Finding Agents and Publishers

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Mar 08 2010

I have written a book about [insert either fiction or nonfiction subject here] and would like to know where I can find publishers or agents who handle these types of books.

I get questions like this all the time emailed to the blog, in lieu of a query, or even via phone, so while it might seem basic, let’s discuss it anyway.

There are a number of terrific books and Web sites available to get you started on the road to publication. I’m going to ask my readers to comment on some of their favorites as well, so don’t forget to read through the comments section. However, the first place I suggest writers start is The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting Published, and they do have a variety of different titles targeted to specific genres. This book will give you a basic understanding of publishing and what it takes to get published. From there you can begin your search for agents and publishers.

I also recommend Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, and Literary Agents or Literary Marketplace as a place to begin researching which agents might be right for you. Keep in mind I say “begin” because books are written nearly a year before publication, so you can’t guarantee the information you find there is the most up-to-date. Therefore, I would use these books to write your preliminary list and then work to further perfect your list by using the various Web sites and blogs that tend to have more updated information. Sites I recommend are Preditors & Editors, Absolute Write, Backspace, or Agent Query.

I also strongly recommend that you become involved in a local or online writers group; there are many around the world, including local chapters of Romance Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America and Science Fiction Writers of America. Whether you write in genre fiction or not these organizations all provide an amazing resource for authors.

And of course, before submitting to any agent be sure to read the submission guidelines and review the information on that agent’s Web site. This will ensure that you follow proper submission procedure and that your material fits the genres the agent represents.


14 responses to “Finding Agents and Publishers”

  1. Avatar Jen says:

    I am just enjoying the ride to getting my first draft complete, however I will take this information and save it for later! There are so many helpful books out there it's crazy!!!

  2. Avatar Joyce says:

    Another good site is Query Tracker.

    If you write crime fiction, join Sisters in Crime. And you don't have to be female to join. We have many men in our ranks.

    Also, subscribe to Publisher's Lunch to see the deals that agents make. You might see a deal listed for a book similar to yours.

  3. Avatar magolla says:

    And don't forget to check out the agency's webpage–if they have one. Sometimes AQ or QT don't get the updates that the agent might make on their website.

  4. Avatar Wendy Marcus says:

    For romance writers, has a listing of agents and publishers for the romance genre. Also, at the Absolute Write Water Cooler you can research a particular agent/editor and read posts about other writers' experiences with them.
    Good luck all!

  5. Avatar Alli says:

    If you join Sisters in Crime you can then join The Guppies (the great unpublished!). They have critique groups and a fabulous Yahoo group that talks all about agents and the submission process. This is another place to get up to date information on what particular agents have expressed interest in – in real time. It is posted by people out there querying, going to conferences, reading articles, blogs, etc. You can even post your query letter there and get some valuable feedback.

  6. Avatar Shain Brown says:

    I've been writing for a year now, and while I am on my third manuscript, I continue to learn more with each one. The first thing I did was purchase Jeff's guide and it was worth every penny. Now I am looking for a writing group to join. I am taken back by the amount of information out there for those of us who wish to get publised. There is more than enough help out there, you just might have to dig a little for it.

  7. I also use and highly recommend it. You can find agents by which genres they represent, then each agent page has links to Preditors & Editors, Agent Query, and Publisher's Marketplace.

    It's an awesome one stop shopping kind of resource :).

  8. Avatar Talli Roland says:

    In the UK, the Artists' and Writers' Yearbook is invaluable. QueryTracker is great for the US, though.

  9. Avatar _*rachel*_ says:

    Writer's Market, The Black Hole, Duotrope.

  10. Avatar Livia says:

    What about Writer's Market?

  11. Avatar Mira says:

    What a nice post, Jessica, thank you.

  12. Avatar laurel says:

    For those hoping to break into the the children's and/or young adult markets, check out the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), which has local chapters. I found an excellent local critique group through my local SCBWI chapter. They also host conferences and workshops and provide resources for aspiring authors.

  13. Avatar BigWords says:

    Absolute Write's Bewares and Background check separates the good publishers from the bad (as Wendy pointed out), and is essential reading if anyone is thinking of self-publishing. There are still people signing away their precious manuscripts to PA nevertheless – which has had so much bad press that any commentary I could make is irrelevant.

    Excellent post. I didn't realize this was still a matter that so many people were bothering agents with. The old rule of 'research, research, research' seems to be falling by the wayside these days

  14. Avatar Anonymous says:

    I was scammed by some of the literary agents listed as "highly recommended" on Preditors and editors. I would not trust P&E as a good source of information.