How To Get a Literary Agent
Why do I need a literary agent?
Almost all new writers seeking to be traditionally published need a literary agent in today’s publishing world. The major traditional publishing houses account for almost 80% of book sales worldwide and acquire books almost exclusively from literary agents. A good literary agent can get you a traditional publishing deal, TV and film rights too.
If you want to be published by one of the major publishing houses, also known as The Big 5 (e.g., Penguin Random House, Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster and Macmillan Publishers) you’ll want to find literary agents who can get you a book deal.
Agent listings are hard to navigate. You’ll research literary agents no doubt for many weeks to find literary agents who represent your genre whether it’s historical fiction, science fiction, crime fiction, middle grade etc. As you begin work to query agents, you’ll pore through a literary agent’s list, scrutinise their submission guidelines, spend time learning how to write a great query letter and fret and sweat over the subject line! After all that, you’ll no doubt be happy to sign with the first agent who asks to read the full manuscript.
But even if a literary agent requests a full manuscript and likes your writing, you may still be uncertain, particularly with new agents, how well they’re regarded in the publishing industry? Whether they work with more than just one publisher and have good standing in the publishing world? A traditional publisher works with many agents, but they will prioritise their inbox according to how highly they regard a literary agent. You want to sign with the right agent.
Many writers start to think the publishing industry is impenetrable, a closed shop. But that’s not the case. The writer’s market is stronger than it has ever been. You might be closer than you think. A literary agent views the query letter with the same eye the acquiring editor of a publisher does. They’re looking for a certain something, and we know what that is because our team has hands-on experience of the publishing process having worked as acquiring editors for The Big 5 publishers.
Landing a literary agent is a challenge but we can dramatically improve your chances.
We can help you get a literary agent.
The world’s leading literary agencies are seeking exciting debut authors, and they’re looking for great stories in all genres of fiction, from debut authors who present their writing professionally and with flair. There’s every chance you will get a literary agent if you’re serious about your career as a writer and take good advice.
Whether you’re a debut author, have never been published, or you have self-published or been published by a small press or independent publishers, whether you’re seeking your first agent or want to find a new agent, we can help you get the best agent for you.
Our team have good relationships with many literary agents and they’re extremely well placed to match your work with the best agents. That's because our team were once literary agencies’ clients. In their former lives as publishing editors they bought books from the same agents so they enjoy trusted and respected relationships with literary agents. They know what makes for an exceptionally good submission, because they were able to choose from highly-polished literary agency submissions.
What’s more, our editorial services team are in conversation with literary agents on a weekly basis and they’re able to tip off literary agents to exciting debut authors – like you!
How we help you get a literary agent.
Working alongside literary agents in the USA and the UK who represent fiction authors throughout the publishing world gives us a chance to keep an ear to the ground with the market for fiction. We are familiar with almost every world-class literary agent’s list. We have a great track record of securing agent representation for our members. Literary agents work with The Novelry because they have come to brilliant writing from our authors.
When you join The Novelry for a course you’ll get access to the publishing world with fast track submission to literary agents worldwide. We help our writers all the way from shaping their commercial fiction or literary fiction idea to ensure the story is as strong as it can be for publishing through to crafting the pitch-perfect submission package and an outstanding query letter. Leave thoughts of self publishing behind and enter the major league of the publishing world with The Novelry.
Towards Literary Agency Representation With The Novelry.
It’s our unabashed intention to do all we can to get our members a book deal, and it’s a great joy for The Novelry to be able to make that call to a writer to say they love it!
We neither ask for nor accept a commission for this; it’s part of the service. We cannot guarantee representation, but we will always do everything we can to help you. We wouldn’t, for example, encourage you to submit before you’re truly ready. We can help writers of novels of all genres of fiction, writing for adults, YA fiction or middle grade fiction, memoir and some narrative nonfiction but we don’t represent graphic novels, essay collections, or nonfiction books.
