Literary Agents

Once you have read this go to our list of agents.

As Michael Legat points out in his book ‘An Author’s Guide to Literary Agents’ (Hale £9.99 ISBN 0-7090-5572-2 available from

‘Literary agents are now an accepted and respected part of the literary scene.’

Lists of agents can be found in ‘The Writer’s & Artists’ Yearbook’ (A&C Black) and The Writer’s Handbook (Macmillan). Those marked with an asterisk belong to the Association of Authors’ Agents (62 Grafton Way, London W1P 5LD UK), which has a code of practice.

Most writers seek an agent because they think the agent will find a publisher for their work. Michael Legat asks whether ‘an agent is essential for success if you are writing for the general market?’ His answer is ‘no’. As a published writer myself I have to agree with this. I do not have an agent, and did not have an agent when I secured a contract for my first book ( A Writer’s Guide to the Internet – co-authored).

His reasons for answering ‘no’ are fairly far reaching and include the following points:

  • most publishing houses in the UK are happy to receive manuscripts directly from the author.
  • the ‘slushpile’ of such manuscripts will, contrary to public opinion, be carefully trawled by the editor on the lookout for the ‘one nugget which they can turn into a publishable book’. Without the intervention of an agent, the publisher stands a much better chance of controlling all the rights.
  • he even acknowledges that if you are a novelist trying to get into print ‘the publisher’s slushpile may offer you a much better chance than you will have with an agent’. The reason being that agents like to take on certainties or near-certainties and there are very few books that fall into this category, and secondly agents will give up trying to place a book long before the author.
  • It is easier to find a publisher than an agent, because there are many more publishers than agents. Publishers need a constant supply of new titles, whereas agents may have a limit on how many new clients they can handle.

The advantages of having an agent:

  • the obvious…your agent should find an editor who will want to publish your work.
  • the more successful agents are also excellent editors.
  • they will negotiate a contract on your behalf, which may result in better terms and roylaties.
  • they can act as an intermediary should any problems arise between you and your publisher.
  • they will provide financial help.
  • they may provide career advice.
  • an author’s status can be greatly increased by the ‘mere fact of having an agent’. A publisher will automatically know that the agent has faith in the author and that author is capable of generating an income.
  • there is every chance that your agent may become your friend! A situation which is unlikely to arise with your publisher…

How to submit to an agent:

  • find out if they are taking on new clients by ringing them.
  • if they are, submit a synopsis, query letter and sample chapters of your work. (Standard submission procedures apply here).

If you need advice on how to write a query letter read Gail Eastwood’s excellent article For advice on writing a synopsis read Rebecca Sinclair’s article You will also find many other writing related articles Including, Proper Manuscript Format by Rebecca Sinclair and More on Synopses by Karen Wiesner.


Use these links to find agents or get the low down on how to secure an agent or find out who are the good ones, and the bad ones!

Warnings and Cautions for Writers - Literary Agents warnings for writers about literary agents.



Directories and Guides

Literary Agents of Washington - Author Representatives, Writer Agents. Literary agents specializing in first-time authors, published authors, artists, playwrites, screenplays, movies and profession books.

NCW–Literary Agents - Guides and links to literary agents.

Literary Agents - Literary Agents List of Literary Agents who can help Australian writers to get their work into print and to publicise their work. All Literary Agents are invited to submit their own names and contact addresses for this list as well as for biographies and…

Author Network - Links to Literary Agents.

WritersNet(sm) - Internet Directory of Published Writers, Literary Agents, Editors… Looking for anwers to your writing questions? You can bet that the answer is out there in cyberspace. What do you want to know about

All About Literary Agents




Litopia Corporation Literary Agents - Literary agents Litopia offer useful submission guidelines and a host of practical information for writers and authors about getting their manuscripts published.

NWU - Brief Guide to Researching Literary Agents/ Finding a literary agent is like moving to a new town and having to find a contractor to remodel your house and a mechanic to fix your car all at once. It has a strong element of Russian roulette

Literary agents - Now you can display your manuscripts, screen plays, poetry, and other works on the most powerful literary website in the industry.

Literary Agents Part I - Aids4Writers by Vicki Hinze Word Weaving: essential text elements for all text weavers. - All of the following rules can be broken. However, any time you break one of them, you run the risk of irritating an editor.

Booktalk/Agents - Obtaining Representation: Common Reasons for Rejection. Months, perhaps years, of intensive work have gone into the preparation of your manuscript. In all those countless revisions and rewrites, you’ve cried with your heroine, made love with a sexy man (or woman), been shot at by the villain, gone on a high……

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