Image via Wikipedia So you've been working diligently to compile a database of agencies and agents you wish to query but you are still a little unsure about the reputability of one or more of them, what do you do? Well, after you've done a quick google search and nothing has come up, but you're still feeling unsure you should go to this website: http://pred-ed.com/ Preditors & Editors provides a comprehensive list of several agencies as well as a ranking of the agency based on its reputation and recent activities.
Entries on P&E are pretty simple to understand. Here, a sample entry that looks like the one below and tells you that Nelson Literary Agency is recommended by the site and the $ indicates that they have verified sales to legitimate royalty-paying publishers on record.
Nelson Literary Agency: $ Recommended. A literary agency located in Denver, CO.
An agency with a poor reputation will show up on Preditors & Editors like this:
AEG (American Enterprise Group) Publishing Group: Strongly not recommended. A consortium of literary agencies and one or more vanity publishers. Their name is also somewhat redundant (and that's for a publishing business?).
1/29/09: AEG Publishing Group seems to have a credibility gap showing. Recent information reveals that the interview they've been claiming was by Deliriousgirl was actually written by them and not her according to her response on this page at AbsoluteWrite.
As you can see, a quick glance at P&E will help you learn a lot about an organization and whether or not you should query them. If you are unsure about any aspect of an agency, I suggest you use this website as a tool to gauge their reputation. You should also know that no reputable agency will pressure you to sign a contract before you are ready, and none will ask for payment upfront.