Well, with all the furor over the last couple of days regarding the newly formed International Independent Literary Agents Association, it appears they've closed down their brand new website. (At one point yesterday, they (and the more I read I believe the site was built by Barbara Bauer, who is in the "Twenty Worst Agents" list at Writer Beware) replaced the website pages with a ranting message and a "kiss my ass"--literally, complete with a picture. Talk about poor grace and extreme unprofessionalism. Which should make anyone think more than twice about using the sodding bastards. Okay, sorry about the foul language, but this kind of thing just pisses me off. It's unethical, immoral, and just downright evil. When I went back later, there was only a "I'm currently working on the site... Thanks for visiting" message. Guess she rethought the whole "kiss my ass" thing.)
The sad thing is, they'll be back. Under some other name, some other guise. Because they make money exploiting people's dreams. So they'll be back. That's what scam artists do. Someone else likened them to cockroaches--smoosh one with your shoe, and another one just scurries around, taking its place.
They make money because there are a lot of people out there who are desperate for their manuscripts to be published. Some of those people (not all, by any means) don't want to take the time or spend the money or effort it takes to hone their craft and do the research. If they did, and if they have the talent (which I believe is one of those "you either have it or you don't" kind of things), they'd be able to secure a reputable agent without paying any fees to the agent.
In case you don't understand the basic message of all this hubbub: Money flows to the author from the agent, not the other way around. A reputable agent will NEVER charge money upfront to his/her authors.
So... writer beware. If you're at a point where you're looking for an editor, be sure to check Preditors & Editors first. And do some research on the internet. If the agency you're looking at charges upfront fees, run away. If they don't list their current authors/sales on their website, run away. If they change their website and tell you to kiss their ass... RUN AWAY VERY FAST!
Be smart. Do your homework. And be ready to run.
Part 5 of our Halloween story is running today at the Amber Heat blog. All leading up to Part 6--my contribution and the end of the story--tomorrow!
"A man is truly ethical only when he obeys the compulsion to help all life which he is able to assist, and shrinks from injuring anything that lives." ~Albert Schweitzer