Most of you visiting here will probably be aware of the most recent antics of "literary agent" Barbara Bauer, serial cease-and-desister and Big Number 3 on Writer Beware's Twenty Worst Agents list.
(If I seem a bit behind the eight ball with this post, I wasn't aware of any of this till yesterday evening. I was offline on Wednesday getting ready for a trip, and Thursday I was traveling--to visit Ann, as a matter of fact, and attend a conference. I spent yesterday evening and this morning just catching up with everything that's happened.)
In case you're not familiar with the situation, Barbara Bauer has been running around the Internet lately threatening people who've posted information about her fee-charging, non-manuscript-selling ways, including people who've linked to the Twenty Worst list. She has threatened legal action; she has even attempted to get people fired. Anyone who deals with disreputable agents knows that they don't follow through on their threats; they're cheap, they're liars, and they don't want to get involved in any situation that might result in disclosure of their dirty business practices. Response to Ms. Bauer's threats has been a large collective yawn. Unfortunately Ms. Bauer has continued her cease-and-desist efforts, no doubt on the theory that if you fire a thousand bullets you're bound to hit something eventually, and finally managed to find someone who took her seriously--the owners of the ISP where Absolute Write, one of the best writers' resources on the Internet, used to reside. To make a long story short, Ms. Bauer screamed, the ISP owners listened, and Absolute Write is now history.
There's a more detailed account of the whole unsavory episode on Making Light.
[In this space originally was a paragraph giving the ISP owners the benefit of the doubt. Since posting it, I've learned things that have convinced me that the ISP owners deserve a lot of the blame that's being heaped on them. I was wrong; all of you who let me know it are right.]
Even as I'm grieving Absolute Write (which I'm certain will rise again, through the efforts of its dedicated members and volunteer staffers, and the bravery of its heroic founder and editor-in-chief, Jenna Glatzer), I can't help taking pleasure in the unintended results of Ms. Bauer's attack. Sure, she killed a great website, but she crashed and burned in the process. In an incredible groundsurge of support for Absolute Write and the work of anti-scam groups like Writer Beware and Preditors & Editors, bloggers everywhere have been linking to the Twenty Worst list. When AW went down Ms. Bauer was probably rubbing her hands with glee, but right now she's got to be wringing them in horror as this meme proliferates across the Internet. Talk about viral marketing!
Ann and I would like to thank all the bloggers and others who've linked to the list as a gesture of support to AW and the campaign against literary scams. Through your efforts, the list is reaching a wider audience than we ever dared hope it would. Ms. Bauer is the catalyst for its spread, but ultimately this isn't about her--it's about all agents who prey on writers, whether they're deliberate scammers, clueless amateurs, or has-beens taking a sleazy route to easy cash.
The search for a new home for AW continues. Of course, a new host will cost money. Jenna isn't accepting donations right now, but there's a way we can help in case she needs them later. Consider buying her latest book, The Street Smart Writer. It's a terrific handbook for writers wanting to avoid the scams and schemes that infest the publishing world, and if you buy it from this link, Absolute Write gets a small percentage of the sale.
As I mentioned, I'm away from home at the moment, visiting Ann, so there may not be a new post until next week. Thanks again, and keep spreading the word!