Blogs by and about literary agents are legion. Another one seems to pop up every week. Take, for example, the brand-new Literary Agent News, which launched in October.
According to its little self-description, Literary Agent News provides “Literary Agent profiles, industry news, top agents for every fiction and non-fiction category.” The blogger is anonymous–his or her profile reveals only that s/he is in the publishing industry and located in New York–but that’s not terribly unusual. The agent “profiles” featured on the blog provide names and addresses, but little other useful information–but hey, bloggers come in all shapes and sizes, including those who pad their blogs with puffery as a method of self-promotion.
And some self-promotion can be pretty sneaky.
In Literary Agent News’s October archive, there’s a series of Top Agent lists. Young adult novels, business books, memoirs, mysteries, romance–there’s a Top Agent list for them all. While these lists do (mostly) include reputable agents, they are not particularly accurate. To take just one example, the list for science fiction agents omits most of the people who arguably are top SF agents, and includes others who don’t appear ever to have sold any SF–such as Randi Murray, an established agent whose submission guidelines specifically exclude science fiction.
The lists also recycle names. A lot. Anne Hawkins appears on the Mystery, Horror, and Young Adult lists. Victoria Gould Pryor appears on the True Crime, Literary Fiction, Travel, and Romance lists. Jennifer Dechiara appears on the Horror, Mystery, Literary Fiction, Memoirs, and Romance lists (but not the Young Adult list, despite the fact that she specializes in children’s and YA books). Michele Glance Rooney appears on the Mystery, Fantasy, Young Adult, Business, and Romance lists.
Hold on a sec. Michele Glance Rooney?
Writer Beware readers will recognize Michele as a fee-charging agent featured on our Thumbs Down Agency List. She’s notorious for direct-soliciting writers, and also for name changes–since 2002, she has done business as Creative Literary Agency, Creative Concepts Literary Agency, Simply Nonfiction, Michele Glance Rooney Literary Agency, and most recently, before being exposed, as May Writers’ Group. To our knowledge, she has never sold a book to a commercial publisher. Not one. Ever.
So what’s a fee-charger with no track record doing in the august company of agents like Theresa Park, Noah Lukeman, and Daniel Lazar? The same thing your face might be doing on Mount Rushmore if you had a yen for a gag photo and a knack with Photoshop–except you wouldn’t be expecting anyone to seriously believe you’d been memorialized on the side of a mountain. Michele must be hoping that people doing websearches on the agents on her lists will find the lists, see her name there, and assume she has been designated a “top” agent by some independent authority. In fact, this is exactly how the blog was found by the Writer Beware reader who alerted me to it.
There’s a larger moral to this story than exposing the inept attempts of one questionable literary agent to boost her reputation by fake blogging. Never take Internet-based literary agent listings at face value. They may have been put together by someone without the proper expertise–or, as in this case, they may conceal a nefarious agenda. Even if you are absolutely certain of the credentials of the person who has compiled the list, do some extra research, because bad agents can slip in despite the best efforts even of knowledgeable people. And if the list is anonymous, forget it. Like Literary Agent News, it’s probably not there to help you.