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Ms. Bykofsky is an agent in New York City.
Sushiwritr: Hi all. Hi, Sheree.
Amylf1: hi Paul..
NeonDust: Hi folks...welcome, Sheree!
ShereeBee: Hi and bye all!
Rhyssa2: Oh my, there goes the clock again
Rhyssa2: It's time for the Fiction Writers Group.
Rhyssa2: Tonight we have ShereeBee as a guest speaker
Rhyssa2: Amy will kind of be in control as I will be in the hall greeting
Rhyssa2: and yes I am logging:)
Sushiwritr: control freak, eh?
Amylf1: it'll just be modified protocol..
Rhyssa2: Sheree is comfortable not using protocol. But be nice. :)
Jdfogg: Hello everyone
Rhyssa2: It's all your Amy.
Amylf1: shall we begin with the group's questions..
Amylf1: anyone care to start?
Jdfogg: How are you this evening, Neon?
Amylf1: ok Sharon..
ShereeBee: Hi Everyone. I'm happy to be here to answer all your questions.
Skizholmes: ShereeBee, what company do you work for?
AnacondaOz: Welcome, Sheree
ShereeBee: My agency is Sheree Bykofsky Associates, Inc.
NeonDust: Good, Jd, thanks. Sheree, is it true that legit agents do not
charge reading fees?
ShereeBee: I incorporated in 1991 after selling 4 books in one month
ShereeBee: Just sold 20 books in December
ShereeBee: Neon, that's a bit complicated, but the short answer is...
ShereeBee: members of the AAR (of which I am one)-the Assoc. of Authors
Representatives are not
ShereeBee: allowed to charge fees because it is a practice that can be easily
Swiss joe: Sheree: typical time frame from receipt of a good book to
acceptance by a publishing company?
ShereeBee: so it's better to find an agent who does not charge fees (even though
some legit agents do)
NeonDust: Thank you :-)
ShereeBee: swiss, that varies so much
Amylf1: <could we wait to ask Sheree questions... after she completes her
ShereeBee: sometimes it takes one day to sell a book for $250,000 and
sometimes it takes a year
ShereeBee: to sell a book for $10,000
ShereeBee: After it's sold can take months for a contract and first payment
Swiss joe: Sher; thank you
ShereeBee: and sometimes can take the author a year or two to write (or it
could be ready to go)
ShereeBee: And then publisher can take 3 months to 2 years (or more!) to
ShereeBee: go ahead skiz
Skizholmes: What genre's do you work with? Or Like to work with best?
ShereeBee: I can tell you first what I don't handle
ShereeBee: I don't represent children's books
ShereeBee: I shy away from category romances...and sci-fi and gory thrillers
ShereeBee: I do represent adult fiction and non-fiction but have had
considerably more success with non
ShereeBee: I do have a great reputation with editors and have sold to all the
ShereeBee: most editors buy either non-fiction alone or fiction and
non-fiction; few do just fiction
Skizholmes: Thank you.
ShereeBee: so I am as able at selling fiction as an agent who specializes
ShereeBee: I have an associate who specializes in fiction and who is a
ShereeBee: I'm answering all your agent questions
Amylf1: okay.. lawrence.
NeonDust: Sheree, is it common for agents to solicit manuscripts, eg on the
ShereeBee: Sure it's common...why not?
ShereeBee: Just don't pay fees to agents who solicit manuscripts
NeonDust: Thanks, was curious how you get most of your submissions
ShereeBee: I have a column here in the writer's club called ASK THE AGENT.
It's under the business...
ShereeBee: of writing. You'll find all your questions answered there when
we're through and feel free
ShereeBee: throughout the year to ask personal questions for personal answers
ShereeBee: I get my submissions.....am listed in the LMP...
ShereeBee: in Jeff Herman's Writer's Guide to Book Publishers, Editors and
Amylf1: paul..your next..
Sushiwritr: I'm about to look for an agent, for a sci-fi novel.
ShereeBee: in many other books. Have an article in the 1997 Writer's Guide to
Lit Agents, through
Sushiwritr: What should I avoid, not to turn them off?
