Dear Miss Snark,
I think I did a bad thing.
Almost a year ago, I was a new writer and found out about scammers. I read reams of information about how to spot one, and felt rather paranoid about the whole thing. I was on a LiveJournal writers' group when this person posted out of the blue, claiming to be a new agent looking for authors.
I had read that contacting authors was a no-no, yet said so in a rather snarky way. When promptly jumped on, I looked the new agent and the company and everything involved with it up, and found no sales by any of them. Said post was eventually deleted after some 'friends' of the agent chimed in (who would make KY look like a sweet little bunny).
Now I'm hearing that this company is actually selling stuff now. I'll never query this place, as I didn't like the agent or the 'friends', but now I'm wondering if I've (KY close your ears) screwed the proverbial pooch.
Probably not (dog desecration aside of course). There is no Fecal Roster circulating among agents listing the names of people who say idiotic things on message boards.
Legit agents generally laugh that stuff off. I don't need to worry about some wiseacre saying I'm a scammer cause I know I'm not, and I've got the sales to prove it.
It's the folks who AREN'T legit who feel the need to defend themselves to the last breath.
I don't need to keep track of everyone who says something stupid on any of the writers boards cause if they really believe it, they won't query me.
This does point out the downside of message boards however; a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Agents DO contact writers particurlarly now that email makes it easy. I emailed someone just yesterday to say "you're a good writer, keep me in mind if you've got aspirations for a book".
Legit agents don't advertise, they don't charge fees, and they can tell you what they've sold.