It’s every writers dream, securing an agent to help you with that publishing deal. But what if you signed with an agent who wasn’t actually an agent? What if you signed with some money-grabbing sad act who runs a fake agency? Well, if you do that, chances are you’re in a world of trouble.
Fake agents are bad news for everyone. They are the litter of the literary web, and are there to cause havoc wherever they go. Their only goal is to bleed unknowing authors dry by taking all sorts of weird payments and setting all kinds of monetising traps.
And the worst of it is, once they’ve fooled you and emptied your wallet, they won’t even get you a book deal out of it. And why is that? Because they’re fake, remember? They have no actual connections in, or knowledge of, the industry. All they’re concerned about is plotting elaborate scams.
All of this gut-wrenching information leads to one lonely question: how do I spot a fake agent? Well, in this article, you’re about to get two tell-tale signs of a no-doubt-about-it fake.
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They Don’t Have Their Authors Listed
Every established agent or agency has that page on their website that lists all of their famous and decorated authors – every single last one of them. I’ve never seen a legitimate agent who didn’t have that on their sight, which means this is a huge one to look out for.
If you come across an agent who has no such list, chances are they’re a huge fake.
Those lists are there to lure writers in. It’s sort of like the agent’s advertising panel; as if they’re saying, ‘Wow, look here writers, look at all the awesome people I’ve represented.’ These lists are crucial to an agent’s success, so all good, legit agents will have them included.
In the same breath though, always check an agent’s list when you’re looking at it. Any bozo could mash a random list of names and photos together and pass them off as great authors. Make sure to check that the authors are real people, by Googling them and searching for their books. It’s better still if you have a copy, because they’ll likely thank their agent in the acknowledgements, which means you’ll be able to check from there – that’s always the most accurate way.
So remember, if the list isn’t there, you might want to consider pulling on your running shoes and heading for the hills.
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This is just as much a turn-off as the previous point, and is just as much of a sign of foul play too.
Agents make their money via a percentage of sales, and should not make a single penny until those sales are coming in. There should be no advance payments, no ‘incentives’, and certainly no reading fees.
These hidden charges that a fake agent requests will likely come in all shapes in sizes. The scammers are getting cleverer these days, and find fancy ways of presenting their unnecessary fees and charges. They may sound fancy and real, but none of them are.
If an agent doesn’t outline a simple contract, that has no mention of money in it until the section in which they discuss their percentage of sales, then you’re in for a sour surprise. Much like before, I’d recommend the running shoes.
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Approach With Caution
The internet is filled with elaborate hackers and scammers these days, and they’re finding all sorts of new ways to force money out of innocent, hard-working people.
Luckily for writers though, because of the way agents get paid, it’s easy to spot the fakes from the real deal. It’s as simple as looking out for those fees they ask for in advance – for whatever reason they give. Add in a lack of a list of authors they represent, and you’ve got yourself a fake.
Run these two checks on every agent you come across, and smile knowing that you can browse happily. It’s all okay now, those mean scammers can no longer hurt you.
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