Thursday, January 10, 2008

Victoria Strauss -- Thumbs Down Agency List Updated

When Writer Beware first put its Thumbs Down Agency List online, we didn't think we'd have to spend much time updating it, except for maybe adding someone every now and then. We were wrong. Name changes and aliases keep us busy.

We've just learned that Benedict & Associates/Phil Benedict, a.k.a. B.A. Literary/Phil Raia, is also doing business as R. Castro Literary Agency/Richard Castro.

How did we figure this out? Mr. "Castro's" M.O. is identical to Benedict/Raia's (a fee of $8.75 for each 100-page submission, sent out to publishers in batches of eight or ten). His response to writers who query him is virtually identical to Benedict/Raia's. He's located in Micco, Florida, which is where Benedict/Raia started out, and is just down the road from Benedict/Raia's current address in Barefoot Bay.

As far as Writer Beware knows, Mr. Benedict/Raia/Castro has no sales under any of his names. We first started getting questions about him in 2002.

It's worth noting that this came to my attention as a result of a listing at Firstwriter.com. I mentioned Firstwriter in my previous post as an example of online agent resources that don't screen the agents they list. Firstwriter's rationale (expressed to me in private correspondence some time back) is that its "word on the web" feature, which reports on negative info at other websites, and its system of author comments are sufficient to warn writers away from bad agents. This may work reasonably well for questionable agents who've been in business for some time, but for the newer ones or the ones who keep a low profile...not so much. As you can see from the link above, R. Castro has no red flags or negative comments. With his claim of "25 years in the publishing industry as an executive editor in two major publishers," he looks quite legit.

Writer beware, indeed.

4 comments:

Kristi Holl said...

Thank you again for the work you do to warn writers. Just yesterday I heard of another dear lady who forked over a huge chunk of her retirement to a "publisher" who is widely known as a scam artist, thanks to websites like this. You save a lot of people a lot of grief--and money.

Julia said...

That was an awesome catch, Victoria.

I can't believe this clown has the nerve to change his name YET AGAIN. There are many states in which that alone would be illegal unless he filed a public d/b/a notice. I know Florida has pretty lax regulations about stuff like that, though.

Rose Dewy Knickers said...

I came across your site yesterday when searching for agents. Thank you so much for all the information you've posted and maintained on your pages. You have given me strong direction towards finding the right agent for me.

Rose

xo

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the headsup, I actually sent my manuscript out to him a few weeks ago. I am so happy that I came across this site before I went any further.

Does you have any knowledge of the Thomas Dalton Agency out of Hickory, NC