Saturday, May 27, 2006

Watch out for the scammers

You'll find them in all walks of life. Who doesn't know an elderly person who lost everything, thanks to a less-than-honest "financial planner"? Or someone who paid money for "fees" associated to winning a non-existent big prize.

In the writing world, the biggest scammers are fly-by-night publishers and agents. Everyone who manages the herculean task of finishing that first book is high on the dream of fame and fortune. They will get that work published (or so they think until the rejections start rolling in.) But all of a sudden, that dream has turned into a nightmare. They've found an agent who loves their writing--after they sent that agent $300, $500, $1000 for "expenses" associated with sending the work out. Shoot, I'd love anyone's writing if they were willing to pay me to love it.

Wake up, folks. Reputable agents do NOT take money up front. They do NOT charge you to read your work. They do NOT send your work to a book doctor (who just happens to be their husband). And any agent worth their salt should be willing to give you a list of their clients and what they sold for them. If they act like it's a big hairy secret, it's probably because they haven't sold jack squat.

Don't be stupid. Do your homework. There are lots of places to get information on agents and publishers (beware the vanity and subsidy presses out there). http://www.aar-online.org/ offers a list of agents who must adhere to a canon of ethics. http://www.anotherealm.com/prededitors/ lists agents to steer clear of. http://www.writers.net/agents.html is loaded with information.

And just in case you're really too naive (or lazy) to check for yourself, at least read this list and make sure you don't include them in your query list, and make special note of letter d:

From Writer Beware :

None of these agents has a significant track record of sales to commercial (advance-paying) publishers, and most have virtually no documented and verified sales at all (many sales claimed by these agents turn out to be vanity publishers). All charge clients before a sale is made, whether directly, by charging fees such as reading or administrative fees, or indirectly, for "editing services." Writer Beware suggests that writers searching for agents avoid questionable agents, and instead query agents who have actual track records of sales to commercial publishing houses.

THE LIST:
a.. The Abacus Group Literary Agency
b.. Allred and Allred Literary Agents (refers clients to "book doctor" Victor West of Pacific Literary Services)
c.. Capital Literary Agency (formerly American Literary Agents of Washington, Inc.)
d.. Barbara Bauer Literary Agency
e.. Benedict & Associates (also d/b/a B.A. Literary Agency)
f.. Sherwood Broome, Inc.
g.. Desert Rose Literary Agency
h.. Arthur Fleming Associates
i.. Finesse Literary Agency (Karen Carr)
j.. Brock Gannon Literary Agency
k.. Harris Literary Agency
l.. The Literary Agency Group, which includes the following: Children's Literary Agency Christian Literary Agency New York Literary Agency Poets Literary Agency The Screenplay Agency Stylus Literary Agency (formerly ST Literary Agency) Writers Literary & Publishing Services Company (the editing arm of the above-mentioned agencies)

m.. Martin-McLean Literary Associates
n.. Mocknick Productions Literary Agency, Inc.
o.. B.K. Nelson, Inc.
p.. The Robins Agency (Cris Robins)
q.. Michelle Rooney Literary Agency (also d/b/a Creative Literary Agency and Simply Nonfiction)
r.. Southeast Literary Agency
s.. Mark Sullivan Associates
t. West Coast Literary Associates (also d/b/a California Literary Services)

Okay, you've been warned, so don't come crying when you hook up with one of the above and find you've wasted a year of your precious career, not to mention hundreds or even thousands of dollars, and no editor has ever seen your work. As for letter d, check out the writers' blogs. They're up in arms over that one. For a really funny take on it, go to http://p-n-elrod.livejournal.com/12120.html . To get the real scoop, no holds barred, visit Miss Snark's blog. What do you mean you don't know the url? It should be #1 in your blog bookmarks. Sheesh! http://misssnark.blogspot.com/ Also see what Kristin Nelson http://pubrants.blogspot.com/ has to say. From those two you'll find plenty of links to keep you busy, including a link to the new Absolute Write site-- Barbara Bauer had the old one shut down because someone posted something about her.

Folks, scamming is nothing new. But in today's world of the Internet and Google, there's really no excuse for getting taken. It only shows how desperate you are--or that you're lazy beyond belief. Take the time to check things out before you jump in. There's really no need to wear lead boots and a concrete vest in this day and age.

9 comments:

Amelia Elias said...

Good on you for posting this, Tori! Just a heads up, Barbara Bauer has become infamous for threatening legal action against anyone who associates her name with that list--even though multiple lawyers say she doesn't have a leg to stand on. Don't be surprised if she shows up and whines, STOP IT, tho!

And you're so right about doing your research. It took more than 5 minutes to write that book you're trying to sell, so take more than 5 minutes reading the fine print and checking out the people who offer to publish it. Really, it's simply protecting your investment.

Tori Scott said...

She can holler, but no way could she afford to sue everyone who's posted that list all across the internet. It's her own fault. She convinced Absolute Write's ISP to pull their website with only an hour's notice. So much good info was lost. It's pissed every one off, so now the goal is to spread the word far and wide.

Thanks for posting, Amelia!

MaryF said...

Isn't this incredible? And supposedly she's been in business over 20 years! Where are her sales?

Meg Allison said...

Thanks for posting the list, Tori! Very sad that it's such a long one, though.

Guanna said...

Wow, Barbara Bauer sounds so famous that she MUST be a great agent! I'm going to sign with her immediately, if she'll take me (hope hope hope). Thank you so much for pointing her out.

Oh, wait, this place is way too light to be a cave.

Oops, never mind.

Josh said...

Don't know any of them, Tori, and don't want to. Just came in to support my #1 supporter. Nice site!

Tori Scott said...

Thanks for the comments, guys.

Barbara said...

Just to show we love you, and to add the stats. It's very nice of you and brave to list those unscrupulous people to warn the rest of us.
And I can't wait to see you climb to the tier of multi published author.

Tori Scott said...

Thanks Barbara!