Have you recently received an email solicitation from Cris Robins of St Louis, MO, titled “Is Your Writing Ready to Sell?”
It begins like this:
For over ten years I ran the largest literary agency in the Midwest (we ranked about 10 in the states, and 18 on the globe) and I made a difference in the industry by bringing out the potential of new writer’s’ works and showcasing them to some of the largest publishers and studios in the states. I closed the agency last year because the industry changed and I found that I could show new writers how to sell their work to publishers who didn’t work with agencies; additionally, my clients found that our editing service increased their chances of being published and overall, made their work better.
Currently, I’m in a position of taking on a few new clients, and I’m cutting my price to do it. Although my editing service normally runs $6.50 per 250-word page I’ve dropped my price to the first ten respondents to $5.00 per page, and includes the initial editing and a finishing review. But, editing is just the first part of it; when the work is ready to be presented, I will also put together the package for submissions, the list of publishers looking for your work, and the methods that they prefer for submissions.
If you have gotten this email, here are a few things to consider.
– The agency Cris Robins ran was called The Robins Agency. Complaints and advisories about this agency were among the first that Writer Beware received when we started up in 1998, and we continued to receive them until the agency’s apparent disappearance last year. Among the issues cited by writers: promotion of the agency’s own paid editing services to clients and potential clients (a conflict of interest), with editing recommendations often based on the reading of just a few chapters; inadequate, unprofessional, and/or incomplete editing; and the charging of upfront fees ranging from $500 to $3,200. Other complaints can be found at Absolute Write.
– In May 2006, a default judgment against Cris Robins of The Robins Agency was entered in Washington Superior Court for breach of contract, fraudulent business practice, and consumer protection violations in regard to the promised provision of paid editing services and promised representation of the plaintiff’s manuscript to publishers. Ms. Robins was ordered to pay $8,320 (treble damages) plus interest and attorney fees. (There’s more detail on the judgment in this blog post. We actually think that the judgment and attendant adverse publicity had more to do with the agency’s closing than changing market conditions.)
– To Writer Beware’s knowledge, The Robins Agency never sold a single client’s book to a commercial US publisher in the whole of its more than eight years of existence.
– The Robins Agency is included in Writer Beware’s Thumbs Down Agency List.