“You may not be able to change the world, but at least you can embarrass the guilty.”

One of “America’s Twenty Worst Agents” has struck again.

Our story so far: Barbara Bauer was listed as one of twenty agents and agencies who have been the subject of the most complaints to Writer Beware. Sure, it’s a popularity contest, but this one has meaning. If someone has prompted that many complaints without ever selling a book, she has presumably done a fair bit of damage to a large number of writers. Not a competition most agents would want to win.

These agents and agencies generally offer big promises, charge big up-front fees, and then deliver little or nothing. They’re the spiritual heirs of the Famous Writers School so entertainingly skewered by the late Jessica Mitford (author of the quotation that titles this entry). These predators feed on innocent people who dream of being published and have no idea how to go about it.

None of these agencies has a significant track record of sales to commercial (advance-paying) publishers, and most have virtually no documented and verified sales at all (book placements claimed by some of these agencies turn out to be “sales” to vanity publishers). All charge clients before a sale is made–whether directly, by levying fees such as reading or administrative fees, or indirectly, for editing or other adjunct services.

Naturally, writers picked up this list from the SFWA website and disseminated it, and Barbara Bauer started sending huffy cease-and-desist letters. She also tried to get Teresa Nielsen Hayden fired from her job as editor at Tor Books on the grounds that Teresa had reposted the list and posted about Bauer’s threats of taking legal action.

All this just encouraged more people to post the list. Also to make fun of her; there’s nothing more amusing than someone claiming righteous indignation over their unveiling as someone of dubious reputation.

As of today, Barbara Bauer has gone from a laughable would-be bully to temporarily successful Internet censor. According to the highly respected Teresa Nielsen Hayden, a top-flight New York editor and fearless crusader for Truth, Justice, and the American Way, Barbara Bauer has gotten the Absolute Write website taken down. This site, described by one reviewer as absolutely a fantastic resource for writers! (exclamation point in original), had posted the Twenty Worst Agents list So Barbara Bauer complained to the ISP responsible for hosting the site, who took it down.

It should be up again within a day or so, but it’s still a shame that a wonderful resource for writers can be whisked away by empty threats of legal action.

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The greatest thing
in the world
is the Alphabet
as all knowledge
is contained therein
except the wisdom
of putting it together.
—from an old German bookplate