In addition to checking agents out through AAR or the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org), look for Web sites where writers post information about agents they believe are dishonest or disreputable. If the agent charges an upfront reading fee, that’s the first red flag—it’s against the AAR Canon of Ethics and is not considered standard practice. Generally, you shouldn’t have to pay an agent any fee unless she sells your work, although some agents will charge you up front for expenses related to submitting your work (photocopying, postage, etc).
New Agent Alert: Amy Collins of Talcott Notch Literary Services
New literary agent alerts (with this spotlight featuring Amy Collins of Talcott Notch Literary Services) are golden opportunities for new writers because each one is a literary agent who is likely building his or her client list.