Listing Criteria for Literary Agents
See publication listing criteria instead
These are our general criteria for agent listings. However, we reserve the right to refuse a listing or to de-list an agent for any reason without notice.
To qualify for a listing, an agent must meet these minimum criteria:
Material and Queries
They must accept unsolicited queries/submissions of fiction, poetry, or nonfiction projects. These submissions must be from the creator of the work.
Exception: Agents who only represent translations, picture books for children, plays, and/or graphic narrative do not qualify.
Exception: Agents who only allow queries by referral or invitation do not qualify.
Agents that stay "temporarily closed" to submissions for two years or more do not qualify.
They must accept submissions/queries in English and provide submission guidelines in English.
The agency must have an official, regularly updated, and up-to-date website. (An official site is one under the control of and maintained by the agency staff. Sites maintained by third parties are not "official" websites.)
Exception: "Pages" on social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, etc., do not qualify as official websites; however, websites hosted on blogging platforms, such as Wordpress, do qualify.
Information about the Agent
The agency's website must have a bio or other pertinent information for the agent being listed. Ideally, the agent's page should include a "wish list" of the type of material the agent would like to see, as well as contact information. It's also helpful if it includes a client list and/or a list of represented books.
Their complete, up-to-date guidelines must be posted on the agency's official website in written format. At a minimum, this should include the type of material they wish to see , whether they are currently open or closed to submissions, and instructions on how to submit if they are currently accepting queries/submissions.
These guidelines must be easily found from the home page and must be accessible without a login.
The guidelines must be in HTML format (preferred) or PDF format (displayed in the browser without requiring a download). We will not accept any other file formats.
A note about third-party submission/query managers: While we prefer guidelines posted directly on the official website, we will also accept guidelines posted on our own submission manager, Duosuma, as well as Submittable, Green Submissions, Moksha, Publishers Marketplace, or QueryManager. No other third-party submission/query managers are approved. (Google Forms and JotForm do not meet our technical requirements and cannot be approved.)
Agents should read our recommendations and always inform us when their guidelines page changes locations.
If they charge fees for any aspect of representation (including editing services) or the submission process (such as reading fees or expedited response fees), they do not qualify.
The agent must not charge a commission rate higher than the standard rates (10-15% domestic/20-30% subsidiary).
The agent and members of the agency's staff must not misrepresent themselves, their services, commissions, fees, or their backgrounds.
We only list agents who work at established agencies. The agency must have been in business for at least one year. We do not list agents at start-up or "fledgling" agencies. (New agencies that form from mergers between established agencies or spin-offs from established agencies may be acceptable.)
Three Strikes Policy: If we disqualify an agent listing for not meeting our criteria on three different occasions, the third disqualification will be permanent. We always attempt to contact agents about these qualification issues and give them ample time to respond before taking action.