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WEbook Forums > WEbook's Writing Workshop > AgentInbox > Legality and Ethics of the new $39.95 fee?
For questions and concerns about AgentInbox, suggestions for improvement, and success stories.
Posted: 5/18/2010 9:45 AM PDT

TsungChi
Here's my take on the fee. The price is basically irrelevant. What's important is whether using Agent Connect actually gets your query/sample chapter a SERIOUS read from an agent. At this point it's impossible to tell if this is the case. Example: I used Agent Connect to submit a children's book awhile back. Never heard anything, so I queried the agent directly via her email. She wrote back within the week. The point: How can WEbook community members be sure that forking over 40 bucks is going to get them anything more than simply going through the query process themselves. Yes, there has been one success story so far....which is great....but getting published isn't the point.....and WEbook is wrong to be selling this so hard. The goal of the service should be to help people get their worked reviewed by legit agents.........if WEbook can legitimately provide this service......I'm all for fee. Maybe some transparency would help. Like, what's the average wait time to hear back from Agent Connect agents? If it's significantly shorter than the traditional method of querying.....good for WEbook....real value! If not, no value. Maybe you could let us know.
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Posted: 5/18/2010 3:29 AM PDT
I'm not going to pay someone to reject my work (which is highly likely no matter what way I look at it). I find the fee is wrong and I've heard a lot of controversy about this site. I'm even starting to doubt whether or not my work is safe. I suggest they start really thinking about all this and asking themselves 'would i as a user par $39.95 to something originally free?'. Huh! Doubt it.
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Posted: 5/14/2010 11:30 AM PDT
PC - I agree with you 100% and made the same basic suggestion in one of my posts. Instead of a fixed price, all services, have an ala carte menu where you can choose services you need. I don't need or want the editorial review of my query. Even though the dashboard function sounds intriguing, the review alone will keep me from trying the service. There are too many free alternatives. Terri
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Posted: 5/11/2010 7:58 AM PDT
"The fee is related to the multiple services we provide around the query process." Yes, I find the interface and the automatic matching and the personal dashboard, as you list them, quite useful. However... "A basic editorial review, to assure writers have followed guidelines, avoided silly grammatical errors and included all required information. Writers who are new to the submission process (and perhaps a bit unsure) have found this to be very helpful." Could you perhaps make it where this is an option, rather than something done every time, and if a writer who is not new to the submission process does not, say, check a certain box signifying that they want that "basic editorial review" service, that you knock, say, 10 bucks off the price of the six-month price? Because I don't need that, and think how much time and work you at WeBook would save if it was an option some people might choose instead of something you keep/kept doing for every single new submission... --PC
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Posted: 5/9/2010 3:35 AM PDT
Your "important distinctions" are pedantic hair-splitting. Wake up and smell your Preditors & Editors rating. (Writers reading this who wonders "What's that?" can head straight to http://pred-ed.com.) There are writers who don't realize this kind of service is unnecessary, and you're taking their cash. Sure, they don't HAVE to use your service, but your mere existence colliding with their naivete is enough to qualify as a scam as far as I'm concerned. It doesn't make it more right to take their money because they don't know any better. They're PAYING for an editorial review they could get for free from other writers all over the web. (Writers reading this who asks "Where?" can head straight to http://www.absolutewrite.com and visit the Share Your Work forum.) Writers who are "new to the submission process" can only learn by actually doing it, not by PAYING for your insular system. I applaud the reputable agents who tried this service to see if it would work--everyone should be open-minded about technology--but the site is predatory. The end.
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Posted: 4/23/2010 9:03 PM PDT
The WEbook list of agents for my romance included one agent who specifically said on his website that the one genre he didn't represent was romance!!! He does represent YA - my current MS - but I'd be damned embarrassed to submit that, in case he recognizes me as the twit who had sent him the one genre he automatically rejects! If I'd paid for the list containing the incorrect info, would I (now that you're charging) be entitled to a refund? Also, you talk about editing queries. Are your 'editors' as qualified as I am? And what if I'd already paid for professional editing? Shouldn't I be entitled to decide whether I do or do not wish to avail myself of your editing service? Eringayles.
