(to read the whole page http://www.sfwa.org/for-authors/writer-beware/agents/)Dishonest agents prey on writers by charging fees, promoting their own paid services, engaging in kickback referral schemes, and misrepresenting their knowledge and expertise. These agents don’t earn their income by selling manuscripts to publishers, but by extracting money from their clients.Dishonest agents may “represent” hundreds of writers, turning them over twice a year with a six-month contract that requires an upfront fee (reputable agents work on commission, and charge nothing upfront). They may be fronts for editing or other adjunct services, charging inflated prices for substandard work. They may own vanity publishers, into which clients are funneled once they’ve racked up enough rejections to become desperate.
Looking for a nice literary agency you want to submit your work to? Do your homework first!
I know, I know, you have to write the book, edit the heck out of it and now you have to check out who you're sending your book out to. I think of a literary agent like picking out a daycare, on one hand you really don't know these people, yet you have to trust them with your baby. Your manuscript is your baby, if you send your child to daycare and he or she comes home with new words added to their vocabulary you know it's time for a new daycare. But with a manuscript sometimes the damage is done.
I once read a horror story of a literary agent who sent out an author's erotica manuscript to Christian children's publishers!! Do you see what I mean? It's obvious that the agent did not care enough to read the book.
So I implore you it'll take you maybe ten minutes to learn what you can about literary agents and what they should be doing and how they should behave. Search, search, search, here are a few links that's pulled my fat from the fire a few times. Because these guys are everywhere. These links are in a way, like an author's background check when it comes to agents and publishers.
Absolute Water Cooler
-with this site chances are the agent you want to look up has already been addressed so just search for them. If not - ask.
Writer Beware Blog
Predators and Editors
Writer Wednesday isn't original but it's a title that I like, I