What if they (agents) say that, due to client confidentiality, they'll only reveal a sales/client list when and if they make you an offer (which of course you don't have to accept)? Same dif or slightly different situation?
It is utter crap.
Who an agent represents isn't proprietary info, it's not personal, it's not some trade secret.
Most of us publish it on our websites, publish it in Publishers Marketplace, and cheer when PW calls to discuss our hot deals.
Any agent who won't give you the information that demonstrates they ARE working, deal making agents should be looked at VERY skeptically.
Some agents may be new and hesitant about revealing that. I was new once too, but clients signed with me before I had a single sale, believed I was going to make sales, and were right.
Before I had sales I said "I'm a new agent. I've done this that and the other in the publishing industry. I will work very hard to sell your work because I need to make sales. I know these editors, and have these other publishing references. I offer a contract that can be revoked by you for any reason with 30 days notice. If you want to be with an agent who is hungry for success and sales and has a lot of time right now to devote to you, I qualify."
I NEVER said "my client list is confidential". I told people who I represented. I did NOT hand out their contact info until I secured permission to do so but now I have a list of clients with email contacts that I send to people who are talking to me about representation. If you're just querying you get the client names and book titles.
Agents who won't give you basic information and expect you to believe things on trust are using tactics more suited to snake oil sales, Brooklyn Bridge listings and speed dating conversations.