I love to be controversial! But just in my books. In real life, I avoid controversy like I avoid scales. However, when controversy knocks on my door to see if I'm home, I'm not going to shut the door and cower under the covers.
Two days ago, controversy knocked loudly and now I'm answering or better yet asking. What do all of you published and want to be published writers think about agents and editors who offer to read your book for a charge and then give you a critique? I'm not talking about anyone who says I'll read your book if you pay me X amount of dollars. I'm talking about people who will read your query for free and then may read your partial or full if they like what they read without charging one red dime. However, seperate from this they also offer a service of reading your work for a fee. You can employ them before you ever contact them, or if you are turned down, you can still hire them. They don't promise to then buy your book or sell it for you, but they do list in big, bold letters that they are well connected in the publishing business and have a large number of contacts. It's almost irresistible, isn't it? But is it ethical?
I know of an editor for a major publishing house who is also a book doctor. This person charges a hefty sum to read your manuscript and give you detailed comments about what works and what doesn't. This person also advertises their enormous contacts and years of experience. They do not promise anything outright, but is the promise unstated by the simple act of the advertisement?
I also know there is a major publishing house that advertises their editing services on their website. They make no promises if you use these services that you will get published, but once again, is there an underlying promise or a temptation to the thousands of desperately hopeful writers that is too great to resist?
I could also write for you a list of agents who have been on and off the RWA approved list because they edited for a charge. Most of these agents never said it was a requirement for them to sign you. The editing was simply another separate service they offered.
I ask again if this is ethical? I'm not saying it is or it isn't. I want to know what YOU think.
Julie Johnstone, Marchioness of Mayhem