Literary Agents: Starting Your Search

Crime books

So you’ve finished your novel, and now you’re trying to decide which agents to send it to. Choosing an agent can be really tough, but the time you put into the search will be well worth it when you finally get an agent that’s right for you. Here’s a few things to think about when starting your search.


Your favourite reads

Most of us tend to read what we write, so for example if you write horror you’re likely to read Stephen King’s work. This is great for you, because it probably means you know whose work yours is similar to. Write a list of these authors, then research which agent represents them. Chances are, if an agent likes Stephen King’s work, they’ll like yours too.


Your goals

Do you want to be the next J K Rowling, known worldwide for your success? Or are you more bothered about making an impact in a more focussed publishing community, such as LGBTQ or women’s publishing? Whichever you’re looking for, you need to find an agent that understands your passion and goals. It’s also a lot more helpful to you if they have experience in whichever publishing route you want to go down.


Your genre

One agent doesn’t represent every genre. Most of the time they have 1-5 specialist areas or genres that they work hard on to get published. Make sure you choose an agent that specialises in your genre. There’s no point in going to a crime writing agent if you’re a romance novelist. Don’t waste your time or theirs. Decide what your genre is before you go looking for an agent to make sure you find the right one.


Your experiences

If you’ve gone to see an agent give a talk or if you’ve had a natter with them at a book festival, they’re much more likely to take you on than an agent who you have no connection with. So always look at agents you’ve met in some way. Not only will the fact you’ve heard them talk be a great talking point for your cover letter, it will also prove to them that you really are dedicated to getting published.


Your niche

It doesn’t have to be a niche as such, but you do need something that makes you special. For example, your book may be set in a specific city. If this is the case, check out local agents and publishers as they are more likely to take on your book than others. It’s hard finding something in your work that stands out from everything else in your genre, but there will be something, and that’s what you need to sell yourself on.


Once you’ve decided on all of these things, start searching for your agent. We recommend picking 5 to start with and applying to all of them. This way, if you get accepted by more than one agent, you can go for the one you feel has more to offer. Don’t apply until you’ve finished writing and editing your novel; you don’t want them to ask you for an extract and be unable to give them your best work.

We’d love to know what genre of fiction (or poetry!) our followers write. Share your specialism in the comments below so we can start to tailor our posts to you.

8 thoughts on “Literary Agents: Starting Your Search

  1. The Shameful Narcissist says:

    Initially I placed myself in the genre of dark fantasy, but after taking a fellow writer’s advice, I realized I’d be better off marketing my work (when I get to that point again) as paranormal romance. There is definitely a major dark fantasy motif, but paranormal romance is how I would present it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Marcha's Two-Cents Worth says:

    I write science fiction that’s clean enough for young adults yet adult reviewers have stated they had enough substance to keep them satisfied. As an Indie author I’m at the point where I’d consider finding an agent and publisher now that I’ve completed my tetralogy.


  3. katiemdean says:

    This was very helpful! I am in the process of writing a novel – Christian inspiration mixed with romance – and just started doing research about agents. The Shameful Narcissist pointed me in the direction of this blog post, and I’m so thankful!
    Do you have any recommendations on how to research agents? Any specific websites/programs?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s