Good heavens

An Agent Nightmare Revealed

The news broke publicly over the holiday weekend. If you blinked, you missed it.

The bookkeeper for a prestigious New York literary agency pled guilty to embezzling millions from the agency, leaving the agency “on the brink of bankruptcy.”

Donadio & Olson has existed for 49 years. Started by legendary agent Candida Donadio, the agency has represented some of the biggest names in fiction for decades….

The panic is clear in the calm language of Donadio & Olson’s attorney on the civil case. He said, the agency is focused on “ensuring that all of its impacted clients are made whole to the greatest extent possible.”

Here is The Passive Guy, weighing in with what seems to me to be a common-sense perspective:

PG is interested to see a couple of articles describing the literary agency, Donadio & Olson, as a victim of the wholesale theft of client funds.

If a community bank closes because of financial improprieties that have continued for years, is the president of the bank regarded as an innocent bystander? Can he/she credibly point to a clerk and say, “It was all her fault! I had no idea this was happening over all these decades.”

In a criminal trial held in a court of law, the president is presumed innocent until proven guilty. In the court of public opinion, the president is presumed to be part of the scheme or too incompetent to be responsible for running a bank.

PG suggests that in the court of public opinion, the agents that own (and have owned) and operated Donadio & Olson during the lengthy period of time over which client funds were stolen from authors should be similarly judged.

I am stunned that anyone is casting the agency as a victim, when it allowed this kind of large scale theft to take place for decades.

You know, when the AKC sanctions a breeder for falsifying records or something, the wording goes like this: The breeder knew, or should have known, or had a duty to know about this falsification. That seems to me to be the correct view here. The agency either knew, or definitely should have known, and certainly had a duty to know, about the money coming in and about where that money was going. They are to blame very nearly as much as the actual embezzler.

You know, this does add some urgency to the question of why the publisher ever pays royalties to the agency in the first place, depending on the agency to disperse the funds to the author. Looks like it’s well past time to try doing it the other way around.

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