My name is Rebecca Lloyd, I'm still registered with Writewords, and joined right in the beginning, but I haven't been participating for a number of years now... well, except that I get called on occassionally to teach my short story course here.
I've never used a literary agent myself. All my books have been produced by publishers who have no use for agents. But I frequently hear about writers having the most dismal experiences with literary agents, and so I've set up a facebook group to try, in a very practical way, to address some of the issues. Writers tend to swallow the treatment metered out to them by bad agents, and there's a distinct parallel here with the Me Too movement... writers don't want to freely admit that they have been done over by an agent for fear that it'll harm their writing career. So as a first step to changing the relationship between author and agent, I have set up a private facebook page called Write Guard. It's not just a place where writers can commiserate with each other, we intend to create a useful booklet. This is my blurb for it:- It’s a closed group, by invitation only, where writers who have had negative experiences with literary agents or agencies can come together to share their stories and commiserate with others, and by that means feel a little less alone in the experience. By ‘negative’ we mean any form of bad or unprofessional behaviour that a writer has been subjected to by an agent, including anything from wilful neglect to bullying, to downright robbery. But you don’t have to be a writer who has had contact with agents to join, I haven’t done myself, so have no personal story to tell about that body of people.
Secondly, Write Guard’s mission is to attempt, against all odds perhaps, to level up the playing field between writer and agent. To that end, we want to understand the kind of experiences writers are having, and construct a free booklet designed to help new writers navigate their way through the world of literary agents. A further aim is to construct a new form of agreement between writer and agent in which the agent’s duties are described and a time limit set for completion of the same. This agreement might be passed from writer to agent, and that very act alone begins to change the unequal relationship between the two. At the very least we aim to construct a template for a fair agreement that takes into account the writer’s needs as well as those of the agent.
Finally, we have decided that the names of agencies or individual agents should not be revealed in Write Guard; members can invent their own names for agents and that might be fun. We feel this is necessary for the safety of the group. We reckon that if a writer wants to expose a bad agent by name, they can do so outside the group.
Victoria Strauss from Writer Beware's Thumbs Down Agencies List, states that agents and agencies mentioned in her list are ‘just the tiniest tip of the iceberg, in terms of agents to beware of. We have hundreds of complaints on file.’
The link below takes you to a blog discussion within a good literary agency which we think is very illuminating. From time to time, we will put up similar links in Write Guard:- http://bookendsliterary.com/2018/08/14/bad-literary-agents/
We've been open for just over a week and have 27 members already. If anyone is interested in being part of this, please contact me by either looking up Rebecca Lloyd writer online or by my email address ... firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm happy to answer any further questions you might have as well.