Our literary agency partners give regular live sessions to members of The Novelry enabling our writers to know what’s hot, what’s not and how to nail the all-important pitch. It’s a great way for you to find a literary agent you want to work with. We’ll make a plan with each and every one of our writers individually to submit their work when ready directly to the best literary agents for them, and typically they reply within 2 weeks as part of our partnership understanding. We may approach other literary agents additionally if your genre or location needs some specialist assistance. We’re connected to most well-respected literary agencies worldwide.
One thing you can be sure of, we have your success very much at heart. It’s what makes The Novelry so much more than a writing course. We have taken complete beginners all the way through to secure world-class literary agency representation.
When your manuscript is deemed ready to submit to literary agents, our editorial team will invite you to our submission service. An editor will work with you to hone your query letter and submissions package. We will then prepare a list of literary agents who work in your genre and are looking to take on new writers. We submit on your behalf, keeping you informed allowing you the choice of meeting those agents interested in taking things further.
Sign up and prepare to begin your career with the right literary agent for you.
Our Literary Agency Partners
Our literary agency partners are AAA and AAR members and they operate worldwide representing authors around the globe.
Our partner literary agencies represent bestselling and award-winning authors like Philip Pullman, Michael Ondaatje, Hilary Mantel, Marilynne Robinson, Madeleine Miller, Celeste Ng, Gail Honeyman, Richard Osman, Paula Hawkins, J.M Coetzee, Jacqueline Wilson and many more famous names.
Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency
Madeleine Milburn founded the agency described by The Bookseller as ‘a major force in publishing’ in 2012. Madeleine was chosen as one of the book trade’s Rising Stars and in 2017 she was one of a small handful of agents to be included in The Bookseller’s list of the 100 most influential people in the book trade, alongside the likes of J. K. Rowling. She has appeared in the list every year since and introduced to readers many new writers who have become household names.
In 2018, Madeleine won Literary Agent of the Year at the British Book Awards. She was praised for her 'prolific deal-making'. In 2020, she was shortlisted again for the same award. She represents our very own Lizzy Goudsmit Kay writing as Elizabeth Kay.
David Higham Associates
Established in 1935, David Higham Associates represents an outstanding range of writers of commercial and literary fiction, in all media and languages, and are the leading agency for children’s authors and illustrators. From giants of modern literature to commercial fiction, crime fiction and emerging talent that finds a place in pop culture, David Higham Associates work with some of the most exciting fiction writers in the world. Authors include Alexander McCall Smith, Paula Hawkins, Naomi Alderman, Harriet Tyce, Robert Macfarlane, J.M. Coetzee, Jacqueline Wilson and our very own Myfanwy Milward.
Mushens Entertainment is a leading UK literary agency that represents a diverse range of authors. From Sunday Times Bestsellers, to actors, brands and award-nominated authors. Juliet Mushens has been shortlisted for Literary Agent of the Year four times. She represents a bestselling and critically acclaimed list, from historical fiction to crime fiction, from young adult to science fiction including debut authors and no.1 bestseller Jessie Burton, multi-million-copy bestseller Taran Matharu, and Richard Osman. Juliet Mushens represents our very own Krystle Appiah and Katie Khan.
The Book Group
The Book Group was founded in 2015. They work with every major New York publisher and represent award-winning novelists and illustrators, book club favourites, bestselling thrillers, and fantasy, horror and young adult classics. Their clients include Celeste Ng, Liane Moriarty, Madeleine Miller, Joshua Ferris, Rumaan Alam, Alice Sebold and other writers.
United Agents (UA) is a talent and literary agency headquartered in Soho, London, England. In 2007 UA set up a literary division and further to the acquisition of AP Watt, now represents writers across fiction, non-fiction, history and children’s books, as well as illustrators. Authors have won many of the world’s most prestigious literary prizes (including the Man Booker Prize, the Costa Novel of the Year, the Women’s Prize for Fiction, the Windham-Campbell Prize, the Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Children’s Book Award) and appeared at the top of the Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller lists. Clients include John Banville, Julian Barnes, Tessa Hadley and the estate of Helen Dunmore. They represent our own Cate Guthleben.
