Today I heard back from Agent #2. She’s the one who I blogged as “Not a no.” She asked me to re-send my email query in paper form via snail mail. I wasn’t too sure why, seeing as how she already had my email but okay, if that’s what she wants. So I sent it off with an SASE (Self Addressed Stamped Envelope). Today I got my envelope back and in it was a single sheet of paper saying that she’d be interested in receiving more information about my project.
She wants me to send her a one-page synopsis of my book and the first three chapters. That’s fine and is in line with everything I’ve been lead to expect agents to request. However…along with the synopsis and chapters, she also asks to enclose $35 and calls it a “processing fee” which she then goes on to clarify as “not a reading fee.”
A “reading fee” is something that all the guides and books and articles warn aspiring authors to look out for. The less-than-legitimate agents (ie people who say they’re agents but are just rip off merchants) notoriously charge gullible authors who are just starting out a “reading fee” to “assess the work”. EVERYTHING I’ve read says don’t touch these people with anybody’s barge pole let alone yours. And yet here is an agent with a impressive author list asking for money but taking pains to clarify that it’s not a reading fee. It’s a little strange; not a lot, but a little. Ordinarily I wouldn’t even be taking this any further, but this is the agent to whom I was referred by a friend.
So instead of naively just sending off the money and hoping I haven’t been ripped off like a brain damaged dodo bird, I’m going to email two of the authors the agent lists on her website and question this $35 business just to see what they say. If you hear a strange sound, it may well be the sound of the plot thickening. Either that or a brain damaged dodo bird trying to write a check for $35.