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Writers beware: The 20 worst agents list

I learned about this list from Neil Gaiman's page (remember - he's my second favourite author in the world - hope he isn't offended for not making No.1) and decided to post about it in my blog for several reasons:

Ok, I know I'm not a writer, only a wee little blogger but things like the list posted below defenitely are important for new authors looking for a publisher/agent for their work. Because - as in every other business - there's scammers out there that like to take advantage of newcomers who don't know about how the business works. So even though I'm not a novelist myself (and never plan to be one) and this ain't a literature webpage/blog I'll link to the list anyways, because the more people learn about it the bigger the chance that an upcoming author learns of it and avoids getting into contact with those scammers in the first place.

Another reason is the fact that some of the *bleep*s on this list (like that Bauer person) are getting pages that post it shut down via legal threads to the ISPs, including some pretty popular writers communities in the US (so much for freedom of speech) and something like that *really* makes me mad! So it's a question of principle for me to do my little thing to help.

The latest version of the List with added information can allways be found on the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Webpage, I post the introduction here, because it tells what the list is all about exactly:

Below, in alphabetical order, is a list of the currently active literary agencies about which Writer Beware has received the largest number of complaints over the years, or which, based on documentation we've collected, we consider to pose the most significant hazard for writers. All have two or more of the following abusive practices:

1. Fee-charging--including reading fees, marketing or administrative fees, retainers, processing fees, and other forms of upfront or flat-rate charges that are made as a condition of representation.

2. Paid editing or publishing referrals--including placing clients with vanity publishers, promoting their own paid editing services to clients (a conflict of interest), sending clients/potential clients to an outside editing service that pays kickbacks for referrals. Several of these agencies are no more than fronts for editing services.

3. Conflicts of interest--several agencies are under common ownership with editing services or vanity publishers, which are recommended to clients without disclosing the connection.

4. No or minimal track records--many of these agencies have never made a single sale to a commercial publisher. None has a significant recent track record.

5. Nonstandard author-agent contract terms--including perpetual agency clauses, claiming commissions on clients’ future works even if the agency had no hand in selling them, billing clients for normal business overhead such as travel and entertainment.

6. Unprofessional practices--such as sending form letters or postcards with boxes for editors to check off and return to indicate interest, "bundled" queries (several queries in the same envelope), "blitz" or shotgun submissions (submissions to a dozen or more publishers simultaneously, often without careful targeting), “packaging” a submission with unnecessary extras such as author photos, cover mockups, or sample illustrations.

7. Misrepresentation of skill or experience--including representing themselves as competent to sell manuscripts despite poor or nonexistent track records, lying about sales, and claming placements with vanity publishers as legitimate commercial sales.

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."

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