After every conference I attend and present at, I usually blog about the happenings of the weekend - such as the people I met and the things I saw, etc. If you've read the blog long enough, you'd know I go to a lot of writers' conferences. And the first one I ever attended may have been the wackiest. It's when I met an infamous unscrupulous "agent" who was deemed one of the20 Worst by Write Beware.
First: The Conference
I'm not gonna go into specifics (names/places), but let me just entertain you for a second...
So I fly to a location in the Midwest and it's my first writers' conference ever. I show up the following morning to a Holiday Inn. I enter the main room and see that the entire audience is comprised of about 9 people. It turns out that the "conference" is actually just a small writers' group. So I'm like "OK, Chuck. Just give your speech and get this done."
After the speech, I start to meet with writers and have those little one-on-one sessions where I just answer any questions a writer may have. Then one of the attendees comes up to me and shows me her self-published book, asking how to market it and get an agent. I look at the cover. It's called "Uncle Jerry and the Bad Touch." NOT A JOKE!! Priceless!!
So I stammer for about 10 seconds, then scratch my head, then clear my throat. "I'm no expert on picture books, but I think this is kind of an odd subject for a book like this," I said.
Second: Meeting One of the "20 Worst"
I get introduced to the only literary agent in attendance. Upon hearing I work for Writer's Digest magazine (I did at that time), she immediately blasts my magazine, saying a recent article was inaccurate, etc. (Whatever!) She introduced herself and quickly brought up that she was on the "20 Worst" list, trying to discredit the list's rationale.
During her speech to the crowd, she revealed why she is one of the most reviled agents in America. She charges her clients an upfront fee of like $3,000! Insane again! When someone asked her about recent sales, she alluded to some private sales to big companies and basically gave no specifics of any kind. This smooth talking was too slick to be unrehearsed.
There was one especially nice tale she told. Expounding on why she charges thousands of bucks upfront, she addressed how a lot of people hate her, and even brought up one occasion where a disgruntled writer sent in a "special" package to her office in the Midwest. This package was rigged to spray dead animal parts and blood all over the office when opened. It was opened, and some assistant got the surprise of her young life, while this agent got a crazy bill from the EPA after clean-up.
How pissed do you have to be to rig a dead animal bomb? Doesn't a sick, elaborate thing like that have to clue this bad agent in on something?
Anyway, check out the list of the 20 Worstagain just to refresh yourself with those who should be avoided.