ShereeBee: referrals and from writer's conferences and online
ShereeBee: Good question sushi
Jdfogg: (Helicopters, Sushi)
ShereeBee: Check out the agency listing. Usually each agent will answer that
ShereeBee: Don't call them on the phone. Send a well-written, perfectly
executed, typed query letter
ShereeBee: with a self-addressed stamped envelope.... tell them about your
book and about yourself
Sushiwritr: Perfectly executed? Whew! Okay.
ShereeBee: insofar as you are qualified to write the book, any awards you may
have, degrees, and
ShereeBee: certainly if you've been published
ShereeBee: you're welcome
Amylf1: okay.. Sunny... your question...
Sunnygemms: Sheree please name the houses you've sold to in Dec. What's your
ShereeBee: I like those questions. In December, some were St. Martins, Simon
& Schuster, Holt,
ShereeBee: Morrow (a very big book)
ShereeBee: et. al., When I request something I ask for a three or four week
ShereeBee: to decide about representation and a list of which publishers have
been queried with the
ShereeBee: proposal or manuscript and their responses. I prefer a project
that has not been to
ShereeBee: publishers....and I believe that my offer is fair to both me and
writers. I answer quickly
ShereeBee: and I'm not faced with reading a whole manuscript, loving it and
then being told the
ShereeBee: author is shopping and has chosen another agent
Amylf1: Jd...your question..
Jdfogg: Should you query on all submissions? With or without a synopsis?
ShereeBee: Of course, the exclusivity is subject to the author being content
with my contract, etc.
ShereeBee: also, please enclose loose postage to return your manuscripts and
a mailing envelope
ShereeBee: It is best to query first yes. And I think it's nice to include a
EvanMoreso: loose postage?
ShereeBee: I ask for loose postage because when the postage is attached and
it weighs more than
ShereeBee: a pound I'm not allowed to throw it in a mailbox because of bomb
rules by the post office
ShereeBee: and the post office is far
Amylf1: Sharon..please go ahead..
Skizholmes: Can you call the agency and ask for guidelines they may have?
ShereeBee: Skiz, good question. It's OK to do that but please don't
Berrins: (sorry I'm late folks, just got online after 15 minutes and about 10
ShereeBee: So much better for you to take the initiative and look it up in
any one of the agents books
ShereeBee: Any good agent should be listed umpteen times
Skizholmes: Thank you.
ShereeBee: Is KKen next?
Amylf1: no.. Lawrence.
NeonDust: Sheree, which is preferred, a query and a sample, or the completed
Swiss joe: amylf1...? and sorry, <:-)
ShereeBee: A query and a sample. Never send "unsolicited manuscripts."
ShereeBee: A query and a sample or just a query and a SASE
Cog4810: Sheree, what do you think of the military fiction market? :) :(
ShereeBee: always a SASE
Amylf1: KKen... your next..
ShereeBee: I think the military fiction market comes and goes
ShereeBee: and like most markets it usually goes just as soon as you realize
it has come
KKen10: Any warning bells to watch for when looking for an agent? Especially
ShereeBee: it's not really my thing, although Iíd consider a good novel on
any subject or genre
ShereeBee: warning bells: first, reading fees. don't pay them (as explained
before). also if an agent
ShereeBee: requests your manuscript and doesn't ask for an exclusive there is
a good chance that you
ShereeBee: can wait forever until they get back to you
ShereeBee: if they request an exclusive...be sure to get a time frame...
ShereeBee: a reasonable time frame for a response. look for AAR membership
ShereeBee: and make sure the agent has sold some books
Amylf1: Swiss.. your turn.. to ask...
KKen10: Sorry to ? and run, but I got to go. Thanks all.
ShereeBee: bye ken
Swiss joe: ShereeBee: when you agree to represent, what is your contractual
time frame? 6 mos.; 1 year?
ShereeBee: I have a book by book contract with my authors for one year
Swiss joe: thanks
ShereeBee: If I kill myself selling a book for six months, though and we both
decide to forget it, I
ShereeBee: won't hold anyone longer
Amylf1: Cog.. your turn..
ShereeBee: I do represent my authors' careers, but the book by book deal
keeps everyone comfortable
ShereeBee: go Cog
ShereeBee: While I'm waiting for questions, I'll just type
Amylf1: Evan... what is your question..
ShereeBee: Someone asked when is a good time to go to an agent.
AnacondaOz: Are books of short stories popular?
