Yesterday I had to crush a writer's dream of being published. I didn't want to but better to have a little disappointment now than a lot later.
Here's the story...I hang out each day at lunch at the Long Ridge Chat room. It's so nice to be able to chat with other writers...no one knows what a writer goes though except another writer. There are a lot of novice writers there, some more experienced ones and of course some of us who have published. We have a lot of fun. Yesterday one of our novice writers shared the good news that an agent wants to see his manuscript. Naturally we all are happy for him. Then he goes on to say that it will only cost him $387 for an evaluation. This sent off warning bells, buzzers, sirens and the flashing lights.
Legitimate agents NEVER charge fees of any kind before taking you on as client. Not reading fees, evaluation fees or fees of any kind! Legitimate agents only get paid after they sell your book.
After asking a few questions, it turns out this agent is listed on the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer's of America Twenty Worst Agents List. No, this isn't a list put together by a group of disgruntled writers. This is a list put together by professional writers based on complaints and backed up by documentation.
Friends...there are so many people out there just waiting for someone to take advantage of and novice writers are fair game for them. Thankfully there are places we can go for information before making a decision we might come to regret.
So, here's a couple places to get the info you need.
Writer Beware. This is the SFWA website that includes the Twenty Worst Agents list.
Writer Beware Blog This blog has a lot of great info on agents and how they work.
Preditors & Editors Here you'll find info on agents, editors, conventions and all sorts of useful stuff.
Agent Query is a searchable database for agents.
AAR is the Association of Authors' Representatives. They have a searchable database, great FAQs and also list the "Canon of Ethics" agents must follow to belong to AAR. No, not all legit agents belong to AAR but it's a nice place to start.
As new writers, we so want to be published. And when an agent tells us how great we are, we believe them. We'll pay almost anything to have that agent who loves our writing take us on as a client. The thing is, we have to step back, take a deep breath and do some research before taking that plunge. The water may be shallow and filled with sharks.
Oh...if you get the chance, stop by the Long Ridge Chat Room. A group of us meet weekdays at noon central. You don't have to be a LR student to join us...all writers are welcome. We talk about writing, food, kids, critters and all sorts of stuff. You'll find me there as Speckledorf:--)