At least that’s how it’s supposed to work. But one agent, Harriet Wasserman, is alleged to have cheated her clients. The Daily Beast says, she ‘disappeared amid allegations of missing royalties.” Wasserman represented such well-known authors as Oscar Hijuelos, Richard Bausch, Alice McDermott, Reynolds Price, Suzan-Lori Parks, and Saul Bellow.”
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Rest assured - this is a rare, rare thing. Among established agents, she must be in a minority of one.