A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a literary agent who expressed interest in my work. Specifically, they said they were interested in my ‘trunked’ novel, “A Dream Before Dying”. I thought the request odd, but when I mentioned it to a fellow writer, they suggested I follow up on the interest.
So, as the agent requested, I sent off the first three chapters, expecting to hear nothing. A few days later, I received a follow-on message from the agent. They were interested in my novel, and wanted to read the rest of it. At this point, I thought ‘Nothing ventured, nothing gained.’ and sent the bulk of the novel out.
Based on the severe critiques of the story I’d received, I expected, at best, to hear that I had an interesting concept that needed significant work. In less than a week, I received a request from the agent for a conversation via Facebook Messenger regarding my novel. Now, I knew something wasn’t quite ‘kosher’. Why? Because even with the first three chapters not attached, “A Dream Before Dying” is not a light read. My word processor said it totaled 420 pages, and possessed a word count of over 146,000 when I formatted the second section for sending. But expecting a ‘Thanks, but it needs lots more work!’ response, I agreed to take the call.
The appointed time rolled around, my laptop chimed, and I took the call. The voice was friendly, welcoming….and it proceeded to tell me what a great novel “A Dream Before Dying” was. The agent wanted to represent me, his agency was eager to take my novel on, and he predicted that it would draw a great deal of favorable attention from the big publishing houses. There was even mention of a ‘book auction’ to draw several presses into competition for my novel. There would, of course, be an audio book release, e-books too, even possibly a request for movie rights.
Before anyone asks, yeah, I figured out it was a scam about the time the ‘agent’ said he saw no reason to make anything beyond ‘minor spelling changes’. By the time he started blabbing about movie rights, it took a major effort not to start laughing. But to be fair, I did some further research. I had tried, before the call, to find the ‘literary agent’ online, but beyond a web page for the ‘agency’, there were no references. So I dug deeper….and still found nothing.
It wasn’t until I did a search for a review of the literary agency that I found any reference to it…and that reference was far from glowing. (https://accrispin.blogspot.com/2019/02/ams-literary-agency-approach-with.html) The agency had registered its domain name (the Web maintains a list of all the site names connected to it, and to keep a domain, you have to register it) less than a month before, and the reviewer found out the primary (and seemingly only) agent, the person I had been contacted by, had been the prime mover in a vanity press that had bilked numerous authors out of literally millions of dollars.
So if you’re contacted by a guy named Don Phelan, or if a message pops up on your Facebook feed from a literary agency called AMS Literary Agency, just hit “Ignore”.