I haven’t done a Random Rejection in a while, so I reached into my giant accordion file and pulled out a letter. This one is from the Seymour Agency in upstate New York (not far, in fact, from where I went to college). Their opinion is that the manuscript I sent, A Flock of Crows is Called a Murder, needs work; fortunately, they’re here to help.
Now $43 is quite a reasonable price to edit a manuscript. Oh, wait, that’s only to edit the first 50 pages:
Once, very early in my attempts to peddle my books, an agency (not this one) wrote back with an offer of an extensive critique, with specific recommendations and guidance, for the novel I had sent them (that was Night Watchman, which, by the way, is now available on Kindle for $4.80 — I don’t control distribution or pricing on this one, the publisher [formerly Hard Shell Word Factory, now Mundania] does). I took them up on their offer, sent them a check, and got back a document that was vague, overly general, and apparently for a different book, as it talked about scenes and characters that weren’t even in Night Watchman. That was the first and last time I sent a literary agency money for “critiques” or “editing services” or, for that matter, reading fees. (My first agent did charge a fee to represent me; that was the last time I paid an agency for anything.)
It’s possible that this agency’s editing service would have been valuable, but I wasn’t buying. I suspect I didn’t miss out on much. In any case, the tone and action in Crows changes so much from the first 50 pages to the last 50 pages, I don’t think edits to the first 50 pages would have produced any useful guidance for the later chapters of the book.
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