View Full Version : How to find an agent?

02-28-2005, 12:32 PM
I've written up my non-fiction book proposal and now I need to find an agent. But I don't have any idea how to start! Where do I look? I see people posting saying they signed with a 'big literary agency' -- how do I know what is big? What makes a good agent? Do I want someone who has done books like mine before, or will they not be interested in taking on similar books?

I'm willing to do some research and leg work to find the right agent but I find myself going in circles. Any information at all on where to begin would be greatly appreciated.

02-28-2005, 12:41 PM
p.s. If I have a publisher in mind that I'm interested in, should I try to find an agent that has sold to them before?

03-01-2005, 04:19 AM
What makes a good agent? To quote Uncle Jim, a good agent is one who's sold books to publishers you've heard of. "Big" or "small" isn't the issue: track record is the issue. You want an agent who has a strong record of selling books to commercial publishers large and small, and is selling plenty of books on a regular basis.

Yes, you do want an agent who has sold books like yours. This doesn't necessarily mean exactly like, but broadly similar. So if you've written a self-help book, it's a good idea to look for an agent who has sold self-help books, and who lists self-help books as an area of interest.

There's an article on my personal website that suggests a research procedure designed to screen out the many questionable and marginal agents you may run into: http://www.sff.net/people/VictoriaStrauss/agentsearch.html.

I do think that if you want to approach the larger publishing houses, trying to find an agent is a better time investment than submitting to the publisher directly. But if it's a smaller, independent publisher you're interested in, you may be able to submit yourself--a lot of smaller publishers are willing to work with unagented writers.

- Victoria

03-01-2005, 05:45 AM
thank you very much victoria! i have recently gotten some good advice from here and by mail and feel a lot less overwhelmed now. I've started to put together my agent wish list and am storing up supplies to sit and wait for the replies.