Monday, June 14, 2010

How Do I Get An Agent?

Jeffe Kennedy, this one's for you (not because she asked, but because someone asked HER). I've had this post brewing for a while. It took me a while to find all of these websites, so I think it's a worthwhile resource. Plus, sending someone a link to this webpage is a hair more polite than sending them the Let Me Google That For You link.

So, I give you:


Agents & Agencies You Can, In Theory, Actually Submit To (but please check their websites first, sometimes agents periodically close to submissions so they can get caught up, or just because their lists are full):

Agent in the Middle (Lori Perkins)
Agent Savant (Laurie McLean)
La Vie en Prose (Meredith Barnes)
LiteratiCat (Jennifer Laughran of Andrea Brown Literary Agency)
The New Literary Agents (Kae Tienstra of KT Public Relations & Literary)*
Pub Rants (Kristin Nelson)
Rachelle Gardner (of WordServe Literary)

* Both "KT" but no relation to each other.

Agents & Assistants Who Won't Represent You But Are Valuable Resources:

Ask a Literary Agent (Noah Lukeman, not accepting new clients)
Lit Soup (Jenny Rae Rappaport, retired)
Miss Snark (archives)
Query Shark (aka Janet Reid)
SlushPile Hell (what not to do... ever)
The Intern (currently working at "Venerable McPulitzer publishing house")

** A personal favorite. Le R. and I are, in fact, engaged. You know, internet-engaged. But it's still quite meaningful, I assure you.

Editors & Other Industry Players:

Editorial Anonymous
Editorial Ass (Moonrat)
Nathan Bransford (formerly of Curtis Brown Ltd.)
Redlines and Deadlines (editors at Ellora's Cave Publishing)
The Anonymati (Pitch Clinic)
The Book Deal (Alan Rinzler)
The Swivet (Colleen Lindsay, former agent, currently at Penguin)
Writer Beware (writer-run industry watchdog group)

*** Want to know how to format your submissions? Anne will tell you how, in exhaustive detail, with PDF sample pages. A not-to-be-missed resource.

Note that not all these agents or editors are going to be for you. At the most obvious level, some only represent children's literature, or Christian literature, or some other genres and categories that you don't write. Many of these blogs will be very helpful for you to read anyway, but then please pay attention to submission guidelines when you are sending out queries, so you don't end up wasting everyone's time.

If you're just starting to investigate the whole getting-represented-by-an-agent thing, go read The Big Five: Nathan Bransford****, Janet Reid, Rachelle Gardener, BookEnds, and Pub Rants -- pay special attention to any posts they might have linked in their sidebars: the FAQs, the Must-Read Posts, the Popular Posts.

Then, when you think you've got it figured out, go read Miss Snark (who I personally think might have been Janet Reid, but I can't prove it). Yes, I know Miss Snark is retired and the last post is over 2 years old. Go read her blog. Yes, in its entirety. Have you done that? Okay, NOW you might be ready to query.

**** ETA: as of 11/6/10, Nathan is no longer an agent, but the archives of his blog are a goldmine. Just like Miss Snark.

I like Agent Query for finding possible agent-matches (narrow by keywords or genres, etc.) but there are lots more resources out there. Here, let me Google that for you...


Update: GalleyCat now has a list of the Best Literary Agents on Twitter for your added convenience.


  1. One of the best publishing posts ever. I so much agree that everybody should still be reading Miss Snark. Best publishing advice, ever. (I agree that La Snark is probably La Query Shark, but we should let that mystery be.)

    I'll bookmark and suggest all newbies read it. I'd thought of doing a post like this, but it seemed like wayyyy too much work, so thanks a bunch.

  2. Oh my, this is like a birthday present or Christmas or both at the same time. Thanks for all the trouble you went to. I have nothing to share (too new) except my gratitude - and if I become famous I will acknowledge you and this post- if I don't forget. :)

    You are the greatest.


  3. There were two editors who helped my husband get published. (Okay, its not entirely relevant to the post since they aren't agents but they're both wonderful people.) I would highly recommend either of them as book doctors for anyone who has a manuscript that needs work and wants professional (but gentle) feedback:

    Bill Thompson

    Juliet Ulman

  4. And folks on Twitter can also find Juliet Ulman here: @papertyger

  5. Very cool list. Thanks for putting this together :)

  6. I feel so relieved to have this post as a security blanket before I go hang myself er submit queries.

  7. Terrific post! And great timing, too, as I just had a friend-of-a-friend ask me for advice on proceeding with a nonfiction book she wants to write. I'll be sending this link to her promptly.

    Thanks for assembling all the goodies in one place!


  8. Thank you for this wonderful list. Sometimes finding the people is just as hard as writing the query. Thanks to Anne Allen who linked me over to here!

  9. This is such a great list. I totally agree with your "Big 5," they were must reads before I got an agent and I still read all of them occasionally.

    Another website I loved was QueryTracker, because it was free and kept my query list neat and tidy. I loved that it had all the links I needed to research an agent in one place (Preditors and Editors, Agent Query, the agent's website, Publisher's Marketplace, etc).

  10. This is so great! Thanks for putting it all together. I had a lot of this info, but some is new. And I need to get a new batch of queries out. Awesome timing! THANK YOU!!!

  11. Wow, found you via Anne R Allen and this is one post I'm definitely bookmarking. Thank you for taking the time on this. I found 4 out of the big 5, but I don't think I've run across Bookends yet so thank you again!