Why You Need to Double-Check Reputations

Remember the agent I talked about in a previous post–the one who charges a $3,200 service fee for a year of representation, and in the nearly 10 years her agency has existed has never sold any books to commercial publishers? Well, I just discovered that she has bought a membership in Publishers Marketplace, and has put up a fairly professional-looking page there (if, of course, you ignore the fact that no sales are mentioned).

Publishers Marketplace is a very popular site, and many writers use it as an integral part of their search for publication. I often recommend it as a research tool–it has much valuable information about agents’ backgrounds, track records, interests, and philosophy. It is (justifiably) regarded as a very reliable resource. It really bugs me to think that a total scam artist like this agent will benefit from that reputation–that writers who’ve just finished looking at the listings for Manus & Associates and Donald Maass and Sandra Dijkstra and Simon Lipskar may assume that this agent is on the same professional level.

And no, she’s not the only questionable or amateur agent who’s a member of PM. With one exception, however, she is (by many orders of magnitude) the most dishonest.

I guess the moral of this story is always double-check. NEVER take an agent listing at face value–or at any rate, don’t assume that just because an agent is listed by a reputable resource, the agent him/herself is reputable.

In better news, my husband’s knee surgery last week went very well. The stitches came out a couple of days ago, and he’s already walking more or less normally (though not normally enough, apparently, to go downstairs and make his own lunch. I humored him today, but his free lunch coupon runs out this Sunday). Lots of physical therapy lies ahead, but everyone seems to feel he’ll make a full recovery.


  1. Hello—Sorry for the confusing site. It confuses me, too. My weekly column, “Riposte,” is carried on page one, and the “Riposte Archive” is on the left. That’s all you need to know, really. Here is the link to my article about agents:



    Rip Rense

  2. Anonymous, I visited Rip Rense’s site but couldn’t find an article on agents (it’s a huge site, very confusingly set up, and I may have missed it).

    Most agents do expect writers to bear some of the cost of submitting their work–not normal business overhead (such as stationary and envelopes) but costs the agent wouldn’t incur if she didn’t represent the writer, such as photocopying manuscripts and mailing them out. These expenses aren’t typically billed before being expended, or levied as an upfront fee on contract signing–they’re accrued and deducted from the author’s advance.

    So if it’s that kind of charge you’re talking about, it’s perfectly legitimate (though it’s a good idea not to leave anything to chance: the exact expenses you’re expected to bear should be stated in the author-agent agreement, and there should be an expense cap–$50 is a reasonable figure–beyond which any single expenditure requires your permission).

  3. Sandra Dijkstra…

    Sometimes still chargtes fees, albeit covertly. Go read an article about agents by journalist Rip Rense in the archives on his site riprense.com.

  4. Talking about infuriating ads, I noticed that the infamous R*B*RT ST*N*K had an ad on my PW Daily e-mail. Reminds me of that other infamous author and the contest we debunked.

    Anyway, glad Rob’s doing well. Looks like you two have started a great thing with this blog. Good luck with it!


  5. Well I’m glad your husbands stitiches came out all right, ’cause it looks like you’re ready to bust a gut, LOL…and could use the leftovers.

    Thank’s for the info…just when I think it’s safe to go in the water….duh,da,duh,da(cue music from Jaws!)

  6. Thank you Anne and Victoria, this blog is great :o).

    I’m appalled about Publishers Marketplace, though I suppose I shouldn’t be. I cross reference information on agents from different places, but I didn’t realise this could happen. (sigh) Just when I think I understand what to do, I get a nasty shock.

    Victoria, I would cook myself a yummy lunch and let the smells waft and build up hunger etc. And eat all of it. I’m glad he’s making a good recovery.

  7. PM is where I ran into that Rat Fink Agent (I will call him agent F, because he is still practicing)

    I am glad the surgery went well. Here’s to a speedy recovery.

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DECEMBER 3, 2005