Some super expensive shoes for Susan, who writes:
I recently received an e-mail from an agent who said she would like to represent my book. But she also pitched her writing workshops to me. When I said that I wasn’t sure I could commit to her workshop, but had already hired an editor who is well-known in the subject of my book, this agent replied that she can also help me with edits on a one-on-one basis–for a fee. Do you think this is a conflict of interest: representing my book and being my editor for a fee? I know that a lot of agents have other work on the side, so maybe this is standard?
Susan, there may be more to this than I understand from just your brief email, but my immediate reaction is “EEEEEKKKKKK!”
This does not sound like any legitimate agent I know. We make our money by selling your book, and taking a commission on the sale, not charging you fees to edit it. I offer editorial suggestions to my clients as part of my services as an agent — there’s no extra fee, it’s part of my job. Pitching a writing workshop to a prospective client also seems like a strong conflict of interest to me. Have you checked this agent out on Preditors and Editors? What about Writer Beware? The very first warning on Writer Beware about Dishonest Literary Agents reads
Dishonest agents prey on writers by charging fees, promoting their own paid services, engaging in kickback referral schemes, and misrepresenting their knowledge and expertise. These agents don’t earn their income by selling manuscripts to publishers, but by extracting money from their clients.
This sounds just like your prospective agent. You can also check if they’re a member of AAR. Not all agents are — I’m not, for example, at least not yet — but it’s another place where you can do some serious double-checking on this agent before signing anything. Based on just your description, I’d run far, far away from this agent.