Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Embarking on the literary journey is akin to setting sail on vast, unpredictable waters. The destination? The prized publishing agent who can anchor your work in the literary world. But, with myriad voices clamoring for attention, how does one get noticed and ultimately sign with an agent? Let’s embark on this quest together.

1. Craft a Captivating Manuscript:

Your manuscript is your first impression. Make it unforgettable.

Example 1: J.K. Rowling’s initial manuscript of "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" was rejected numerous times, but its inherent charm eventually won agents and publishers alike.

Example 2: Kathryn Stockett’s "The Help" was reportedly rejected 60 times. However, her determination and the manuscript's compelling nature eventually found it the perfect agent and later, massive success.

2. Master the Art of the Query Letter:

This is your elevator pitch in written form. Be concise, clear, and captivating.

Example 1: Nicholas Sparks’ query for "The Notebook" was short and to the point, yet it encapsulated the essence of his story, leading to quick interest from agents.

Example 2: Erin Morgenstern’s "The Night Circus" had a query that was mysterious and engaging, drawing agents into her magical world.

3. Research, Research, Research:

Not all agents are created equal, nor are they looking for the same thing. Find those who align with your work.

Example 1: Neil Gaiman targeted agents known for their inclination towards fantasy, ensuring his work landed on the right desks.

Example 2: Margaret Atwood, with her unique blend of literary fiction and speculative themes, sought out agents who had a penchant for unconventional narratives.

4. Attend Literary Conferences and Workshops:

Such events aren't just for honing your craft; they're networking goldmines.

Example 1: Sabaa Tahir, the author of "An Ember in the Ashes," made connections at a Writers' Conference that eventually led her to her agent.

Example 2: Ransom Riggs, known for "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children," leveraged relationships from graduate school and writing workshops to connect with his agent.

5. Embrace Rejections and Persevere:

Each rejection is a stepping stone. Learn, adapt, and keep pushing forward.

Example 1: Stephen King’s "Carrie" was rejected 30 times. King almost gave up, but with encouragement and perseverance, he eventually found an agent who believed in his work.

Example 2: Lisa Genova, author of "Still Alice," faced countless rejections. She contemplated self-publishing before ultimately landing an agent, and the rest is history.

6. Maintain an Online Presence:
In the digital age, a notable online footprint can make you more appealing to agents.

Example 1: Andy Weir, author of "The Martian," started his journey by posting chapters of his book online, garnering a significant following, which later intrigued agents and publishers.

Example 2: E.L. James started "Fifty Shades of Grey" as fan fiction online, and its popularity led agents to her doorstep.

Potential Literary Agents Accepting New Authors:

(Disclaimer: While the list below provides a starting point, it's crucial to visit each agent's website or agency page to understand their specific requirements and interests.)

  1. Eve Attermann at WME – Interested in literary fiction, narrative nonfiction, and young adult.

  2. Kurestin Armada at Root Literary – Looking for speculative fiction, magical realism, and literary fiction.

  3. Jenny Bent at The Bent Agency – Enjoys commercial and literary fiction and has an inclination towards women’s fiction.

  4. Sarah Burnes at The Gernert Company – Prefers literary fiction and non-fiction.

  5. Noah Ballard at Curtis Brown, Ltd. – Interested in literary debuts, upmarket thrillers, and narrative nonfiction.

  6. Jessica Watterson at Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency – Loves romance in all forms, women's fiction, and select young adult fiction.


Landing a publishing agent is an expedition filled with highs and lows. It's not just about the destination but also about the journey – the learnings, the rejections, the small wins, and the eventual triumph. By crafting a compelling manuscript, building networks, persevering, and ensuring you approach the right agents, your literary dream can indeed become a reality. As the story of every successful author shows, behind each bestseller is an author who never gave up. Happy querying!