Shining a bright light into the dark corners of the shadow-world of literary scams, schemes, and pitfalls. Also providing advice for writers, industry news, and commentary. Writer Beware® is sponsored by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc.

May 26, 2006

Victoria Strauss -- The Barbara Bauer Show

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!


Yasmine Galenorn said...

I think AW found a new host! I checked this morning and they've got something up:

And you know, Victoria, before the net, it was far easier to scam somebody because word about scammers took ages to get around. Now, in a matter of hours, it can be all over the world.

I had a friend, years ago, who lost $8K to the Commonwealth scam. Ever since then, I've been telling aspiring writers to watch out, to research, to quit pinning their hopes on getting just any agent. A bad agent, a bad publisher, is far, far worse than no agent or publisher.

Anyway, you guys keep up the good work--and we in the writing community are standing behind you!


Anonymous said...

Victoria - FYI, there is some doubt of the hosting company's response to Bauer, based on the fact that the plug on AW was pulled by Stephanie C, who has nearly simultaneously begun her own similar website. To get rid of the competition while starting your own writers' advice site doesn't meet the objectivity criteria.

Further, if she has any useful information to put on the site, she knows about Barbara Bauer and Bauer's multitude of threatened lawsuits. In a number of opinions, ignorance and objectivity were sufficiently lacking as to arouse suspicions.

There is also the simple factor that the hosting company did not give Jenna adequate notice to retreive the files and is now refusing to give them to her. Stephanie must know that AW's greatest asset was its archives of information. Why would she not only cause AW's sudden non-existence but also keep the files? It should also be mentioned that Stephanie was a contributor to the AW board. She knew what was on there. She knew how good it was.

Not to worry. A lot of the records were backed-up piecemeal by AW fans, and they're coming forward. AW will indeed rise again. As for Stephanie, based on various factors, I have no desire to read her site but someone familiar with AW should keep an eye on it. The excuse given for keeping the files seems a trifle lame. I hope they prove themselves to be more credible than their actions - and words - have so far appeared.

Anyone interested can read the info on the Making Light site, under comments. And Miss Snark, and Grumpy Old Bookman, etc, etc. Bauer and Stephanie have reaped the whirlwind.

Anonymous said...

Good lord--and THIS just came on line:

Anonymous said...

This is sick. I can't believe this could have happened.

I hope as much as possible from AW can be saved with the help of fans and article authors.

Who is this Stephanie character anyway. If she's got the know-how to make a writing website, she knows BB is a scammer. Why kill AW...

I'm SO SO angry! :(

aries75 said...

IMO, you're being waaaaay the heck too generous towards JC-Hosting. To put it simply, they used Barbara Bauer as an excuse to pull the plug on AW so they could start their own competing site.

See for more info (this is where Stephanie Cordray, co-owner of JC-Hosting, talks about starting her own writing site, and the comments show exactly what people think of said endevor :) )

Also see where the other owner tells "his side of the story" (as someone else said on the Making Light thread, "Good luck deciphering it, however. I've seen my cat write more coherent things just walking on the keyboard.")

So...yeah. Would *you* want a host like that? I blame them just as much as Barbara Bauer if not more so.

Anonymous said...


You & Ann are in a musical--

Victoria Strauss said...

anonymous and aries75, since putting up this post originally I've learned stuff that has convinced me that the ISP owners deserve much less credit than I gave them. I've changed the post to reflect that.

Dave Kuzminski said...

Well, it seems that A Gent's Outlook has chosen to get in on the action today. Why does his opinion not surprise me?

Alan Yee said...

I've added a very long rant to my new blog on this subject, along with about one or two dozen links to the Top 20 Worst Agents.

The reason I'm more angry at her and the Cordrays personally about this than others are: aside from Jim's post that gave her e-mail address, Barbara Bauer was most furious about MY post. Let's just say I used the words "Barbara Bauer", "scam", and "Top 20 Worst Agents" too many times in one sentence.

I'm 14, and I have already pissed off a scammer. What an accomplishment. Next time it will be PublishAmerica.

