Several days ago a snarkling emailed me the link to this agent blog.
I clicked on it and had a pretty good laugh; it was the post about the watchdog writers group. I've had calls from "agent monitoring services" before and it took me a couple minutes to figure out that they charged authors money for lists of "reputable agents". Of course, I told them in no uncertain terms that they could ...to use Sammy's oh so quaint phrase.."fuck off and die". People who charge money for lists of reputable agents have ONE goal: making money off you.
But the the fact Sammy charges reading fees is bad. A snarkling wrote to ask "Could this be true? Are there successful agents, i.e., successful in placing books rather than successful in taking in fees, like this out there?
The answer is, god knows there could be I guess. It's certainly NOT an acceptable business practice because there is so much room for downright fraud when agents to charge money up front. It took a long time for AAR to flat out ban the practice for members but they do.
I'm not going to tell this guy how to run his business. But I will say this: you should not pay an agent up front. Not for anything. A reputable agent with a solvent business shouldn't need your $100 to get your manuscript duplicated and messengered off. They shouldn't even need your $300 to get it DHLed to sub rights agents in Europe or Asia.
A solvent business means you can pay your expenses without asking your clients for money. It's pretty simple to my way of thinking.