Trident Media Group
For more than ten consecutive years, the literary agency TMG has ranked number one for sales according to the publishing marketplace in North America. Located in New York, the agency operates worldwide. TMG is the only U.S. literary agency to consistently be in the top ten in UK fiction and has ranked as highly as number one in UK fiction deals. Among the literary agency’s clients are Pulitzer Prize winners, National Book Award winners, The Booker Prize, and winners of various other literary prizes.
Peters, Fraser + Dunlop
Peters Fraser + Dunlop (PFD) is a talent and literary agency based in London, England. One of the oldest agencies in Britain, dating from 1924, PFD was a co-founder of the Association of Authors' Agents, it is home to a distinguished and varied client list, including Jeanette Winterson, Helen Rappaport, Simon Schama, Sarah Raven, Chris Patten, Bear Grylls, and such estates as V.S. Pritchett, E.M. Forster. They represent our own Susie Bower.
Janklow & Nesbit Associates
The famous US literary agency began as Morton L. Janklow Associates, founded by attorney Morton Janklow in 1977. The arrival of Lynn Nesbit created Janklow & Nesbit Associates in 1989. Janklow & Nesbit (UK) Ltd. was established in 2000 to provide the same level of service and expertise to British and European-based writers. The literary agency has represented books that have appeared on The New York Times Bestseller Lists cumulatively for more than 9,300 weeks between 2010 and 2017. Their amazing authors have garnered every major accolade from the Pulitzer Prize to the Academy Award. They represent our very own Lily Lindon.
The Soho Agency
A leading literary agency based in the heart of Soho, London. The Soho Agency was founded in 2019 bringing together the literary agents of LAW (Lucas Alexander Whitley) and Factual Management - two agencies with long term reputations and stellar clients - to form an expanded company with the dedicated staff, complementary skills and imagination to be active in all areas of international literary representation. They represent Nicholas Sparks, Andy McNab, Kate Mosse, Sophie Kinsella, Ben Fogle and our very own Emylia Hall. Our literary agent for adult fiction is Marina de Pass and for children’s middle grade fiction, it's Philippa Milnes-Smith whose clients include two UK Children’s Laureates - Chris Ridell and Lauren Child.
Jane Rotrosen Agency, NYC
The Jane Rotrosen Agency on 51st Street Manhattan has represented authors of fiction since 1974. Their literary agent list includes over 1,000 international and domestic bestsellers in all formats. They represent women’s fiction, crime, suspense, thrillers, mystery historical fiction, romance, new adult fiction, young adult fiction and children’s middle grade fiction. Their authors include Tami Hoag, Lisa Gardner, Tess Gerritsen, Kristin Hannah and Iris Johansen.
Inkwell is one of the world’s leading literary agencies, with an international reputation for representing bestselling and prize-winning writers working closely with every New York publisher. Their literary agents are particularly interested in original ideas, riveting stories and great writing. Their clients include Kate Atkinson, Sophie Kinsella, Lionel Shriver, Lauren Oliver and Markus Zusak.
The literary agency was founded in 1919 by Audrey Heath and Alice May Spinks. Hilary Mantel was the agency’s fourth Booker prize winner, with Wolf Hall in 2009. In 2012, its follow-up volume, Bring Up the Bodies, repeated the feat, making Hilary the first writer in history to win two Booker Prizes with successive novels – and the first to win with a direct sequel.
DHH Literary Agency
Founded by David H Headley in 2008, this literary agent team of passionate book lovers with a huge commercial fiction client list are devoted to finding new talent and growing writing careers. The literary agents at DHH particularly enjoy crime, women’s commercial fiction, romance and literary fiction. In 2017 Broo Doherty was voted Literary Agent of the Year at the Royal Novelist’s Association.
