How to Find a Literary Agent to Represent Your Book

There are many avenues available to find a literary agent. Most authors utilize several resources to locate potential agents.

Referrals. Referrals are one of the best avenues for finding and contacting an agent. Agents respect and value referrals from an editor, author-client, bookseller, writing expert, or another agent. Ask your associates, friends and network if they can refer you to an agent.

Events. Literary conferences, seminars, retreats, book festivals, and workshops provide opportunities to meet literary agents in person.

Directories. Each year several literary agent directories are published. Each guide provides detailed information on individual agents, which include the literary agency where the agent works, his contact information, the types of writing he represents, and his submission guidelines. Additional information may also be included such as recent sales, number of annual sales, professional memberships, and total years in business.

The Guide to Literary Agents is published by Writer’s Digest Books and contains a listing of more than 800 literary and script agents. The book provides an index of agents categorized by the genre they represent, which allows you to quickly and conveniently find the agents who represent the type of books you write.

Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, & Literary Agents. This directory lists 200 agents who are members of the Association of Author’s Representatives (AAR), and offers additional details that provide a glimpse of the agents’ personalities.

Literary Market Place is the most comprehensive directory available. Weighing close to 10 pounds, it has more than 2,000 pages of listings along with a hefty price tag of more than $400. An online version of the directory is also available.

Internet Sites. The array and magnitude of information available via the internet makes it easier than ever to find literary agents for your book. Forums, blogs, online magazines and directories, and search engines offer an abundance of resources. 

Publisher’s Lunch offers a free daily and weekly newsletter that reports on the latest publishing deals and news, including information on the agents involved with the deals and descriptions of the books that sold.

Publisher’s Marketplace offers news about the publishing industry as well as a “Search Members” link to obtain contact information for individual agents and literary agencies, and a listing of the Top 10 Most Visited Agents. The site also offers a paid membership service.

Publishers Weekly online provides articles about the book industry, includes a “Search” box to obtain information on literary agents and agencies, and presents a weekly “Deals” column with details about major book deals. They also offer PW Daily, a free weekly newsletter delivered to your email inbox. You can subscribe to the virtual edition of Publishers Weekly magazine (for an annual fee) to obtain access to more articles, news, and deal listings.

Writer’s Digest is filled with articles and interviews. They also offer an annual list of the 101 best websites for writers and a free email newsletter.

Agent Query provides a free, searchable database of agents and agency information.

QueryTracker offers a free list of agents, but the exceptional value of this website is found in the research they amass and make available. QueryTracker gathers information that is input into their database by authors submitting queries to agents. This information includes the name of the agent who is pitched, the word count of the manuscript, the genre of the book, the date of the response, the type of response, and the final outcome.

The collected data reveals important information about specific agents: the overall number of queries sent to each agent and their accept/reject rates, the genre-specific accept/reject history of an agent, and an agent’s average response time. For an annual fee, the website also offers even more details about specific agents.

Agents’ Blogs. Agents have their own blogs where they write posts about the publishing industry, their expectations, what they are looking for, their clients’ book releases, recent sales, and how to submit a pitch.

Social Media Sites. LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter provide opportunities to expand your network, grow your contact list, and learn about the publishing industry. Join groups and follow influential agents and publishers.

The Association of Author’s Representatives (AAR) consists of reputable, experienced literary agents. To become a member, agents must have sold 18 books within 10 months and adhere to strict ethical guidelines. The AAR website provides a list of members and information on how to contact them.

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