Dear Miss Snark,
I definitely want to hear your take on this one: an agent I found listed on Publishers Marketplace only accepts queries from unpublished writers IF they subscribe - for $29.95/half a year - to the agency's literary magazine.
I checked the guy out on Predators and Editors and they don't have any warning attached to his name. (I think that may change in about 52 seconds)
Isn't this the same as paying to be read? (no)
Is this a bit scummy? (wellllll.....)
The idea of making you subscribe to this magazine before you can query is hilarious. I wonder if it actually works?
What makes this different from reader fees is that you are not paying for them to read your work, you're paying to read theirs. On the other hand...have you actually seen the magazine? Given I pay $25 a year for my New Yorker subscription, I doubt they've got anything I'm willing to pay $60/year to read.
Reading the slush pile is part of our job. Inventing ingenious ways to make it profitable or engaging in shenanigans to make it go away should be viewed as comic relief not the practice of an agent I'd care to work with.