MYRNA WATANABE myrna.watanabe at execnet.com
Mon Feb 19 10:45:00 EST 1996

-> The Woodside Literary Agency of New York City is now accepting new
-> authors for publication, re: fiction and non-fiction (all kinds)
-> including BIOLOGY, Advances from publishers as high as 50,000
-> dollars. You must have a finished manuscript.
-> Authors from around the world are welcome. We also handle magazine
-> articles. Publishers paying as high as 1,000 dollars. We have offices
-> from New York City to Florida. Poems and screenplays are also in
-> demand. Email:
-> james72 at ix.netcom.com
->   Tell us what you have written and would like to submit. We will get
-> back to you as soon as possible.

To all of us naive biologists...I have a few questions and a bit of
advice.  The Woodside Literary Agency may be perfectly reputable, but
some questions to ask before one jumps ($50,000 sounds really tempting):

Do you charge a reading fee?  (If they do, walk away.)
What percentage of mss. do you place, especially in biology?
What is the average advance biology books bring?  (Science professors
tend to be happy with VERY LITTLE.  Some of my friends are THRILLED
with $1000 advances.  Don't take it unless you KNOW every university in
the U.S. will use your textbook and you'll have royalties. BTW, how is
this agency on paying royalties?  Is this done regularly, or will you
have to hire an accountant to audit their books?)
What is the agency's fee?  (10-15% is usual.)
How long will it take to place the book?  (Give them a time limit and
then reassess at the end of it.  Ask to see all of your rejection
What rights will they negotiate?  (U.S?  Overseas?  Hardcover and
paperback?  You get separate fees for each.  Don't use the same agent
for print and electronic rights.  It's a separate specialty.)
A rule of thumb: You don't need an agency to place a magazine article.
Why let an agency take a cut? Call the editor. Tell him/her what you
have and why YOU should write it or why you have written it. (It helps,
BTW, to  be able to show good writing samples.) If you want to break
into writing and don't know how, offer a freebie to a magazine. I'm not
suggesting "Smithsonian," but some of the Cahner's/Gordon publications
might be   interested, as would a business publication in biotech and
some of the small, non-glossy conservation magazines. Also, $1000 isn't
a tremendous amount for a magazine story. e.g., Reader's Digest pays
several thousand.

My suggestion on finding an agent:  go by word of mouth.  Use someone
recommended by a friend or colleague.  If you don't know anyone, join a
writers' group:  PEN, National Writers Union, etc., and use their
databases.  Make sure the agent handles the kind of book you are
writing.  She may have done wonderfully with your brother-in-law's
suspense novel, but does she handle books about ecosystems?

Good luck!

Myrna E. Watanabe (Ph.D., biologist, book author, science writer, and
I've been there and I've been burned)
myrna.watanabe at execnet.com or
mew at nyc.pipeline.com

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