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Where (+ How) To Find A Literary Agent

Updated: Oct 23, 2023

Most authors know that the querying process can be long and frustrating.

We EXPECT to get rejections.

We KNOW it’s going to take time.

It’s tough, but not surprising.


But something that IS surprising, is how hard it is to even FIND agents to query!


With the rosters of literary agencies changing almost daily and Google full of scam artists and dead ends, just finding an agent who’s open to submissions and is looking for your particular genre feels like an impossible game of hide and seek - where you’re the seeker and the agents have all the best hiding spots.


Luckily, I’ve played this particular game of hide and seek before, and I can show you where to look! So stop wasting time on Google. In this post, I'm giving you the inside scoop 🍨 on how to find a literary agent for your book.


Note: Before you read any further, an important reminder:


These are the best places to FIND a literary agent and their contact information. But that’s just the beginning of the agent research process! Once you’ve found an agent that sounds like they might be a good fit, you’ll need to visit their agency website and carefully read their submission guidelines and any other information posted there. Changes can happen frequently, so you should check the agency website when you’re compiling a list of agents to query, and again the day you plan to send the query out.


Another note: Put your best foot forward! Before you begin, watch this video about the top 3 mistakes querying authors make, so you can avoid them!


Here’s where to go to find the best literary agents in the industry:



Query Tracker is a database you can use to search for agents and publishers, as well as keep track of the queries you send and their responses. All agents and publishers are vetted by the Query Tracker team, so you know they are legitimate.


It’s free to create an account and search the database. But, for just $25 per year, you can access additional premium features like the ability to see the average response time of an agent and much more.



SCBWI - The Essential Guide To Publishing For Children - “The Book”


If your goal is to become a traditionally published author, I highly recommend joining SCBWI - The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Dues are $95 for the first year and $80 per year for renewal.


Members get access to what is affectionately known as “The Book” - a downloadable PDF that lists agents and publishers vetted by the organization. Each agent’s listing notes what genres they accept, their commission rates, contact information, and more.


In addition, members receive an email subscription to INSIGHT, SCBWI’s monthly publication which features a different agent each month - and often, exclusive submission opportunities!




Publisher’s Marketplace posts the latest information on book deals, publishing jobs, and movements of agents and acquisitions editors between agencies and your houses. Its primary purpose is to help the movers and shakers of the publishing industry keep track of who is where and what is selling.


For querying authors, it can be a bit overwhelming, but it’s a good way to see what sales an agent has made in the past. You can also search for a certain author to see who represents their work. Because it’s used by major industry professionals, the cost is higher than some other services - $25 per month. But you can cancel your membership at any time and they also offer a $10 Quick Pass if you just need to do a one-time search for a specific agent or statistic.


Be warned though - unlike Query Tracker, agents must set up their own profile on Publisher’s Marketplace and report their own sales in order for their information to show up - so not every agent will be listed.




Manuscript Wishlist is a searchable database where agents and acquisitions editors can post a little bit about themselves and the types of manuscripts they “wish” they would find in their inbox. Each agent or editor can update their wishlist whenever they want and are also encouraged to post their updates on Twitter using the hashtag #MSWL (more on Twitter below.) The website is searchable by genre and keyword.




This database is maintained by former literary agent Mark Malatesta. Use the tabs at the top to quickly find a list of agents and agencies accepting picture books. And if you sign up for free with your email, you'll get free access to the same list, only it will include convenient links to each agent's website, social media accounts and more.


Blogs with Agent Interviews


There are many wonderful kidlit blogs out there that frequently interview agents. These types of interviews give you a valuable sneak peek into each agent’s personality and can help you craft a query that appeals directly to them.


While these types of websites don’t include huge databases with hundreds of agents, they provide more detailed, personal information on each agent - and can be less overwhelming!


Here are a few of my favorites:

Literary Rambles - Posts monthly agent spotlights - kidlit only

Kidlit411 - Sign up for their newsletter - it’s worth it!

Published To Death - not kidlit specific, but posts a weekly list of new or newly open agents




Twitter is traditional publishing’s unofficial hangout spot, so a great way to get to know the people in the industry is to follow them there. Here are three ways you can use Twitter to find agents:

  • If you don’t know where to start, here’s a list of kidlit agents created by author-illustrator Debbie Ridpath Ohi. (Twitter lists allow you to follow all their members with a single click!)

  • As mentioned above, you can also search the hashtag #MSWL to see what agents are looking for.

  • And last, but not least, don’t forget Twitter pitch parties! Even if you aren’t quite ready to pitch yourself, reading other authors’ pitches and watching for agents who may be participating, is a great way to see what kind of stories sell.


Books


There are several trusted publications that list literary agents open to submission. Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market is published by Writer’s Digest and Book Markets Guide for Children’s Writers is published by the Institute for Writers. Both of these books are reliable sources of information. However, keep in mind that the industry changes quickly, and because these books are only updated once a year, it’s extra important to double-check submission guidelines on the agency website.



Now that you know where to look, dive in and start researching!


Want even more help? Check out my Kidlit Query Kit designed specifically for children’s book authors! It includes guidance on researching agents, keeping track of submissions, querying etiquette, writing a great query letter, and more!


Disclaimer: This blog post may contain affiliate links to products we enjoy using ourselves. Should you choose to use these links, At Home Author may earn affiliate commissions at no additional cost to you.

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