So I’ve been using Google Alerts to track some things lately, including news about me and my firm and also about some of my clients and their publishers. Fascinating what comes through and certainly very useful. If you are a published author, I highly recommend creating several alerts on your name, the name of your book, the combination of them both, etc. In this day where a good blog review is as valuable as a good review in Publishers Weekly—probably more!—you need to know what people are saying about you and your work.
That said, what I’ve found is that one website compiler of literary agent information that I’ve asked to have my information deleted from is continuing to post it. And it’s wrong or outdated or incomplete. It always is, as no compiler or aggregator is ever going to check my site often to keep track of what I am looking for or how I want materials submitted. And these sites charge you for this incorrect, outdated, or incomplete information. Please don’t use them. There are plenty of free sites with incorrect, outdated, or incomplete information. Just go to those. Or, better yet, do your own homework using the web and research directly those literary agents whom interest you. Visit their sites. A good site says a lot about an agency. A bad site says a lot also. It is up to you to do your due diligence.
As of now, I routinely reject all submissions that reference these three sites (I am leaving out the .com as I am not trying to create a link or lead for these folks):
In the case of the first site, I requested removal from their site and engaged in a long exchange with the owner of the site, whom I found terribly arrogant and obnoxious. Not one agent I know approves of a site such as these including information about an agency against the will of the agent(s) involved. Authors should also be opposed to such listings against the will of the agency.
In the case of the second site, my requests and emails received a number of colorful responses, including the following:
“Generally, literary agents are pea-brained, teeny-weeny, anally retentive, third-grade microcephalic morons who can't write or think worth a cat's turd. They use the equivalents of Cliffs Notes to judge the writings and intellects of others--because their own minds can't encompass anything larger than a short note. They think they are hot shit on golden platters, though they are cold turds on paper plates.”—Kim Servasso
In the case of the third site, I received a request that I allow them to work with me to update and revise the listing on their site so that it is more accurate. This, of course, raises the question, Why would I want to do that? Why would I spend my time trying to make their site better, when they could just delete my information from their site and I’d be done? The answer is, I wouldn’t. I’m still awaiting confirmation as to whether or not my information will be removed.
Lest you think I’m being selfish or arrogant myself for wanting to be removed from these sites, I assure you that it is not just in my own best interests. Incorrect, outdated, and incomplete listings on third-party sites lead to dozens and dozens of queries or submissions sent my way that have no interest to me and they get rejected. Thus all of that time, paper, and postage was wasted. And, yes, some of that time was mine, in reading something that wasn’t going to be of interest to me, so I’d just rather not be listed.
I have spent hours and hours writing about what I want in this blog and on my website, all for free. Then a site like those above comes along and charges you a fee for what is often incorrect, outdated, or incomplete information. It amuses me that so many writers’ sites scream about bewares and background checks on literary agents, when sites charging for information on agents—including fee-charging agents, I’m sure; I don’t believe you can get to 1000 literary agents without including the fee-chargers— are becoming more and more widespread. Perhaps there should be a shift in focus to reviewing these sites and calling the agents listed to see what they have to say about their listings. I’d be happy to take that call.