockscreenplays.com where we talk to real people over the phone who are willing to go the extra mile to help you out.

Sincerely,

Pete Rogers

#91 ::: Jakob smells astroturf ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2007, 11:55 AM:

The previous two posts have appeared word-for-word on the writers beware blog...

Whether Canyon Rock Screenplays are genuine I cannot say, but there is a fair amount of puffery on their website.

#92 ::: Mary Dell followed the spam link ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2007, 11:06 PM:

...and discovered a predictably graceful prose style:

"In accordance with what type of time you need us to work on your screenplay, we have allotted two very concise editing packages, which will mold your story into a working, professional screenplay, marketable in today's highly competitive entertainment industry, successfully."

#93 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2007, 11:50 PM:

With their help, my story will get mould?

#94 ::: Philip Mark David ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 11:00 AM:

To Ron Pinkley..

This is Philip Mark David, co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Canyon Rock Screenplay Agency.

Please contoact me at canyonrockscreenplays@yahoo.com

Our beloved co-founder and CEO of our burgeoning Agency has passed away. All those who were working with the Late Jeff Johnson, feel free to contact the above email address for further information.

We will continue to work diligently for all our dedicated clients, and still uphold the highest standards to serve our clients editing needs and promotional stability in the business.

Thank you so much for your compliments to Canyon Rock, Ron, we deeply appreciate your kind words in this very competitive business.

Sincerely,

Philip Mark David
Co-founder and new CEO

Canyon Rock Screenplay Agency
canyonrockscreenplays.com

Also to the respective comments about Canyon Rock..

Kudos to your honesty. And I always welcome new feedback from those wishing to uphold true standards to the editing and marketing process. I will never put myself in a company that robs from the poor writers who wish for nothing more than to get their work out there, and further their careers. There are so many other false companies in this business who do nothing but scam and lie and mislead to get even more money by promising what they cannot and will never attempt to deliver. Our company is not one of those. We will never be under my watch. We do NOT promise what we cannot deliver. And that is my promise and word to every writer out there who has ever been scammed by liars like Writer's Literary and their many branches wishing to steal your hard-earned money.

Visit us, speak with us and you will see we are what we say we are.

Thank you

#95 ::: Pauline Novak-Reich ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2007, 04:57 PM:

I have just discovered that I have too fallen victim to Sherry and Hil. Nevertheless, thanks to a hunch I am not out of pocket, only time. Thank you everybody for the cooments posted on the web. Pauline Novak-Reich

#96 ::: aaron dobson ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 11:06 PM:

Now i am very worried. This is the agency that represent me lol and im quite happy with them. Luckiyl, i havent dished out any money, and as a matter of fact, saturn films read the script they are representing.

Funny thing, i was the one who got the script to saturn films. Jesus christ! I think i should start looking for another agent, can anyone point me in the right direction.... please lol

#97 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 11:42 PM:

If you managed to sell your script on your own (which seems to be the only way "Sherry" et al. manage to sell anything to start with), they'd have taken the credit.

I don't know enough about films to help you much. Perhaps some of the screenwriters' blogs linked to in the main post would be good places to start?

#98 ::: Bryan ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2008, 05:50 PM:

Now, these people don't actually have any sort of property or claim to your work do they?

I was "signed" by them and I was so excited. I was really hoping and feeling that my dream was coming true.

When they mentioned a website and I said that I had the domain name and that I would be working on it, I also sent them my myspace page. Well, I get an email telling me how great my website looks.

When you go to the actual page, its nothing but an "Under Construction" or whatever you get when you go to a page that doesn't exist.

PLEASE tell me that these people do not own your work? I emailed myself an earlier draft of my book so that I have proof that its mine.

Oh man...this sucks.

#99 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2008, 06:03 PM:

PLEASE tell me that these people do not own your work? I emailed myself an earlier draft of my book so that I have proof that its mine.

They do not own your work. What I would do is immediately send them an e-mail, and a registered letter, telling them that effective immediately they do not represent you. That way if, by some lightning-bolt-out-of-the-blue miracle, your script sells somewhere, there'll be no question that you do not owe them anything, and they will not negotiate anything for you. (Their negotiation skills appear to be quite poor.) You'll need to show that they are no longer representing you in order to get a legitimate agent.

I further suggest that you write to Ann Crispin and Victoria Strauss (beware@sfwa.org) and tell them the whole story, including all emails and other documents, and details on how much you've paid.