Jim C. Hines said...

It looks like, bottom line, AW will have been offline for a few days. Maybe even a week.

As a result, thousands more people (most of them in writing-related fields) now know the name Barbara Bauer, and have seen the Top 20 list.

And if the googlebombing works, potential victims of Ms. Bauer will have a much easier time finding out the truth about her business practices.

In my mind, I imagine Ms. Bauer waving her hand somewhat nervously, and asking, "Wait, wait -- can I get a do-over?"

Nan said...

Thanks for the Twenty Worst list. I'm going to post it on my blog too!

Bernita said...

He charges up-front fees, doesn't he, Dave?

Jim C. Hines said...

Oh dear. It looks like the SFWA Top 20 list has jumped to the #2 result in a Google search for Ms. Bauer. Ouch...

I've got a screenshot here, for anyone who's interested.

So, how much do you think it'll take to get the #1 spot?

Victoria Strauss said...

I ran a spot check on some of the other agents on the list...they all seem to be beneficiaries of the Barbara Bauer effect. Cool!

Jim C. Hines said...

That's awesome, Victoria!!!

I think someone needs to trademark the phrase "Barbara Bauer Effect" :-)

Anonymous said...

I take issue with the label "Top 20 worst Agents List", given that those on it are not legitimate literary agents at all. That's what has Miss Snark's knickers in a bunch (that they're "claiming to be [her] colleagues.")

Call a spade a spade, Victoria. Call it the Top 20 Literary Scammers List.

roach said...

Call it the Top 20 Literary Scammers List.

While this would be the technically correct title, many victims come to these scammers via the internet by searching for "literary agent." With the above name writers would have to actively be looking for scammers to find the list. It's an effort to catch writers while they're still fresh-eyed, bushy-tailed and naive.

Victoria Strauss said...

Also, they're not all scammers. One of the things Writer Beware tries hardest to point out is that many--possibly the majority--of fee-charging, editing-service-referring, non-manuscript-selling agents out there aren't deliberate con artists, they're simply incompetent. Obviously, for the writer, the bottom line is the same--no sale. But I really don't like to use the word "scammer" as a blanket term for the people we track and warn about, because so many of them aren't.

I'm actually not crazy about "worst" either, but "most complained about" didn't have the same zing.

Anonymous said...

I've linked the 20 worst list on my favorite forum within

Just doing my part.

Dawno said...

May I have your permission to use a graphic of the list on the "I Survived" tote bag in the CafePress store I created for AW support items? All proceeds are to be donated to AW for legal and tech fees.

I would be happy to forward you the artwork for approval.


Dave Kuzminski said...

Bernita, I don't know SammyK's true identity, so I really don't know if he's an upfront fee charger.

Matt Shields said...

thank you for taking the time to have this site!

Anonymous said...

Hi Victoria,

I was so shocked to find this posted, and am horrified at what has happened.

I have posted a blurb in Brady Magazine's writing forum about what has happened to help gain more supporters.

Whatever you need, I'm here:

The same goes for you Jenna-- Brady Magazine maintains websites for writers, so if there is any technical help needed, we're completely here for you.

Krissy Brady
Brady Magazine

PS Here is the direct link to our blurb:;action=display;threadid=957

caffeinebliss said...

Wow! The info on your site is very helpful. I would love to link you to our website, and even possibly have you as a columnist on our site. Would you be interested? Please let me know...

Anonymous said...

For some reason the rss feed tossed this up in my livejournal again. I was worried for a second that Absolutewrite was gone again!

J_Jammer said...

Absolute Write Watercooler -- is ran by the Stasi. Guess they turned into the bullies.

J_Jammer said...

Absolute Write Watercooler turned into the Stasi for writers. Guess they decided to grow into being the bullies.

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Anonymous said...

ABsolute WRite and this blog are bullies from the beginning of the internet. You have no idea what type of criminals they all are. that miss snark died when AC crispin dies because Straus and Crispin are criminals on the internet

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