How far would you go to get a book deal?

At Kimberley Cameron & Associates, K is for korruption.

With the summer season upon us, it’s well to take a moment to reflect on safe driving and safe workshopping. Safe driving we all know about, but safe workshopping, you ask?

It’s no secret that the publishing industry is in distress, with a midlist that’s all but moribund. This means it’s harder than ever for even talented writers to break out with a first book deal. As for the less talented…

This summer, many of us will travel to writers’ conferences where we hope to improve our writing craft. At least, that should be our main goal; but brochures often tout the presence of literary agents and a chance to press their flesh, wow them with an elevator pitch, and perhaps slip a well-honed chapter into their Gucci handbag (if not padlocked or booby-trapped).

Judging by the apocrypha emerging from faithful attendees at prior conferences, we can also assume a fair amount of time will be spent osculating the posterior of said literary agents, for it is well known that when the sphincter is thus palpitated, this spurs agents on to greater zeal in finding a publisher for even second-rate manuscripts.

Such osculation is not illegal between consenting adults, and helps to fill the awkward silences at literary gatherings — those moments when the last of the Chardonnay has died a poetic death, and no amount of patchouli oil can cover the stench of naked literary ambition. In such moments, it’s considered wise to pucker up. (Tip #1: Always lubricate the lips with ample hyperbole, e.g.: “You’re a God among literary agents! I would travel to the ends of the earth in hope of a mere glance from your well-connected countenance…”)

This has become an accepted, customary, and even obligatory ritual in the flirtations between writers and literary agents. But what if an agent asks you to go beyond accepted norms and engage in activities considered risky or extreme? What if the agent is Elizabeth Kracht?

As documented in the extended article “Can Salon Learn From Rolling Stone’s Mistakes? Part 1,” in May 2014 blogger Edwin Lyngar planted a false story in Salon. His literary agent, Elizabeth Kracht of Kimberley Cameron & Associates, set him up. She put him in touch with a fabulist source who was a close personal friend of hers from high school, Celia Corona-Doran, who would feed Lyngar a false story which would hang him. His chances of ever being taken seriously as a journalist would be ruined. Naturally, Lyngar didn’t fact-check. Continue reading

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