#100 ::: Earl Conlon ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2009, 11:56 AM:

Hello All,
I am the Author of the novel "And the Trucks quit running" I am not a writer, Just a guy who wrote a Could be true story about what would happen if all truckers went on strike and how it would effect our economy and public state of mind. How would our country live with NO FOOD, NO FUEL, NO TRUCKS.you get the picture. Any way I have no idea how the real pubishing indusrty works, But i soon found out how the wanna be publishing industry works. yeah I hate to admit it but I stepped in PA. PublishAmerica is no doubt the biggest piece of sh** i found. But I am Posting here because I did a little looking around Before stepping into another pile of BTF..yep they emailed me about how my book is worthy to sell to hollywood. And everyone who has read my book all say it reads like a movie. but I have to THANK YOU FOLKS. your posting comments has kept me from falling prey to the screenplay agency..THANK YOU SO MUCH. But here is my question....How do you know who is a real screenplay company and who's not? for folks in the bussiness it is clear. But if you folks were in my world (trucking) and you hired a person to haul your products do you know if he is D.O.T. compliant? do you know his saftey rating? or Mc# leagle and current? you see i would know this but folks who aren't familar with my field of work wouldn't know all they would know is the guy has a big truck and says he's a good driver/company. Well I am doing my research to get out of PublishAmerica's contract and resubmit it to a REAL publisher and hopefully some day a movie company might like my story.
Thanks for you time Earl Conlon

#101 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2009, 01:13 PM:

Best of luck getting away from PublishAmerica, Earl (I've written about them here too).

My best advice is to write a new, different, better book and let the clock run out on the PA one. You'll get your rights back after seven years (unless you got one of the really abusive earlier contracts that took your rights for the term of copyright (that is, until long after you're dead).

As to how to find a decent publisher or agent: Look in bookstores. Real publishers have books on the shelf that you can touch with your own hands. Real agents have sold books you've heard of (not just books that you can look up, or books that you'd need FBI assistance to find).

Go to the bookstore. Find books similar to yours. Find out who published them. Get those publishers' names. Follow their guidelines to the letter when submitting.

(Note: The "all important letter of representation" is bogus.)

#102 ::: Earl Conlon ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2009, 04:59 PM:

Well here's an UPDATE to my research and how to get out of Publish America contract. Please if anyone has more insight to this idea LET ME KNOW ASAP!!!!
ok well i went online to the copyright office and did a search. i searched my name...Nothing...i searched the title of my book ...Nothing i searched publishamerica name ...Nothing... so then I called the copyright office and ask them to help me figure this out..after all the inside of the front of my book clearly has the copy right mark 2008 by Earl Conlon..However after around 15 minutes on the phone with me the man at the copyright office says "There is nothing on your name or title and nothing pending"
So I replied "well then guess i better go ahead and get it copyrighted"...So now that I've done it my self and the certificate will be mailed to me. I am thinking I can now tell Publishamerica to cease production of my book and release me from the contract. and if they sell/distrubute any more books they are infringing on my copyrights??? DO i HAVE THIS RIGHT?? I'm counting on you folks alot because you know more then I do and i'll make a deal with you..I won't pretend to know about the writers work if you writers don't try backing up any semi's...lol

#103 ::: Maco ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2009, 05:28 AM:

I am a screenwriter. I would you like to ask you about ( Writers Literary screenplay Agency ).?
What is your opinion about them ?
Do you know any information them ?

Maco

#104 ::: Steve ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 01:15 AM:

Sherry Fine and The Screenplay Agency -- all I can say is, BUSTED! Scum bags. Thanks to all who posted. If it sounds too good 2 B true, it probably is.

#105 ::: Dorothy Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2009, 04:55 PM:

Well it looks like I might have just been saved from this certain agency??? I, also was given a positive review and a charge of $245 which was a discount, but have not gone ahead with it. I was searching the net for ? and came across a man named Jeff, who was giving the same agency I just got an e-mail from, with a positive review, that they're not too be trusted is what he was saying. So now I got scared in forking out this money that was asked of me. Now, with that said they did say in this e-mail that if I have or can do my own critique/pitch sheet then I would not have anything to pay (I can'nt write either) so I would be in-clined to pay for the profesionalism. Question, are there agency's who are not charging and if so where are they, who are they? Skeptic in the middle please help I think I do have a good potential book in hand for children. Dorothy Lee author.
I sent them my book *No Adults Allowed* (electronically) www.Xlibris.com if you check on this title there is another book called the same but it's a clothing book for children mine is a story book.

#106 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2009, 09:13 PM:

Dorothy Lee, that price of $245 isn't a "discount." It's a number Bobby Fletcher pulled out of his ass. Don't pay it.

Nor should you waste one minute, or one penny, on doing anything more with Fletcher and his crew.

Real agencies don't charge you, or send you to someone else who charges you. For screenplays, they're mostly located in California.

Here's a list of agencies, from the Writer's Guild of America, West. Write to those agencies with an SASE or check their web pages to get their guidelines. Notice that The Screenplay Agency (or whatever Fletcher is calling it today) isn't on that list....

