Writer Beware's 20 Worst Agents

Writer Beware has received the greatest number of advisories/complaints the past several years about these 20 agencies/agents. None of these agents has a significant track record of sales to commercial (advance-paying) publishers, and most have virtually no documented and verified sales at all (many sales claimed by these agents turn out to be vanity publishers). All charge clients before a sale is made, whether directly, by charging fees such as reading or administrative fees, or indirectly, for "editing services."

Writer Beware suggests (and Miss Snark agrees whole heartedly) writers searching for agents avoid questionable agents, and instead query agents who have actual track records of sales to commercial publishing houses.

*The Abacus Group Literary Agency
*Allred and Allred Literary Agents (refers clients to "book doctor" Victor West of Pacific Literary Services)

*Capital Literary Agency (formerly *American Literary Agents of Washington, Inc.)
*Barbara Bauer Literary Agency
*Benedict Associates (also d/b/a B.A. Literary Agency)

*Sherwood Broome, Inc.
*Desert Rose Literary Agency
*Arthur Fleming Associates

*Finesse Literary Agency (Karen Carr)
*Brock Gannon Literary Agency
*Harris Literary Agency

*The Literary Agency Group, which includes the following:
-Children's Literary Agency
-Christian Literary Agency
-New York Literary Agency
-Poets Literary Agency
-The Screenplay Agency
-Stylus Literary Agency (formerly ST Literary Agency)
-Writers Literary Publishing Services Company (the editing arm of the above-mentioned agencies)

*Martin-McLean Literary Associates
*Mocknick Productions Literary Agency, Inc.
*B.K. Nelson, Inc.

*The Robins Agency (Cris Robins)
*Michelle Rooney Literary Agency (also d/b/a Creative Literary Agency and Simply Nonfiction)

*Southeast Literary Agency
*Mark Sullivan Associates
*West Coast Literary Associates (also d/b/a California Literary Services)

Lee Shore Literary Agency gets the No. 21 Honorary Runner Up mention here.


Anonymous said...

Whoa. I actually queries one of these. Dodged a bullet on that one.

Bethany said...

I remember seeing some of these names on my agent hunts, and I remember steering clear of them all. Let's hear it for research before querying!

Sonarbabe said...

I queried 2 of them and thank the lord I knew Allred and Allred was a scam when they sent me their "suggestions". The other one, I just plain got lucky.

Termagant 2 said...

Now, if only avoiding these questionable agencies would assure us of finding the right fit in the agent/author quest.


Victoria Strauss said...

Thanks so much for posting this, Miss Snark. The publisher list is coming soon.

(By the way, these 20 agents are less than 1% of Writer Beware's full agent watch list.)

Mark said...

Actually they don't qualify as worst agents since they aren't really agents. They're scams.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

I think Victoria and Ann are the Cat's Pyjamas. Thanks for the list.

wannabe said...

Miss Snark,

On The Zack Company website, there are advertisements at the bottom of the page for - get this - New York Literary Agency and Children's Literary Agency.

Why would a "reputable" agency allow advertisements for scam agents?

Anonymous said...

so, Victoria, there are 2,000 agents on the watch list? Yikes!
I've queried four of the 20 over the last ten or eleven years. Lucky me, I only paid reading fees to two.

Debra Kemp said...

Is Brock Gannon still around? I got caught into that one. Thank goodness, it wasn't a total disaster for me. I signed up for the first 6 months and sent the $150 ($25/month for six months) for "office fees". Now, I did get the rejection letters from publishers my work was sent to. Most were form rejections much like those I was getting on my own without an "agent" and that $25/month "fee" and many were from publishers that I clearly knew did not publish my type of work. So I quit the relationship after that.

snookered said...

Robins Agency with (Cris Robins) took me one time. It was when I first started writing that after I submitted Cris called saying that she really liked my work and that some publishing houses would like that and all I needed was some editing. It'd just cost $1,716. When I told her no that I couldn't afford that she said well they had a lesser type od editing that would only cost $467 and I could make two equal payments. The editing was just a little better than what a person could get on Word. Besides that on the second time around they got surly and told me because of new rules that they were not able to finishe editing it. Yeah, I guess that I was taken and dumb, dumb, dumb for getting taken.

Anonymous said...

Bless you for this! Am waiting on the Publisher's list. I've heard about a few buggers, but I reserve judgement and wait to hear what the Goddess Snark says.

Hyena girl said...

Four or five years ago I signed (and paid) with the Harris Agency. They did a fair job of giving comments and suggestions on the ms. When I emailed them that I was going to be in town and could we meet for lunch, they both were conveniently going on vacation. A later date, and they both were going to be gone again. At the end of the contract, I got a scanned copy of about 15 address labels to where the ms. was sent; two or three were appropriate. No letters of rejection, or any comments, were made from any of the listed publishers.