EvanMoreso: What is a good size for a sample to submit with a query....a
chapter? several chapters?
ShereeBee: The time is right when you have a great non-fiction idea focused
and a query letter
ShereeBee: or when you have written a whole work of fiction and have it
edited and polished
ShereeBee: With a query, don't send too much. A synopsis, the first ten
pages, maybe, not more
Amylf1: Roger.. you're next..
Berrins: I'm considering putting together a back book for a specific group
(I'm a chiropractor).
Berrins: What kind of market is out there for such a work?
ShereeBee: Depends a lot on the book...
ShereeBee: First thing you should do is ...
ShereeBee: go to a bookstore and look at the shelf where your book would
go...examine the ...
ShereeBee: competition...see what you have to offer that is different and
new....look in books in print
Berrins: There aren't any of this kind. It would be targeted at new parents
and child care providers
ShereeBee: you can call the publisher and see how similar books have done
ShereeBee: the more specialized, the more likely you'll come up with
something new, but the
ShereeBee: more specialized the more likely a big book publisher will tell
you it's too specialized
ShereeBee: with too small a book buying market and it's not for them
ShereeBee: look at the parenting shelf and see if there are similar books for
Amylf1: skiz... your turn..
ShereeBee: are the publishers big publishers or small self-publishers
Skizholmes: Why should you never send an unsolicited manuscript to an agent
you're interested in?
ShereeBee: I'd be happy to see a query, by the way
ShereeBee: by snail mail to my office...
ShereeBee: while Iím waiting for the next question...
ShereeBee: my office address is Sheree Bykofsky Associates, Inc. , 11 E. 47th
St., NYC 10017
ShereeBee: And call me Sheree, and please no phone calls
Amylf1: sharon.. maybe you should repeat your question...
ShereeBee: I'd be delighted to speak to all of you but if I do I won't be
able to sell any books
ShereeBee: Oh Sorry Sharon, please do repeat
Skizholmes: Why should you never send an unsolicited manuscript to an agent
you're interested in?
ShereeBee: Oh, I see it
ShereeBee: Because I get so much mail everyday...a mail bag sometimes plus
UPS and Fedex
Skizholmes: Dumb question here but, what exactly is unsolicited?
ShereeBee: the single letters with SASEs...I know they're queries and I can
deal with them expeditiously
Skizholmes: Without query first.
ShereeBee: when I see a box, I know it's something I requested
ShereeBee: And it costs a lot to handle a big box. I will read or pay a
reader. Takes time....
Skizholmes: OIC :-)
ShereeBee: See my article in the 1997 Guide to Literary Agents OK?
ShereeBee: Or on ASK the AGENT, commonly asked questions column
Skizholmes: OK, thanks
ShereeBee: Unsolicited means I did not ask for it
Skizholmes: got it
Amylf1: ChrKelly... you're next...
ChrKelly: Ques on Hollywood- How do Mss reach producers/how do producers
operate? What is their average
Skizholmes: thanks again
ChrKelly: response time after they read it?
ShereeBee: Producers can take forever. So can Hollywood agents
ShereeBee: I work with Hollywood Agents and producers...
ShereeBee: those are two ways books reach Hollywood
ShereeBee: sometimes a ms. can be given to an actor or a director also
ShereeBee: scouts sometimes capture things from editors at publishing houses
or steal them from the
ShereeBee: sometimes publishers send them out (when they have the movie
ShereeBee: I guess if someone loves something, they will act fast though to
option a book
ChrKelly: We had call saying producer was definitely interested. from the
ShereeBee: and then you waited forever?
ChrKelly: but since...nothing....:(..
ShereeBee: they may have been out "shopping" your manuscript
ShereeBee: I think that happens a lot. Hollywood is creepy that way
ChrKelly: it's been 3 months
ChrKelly: wait--what does shopping it mean?
ShereeBee: I think you should try elsewhere and ask them to return your
ShereeBee: and ask them to confirm that they have showed it to no one
ShereeBee: I would do all this gently by the way
Amylf1: Vee.. ready with your question?
