All the literary agents you should query
My complete spreadsheet of all of the literary agents with a proven track record selling books to Big Five publishing houses and cultivating bestselling authors.
When I completed my first novel, the idea was to find an agent who could sell my novel to Penguin Publishing house, get it on Reece’s Book Club list, and help me turn it into an HBO series. But how exactly is one supposed to find such an agent?
Well, the answer is: purchase QueryTracker Pro, look up every single literary agency in their database, research every agent at each one of those agencies, vet their track records against their Publishers Marketplace profiles, find out what they are looking for on Manuscript Wish List, and then stalk them on Twitter to keep track of when they open for querying and what they’re looking for this year.
So that’s what I did.
The below spreadsheet contains 158 vetted fiction agents and 157 vetted nonfiction agents all with proven track records of selling books to Big Five publishing houses and cultivating bestsellers. (It also includes 48 childrens/middle grade/YA authors and 13 indie publishing houses but I’m not quite done with those sections yet.)
Each agent on my spreadsheet is paired with links to their profile page, links to their agency website, and links to their Twitter profile, along with information about the most famous books and authors they are currently repping and what they are currently looking for in new submissions. This has all been updated as of 2022. (Phew! That was A LOT of work!!!!)
It should be noted that my spreadsheet includes only successful agents who are still accepting new clients—there are way more agents than this. For instance, I left off agents who have an overly established book of work and are thus not accepting new clients (like Dan Brown’s agent Heide Lange) as well as agencies that are referral only and thus don’t accept unsolicited manuscripts (like UTA).
I also left off agencies and agents without an established book of work—as in, they have only a few books under their belt and none placed with the Big Five publishing houses. In fact, I left off whole agencies that didn’t have any bestsellers in their portfolio—and there are a lot of those. Seriously a lot. (But I did painstakingly research every single one of them so you don’t have to.)
I did take some creative license—I included a few agents who don’t have a proven track record yet but who work at prominent agencies and thus have the right connections to get there. I also included a few agents who work at an agency with no big wins yet, but who have had big wins at previous agencies and are just in build mode with the new one.
My personal gauge was: Is it worth paying this person 15% of my earnings (plus paying whatever publishing house they find for me an additional 60% of my earnings) because they are going to provide such valuable connections that my book will be a smash success and earn it all back on the market?
There’s room for nuance here. For instance: You might be ok with working with a boutique agency because you just want to put out a book every now and then and if it goes to an indie house or sells a couple hundred copies that’s just fine because it makes life easier—and I totally get that. Personally, I pair this list with an #MSWL search—thus finding the intersection of really successful agents and agents who might be interested in my book. It’s a balance, for sure.
If you haven’t used #mswl on Twitter yet—this is a must. It stands for “manuscript wish list” and agents use the hashtag whenever they are posting what kind of books they are looking for. On Twitter, just search #mswl + whatever term is relevant to your novel. As an example: When I was querying my first book I searched for “mswl gothic” to find all of the agents with a gothic novel on their wish list, and then I targeted those agents.
As I learned the hard way, most agents open for querying in January and then shut down due to overwhelm in the summer/fall. So if you want to pitch your book this year, this is the time!
Let’s start pitching, shall we?
My spreadsheet of literary agents is available to paying subscribers of The Novelleist (Thank you so much for supporting my work!)