Wednesday 29 August 2018

How to Find a Literary Agent

What can you do to maximise your chances of having your submission read and being taken on by a literary agent? Here are some hints to help:
1.    Research agencies to find the right fit. This is very easy to do, not least from looking at agency’s own websites, reference works, The Bookseller etc.
2.    Look at similar books. Look in the acknowledgements pages of books that are comparable to see who the agent was. My agency doesn’t handle poetry, short stories, science fiction, romance, fantasy, women’s fiction, religious so it’s a waste of your time to send to me.
3.    Personalise your submission. Target it to the right agent and use their name.  Show you know what they handle and suggest how your book is similar. Give the impression this is an individual and not blanket approach.
4.    Don’t submit too early. You only have one shot. Make sure your submission is grammatical and polished by having it checked by a freelance editor.
5.    Build your profile. The more Twitter followers you have and the greater your engagement with social media and sites such as Goodreads the better.
6.    Give agents what they ask for. If they want chapter synopses or first three chapters then send that. It shows professionalism and will help the agent properly assess the submission. I personally want a one-page pitch on book, a page on authors and their platform, a page with details on five similar books and how your book is positioned in the market and suggested marketing outlets for book such as organisations, websites and magazines.
7.    Network. Go to where agents gather such as literary and writing festivals, meetings of Society of Authors etc.

This is an extract from an article that first appeared in issue 7 of Publishing Talk Magazine written by Andrew Lownie, the bestselling literary agent in the world according to Publishers Marketplace, who was short-listed for The Bookseller UK literary agent of the year in 2014 and 2015. He has run his own agency, the Andrew Lownie Literary Agency, since 1988 having previously been a director of Curtis Brown and worked as a bookseller, journalist and publisher.


  1. Thank you for this article, Di. As a writer who recently started out to get on top of all the stories and manuscripts that have been piling up over the years, but never saw the light of day, I'm very much interested in the process involved in getting an agent. I recently attended a workshop run by Mary Cunnane, which was also very helpful but there don't seem to be many Australian agents specialising in children's lit. Would it be better to not waste time and submit to a publisher directly (where unsolicited MS are admissible? Thank you for blog post.