Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Top Twenty Worst Agents

Down in comments on a previous post of mine, Laurie wrote:

"There's one mistake that a lot of us have been making. We've been posting links to the top twenty list for Barbara Bauer only. We need to expand that to cover all the scummy scammers. Read more on my
blog for my rationale behind this."

Excellent post, great point.

The immediate reaction to the loss of Absolute Write was to go after the person we all saw as the main culprit, Barbara Bauer. While Barbara Bauer's action (and the reaction of AW's hosting service) is the proximate cause, the root cause is that scamming agents are strutting around feeling invulnerable.

Individually each scummy agency stays under the legal radar because they scam relatively small amounts of money from people who end up embarassed that they fell for the scam or who just give up thinking they aren't publishable. There needs to be more education about how literary scams work and then concerted effort at a critical mass of people whose losses are significant in aggregate to get authorities interested.

The way to get started making a difference is to get educated about scams and how they get taken down. Jenna Glatzer and Daniel Steven's book The Street Smart Writer: Self Defense Against Sharks and Scams in the Writing World (use code AW2006 if you order from the publisher, Nomad Press, get a discount - already have it? Donate it!) is a great resource, so is Ten Percent of Nothing - the true story of how one scamming agency (Deering) was shut down and its owners were convicted of fraud. There are other stories - A. C. Crispin and Victoria Strauss have a wonderful blog "At Last! Writer Beware Blogs! A.C. Crispin and Victoria Strauss Reveal All!" that talks about a number of these scammer agencies.

Let's see what we can do with the energy we've accumulated behind our outrage at Barbara Bauer to take on the rest of the list.

When you compose your post about this just link each agency in the list to the SFWA Bewares list. You could even put it in your sidebar. Being the Technorati Tag fan that I am, I've started a tag: , so tag those posts!

And here it is, the SFWA’s list of top twenty worst agents that they know of. With Preamble as requested by A.C. Crispin.

Below is a list of the 20 literary agencies about which Writer Beware has received the greatest number of advisories/complaints over the past several years.

None of these agencies has a significant track record of sales to commercial (advance-paying) publishers, and most have virtually no documented and verified sales at all (book placements claimed by some of these agencies turn out to be "sales" to vanity publishers). All charge clients before a sale is made--whether directly, by levying fees such as reading or administrative fees, or indirectly, for editing or other adjunct services.

Writer Beware recommends that writers avoid questionable literary agencies, and instead query agencies that have verifiable track records of sales to commercial publishing houses.

Note that while the 20 agencies listed here account for the bulk of the complaints we receive, they're just the tip of the iceberg. Writer Beware has files on nearly 400 questionable agencies, and we learn about a new one every few weeks.

* The Abacus Group Literary Agency
* Allred and Allred Literary Agents (refers clients to “book doctor” Victor West of Pacific Literary Services)
* Barbara Bauer Literary Agency
* Benedict Associates (also d/b/a B.A. Literary Agency)
* Sherwood Broome, Inc.
* Capital Literary Agency (formerly American Literary Agents of Washington, Inc.)
* Desert Rose Literary Agency
* Arthur Fleming Associates
* Finesse Literary Agency (Karen Carr)
* Brock Gannon Literary Agency
* Harris Literary Agency
* The Literary Agency Group, which includes the following:
o Children’s Literary Agency
o Christian Literary Agency
o New York Literary Agency
o Poets Literary Agency
o The Screenplay Agency
o Stylus Literary Agency (formerly ST Literary Agency, formerly Sydra-Techniques)
o Writers Literary& Publishing Services Company (the editing arm of the above-mentioned agencies)

* Martin-McLean Literary Associates
* Mocknick Productions Literary Agency, Inc.
* B.K. Nelson, Inc.
* The Robins Agency (Cris Robins)
* Michele Rooney Literary Agency (also d/b/a Creative Literary Agency, Simply Nonfiction, and Michele Glance Rooney Literary Agency)
* Southeast Literary Agency
* Mark Sullivan Associates
* West Coast Literary Associates (also d/b/a California Literary Services)



Laurie said...

Excellent! Thanks, Dawno!

Mad Scientist Matt said...

Here's one thought. I noticed someone had found my blog through a google search on literary agents. I also found that at the top of that particular search, there were Google Ads for three or four agents on that Worst Agents list. No exaggeration. Plus there was a crypto-vanity press there!

One possibility would be to set up a foundation that has a web page about the basics of literay agent getting, and buy up some Google Ads so that the same searches for agents that get those ads for scam agents will also get ads for the warning page.

Or we could do a second Googlebomb with the goal of getting the Writer Beware list to top the search for "Literary agent."

Peggy said...

Good gravy. I just realized the google ads on my blog post are for the New York Literary Agency, The Screenplay Agency and Author House. Me thinks I'm going to have to update my post with a warning and some more links.

Laurie said...

...And that would be one reason I don't use Google Ads...

Mad Scientist Matt said...

I think I'm going to start a time-release Googlebomb on my blog, now that I've had a chance to ponder things. Each week I will feature a new agent on the list and some of the lowlights of their career.

Dawno said...

Great idea, Matt!

Tish G. said...

hey Dawno...

wow, this is absolutely awful! I'm amazed that people get away with this stuff--but, then again, after working retail enough, I'm not. What BB is doing is, essentially, a form of censorship via misuse of the law. That, in itself, is freakin' amazing. I think there's a deeper story in this, if anyone's interested in writing it.

Dawno said...

Hi Tish! Yeah, there is a much larger story - as soon as things settle out we may get a chance to see more details.

Laurie said...

mad scientist matt, you really are mad!

That's a great idea! Fantastic idea, as a matter of fact! I think that it could also become a new absolute write meme. Seriously, if enough of us got in on it, we could do so some serious damage to these scammers.

Having said that, of course I'm in.

A. C. Crispin said...

Hi, Dawno:

Vic and I are back from vacation, and I'll writing you an email today. Regarding posting the "20 Worst" list, you left off the "preamble" part, and that's very important. Can you please edit the post to add in the preamble?


-Ann C. Crispin
Writer Beware

Dawno said...

Done on both posts, Ann. Thanks for visiting.