Warning for the New Year
Donald Maass is a legit agent I've met in person and author of Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook, which I highly recommend. He posted this warning on Facebook and I want to get it to as many newbie authors as possible.
Writer friends, we'd like to alert you to an outfit called TechBooks Media in Wyoming, which has been using the name of a highly respected agent at my company to solicit writers for expensive "marketing" services and offering a contract of "representation" by a Literary Agent. If you should receive such a solicitation, be aware that it is not from Jennifer Jackson of the Donald Maass Literary Agency based in New York. Our agents are members of AAR, Inc., and do not solicit or charge up-front fees. Queries for representation by us are welcome and free of charge.
AAR is the Association of Authors' Representatives. This is a professional organization of agents holding themselves to a standard of conduct and a canon of ethics. Note: their website is a .org, which indicates it's not a commercial site, not trying to make money from you. The AAR website is the first place I'd go to check out the credentials of anyone calling themselves an agent. (There's no licensing process - anyone can say they're an agent.) Take a look at the AAR website to know what you should expect before signing any contracts.
I found the website for TechBooks Media (slam it all together and add .com - I don't care to add a link to them). While I did not find Jennifer Jackson's name being abused, I did note the outrageous cost of services. For example, Kirkus Indie Reviews purchased directly from Kirkus go for $425 or $575 - if you don't catch a sale price. These shysters charge $1299 and $1699 to submit those reviews for you. And I'm pretty sure their info on the reviews was copied directly from the Kirkus site.
PLEASE, tell all your friends who are thinking about finding an agent that agents do not charge - they get paid a percentage of what you earn when they've sold the book. And any organization that charges you a bunch of money up front is highly suspect.