The comment tails on the last four posts about Barbara Bauer, one of the 20 Worst Agents, has coughed up some interesting points I'd like to address.
First, I didn't wake up Thursday morning and decide to nip at the heels of an "agent" on the SFWA 20 worst list. I got an email that told me the Absolute Write site had been removed because a "literary agent" complained it "libeled" her. I proceeded to read the post and comments at Making Light, a place I go to get lots of info, maintained by people I know and trust. I verified that the AW site was down.
I decided that if Barbara Bauer was able to hoodwink someone into thinking she'd been libeled, one of the very best responses was to make it clear to anyone with the wit to google her name that other people think she's a scammer and why. So I posted. And posted. And you commented. And the fun started.
Now, if someone said to ME: "Miss Snark you are a scammer, you have no sales" what would I do? Well, I'd probably email them with a list of sales. And I'd be hopping mad. And I'd probably huff and puff. Probably in that order. Barbara Bauer did two of those three things. Guess which.
Second, people have expressed dismay at the idea that I'd say anything negative about a real person. Well, wake up and smell the coffee folks. This woman claims to be in MY profession. She holds herself up as my colleague. She's actually used the words "Miss Snark my competition" in posts on AW. (Hell yes I read that stuff). I was able to laugh that off for a while but now she's bullying people who are in the very business of helping clueless newbies (among others) ...that makes me as angry as I've been in a while. She gives mercenary and avaricious a bad name, and for that, I'll be as loud and public as I need to be. If you don't like it, go read someone else's damn blog.
Third, people have intimated that AW isn't a paragon of holiness and virtue. Well, d'uh. No one said it was. It's a damn bbs with 7000 members. Of COURSE people are going to do, say, post and illustrate completely lame ass stupid vile and cruel stuff. And other people on the board are going to chide them, correct them, and in really flagrant cases ban them.
AW doesn't have to be perfect or even close to it to have my respect. They're TRYING which is more than can be said for those scam "agents" who are preying.
I've read more than one post at AW that said "Miss Snark wears support hose and drinks moonshine" but I've never felt the need to threaten anyone with libel, or any kind of legal sanction. I don't need to defend myself, and I sure as hell don't need to shut anyone up.
Fourth, I've been chided for using this to promote a book. Well, folks, lets all remember that when I chide agents for selling stuff, it's for selling things they get a piece of and as part of a rejection letter.
I've recommended books here before, I'll keep doing it. Hell, I post a list of the books I've read this year so you can go read those too. I don't get a piece of those, and I sure as hell don't get a piece of Jenna's book at Nomad Press.
And last but not least, Hell yes I'm mad. I love this industry and I love my job. I get VERY prickly when someone does something that associates the word "literary agent" with "scam". And I get even more hot under the collar when people think the proper response to that is to either ignore it or deal with it like it doesn't matter. It does matter. It matters a lot.
I would hope to dog you'd value the idea that a literary agent isn't just ho-hum about someone preying on writers LIKE YOU. And if you think for one tiny little minute that you could never ever be that kind of clueless newbie who'd fall for a scam, remember, you weren't born knowing everything you know today. Someone taught you. Someone helped you. Sneer all you want to at those clueless puppies today but we were all born clueless and the idea of letting someone chomp them up like they don't count is repugnant to me, and it should be to you to. If it isn't, get the hell out of my blogosphere.
And, of course, I can see from my email that a lot of people wish we'd get back to "business and usual". We will.
You can follow the events in the comments trail at Making Light, as I do.