I’m certain I’ve talked about this before, but I don’t think I can say it enough: Not all “literary agents” are literary agents! Go read this article about shady literary agents in India. This advice translates to The U.S. as well.
Don’t ever pay a “literary agent” up front. They get paid a commission when they sell your work and most agents help you revise and polish your manuscript for free, believing that it will pay off in the end. If you want to hire a freelance editor to help you do that, that’s perfectly legitimate, but it’s not considered ethical for agents to charge “reading fees.”
Okay? Okay. I’ve said my piece. Friends don’t let friends be suckers.