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Posted: 4/22/2010 6:14 PM PDT
I don't think the new fees are unethical - I perceive it as having to pay for a service from WeBook. I am disappointed that those of us who took the plunge and made your website successful in the first place are now going to pay for it. Literally. I would have expected some form of compensation or recognition of the fact that we were a part of making this whole thing a success. I don't mind paying, I just wish I'd been offered something extra for being here before it was 'cool'.
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Posted: 4/22/2010 7:05 AM PDT
Hi Katrina_K_Grimm There are some important distinctions that we’d like to make in response: We are not charging for access to agents. In fact we link to agency websites within WEbook agent profiles providing clear transparency to direct, free options. The fee is related to the multiple services we provide around the query process. These include: A basic editorial review, to assure writers have followed guidelines, avoided silly grammatical errors and included all required information. Writers who are new to the submission process (and perhaps a bit unsure) have found this to be very helpful. In terms of the AgentInbox interface, writers are matched automatically with agents who are interested in their genre(s) and can submit multiple manuscript sample lengths to different agents in one transaction. After writers submit, they have access to a personal dashboard which allows them to track things like when the query was sent, opened and responded to. All of these elements are geared towards benefiting the writer during the query process, rather than the agent. Furthermore, agents receive no money from WEbook to accept queries on our service, and all of the agents on our service maintain free avenues for accepting queries. This means that they are not in violation of the AAR canon of ethics. While we understand that a charge related to the query process is something authors are not used to, and are told to stay away from, we hope the above information clears up some confusion. This distinction is an important one for us to make, and we will continue to work to get this message out. -The WEbook Team
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Posted: 4/21/2010 11:58 PM PDT
I posted this as a reply to a topic, but I want to ask the question on its own, just to see what answer I get. I have spoken to both agents and editors, and there is one big warning flag for writers searching for agents: ----And this is HUGELY IMPORTANT---- NEVER TRUST AN AGENT WHO ASKS FOR MONEY UP FRONT. I was at a writers conference where an entire panel of editors and agents alike were on stage answering questions, and this one came up. They were adamant about this; AGENTS WHO ASK FOR FEES UP FRONT ARE RIPPING YOU OFF. This is from the website of Holly Lisle, a current well known author, quoted from her answers to questions aspiring writers ask her. The quoted paragraph that follows is hers, though I am afraid I have removed much brilliant flavor text to save space. You can read the original article in its entirety here: http://hollylisle.com/fm/Articles/faqs3.html "The instant an agent tells you that he charges a fee to evaluate your manuscript, RUN---do not walk---in the opposite direction. NO REPUTABLE AGENT charges a reading or evaluation fee. The AAR (Association of Author Representatives) forbids its signatories from doing so, just as it works in other ways to uphold the ethics of the field. Good agents are signatories of the AAR. Real agents make their money by taking a commission when they sell your books....Ripoff agents feed you the following lines...."$60 reading fee for first three chapters and outline or synopsis---but only when I request this material once I've read the query letter. Fees for reading complete manuscript are on a sliding scale." Gee. How generous....Never pay an agent a reading fee. Never work with an agent who charges reading fees. There are no exceptions to this rule. " Don't believe me or her? Check out the website "Writer Beware:" http://www.sfwa.org/for-authors/writer-beware/fees/ Honestly, how different is it to say "give me $60 up front to read and edit your manuscript" or "give this website $40 up front and I'll take a cut of it." And even if all the money really did go to the website, even if a loophole has been found, the perception that the agent is somehow profiting will still be there for users. Why would any reputable agent want to be associated with such a website? And why would I, as a user, trust such a website with my work? What is your reply on this? How does this fit in with the AAR and the overall ethics of the field? If agents themselves can't ask for a fee, then why would a website that is essentially an agent's agent be able to do so for AGENT SERVICES (please be aware, I am not quibbling other fees on the website, or other ways the website may choose to make money).
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