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Independent Authors Beware Of Ego Traps

I am Fay Risner, an independent author. Over the years, I've built up a fan base for my books. The positive comments from readers please me and bolster my ego. I have email contact with many of the people who buy my books. Sometimes, we chat about what is going on in our lives. We have become cyberspace friends. Some of them send me Christmas cards. It makes me smile when the card says Merry Christmas followed by when will your next book be ready to buy. Don't forget to put me on your mailing list. The feedback from people after they read my books let me know they enjoy my writing. That spurs me on to self-publish another book.

Years ago, I came across a list of one hundred and fifty agents that I could email three chapters of a manuscript. I did it. I had many replies from agencies that didn't handle Amish romance fiction. Five agents replied they liked my story but had as many authors as they could handle at the moment. They had to turn me down. That was my first and last try to find an agent. I have remained independent with my bookstore online and my books for sale in the usual places. I became a legit publisher and published two books for relatives. In each of my books is written Booksbyfay Publisher with my email address. Not too hard to do a little searching, and anyone who is interested can find my phone number.

In May of last year, I found a message on my answering machine from a man who said he was a marketing agent for a publishing company. The company's name was muffled, but the man's name and his phone number weren't. He said his book scout pointed out one of my books in a foreign language had potential. The agent stumbled over pronouncing the title of the book and apologized for that.
For one second, I thought the man wanted to talk to me about being my agent. Before I called him back, I decided to google the man's name and research him. His name would be connected to the publisher he worked for so I would have that information, too. You would think the head marketing agent for a publisher would be easy to find. He wasn't so I ignored the call.

Now fast forward to August of last year. Another marketing agent called and left a message. I clearly heard the publishing company, his name and phone number. This agent wanted to discuss the same book the previous agent was interested in. His book scout told him the book had potential. Much of what the man said sounded as if he used the same script the other agent used. More google searches and I came up empty handed so I ignored the call. That is until I answered the phone one day and found I was talking to the agent. He said foreign books were in demand. He wanted me to fly to Miami, Florida to a book fair and talk to people about my book. I listened politely, and my answer was no. He didn't estimate what this promotional trip was going to cost me or what I would owe his company and him. As we talked, he brought up my books on Amazon. Maybe if I wasn't interested in the trip, I might hire his company to publish my books and make my book covers. I declined. So far, I am out very little upfront by publishing at Create Space and designing my own covers. The agent wasn't ready to give up on me yet. He said he might call back. I said I'd be glad to talk to him, but my answer would still be no. He hasn't called.

Recently, a woman agent from California called. Her book scout pointed out one of my western books had potential. She asked if I knew Amazon was giving my book a favorable ranking. I said no, but I didn't bother to point out to her that book hasn't sold a copy in years. The rank on Amazon would match my book's no sales. She wanted me to go to a book fair in New York. I could meet someone who wanted to turn the book into a movie? I shouldn't pass up the chance to promote the book. I'd only be paying a share of the expenses. She didn't say what the dollar amount might be. I told her I wasn't interested several times. Finally, she asked if she could send me her proposal by email so I could look at it since she went through the information fairly fast. I said sure. I'd like a chance to look at what she emailed me. That proposal didn't come. This was a friendly, persuasive young woman I was talking with, but I politely said no thank you. Did I believe her sales pitch about my western with the great ranking getting published or made into a western? My thought was she needed her book scout to have suggested one of my other books if the agent wanted to sound creditable. Anyone can look up the ranks for their books on Amazon and find out she wasn't telling the truth. Besides, western movies are rare these days. A script writer would have to work hard to turn my G-rated western book into a manuscript a movie producer would approve for today's western movies. So my final words were thank you for calling, but I'm not interested. Right away I googled the agent and her publisher. This time I found the company has a site, and the agents are noted for their scams so stay away from them.

If you, the writer, didn't contact an agent about a manuscript, beware of agents that calls you and seems eager to help you sell your book. You will hear repeated phrases like great rating on Amazon, book scout, book fair, no limit to the book's potential even a movie. If you are interested, ask the agent questions. Hang up and research the agent and publisher. You can always call them back if you decide they are legit.

My last words to the agent from California was though I had to turn her down, I'd be sure to tell others that an agent called me. That's what I'm doing. Although, I'm afraid I mislead the agent to think my conversations about her call were only going to be with family and friends.

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