Like most of the publishing industry, the BookEnds team has been troubled by the news of literary agent Danielle Smith and her fraudulent dealings with authors. Troubled, but not surprised that this happens (although we know nothing about Danielle Smith personally). Back in 2010, I wrote my first blog posts about avoiding bad agents. This isn’t a new phenomenon and Danielle Smith won’t be the last agent writers warn each other about.
In fact, in May I wrote a blog post imploring writers to do their research to protect themselves from signing with bad agents. We have been tracking stories on places like the Absolute Write forums and Query Tracker for months and when we get word from an author that they’ve signed with an agent without giving us an opportunity to “play” we immediately wonder if it’s one of these agents.
I haven’t done enough to protect authors from bad agents lately. I haven’t warned you enough or prepared you for how to handle it. I’m sorry about that. This week I made a video not just for those who are querying, but also in support of any author who feels they’ve fallen in with a bad agent and is now trapped, ashamed, or embarrassed. Don’t be. Get yourself out of the situation and remember that what that agent did is not a reflection of you. You signed with a bad agent, you were wowed by sparkly things (happens to me all the time). No one should judge you for that.
If you are querying, keep researching, get involved in the forums and message groups I discuss and know that 99% of all agents are good, hard-working author advocates who have your best interests at the core of everything they do.