Saturday, May 27, 2006

One of the 20 Worst Agents Brings Down AbsoluteWrite

Edit 5/28: I just noticed that the Google ads on this page are currently to New York Literary Agency, Screenplay Agency , Children's Literary Agency - among the worst agencies listed below - and Author House, a vanity press. The moral: don't find a literary agency from Google ads! I edited the post to follow Dawno's suggestion that every agency on the list should link to the 20 Worst Agencies page.

OK, so I have been really bad in keeping up with posting to this blog. I have too many projects going at once, with the result that I don't get any of them done. What's brought me out of my blog apathy? The only online forum where I post regularly,, has been taken down by their web host.

AbsoluteWrite is many things. The main site has articles and information for writers, and the forum is a great resource for people interested in writing and publishing, with regular contributions made by writers, editors, agents and wanna-bes like me. The non-writing related forums are a great place to discuss and argue volatile topics like politics and religion with people who write in complete sentences. The mods do a great job maintaining at least a modicum of civility, with the overriding principle, "respect your fellow writer".

One of the most useful sections of the forum, however, is "Bewares and Background Check". This is a place where people could find out the real scoop on agents and publishers, and hopefully prevent writers from being taken in by con artists. Recently, novelist/scam-fighters Victoria Strauss and Ann Crispin of Writer Beware posted a list of the 20 worst literary agencies.
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:
-Children's Literary Agency
-Christian Literary Agency
-New York Literary Agency
-Poets Literary Agency
-The Screenplay Agency
-Stylus Literary Agency (formerly ST Literary Agency, formerly Sydra-Techniques)
-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)
#3 on the list, Barbara Bauer, discovered the AbsoluteWrite post and contacted the web hosts to "cease and desist". This is her usual behavior. People who have been contacted know that she never follows up on her demands, and no one has been sued. Unfortunately, AbsoluteWrite's hosting company didn't know or didn't care, and pulled the plug with an hour's notice, which didn't allow enough time for the forum database to be retrieved.

The response by the online community has been amazing. Bloggers linking Barbara Bauer's name to the 20 Worst Agencies list has ensured that a search for Barbara Bauer on Google pulls the list up as the number 2 hit. The many (at least 400) blog posts on the subject, and Dawno's suggestion to use the BarbaraBauer Technorati tag has made it a hot online topic.

In the meantime, there is a new home for wayward AbsoluteWrite forum members kindly provided by Roger Carlson.

The story, as it now stands, can be read on the Making Light (the blog of Tor editors Teresa and Patrick Nielson Hayden). Read through the comments for updated information and the response of the web hosts.

Dawno has listed what she considers the best blog posts, and I can't argue with her.

Queen of AbsoluteWrite, Jenna Glatzer, has some updates on her blog. To support AbsoluteWrite and Jenna, you can purchase a copy of her book, The Street Smart Writer. A portion of the proceeds go to AbsoluteWrite. Click the button below for details.

(Get your copy of the button code from MacAllister Stone's blog. The button was designed by Matt Dinniman.)

I hope this will be resolved soon, not only because the AW forums were a fantastic resource, but also because I miss the discussions there. Long live AbsoluteWrite!

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Blogger Dawno said...

Thank you for posting this and for the mention!

I love the picture of the road in your footer, I was raised at Edwards AFB and it looks like roads around home. Made me nostalgic.

9:41 AM  
Blogger Peggy said...

Thanks Dawno. The photo is of the Arizona desert, so you aren't too far off.

9:14 PM  

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