Friday, August 29, 2008

Victoria Strauss -- A Couple of Things

AIRLEAF UPDATE

I've posted previously about Airleaf, a fraudulent vanity publisher that's currently the focus of a civil suit by the Indiana Attorney General. Recently, on her Airleaf Victims Blog, anti-scam crusader Bonnie Kaye reported that former Airleaf CEO Carl Lau is still out there looking for other people's money.

Lau's profile at GoBig Network (which, according to its FAQ, "allows professionals to connect with small businesses, entrepreneurs, investors, customers, vendors, employees and advisors") reveals that he is seeking investors for 2nd Century Films, which he describes as "A startup company with lots of projects to put into movies, Hollywood likes the screenplays and we have the right actors and directors to produce. Great investment for the long term or short term investor."

Hopefully none of those projects belong to Airleaf authors.

I'm reminded of vanity press scammer and fake literary agent Martha Ivery (currently doing time for fraud), who, after the FBI seized her records and she was forced to declare bankruptcy, attempted to keep going by dabbling in real estate scammery and in a scheme involving racehorses. Easier than getting a job, I guess.

AGENTS: LOCAL OR DISTANT?

Most of the questions Writer Beware receives focus on specific agents and publishers. But we also get a lot of general questions, and these tend to fall into certain patterns. One of the more common involves literary agent location. "I'm looking for an agent in my home town (or county, or state)," these questions begin, or "I live in Atlanta (or Phoenix or Des Moines), and I'm having trouble finding any agents located there. Can you help me?"

I suppose it's not unreasonable to assume that your literary agent, like your lawyer or your accountant, should be local to you. After all, this person will be handling your business. It would be good to be able to meet face to face, to be able to drop things off at the office, to have regular business lunches. Right?

Not exactly. In the often counterintuitive world of publishing, what's important is not that your agent be local to you, but that he or she be local to publishing (or to Hollywood, if you're a script writer). That way, s/he can have the business lunches that really count: with editors and producers. Your agent needs either to be in or near New York or Los Angeles, or to make regular business trips there. (Time was when a far-from-New-York-or-LA location was a warning sign, but that's no longer true; your agent can be anywhere, as long as s/he makes those business trips.)

Many--probably most--authors maintain long-distance relationships with their agents. This was true even in the antediluvian days of snail mail, before the Internet and email and faxes revolutionized the way we communicate. In your agent search, therefore, don't limit yourself by worrying about where your agent's office is. A competent literary agent can represent you effectively from any location.

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