Finding a Literary Agent

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: May 14 2020

You’ve written a book and now you need a literary agent, but where do you start? How do you find a literary agent?

Finding a literary agent must have been so much easier before information was so readily available on the internet. Back in the early days of BookEnds the only options available to authors were Writers Market and the LMP. Now there are endless websites listing agents and authors’ opinions on agents. While this is fantastic for authors, it’s also a bit overwhelming.

The resources I’m giving are those I know, from the agent side, do the best updating. I do hope readers will comment on any I might miss.

  1. Query Tracker–probably the best resource available
  2. AAR–information limited to member agents only
  3. Absolute Write
  4. Writer Beware–a critical resource before signing any contract
  5. Manuscript Wishlist–great for specific agent interests
  6. Publishers Marketplace–an industry must-have

Finding a literary agent is important, finding the right agent even more important. When searching make sure you are reading and listening to what others say about the legitimacy of any agent.

You can research this further in our many blog posts on how to find and hire a literary agent.

For more information watch our video on researching agents and the many others we’ve done on how to find the right agent.


17 responses to “Finding a Literary Agent”

  1. Avatar Kelly Leffler says:

    It’s like online dating. Only worse.

  2. Avatar Joanne says:

    Thanks for this one, Jessica!

  3. Avatar Janet Bryce says:

    Love this. You always have good advice and resources for beginner writers like me. Thanks

  4. Avatar Nancy Parish says:

    I’d also include: Google- by using the key word New Agents, you can bring up some great info on new agents looking for clients. They include some great agent interviews and almost always includes their wishlists. includes agents looking for clients by category. The Blueboard message board at the SCBWI website is also a great resource as is Kidlit411 facebook page does sometimes include agent info.

    • Avatar Pamela Cable says:

      Unless your head is in the clouds and you’re craving that elusive “big advance,” I suggest you forego the quest for a literary agent. Too many agents expect your query to leap off the page as perfect, and yet their reply back to you (if you’re lucky enough to get one) is full of bad grammar and typos. I’ve known agents to take up to two years to reply to a query. Publishing opportunities go beyond those of snooty, know-it-all literary agents and the stuffy editors on mahogany row. Do your research. Keep your options open. Save your money. The days of a six figure advance are over. Stop sharing your royalties with literary agents. Find a better publishing route.

      • Avatar Daniel Linden says:

        While I understand your sentiment, it is very difficult to break into general fiction, or literary fiction, without an agent. Nobody reads anymore, especially literary fiction. I published two series of mystery novels on Amazon/Kindle with paper books from CreateSpace. Sold tens of thousands of copies, but targeted my mysteries towards a particular interest group. I have no complaints. Literary fiction, however, that’s a whole different ball of yarn. For some reason I’m perfectly incapable of reducing a 200,000 word manuscript to a one-page synopsis, or writing the damned query letter to get back anything more than a boilerplate rejection. I guess I’ll just keep writing mysteries. This whole business is mysterious enough.

      • Avatar AJ Blythe says:

        Pamela, it isn’t as simple as craving a big advance. Every writer needs to assess the pros and cons of the current publishing options to determine the best for them. For me, the pros of having an agent far outweigh the cons and I will continue to aim down that path.

        One thing for sure, I certainly will not be “sharing” my future royalties with an agent. I will be paying them for all the very hard work they will be doing on my behalf.

  5. Avatar Michael M. Rapaport says:

    I have written 29 books and hired 2 literary agents successively where the first one was a crook and the 2nd one totally incompetent and have been told by people I am sitting on a gold mine but don’t know what to do. Any advice for a 72 year old writer?

    • Avatar AJ Blythe says:

      Michael, I’m not sure anyone is sitting on a gold mine with their writing anymore (the JK Rowling’s of this world are very few and far between). I guess it depends what your goals are with your writing. But if you’ve not had great experiences with agents, or if you just want to see your books published, self-publishing might be the way for you (there is a lot of information on how to do it on the internet).

  6. Thank you for sharing your advice and expertise.
    To say that researching agents is a daunting task would be an understatement. I think we all suffer from TMI! It demands an enormous investment of time to be done right. This is AFTER writers craft the query letter, logline, synopsis, and bio. Not to mention the years of writing to finish a manuscript!
    I appreciate the time and effort you invest in writers with short, timely videos, and blog posts. We need actionable, timely information and you provide that.

  7. Avatar Amber Duhart says:

    Ms Faust,

    I am working privately with The 1980 U.S Olympic Team on an upcoming non fiction book. 40 years ago circumstances prevented them from going to the Summer Games like The 2020 Olympic Team today.

  8. Avatar Daniel Linden says:

    I must be the worst query writer in the world. I’m not much better at shrinking a 100,000 word manuscript to a one-page synopsis. After 20 novels, you’d think I’d get better at it, but when all you get are boilerplate rejections it’s hard to even tell what you’re doing wrong. Hah, they say showing up is 90% of the battle. I’m not certain they ever came up against the literary gatekeepers.

  9. Avatar Denise Murphy-Olatunjii says:

    Thanks for the information. I have decided that I maybe the best agent for myself, because trying to find a compete/honest agent has been too costly and frustrating. So I’ve decided to go it alone.
    I believe in me-I’m in no hurry. But my complete manuscripts will be published!

    • Avatar Sadie says:

      Have you actually tried Bookends?
      It shouldn’t be costly as credible agent don’t ask for a dime until you get paid.