Friday, May 27, 2005

Beach Reading Yet Educational

Some people are planning to escape for the beach this summer. You may be one of them. Or maybe you are traveling to see family. If you are looking for a “different” type of beach book (something light yet educational), I recommend you pick up a copy of Ten Percent of Nothing, The Case of the Literary Agent from Hell by Jim Fisher.  I understand Jim has an attention-getting title.

The book reads like a novel—but it’s a nonfiction story about one of the biggest cases of literary fraud from Dorothy Deering, who presented herself as a literary agent, then bilked thousands of writers from their precious money.  The book shows how anxious writers are to get published—and like a man in the desert looking for water—these would-be writers will gravitate toward anyone who gives them encouragement. If they aren’t careful, they will be taken for a ride, spend a lot of money and have nothing to show for that expense. Fisher is a former FBI agent and now a professor in the Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. I wanted to highlight this book because it came out last year and I’ve seen little about it—probably because the publisher is the Southern Illinois University Press.

And if you are looking for an agent, make sure you follow the terrific advice in Victoria Strauss’ article, The Safest Way to Find an Agent. Move with care and caution to make sure you are represented by a solid person in the industry. I find many writers want to get an agent—before they have published anything. It’s premature for most of them to get an agent.  And we are so insecure about our work that if anyone (read even a scam artist) comes along and expresses interest, then it’s natural to gravitate toward that person.

Track down a copy of Jim Fisher’s book. It might be educational besides a good read.

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