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.