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Friday, May 26, 2006


One of the scam agents responds

I've been wondering just how scam agents might respond to the Googlebomb targeting Barbara Bauer. After all, the other 19 agents on the list can't be too happy that Barbs has gone and done something stupid and gotten it splashed all around the Internet, and Barbara is likely to be extremely mad once she learns how hard the Law of Unintended Consequences can bite. The way I see it, these are their options:
  1. Ignore this and hope everything will all blow over.
  2. Publically denounce the list.
  3. Get your clients to denounce the list.
  4. Make empty threats against those who host the list.
  5. Actually try pursuing legal action against those who host the list.

#5 may be the stupidest option, for two reasons. One, there are now several dozen targets mirroring the list across several domain names, and taking them all down will require a considerable amount of money. Two, truth is an absolute defense against libel, and defendants can have the agents' records examined in court, making the agent's lack of sales a matter of public record. Three, a trial could attract attention from (not to mention provide very reliable sources for) print media, causing this to jump from the blogosphere to the pages of Writer's Digest - or if you're really unlucky, Time. Not a good thing to risk.

#4 is not quite as dumb, but it gives bloggers more grist for the mill. They can have fun posting and mocking threat letters, like the time Barbara Bauer unwisely tried to threaten Writers Weekly with a lawsuit for one billion dollars (inspiring the obvious comparisons with Dr. Evil) .

#3 is shades of the Scientology attempt to blanket the Internet with cookie-cutter pages from its members. The trouble with this is that it can backfire pretty badly - if the agents had a significant number of clients who had books sold to good publishers, they wouldn't get on the list, would they? And their critics would be quick to point that out. Worse, if the clients get wind that this is to settle a debate, they may try to take on the critics and hear enough arguements to stop paying. Not good.

#2 is again pretty unwise - it gives your potential victims notice that there are people out there who don't like you. And unless people visiting your site are as dumb as a box of rocks, they may want to know more about this controversy.

#1 would be the most logical option. Just hope that those people who search the net for literary agents don't do too much more searching or type your name into the search engine directly, and try not to make the situation worse.

Well, Miss Snark has found that one of those 20 Worst is pursuing either Option 2 or 4. The screed appears to be from an email sent to what the agent thought might be a client. Fellow dubious agent Chris Robins, or one of her employees, makes all sorts of absurd claims about a class action suit and a "2,000 Worst Writers List." Presumably such writers would not be able to get representation with agents that are unable to sell their books anyway. It's absolutely hillarious reading. Makes me want to contact Chris Robins and ask to see a copy of that Worst Writers List.

What a maroon. You just know all the people on the list are getting ready to put a hit out on Bads.
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