VeeBug: Have a book in progress on parenting - is topic "now"?- 23 yrs
ShereeBee: Shopping means they may be out showing it to studios; they'll see
if they have interest
VeeBug: proven success documented
ShereeBee: and then decide to make you an offer for an option
ShereeBee: If you ever send it to anyone else and they send it around, it'll
ShereeBee: Vee, I would be happy to consider a query or proposal from you
ShereeBee: Parenting is a perennially good category, but it's very glutted,
so your book really has to
VeeBug: Thanks will get it to you
ShereeBee: be very special. And so do your credentials
ShereeBee: when you write, mention this area, the three week exclusive, that
ShereeBee: no publishers and include loose postage, OK?
Amylf1: Judy.. your question>>>
AnacondaOz: Do you look at writing submitted from outside the USA?
AnacondaOz: Are short stories popular or sought-after?
ShereeBee: I do have an author in Thailand and several in Canada but I have
to admit that
ShereeBee: I prefer U.S. authors. Hate long distance time differences, faxing
overseas, mailing etc.
ShereeBee: Short stories are very, very difficult.
ShereeBee: I have been to more than 50 publishers when a collection that I
love and am not giving
AnacondaOz: :) Okay, thanks.
ShereeBee: up on. But I am not taking on any more
ShereeBee: Helps to have a novel first
Amylf1: Paul... you're next..
Sushiwritr: What's the real deal on "high paper costs" and "advised" limits
on first-book word length?
AnacondaOz: I read a good collection of short stories recently. They do seem
to be rare, though.
ShereeBee: And you should try to get your short stories published in
ShereeBee: paper costs are high
ShereeBee: a first book should not be twice as long as all the books that are
on the shelves
ShereeBee: Only the writing should be original
ShereeBee: Don't try to break new genre with a first novel (in general)
Sushiwritr: I see some novels are published in "halfs" nowadays. I might
"offer" a shorter prequel, also
ShereeBee: and don't try to sell something way shorter or longer than
publishers know how to deal with
ShereeBee: Sushi, I advise you not to start with anything unusual
ShereeBee: that's my answer
Sushiwritr: <--definitely unusual. But can emphasize regular features. :-)
ShereeBee: as I said the writing should be original
ShereeBee: don't think you should write anything predictable
ShereeBee: but if your book is solidly commercial or literary or mystery or
romance, etc. ...you have
ShereeBee: a better shot
Amylf1: Sunny... ready?
Sunnygemms: What's your commission? Any mailing, copying fees etc.?
ShereeBee: my commission is 15%
ShereeBee: 20% when author and I agree I need to use a subagent to sell
ShereeBee: 15% if the publisher licenses foreign rights
ShereeBee: I cap my postage expenses at $150 (which the authors guild
ShereeBee: I typically spend much more selling a book, but the $150 makes
ShereeBee: and I want my authors comfortable
ShereeBee: I usually don't bill the authors but deduct it from the first
ShereeBee: advances are typically paid half on signing (a contract); half on
delivery and acceptance
ShereeBee: Most agents don't have a cap. That's not unethical, but it would
make me nervous
Amylf1: <we have time to finish these last 6 questions... Sharon. .literati..
you just got it in time..>
ShereeBee: so who is next?
Amylf1: Daan.. your question..
Strebe: With tens of thousands of books in print and bookstores chock full of
Sushiwritr: (the two minute warning has sounded.)
Strebe: ...with tightly limited audiences, what tiny percentage of new
authors actually make money?
Strebe: Also, do you accept manuscripts by email?
Sunnygemms: (Thanks Sheree)
ShereeBee: you're welcome, sunny,; strebe, good question....
ShereeBee: most books do not earn out their advances. perhaps on 10% or so I
ShereeBee: That's why I recommend the author get as high an advance as
possible and not count
ShereeBee: on royalties...you understand that an advance is an advance
ShereeBee: after the advance has earned out the royalties kick in; typical
hard cover royalties are 10%
ShereeBee: on the first 5000 books; 12 1/2 percent on the next 5000 and 15%
Amylf1: Lawrence...you're next.. with your question
NeonDust: Strebe asked my question re: E-mail, thanks...:-) And thank you
Sheree, for being here tonight
Literati: Where do you find your writers? At readings? through submissions?
Generally, I mean.
ShereeBee: short e-mail queries are OK, although I prefer snail mail queries
ShereeBee: do not send me anything to download
ShereeBee: My pleasure neon
Amylf1: could we go on to Cog's question next..
