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How to Narrow Down Your List of Literary Agents

The first and most important part of the publishing process is writing the manuscript. If you’ve got that completed, congratulations! It’s time to move on to the next stages.

What you need to do now is find a literary agent and impress them with your brilliantly written query letter. If you don’t have a brilliantly written query letter yet, don’t fret. Highly experienced professionals are available to write an impressively effective query letter for you.

Yes, there are countless literary agents out there, but finding the right one for you (and who will accept your book) is a different story. Narrowing down your list of literary agents entails putting extensive time and effort into research, but it’s ultimately worth it. Today, we show you how to narrow down your list of agents and find the right one.

Figure out the genre of your manuscript.

Before you can even begin your list of agents, you need to determine the genre of your book. Take some time to identify the genre that best defines your manuscript. And don’t get greedy—choose only two genres at most. You should also figure out what your target age demographic is—Children? Teenagers? Young adults? Adults? Once you’ve made these decisions, you’re ready to start on your list of potential literary agents.

Decide what resources to use in your search.

The internet offers a wealth of resources for soon-to-be published authors looking for literary agent representation, so you can start by making a list just for your research resources. If you’re not tech-savvy, many guides and directories are available in print, which you can either subscribe to or find at your local library. Online resources are constantly updated, but if you prefer offline agent listings, make sure you’re consulting up-to-date information.

Some popular online resources that list literary agents include the following:

There are also good alternative sources to use when composing your list of literary agents. For example, you can check out the agent bios for events such as pitch slams, conferences, and query contests, and you can look through the acknowledgments sections of your favorite books. is another resource you can use to significantly facilitate the research process. At, you can order a custom list of literary agents, complete with contact information and submission guidelines, tailored specifically to you, your manuscript, and your wishes.

Find an agent who works with your genre.

The next step in creating your list of literary agents is to locate agents who represent your specific genre and category of manuscript. Directories usually list only broad categories, but there are countless subgenres within the broader categories of, say, fantasy or sci-fi. To be sure the potential agent represents your specific category, look up their profile on the agency’s website (or look for their personal website), Google their name, and search for them on social media.

In addition to determining the agent’s preferred genre, it’s also important to verify their credibility. Look up information about the agent and the agency they work for to ensure they’re legitimate. One good source for determining reputation is the Association of Authors’ Representatives website. However, just because an agent isn’t listed there doesn’t mean they’re not credible, so conduct further research before striking them from your list.

And that’s not all—you should also ensure you’ll be able to get along well with your agent, as you’ll be spending significant time working with them. Follow the relevant agents on social media to get a picture of what they’re looking for professionally and to learn what kind of person they are.

Personalize your query letter.

In researching your list of literary agents, you’ll uncover a wealth of information about your potential agents. Use this information to personalize your query letter. Mention their interviews, podcasts, previously represented books or authors, etc.—just be genuine. Make sure you’ve actually listened to their podcast or read their book before including it.

Although creating a list of suitable literary agents is difficult, so is writing a book. Don’t be discouraged. Whether you write your query letter yourself or get a professionally written query, by pitching to the right agents, your chances of success will be much higher.



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