I read a lot of blogs by authors and publishers. One I really enjoyed was Absolute Write. You'll notice that name isn't a hyperlink. Because Absolute Write is gone. For the full story, go back and click on that link, but the gist of it is as follows:
Absolute Write maintained a list of the 20 worst agencies. One of the people on the list, Barbara Bauer, complained to the ISP hosting Absolute Write. Invoking the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, along with quite a lot of shouting and threats of lawyers, she got the ISP to take the site down.
Of course, she was on that list for a reason. So like a lot of other people, I'm posting a copy of the list below. I've also linked to the copy of the list on the SFWA site - the theory here is that if enough people link to the list, Google will push it above Barbara Bauer's own site.
Here's the list
Below is a list of the 20 literary agencies about which Writer Beware has received the greatest number of advisories/complaints over the past several years.
None of these agencies has a significant track record of sales to commercial (advance-paying) publishers, and most have virtually no documented and verified sales at all (book placements claimed by some of these agencies turn out to be "sales" to vanity publishers). All charge clients before a sale is made--whether directly, by levying fees such as reading or administrative fees, or indirectly, for editing or other adjunct services.
Writer Beware recommends that writers avoid questionable literary agencies, and instead query agencies that have verifiable track records of sales to commercial publishing houses.
Note that while the 20 agencies listed here account for the bulk of the complaints we receive, they're just the tip of the iceberg. Writer Beware has files on nearly 400 questionable agencies, and we learn about a new one every few weeks.
* The Abacus Group Literary Agency
* Allred and Allred Literary Agents (refers clients to "book doctor" Victor West of Pacific Literary Services)
* Barbara Bauer Literary Agency
* Benedict Associates (also d/b/a B.A. Literary Agency)
* Sherwood Broome, Inc.
* Capital Literary Agency (formerly American Literary Agents of Washington, 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, formerly Sydra-Techniques)
-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, Simply Nonfiction, and Michele Glance Rooney Literary Agency)
* Southeast Literary Agency
* Mark Sullivan Associates
* West Coast Literary Associates (also d/b/a California Literary Services)
And further reading:
Absolute Write is gone
Miss Snark is damn mad
Update:Well that didn't take long. Absolute Write is back!