Over the past couple of weeks, Writer Beware has heard from a number of writers who've received out-of-the-blue email solicitations from a literary agency called May Writers' Group. The emails aren't all identical, but here's a typical one:
Hi [writer's name],
Hope you're having a wonderful day!
You impress us as a very talented, imaginative and ambitious writer -- just the kind of writer we love to represent. May Writers' Group is a world-class literary agency. We're currently looking for new talent.
Please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us what writing projects you currently have available for literary representation.
We're looking forward to hearing from you. Have a lovely day!
The Submissons Department
May Writers' Group
So is this a legitimate solicitation?
Contrary to what many people believe, reputable literary agencies do sometimes approach writers directly (rather than the other way around). However, this is pretty rare, and usually happens as a result of published work, or, occasionally, writing posted on a blog or at a website. The contact will also be individual and specific. No reputable agency engages in a mass email campaign to drum up clientele.
Another red flag: beyond the several online discussions by writers who've gotten solicitations, no information on May Writers' Group can be found. Not all agencies court the publicity limelight, but a reputable literary agency will have a research footprint, and a "world class" literary agency will have a large research footprint. Try doing a websearch on Trident Media Group, for instance. There's no such thing as a stealth literary agency.
There's no way to tell whether May Writers' Group is a clueless startup with the wrong idea about building a client list, or an unscrupulous fee-charger looking for paying customers--but one thing is for sure: this is not a solicitation you should answer.