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Fee--fi Fo Fum

February 17, 1991

Elizabeth Mehren's "Literary Agents Putting on the Fee Bag" (Jan. 6) was great; it gave a lot of insightful information . . . but did it tell the whole story? Sid Poland, president of the Literary Connection, says, "We've completely revolutionized the entire industry." Hold on, Sid. Mehren asks, "Why didn't anyone think of it sooner?" "Unbelievable," said Poland.

Someone did try it sooner, more than 10 years ago. A 260-page quarterly came out of Edgewater, N.J., and for a fee, provided just about the same exposure as Literary Connection. Pressagentry for the quarterly also promised a revolution in the industry. The publication, for a fee from authors, was distributed free to thousands of contacts, including, the puffery promised, book publishers. The publishers could skim through (the quarterly) and pick out likely candidates to offer publishing contracts to. No more bothering with over-the-transom slush piles and all that old stuff.

Well, I sent my fee, and three chapters from one of my 15-book manuscripts, and never got a nibble. The promised revolution must not have come about, because (the quarterly) soon folded. And its fee was less than Literary Connection's $195.

I think literary agent Scott Meredith spoke the gospel truth when he said, "The publishing houses won't even read material by an unsolicited writer." Nowadays, some of them (according to their listings in Writer's Market annual) won't even accept unsolicited queries. That's really stand-offish!

TROXEY KEMPER, LOS ANGELES

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