WEbook, launched 18 months ago as a collaborative site for writers, has added a new service that links authors and agents. AgentInbox resides on the WEbook home page and will pre-screen submissions from authors before sending them on to appropriate agents. AgentInbox will focus in particular on query letters while also ensuring the manuscripts adhere to basic editorial standards and readiness, said Ardy Khazaei, president of WEbook.
WEbook’s team of in-house and freelance publishing professionals will review pitch letters, make sure that the letters match the actual manuscript and that the manuscript is properly formatted, but the company will not make any recommendations about the quality of the content. “We think we’ve created a fast and easy way for agents to manage the slush pile,” said Khazaei. Agents fill out a profile that includes the categories they are looking to acquire titles in and how much of the manuscript they want to receive. Agents get an account with WEbook and can check it as often as they like; WEbook will also send an e-mail once a week to agents alerting them to the number of submissions they have received. Authors whose submissions are found to be good enough to pass on can then submit to agents who are interested in books in their area. An agent’s profile, Khazaei noted, includes his or her name, but not their contact information; agents are given the contact information of authors who are submitting.
To date about eight literary agencies have signed on to WEbook and Writers House agent Ken Wright has already signed a client, John Corey Whaley, a teacher from Louisiana whose novel Wright called one of the most exciting he has read in a long time. Khazaei said that for the short term AgentInbox is free to authors, but that at some point WEbook will charge a fee for the service. There will be no charge to agents and WEbook will take no cut of any future deals.
WEbook is continuing with its collaborative writing features that launched the company, although that process is being revised. Authors can post their work in whatever stage it is in and members of the WEbook community vote on their favorites which WEbook publishes. The company has published a few books so far. Originally based in Bethesda, Md., WEbook moved to New York about a year ago and brought in Khazaei, whose background includes a stint with HarperCollins, six months ago as president.