FreeSpirit said...

Robins Agency via Cris Robins almost took me several years ago. She loved my book and knew it would be a best seller but she wanted some sort of fee which I could not afford to pay. I can't remember the exact details but what I do remember was my asking her why those fees couldn't be deducted from the sale of my book. Her response was that would be like her giving me her open check book. To which I replied "My paying you monthly fees is like me giving you MY checkbook." Yeah, she hung up on me. Thank goodness for web-sites that warn writers about these scum scam agents.

Victoria Strauss said...

You all may be amused by this anti-Writer Beware screed from Cris Robins, one of the agents on the list. Here' my response.

Miss Snark said...

oh the Robins site is HILARIOUS. Scroll down to "clients'. Notice they very carefully tell you that this is work for SALE?? Notice how many people have more than one book? Danger Will Robinson Danger!

Anonymous said...

Did you see the page where Robins charges for the manuscript guidelines?
It's a nice little shopping cart page.

(I wonder why Robins didn't do the clients' works for sale the same way--it'd be so convenient for the publishers.)

I feel bad for all those writers listed.

Miss Snark said...

oh that is rich! My faves are "self publishing" and "how to negotiate a book contract"...two things I know I want MY clients to focus on at my website.

Stephanie said...

Scary. In January, I began this wild venture into the great beyond of publishing. Unfortunately, as green as I was (yes, I don't feel quite so green 3 months later) I sent out a query to one on this list. I found it more than strange when she requested my full manuscript one day later then called me personally two days later to "sign me up." That old adage that if it's too good to be true, it probably is, came screaming back to me. It was the point in the conversation when she said, "Does this all sound good to you so far?" that I realized I was being sold. Thankfully, I can smell a scam fairly quickly, and hung up feeling slightly bitter that I wasted my time. I've been a tenacious researcher of agent websites before querying ever since.

Anonymous said...

Thankfully, there are such warnings like these for beginning writers who are floundering in this new territory of publishing. I stumbled across the Robins website and found it quite odd that there were no bookcovers next to the client lists. Then, stupidly, it dawned on me why. Thanks, Ms. Snark, for your well-received information.

Anonymous said...

I worked with two of the "agencies" listed. Wish I had known that before. They DO charge fees, regardless of what terminology they use. Basically, all they did was package up full manuscripts and mass-mail them to possible publishers. I was unable to find ANYTHING of consequence they had had published. Contact with me was minimal. Editing (at cost) was also recommended. "Writers Manual" showed me how it is to be done, and I will soon be published.

Sad sad sad.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the list - amazed that two of these "agent" are on the agentquery website - which are all supposed to be legit. I queried one of them just two weeks ago. As a first time writer this information is fantastic.
Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

I was contacted by both the Chris Robbins and the Harris Agency. I keep a list of all the agents I query so I can send them a thank you note after I receive their feedback. Even though I did submit to the Harris Literary Agency, I never sent anything to Chris Robbins. She wanted to charge me $3,000 for representing me. Even if I had that kind of money, I wouldn't pay it! The lady sounded like a car's salesman. She wanted to know what I wanted her to do for me and that she'd provide the best customer service ever. That was a big clue for me!! Agents are not there to provide customer service!!! If anyone is contacted by either of these two agencies, please stay clear from them! Getting rejection letters is tough, but getting involved in scams such as the ones above, are even worse!!

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

If the typical way agents do business is like giving the writer a blank check, does that mean every legitimate agent is a sucker? No wonder they're all over Union Square holding cardboard signs.

Sue said...

I got taken by the Children's Literary Agency - it was not until I read the site, and Victoria's comments it all started to fall into place. Needless to say they did not take me for anymore - thank you to people like Victoria who help 'lettuces' like me. You saved me a lot of bucks.


Anonymous said...

I just received a contract form what appears to be B.A. Literary Agency. I'm not sure if it is the one on your list???? How do I find out.

Leary Author.

almost 3steps backwards said...

When you say "taken" what exactly does this mean? I realize some mean taken for a $ amount but, what about your manuscript's? were they stolen or what

Anonymous said...

I'm thankful that I stumbled upon this web site. I, too, was informed by the Harris Agency that they would like to see my entire manuscript. Instead now of waiting for them to say, "Yes, we would be honored to represent you," I left a message on the answering machine notifying them that our relationship will not be making it to first base. Very discouraging....

John said...

Holy Cow! I just did a google search for Micknick Production and found Miss Snark and ultimately this blog. My wife is already published and we were looking for an agent to try to increase sales. They sent us a contract....glad I checked here first.