There’s a wonderful history of indie authors creating a great platform, getting noticed by traditional publishers and landing a publishing deal.
The best tactic is to query an agent on the strength of your work and current accolades. It’s very rare to go directly to a publisher these days as they mostly work with agents. After you query an agent and secure their services, they will approach prospective publishers for you.
Finding an agent can be a long and tedious process, as they each have their own submission requirements and it can be months before you hear back from each with answers.
With this in mind, here are some of our favorite resources for finding an agent:
- Poets & Writers has a great amount of information on agents. They have a Literary Agents Database and a helpful Agent Advice column.
- Publishers Lunch: We recommend looking over what deals have been made for mid-list authors each day. You don’t want a blockbuster agent because they’re already set financially. Info includes: genre, author, synopsis, agent and which publisher the work sold to. You can sign up for the free daily newsletter that will give you most of this info, or you sign up for a $25/month newsletter which has all of the details.
- QueryTracker: This free database hosts plenty of agent data. Because the info can be outdated, it’s best to use this tool to create a list of agents who represent your genre, then crosscheck with each agent’s website to confirm who they represent and which publishers they work with.
- Guide to Literary Agents An old standby, written by Robert Lee Brewer.
- AAR – Association of Author’s Representatives: Here’s a list of member agents, with varying amounts of information about them.
- Children’s authors can view the Rights Reports on PW. These reports cite which agents facilitated the deal for upcoming kids books.
- Women Writers, Women’s Books also has an Agents Corner column where authors can share their agent success stories and offer advice.
- Writer’s Digest Guide to Literary Agents Blog: They post notices about agents and agencies. There’s not a tremendous amount of information here, but it’s worth keeping an eye out for news.
- We also recommend finding books that are comparable to yours in genre and audience, and seeing who the author’s agent is. These agents may be a good fit for you, so we recommend keeping a list and checking their websites, querying where it makes sense to do so.
- Manuscript Wishlist is a helpful tool designed to help agents share information about the types of books they are looking for. Scan through to see if your manuscript is on anyone’s wishlist!
I know it feels like the possibilities are endless, and it’s not unusual for an author to query upwards of 100 agents. Casting a wide net will help make sure you’re paired with the right agent for your book.
Want to get the inside scoop on what an agent really thinks? Check out our interview with Natalie Lakosil here: https://booksforward.com/ask-an-expert-a-conversation-with-natalie-lakosil-about-being-a-literary-agent/
Ellen Whitfield is senior publicist at Books Forward, an author publicity and book marketing firm committed to promoting voices from a diverse variety of communities. From book reviews and author events, to social media and digital marketing, we help authors find success and connect with readers.