Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Avoid "Desert Rose Literary Agency" and
Learn How to Google Literary Agents and Agencies Already, Writers! Sheesh...

You have a manuscript. You're hungry for an agent. Behold, an agent says, "Hey, I'll represent ya."

Unless it's a reputable agent that any writer in your genre would recognize as totally legit and top-notch--and maybe even then, cause, hey I'm one of those gals who checks every day that her wallet is in her purse in case wallet gremlins came by in the night--check them out.

Don't sign anything until you research the agent. Google them in every way you can. Read whatever you find on them, positive and negative, from writing and publishing sites. Make sure the consensus is: They're professional, responsive, legitimate, and they make sales.

Making sales. Lots of scammers don't actually do that, ya know? That's why they gotta ask for money up front to represent you. They're not gonna make the 15% (or 10%) commission on talent and hard work, so they gotta get it from your checking account.

And never sign without familiarizing yourself with this page:

Warnings & Cautions for Writers: LITERARY AGENTS

Read it all.

Don't be lazy. Do your homework. Take the time now to study, research, read, ask, and learn, or pay the price later with heartache, disappointment, loss of moolah, and maybe, a lot of lost time. Maybe worse.

And NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER sign with any of the agents on the TWENTY WORST LITERARY AGENCIES list. NEVER! Got that?

One example of an agency on that list that people still get tempted to sign with: Desert Rose Literary Agency. If you've signed with them, given them money, believed their emails, click that link with their name and READ ALL THE PAGES OF THAT THREAD. I'm serious. Get informed, then do something. In fact, listen to the advice Victoria Strauss and the other AW regs give to the folks asking questions about DRLA.

Be smart. Be informed. Make pals with Google. Check in with Absolute Write. and Preditors & Editors. Become familiar with SFWA's Writer Beware. Keep tabs on writer alerts at writing forums and your organization's newsletters (if they offer such). Blog about what you find on these sites (as I am doing) to warn newbie or naive writers.

And when one of the agents on that WORST list says it's a conspiracy against independent agents, the writers are out to get them, blah blah, take it as a tip-off that something's rotten in, if not Denmark, then perhaps San Angelo, Texas. Oh, and don't sign anything with an "interminable agency" clause. Well, unless maybe they give you one billion dollars up front and the check clears. :)

And pay attention at conferences or when listening to agent interviews or workshops. Example:

About two months ago, as I was showering, I was listening to an audio of an agent panel from a well-respected writer's conference. I was mid armpit soaping when I stopped cold. One of the agents on the panel, in response to a moderator's question, said, in effect, that she couldn't answer a particular question because she was terrible at keeping records and didn't know the particular numbers. The other agents answered the question, each quickly and confidenty tossing out a number.

Maybe in other respects, this agent is fine. But that alone would make me NOT sign with them even if they offered representation. I want an agent to keep very, very good records. This is a business. Monies have to be paid out. Things have to be sent and responses recorded. Yes, I want squeaky clean and diligent record-keeping. And I want an agent to know what's what in their agency. An agent should know how many sales they've had in the past X months or past year, or how soon they plan to get back to clients (on average), etc. It's THEIR business.

So, keep an eye and ear out. Small slips from a very own agent's lips can be a clue that they are not right for you.

Or, worse, scammers.

Don't be scammed.

If you'd like to visit some agent blogs (I make no claims about the agents themselves, just passing along links), visit some of these. I check out Jennifer Jackson's and Miss Snark's regularly, and I used to visit Kristin Nelson's a lot:

Agent 007's blog: http://agentoo7.blogspot.com/

BookEnds blog: http://bookendslitagency.blogspot.com/
(Jessica Faust, Jacky Sach, Kim Lionetti)

Nadia Cornier's blog: http://agentobscura.livejournal.com/

Full Circle Lit blog: http://fullcirclelit.blogspot.com/
(Lilly Ghahremani, Stefanie Von Borstel)

Dystel & Goderich: http://dglm.blogspot.com/

Barry Goldblatt's blog: http://bgliterary.livejournal.com/

Jennifer Jackson: http://arcaedia.livejournal.com/

John Jarrold's blog (UK agent): http://jjarrold.livejournal.com/

Knight Agency blog: http://knightagency.blogspot.com/
(Deidre Knight, Judson Knight, Elaine Spencer, Julie Ramsey, Nephele Tempest, Pamela Harty)

Kristin Nelson's blog: http://pubrants.blogspot.com/

Jenny Rappaport's blog: http://litsoup.blogspot.com/

The Rejecter's blog: http://rejecter.blogspot.com/

Miss Snark's blog: http://misssnark.blogspot.com/

Rachel Vater's blog: http://raleva31.livejournal.com/

Matt Wagner's blog: http://www.fresh-books.com/blog/

Wylie-Merrick blog: http://wyliemerrick.blogspot.com/
(Robert Brown, Sharene Martin)

Andrew Zack's blog: http://www.zackcompany.blogspot.com/

(Hat tip to 'Nancy" at Absolute Write for the list.)

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