Here in the UK the news is awash with scandals of politicians making expenses claims way beyond what is justifiably reasonable. People who should know better exploiting a system to feather their own nests, to boost their incomes at the expense of tax payers.
This, as you can imagine in the current global recession, has not gone down well.
Switch attention then to literary agents. It is widely seen as a bad thing for agencies to charge a reading fee to look through your work.
"The AAR believes that the practice of literary agents charging clients or potential clients for reading and evaluating literary works (including outlines, proposals, and partial or complete manuscripts) is subject to serious abuse that reflects adversely on our profession.
However, like politicians, there are some agencies who are willing to cash in during hard times on writers desperate to get a deal. To bring in an income into their business by charging a fee at the expense of authors.
Here are the warning signs:
1 They agree it's bad but justify it in the short term as a way of bringing in funds to start the agency.
2 They speak of an agency that specialises in new writers. We are your special friend.
3 They justify the cost because times are hard.
4 They claim that other agencies are put off looking for new talent because of the cost of processing the slush pile. We are covering our expenses so that we can help you.
Any of these should flash a red light up before you. Run for the hills there's cowboys about. New agencies started by people with no track record in the business should particularly be avoided.
Now politicians dress up their expenses as justifiable because they are working within the guidelines. However they are either acting like sheep and not questioning what they are doing because every one else is doing it, or they are morally bankrupt.
Agents who charge fees are working right at the limit of what is acceptable in the system by calling them "reading" fees but make no mistake you are dealing with sheep or a morally bankrupt agency. That is they are either stupid or bad.
Think about that before you hand over your novel and your cash to them. There is no gun pointing at your head other than your desire to succeed. Let that desire motivate you to find a reputable agent that doesn't eat grass or isn't trying to fleece you.
Photo credit: Guille Mendia