Below is a list of the 20 agents about which Writer Beware has received the greatest number of advisories/complaints during the past several years.
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 that 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)
- Michele 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)
* Rachel adds: in addition to the various testimonials about avoiding these people who you can find at Writer Beware or (for those who hang out on SFF.net, at the sff.publishing.scams group there), it's worth noting that Barbara Bauer is apparently quite vehemently trying to get people to take her name off the list. Witness how she went after Patrick and Theresa Nielsen Hayden, Paula Offutt, and the Writer's Weekly eZine and forum. (Alas, I doubt I will have such an amusing follow-up to post. I do not think I am prominent enough for her to try and demand $1 billion in damages. So sad.)
Similarly, Cris Robins also has been trying to denounce Writer Beware and the Twenty Worst Agents list, though -- so far as I know -- has, unlike Barbara Bauer, not yet threatened to sue anyone or demanded 'licensing fees' for the use of her name in the 20 Worst Agents list.