Cog4810: Editing, how far should one go (pay someone) ? And are you
interested in military fiction?
ShereeBee: I answered that literati, but the answer is yes
ShereeBee: books, referrals, submissions, through my happy authors....
ShereeBee: I'd consider your military fiction query, but cog, sorry, it's a
long shot for me
ShereeBee: Wow, there sure are a lot of people in here I just noticed
ShereeBee: So that's the end?
Amylf1: there's Roger and Sharon
ShereeBee: I'm still here
Skizholmes: Please give us your address again. Thank you for the info.
tonight. Interesting. Hope you
Berrins: Are magazine publishers ever interested in serialized novels?
Skizholmes: come back.
ShereeBee: I'll be happy to come back. My address again: Sheree Bykofsky
Associates, Inc., 11 E.
ShereeBee: 47th Street, NYC 10017 and call me Sheree
Amylf1: <everyone please let sheree finish the questions..>
ShereeBee: Yes, magazine publishers serialize novels, yes
ShereeBee: they also take first and second serial rights for nonfiction
ShereeBee: don't forget to see my column called ASK THE AGENT under the
Business of Writing
VeeBug: Thanks for all the interesting info - bye all
ShereeBee: in the Writer's Club here and feel free to send me your questions
via e-mail if you don't
Amylf1: :::::::Thank You Sheree!::::::::::
ShereeBee: get them here or ever have new questions
ShereeBee: Thank you all for your wonderful questions!
Skizholmes: Thank's Amy for aranging this.
Rhyssa2: It's 7:00 people. :)
Amylf1: ::::here's a tall, cool drink for you...::::::::
Jdfogg: Thank you, Sheree. You've been very informative.
Rhyssa2: I'll read the log to find out what happen. Very busy night/
Amylf1: <we hit 36 people...>
Rhyssa2: thank you very much Sheree. glad we could get together
NeonDust: Yes, Sheree, thank you
SnowyNight: thank you, Sheree....
ShereeBee: Welcome, welcome. Rhyssa I answered one of your questions
ShereeBee: If you would send me the log, I'd be grateful
Amylf1: thank you very much Sheree...for coming.. and being very good with
answering in detail...
Skizholmes: Night all.
Jdfogg: (Deb, I logged too, if you missed any)
Amylf1: night sharon..
ShereeBee: I really loved it Amy and would be happy to come back. Thanks for
Jdfogg: Night, Sharon
Berrins: And kudos to Debbie for doing a great bouncing job!
Amylf1: thank you..
MMille916: sheree you must be the FAQ fairy...thanks for all the help
Rhyssa2: Thanks Jd. I think I got it but backup is nice. :)
Jdfogg: Thatís where the 36 hits came in!
Amylf1: can I send you something from Hawaii, Sheree? (I'm in Hawaii...
postcards, macadamia nuts?)
ShereeBee: That's so sweet Mille.
Strebe: If Sheree doesn't want any, I'll take some, Amy.
Jdfogg: Night everyone! :-)
ShereeBee: I love Hawaii
Amylf1: <macadamia nuts... to go.. Daan...>
NeonDust: <-will accept any gifts from Amylf1
ShereeBee: was at the Maui conference and pray they'll have me back this year
ShereeBee: I never say no to macadamia nuts and postcards
Amylf1: (Sheree.. you were in Maui in Sept.. then)
ShereeBee: yes in Sept
Amylf1: okay.. that's a wrap ...
ShereeBee: if you have any pull to get me invited back this year, Iíll send
you the macadamia nuts
ShereeBee: or bagels from New York
Amylf1: (sorry, I don't)
ShereeBee: I love you anyway
NeonDust: :::insider trading...hmmmn:::
Amylf1: (but you're pub. record is good...)
Rhyssa2: Okay, I'm out of here. I'll send the log out tonight. Sheree do
you want a copy?
Amylf1: bye... thanks Sheree.. night everyone..
ShereeBee: yes, Iím in NYC. yes I'd love that log thanks
MMille916: night amylf1
Rhyssa2: I'll send you one.:)
NeonDust: Sheree, thanks again
ShereeBee: night all. feel free to e-mail me with agent questions and I love
ShereeBee: makes it all worthwhile
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