What is a bad agent? Authors are asking the question to help fellow writers.

These authors have some good advice for their fellow writers.


When you think about publishing, you usually think about querying an agency for an agent who will represent your book. And, like everything in life, there are good and bad literary agents. But how do you know which is which? Author Sabaa Tahir is asking the question.

Tahir, author of An Ember in the Ashes, rounded up a variety of anonymous authors from different backgrounds to gauge their experiences in the agenting world. She shared their experiences in an “Anonymous Author” post on Medium last week. The article is meant to offer advice to fellow writers and is the first in a two-part series.

“The authors who banded together to write this did it for fellow writers,” Tahir wrote in a tweet. “This article is not for agents. It is for writers looking for agents, or authors uncertain if their agent is doing their job properly.”


So, what does make a bad literary agent? Tahir’s article touched on eight key points:

1. Does not communicate or encourage open dialogue.

2. Does not offer advice or try to help you understand the publishing industry.

3. Does not discuss your career or future with you.

4. Does not listen to your opinion on your books, career, deadlines, etc.

5. Tries to lock you into a predatory contract.

6. Has conflicts of interest that affect your career.

7. Does not advocate for your career.

8. Does not return calls or emails in a timely manner.

Additionally, the article explores aspects of agent-author power dynamics, agreements and contracts, and lack of communication and feedback. Tahir said that the next installment in the two-part series would touch on “gaslighting, agent recommendations and red flags.”

It’s a super interesting article that we definitely recommend to anyone who’s interested in professionally entering the literary world.

I read, fangirl and sing a lot. Harry Potter is my absolute favorite.

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