I suggest you spend some time on the WGA site. I also suggest you find blogs and discussion boards owned by or frequented by working screenwriters and participate in them.

#107 ::: Niki Michell ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2009, 07:22 AM:

I am a sucker..lol..

Dear Sherry,
I always say, “if something sounds too good to be true, then it’s probably not true”. The Idea of Niki Michell, the bricklayer from Brisbane Australia writing a Hollywood blockbuster in his first ever attempt is just a bit farfetched too say the least. So thank you for giving me the hope but let’s let reality return to the situation. I don’t believe that you have any intention of or the means to securing any kind of deal for me in the screenwriting business, thus said I would like for us to part ways as soon as possible. I did send in a contract on the 20/11/2009, I want to terminate this agreement now but I understand that it does say 90 continuous days.

Sherry I have been open and honest with you at all times during our communications, I’m not saying you haven’t, I’m just not comfortable having your company as my agent. I have paid for and submitted my information to receive a critic from your company and I look forward to receiving that some time in the next two weeks and learning from it. Other than that I wish to put my “great writing carrier” (grin) on hold. I hope greatly you will understand my request and allow me respect that I deserve so I can hide under a rock for a while as the embarrassment that comes from telling friends and family that I am a chance of being a Hollywood star will certainly in time become a big funny joke. Ha ha

Do the right thing Sherry.

Yours in embarrassment,
Niki Michell

#108 ::: rossjmc ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 02:14 AM:

Just thought Id let you all know that I sent in a fake log line (see below) to see if it would be accepted. I pretended that I was a drug dealer named Jimmy Dogbreath, who was tired of a life of crime and now wanted to do "Hollywood stuff". Of course they loved it and wanted to represent me. Thank God they didnt get a penny from me!

Ross

From: Jimmy Dogbreth
Sent: Saturday, February 06, 2010 10:31 PM
To: form@wlscreenplayagency.com
Subject: WL Screenplay Agency Submission Form

Edited: No
Edited Detail: n/a
Genre: Erotic Drama
Bio: Im a drug dealer who really likes writing. I am tired of a life of
crime and want to start writing holywood stuff.
Referrer: Dave told me
Title: End of the Day

Synopsis: Two boys ride their bikes to a naughty wizard in the Bronx, NYC.
The wizard turns out to be cheeky monkey and very quick witted. The three
embark on a journey until they all get hit by a blimp.
Name: Jimmy Dogbreth
Email: ross_mcneil@us.aflac.com
Phone: 256-666-9652
FormSource: WLSPA
FormDate: 2/6/2010

#109 ::: rossjmc ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 02:19 AM:

Just thought Id let you all know that I sent in a fake log line (see below) to see if it would be accepted. I pretended that I was a drug dealer named Jimmy Dogbreath, who was tired of a life of crime and now wanted to do "Hollywood stuff". Of course they loved it and wanted to represent me. Thank God they didnt get a penny from me!

Ross

From: Jimmy Dogbreth
Sent: Saturday, February 06, 2010 10:31 PM
To: form@wlscreenplayagency.com
Subject: WL Screenplay Agency Submission Form

Edited: No
Edited Detail: n/a
Genre: Erotic Drama
Bio: Im a drug dealer who really likes writing. I am tired of a life of
crime and want to start writing holywood stuff.
Referrer: Dave told me
Title: End of the Day

Synopsis: Two boys ride their bikes to a naughty wizard in the Bronx, NYC.
The wizard turns out to be cheeky monkey and very quick witted. The three
embark on a journey until they all get hit by a blimp.
Name: Jimmy Dogbreth
Email:
Phone: 256-666-9652
FormSource: WLSPA
FormDate: 2/6/2010

#110 ::: rossjmc ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2010, 03:19 PM:

Just thought Id post my contract reply here for your amusement.

All the best

Ross

Dear Sherry,

What do you do if you realize, before signing the contract, that Robert Fletcher is actually a con man working out of Boca Raton Florida and Sherry Fine isnt your real name. Now Im not one to pay attention too much to message boards, but there are so many articles out there about this con that you are running. ( I really knew a long time ago but just wanted to see how far you would take it) So to test this theory of mine, as I wanted to see for myself, I sent you a fake logline from your submissions page. I pretended that I was a drug dealer who wants to write "hollywood stuff". I came up with the most ridiculous logline about three boys and a wizard being hit by a blimp and what a surprise you loved it and accepted it. Idiots. Please do me and the rest of the world a favor, take a kitchen knife and slit open your scrotum. Take your balls and throw them in the nearest dumpster. This way you can never reproduce any little con men or women.

Adios
Ross

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