Saturday, March 17, 2007

Victoria Strauss -- SterlingHouse Publisher Wants YOU!

If you're an agent, that is.

Several established agents have sent me copies of a solicitation email they recently received from one Dave Waeltz at SterlingHouse Publisher (SterlingHouse plays a starring role on Writer Beware's Thumbs Down Publishers List). "Greetings from SterlingHouse Publisher, Inc!" the email begins. "In a continued effort to build relationships with more and more superior literary agents, and on behalf of the editors here at SterlingHouse, I welcome your submissions in fiction and non-fiction to our company." The letter goes on to identify SterlingHouse's imprints--which keep metastasizing, there are now ten of them--and to offer "a face-to-face meeting with someone from our company at the BEA."

What the email doesn't say:

- SterlingHouse is a vanity publisher. It offers contracts that require authors to (and I'm quoting now) "receive five hundred and fifty (550) copies of the Work in trade size paperback in consideration for $6,395.00 to be paid in US dollars and is [sic] due upon the signing of the Agreement by the Author." Oh--and that $6,395 doesn't include shipping costs.

- SterlingHouse is owned by Cynthia Sterling, who also owns the Lee Shore Company, a literary agency that at various times has charged reading, marketing, editing, and other fees, and as far as Writer Beware knows has no recent track record of commercial book sales. According to documented complaints Writer Beware has received, Lee Shore has placed clients with SterlingHouse without fully disclosing the connection between the companies.

- Lee Shore, which has been in business since the 1990's, has worked with a panoply of fraudulent vanity publishers, including Northwest Publishing, Commonwealth Publications, and Press-Tige Publishing. Some of these publishers actively solicited submissions from agents, promising kickbacks for "successful" submissions. Hmmm.

I think it's safe to say that AAR members won't be sending any manuscripts to SterlingHouse anytime soon. Fee chargers like Lisa Martin of Martin-McLean Literary Associates, on the other hand...well, unfortunately for writers, that's another story.

SterlingHouse, by the way, has been promising a new website for a while now (a lot of the links on its current website don't work), but the promised rollout date, November 22, 2006, has come and gone and there's still no sign of change. Maybe they're too busy spamming agents.

8 comments:

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

When I saw Sterling House in an earlier post, I was wondering if it was connected to good old Cynthia.

Glad to see she's still at it. Maybe one day, she'll figure it out.

Word verification: nojerm!

bjh said...

Good Lord. It just doesn't stop. Do you think there's any agent ignorant enough - and incapable of research enough - to fall for this? Or is there another angle, perhaps along the lines of "We have a list of agents we deal with! Constantly in communication! Send money!"? Thanks.

Robin said...

I agree they must be too busy spamming clients.

EGP said...

Well, Nov 22 was the anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, so maybe they decided not to be associated with that date :)

Anonymous said...

Sterling is featured on the cover of the latest issue of "Publishers Weekly" (they paid for that, of course), to try and smarten its image. PW has GOT to know better!

I had dealings with Cynthia about 7 years ago when I submitted a proposal. As an acquisitions editor with a tech publisher, I pointed out all the problems with her contract and business model but she didn't budge and in fact defended her "share the load" philosophy in dealing with authors. Sheesh!

Anonymous said...

SterlingHouse is not only a vanity publisher. That is untrue. They do offer straight contracts as well. I should know--I got one.

I won't disagree with anything else posted here, however.

JL

Victoria Strauss said...

JL, would you contact me at beware@sfwa.org? I'd like to know more. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I escaped from Cindy Sterling's clutches a while back with another author. Cindy told the other author that the most copies she has ever sold of any title was 3,000. If I would have known that, I would have never signed with her. She always blames the author for anything that goes wrong (she is perfect) and she'll talk for a straight hour on the phone til we forget why we called.