Founded in 1970, Watson, Little Ltd is a long-established literary agency that offers a full service to its clients across all aspects of media. It has an outstanding track record, and has represented a number of celebrated, bestselling and prize-winning authors over the years and handles an unusually wide range of adult, children’s and young adult fiction. Our agent Donald Winchester was the Secretary of the Association of Authors’ Agents (AAA) from 2017-19. Donald is interested in literary fiction and well-written commercial fiction, particularly debut authors, as well as memoir. Watson Little represent our own Mahsuda Snaith and our member Shylashri Shankar.
Bell Lomax Moreton
Founded in 2000, Bell Lomax Moreton represents a wide range of distinguished authors writing adult fiction and middle grade children’s books. Their managing director, Paul Moreton, joined the agency in 2000 from Penguin Books, where he was Head of Children’s Book Sales. He’s interested in children’s books across all age ranges. With over 20 years’ experience of working in the publishing industry, Jo Bell, has worked for HarperCollins and is seeking fiction with a strong voice across all genres of adult fiction. Rights in the United States are handled by Helen Edwards, formerly Rights Director at Transworld. Film and TV rights are looked after by Valerie Hoskins Associates.
Eve White Literary Agency
A UK-based literary agency representing internationally published authors. Eve White was shortlisted for the BIA 2015 Literary Agent of the Year award, and the British Book Awards 2017 Literary Agent of the Year award. Their literary agents represent Ruth Ware, Luan Goldie, Rachael Blok, and Rebecca Reid. They represent middle grade fiction and their author Sarah Naughton was shortlisted for The Costa Children’s Book Award for her novel, The Hanged Man Rises. Booktrust has featured their author Andy Stanton's You’re a Bad Man, Mr Gum! on its list of “100 Best Books of the Last 100 Years.”
Aevitas Creative Management
Aevitas Creative Management is a full-service literary agency, home to more than twenty literary agents in six cities in the USA (New York, Boston, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Seattle, London). Aevitas Creative Management is a full-service literary agency, home to more than thirty literary agents in six cities: New York, Boston, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Seattle and London. Their list includes Riley Sager, Neil Patrick Harris, Andrew J. Graff and Tara Conklin. Their authors have won the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, Guggenheim Fellowship, National Book Critics Circle Award, PEN/Hemingway, Pushcart Prize, Whiting Writer’s Award, and the Nobel Peace Prize. They represent our own Olesya Lyuzna.
Johnson & Alcock
Into their sixth decade, Johnson & Alcock boasts a vibrant list of fiction for both children and adults, and as literary agents they are proud to represent prizewinning and bestselling authors across the genres in the UK and internationally. Our literary agent partner is Anna Power, the MD of Johnson & Alcock. She looks after a list of award-winning and bestselling novelists. She's looking for literary fiction and commercial novels including narrative nonfiction, thrillers, psychological suspense, historical and women’s fiction. She favours great storytelling and a fresh voice, and enjoys discovering and working with debut authors. She also represents some children’s fiction, from middle grade through to Young Adult.
Greene & Heaton
Founded in 1963, Greene & Heaton Ltd is a literary agency working closely with their clients, to polish their proposals, edit their texts, and to give advice about positioning in the fast-changing publishing industry. Their literary agents handle straightforward book representation and contract negotiation to film and TV adaptations. Authors include Sarah Waters, Sebastian Barry, P.D James and Jenny Offill.
42 are a management and production company who represent actors, writers and directors and produce film, television and content. The book division at 42 represents a number of bestselling and prize-winning authors. 42 authors are published in over 40 languages. Their literary agents focus on storytelling above all else and are led by Eugenie Furniss, shortlisted twice for Literary Agent of the Year at The British Book Awards. Authors include Matthew Reilly, Celia Walden, and Adriana Trigiani.
Hardman & Swainson
Founded in 2012, Hardman & Swainson is a dynamic London-based literary agency, with a diverse range of clients and an international focus. They represent writers in all genres of commercial fiction and children’s middle grade fiction including Meg Cabot, Miranda Dickinson, Helen Fields and Giovanna Fletcher.
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