Finding a literary agent


Finding a literary agent - magnifying glass graphicThere was a time when you went straight to the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook and flipped to the section on literary agents and read the relevant blurb for information on manuscript submission. This was, after all, the prime directory for all things related to the publishing industry and therefore the best way to find a literary agent.

But things have changed, and the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook has lost relevance. Why? Primarily because of the internet. As with a domestic phonebook, much of the information is out of date by the time it comes off the printing press. Many contemporary literary agents are living month to month, if not minute to minute. Ditto for publishers. Which means that if you want to keep abreast of what's going on, you need to get online too.

Yes, the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook still has a place. But you can't trust it for relevancy.

If you're serious about getting published, you need to create your own directory and update it regularly. This means making a list of the top 50 or so literary agents and methodically researching them before even considering submitting your manuscript.


Favourite authors and literary agent blogs

Who are literary agent? Where have they come from? Which books are they representing? What are their professional quirks (and they all have those, believe me)? And where are their soft spots?

Soft spots?

You read it right. I'm talking about the things that get literary agents personally or professionally excited or interested or even frothing at the mouth. And those things might be anything. Favourite authors (usually literary). Labradors. Hobbies. Colours. Films. Cars. Shoes. Ice cream.

The list is endless.

This information is often also available on the net in the shape of remarks and comments tossed out in interviews or blogs. You need to collect all this stuff and collate it into your working file. And often, you'll be following new threads leading you to other industry professionals. All this is potentially useful information that you can exploit when you feel you've got a coherent picture. And those soft spots can be used when writing submissions queries or synopses or whatever.


If, for instance, your manuscript has a hero with an Alsation dog, you might consider switching it to a Labrador if you're pitching to an agent who you know favours that breed. You might, alternately, look at the agent's name and see how you can contrive to give your lead character a similar name. Or use an agent's maiden name, where applicable.

Plenty of agents have biographies on the net. So read them, study them, act upon them.

Sly? Devious? Manipulative?

Of course it is. Welcome to the publishing industry. In fact welcome to the world of advertising, or politics, or any other industry. It's all sly and manipulative. You either get on board, or get off the train. It's your call. But if you really want literary agent representation, you need to throw away the rule book and think tactically.



Want to read more?

There are over 25,000 words of writing tips and advice on my website. I've spent months writing these pages, and years refining them. I'm happy to share my professional knowledge with you. But like everyone else, I need to capitalise on my skills and efforts.


For just 1.99 I'll send you my entire MR EDIT'S WRITING ADVICE FOR AUTHORS as a .pdf file. Just follow the link below, or above, and you'll be taken to PayPal. You don't need an account; just a credit card or a debit card.


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Either way, you'll receive 25,000 very helpful words that will make you a better writer, will give you fresh insight into your work, and will improve the chances of a literary agent or publisher accepting your manuscript.





Mr Edit YouTube videos


Meanwhile, here are some of my You Tube videos that might be of interest to you. Hope you enjoy them.

You Tube video for writers and authors


Mr Edit. Let's talk about dialogue




You Tube literary agent video help


Mr Edit. Pitching fiction to a literary agent.




You Tube video - how to write fiction


Mr Edit. 5 Minute Fiction Fix.




You Tube video for authors and novelists


Mr Edit. Let's talk about tautology.





Links for writers


Preditors & Editors. Here's where you can check out the credentials of literary agents and publishers. A must for any writer.


Creative Helps. Helpful resource for the creative community. Articles, links and tips.


Nick Daws' Writing Blog. Lots of useful posts on all aspects of writing, both for print and online, plus a guest post for anyone who wants to make a contribution. Check it out.



Other links we like


Sump Magazine. Great motorcycling magazine.

Classic Bike Bargains. Cool T-shirts for sale






Creative writing





Special features


Darley Anderson, literary agent

Darley Anderson, top UK literary agent, on books,
publishing and success

Zo Sharp, thriller writer

Zo Sharp, creator of the

action-packed Charlie Fox series of books

Jeff Kleinman, literary agent

Jeff Kleinman, New York literary agent, talks shop

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Crme de la Crime:

An interview with

Lynne Patrick,

publisher and managing editor of a smallerbut


publishing house.

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