On the agent search page
, first make sure you are searching for Fiction agents. If not, use the "Switch to" options at the top of the search page and select Fiction.
The Search page has criteria across four tabs:
First Tab: The Basics
Screenshot of Basics tab
It is important to select a Country with every Agent Search. Most agents focus their selling efforts in their home country, where they know the market and have fostered connections with publishers. Usually, you should look for an agent in your home country and only query foreign agents if you've exhausted all the options in your home country — both agents and publishers.
Note: If you live in a country where English is not the predominant language and you write in English, you can contact agents in English-speaking countries. As always, check their guidelines for restrictions since some agents do not represent foreign clients.
We highly recommend including this option with every search. Unless the piece you wrote is a specific genre (such as science fiction, fantasy, romance, etc.), select "General."
You cannot select a Subgenre until you have selected a Genre. We don't recommend selecting a Subgenre unless the piece really is a specific subgenre (such as magic realism, historical fiction, urban fantasy, etc.)
For non-genre pieces (literary, mainstream, etc.), we highly recommend including this option with every search. For genre work (fantasy, mystery, etc.), Style is less important but can still be selected. The most commonly used options are: "Literary," "Mainstream," and "Experimental," but it's worth exploring all the options. Humorists, you can find the "Humorous" option here, under Style. (Note: You can't select a Style until you have selected a Genre.)
If you are writing for a general adult audience, we recommend not selecting a specific Audience for best results. However, if your piece is aimed towards a specific audience, such as Young adults, Christians, or Gays/Lesbians, select that in this field.
We only recommend selecting a Topic in certain circumstances. In most cases, Topic won't apply, but it's still worth becoming familiar with all the options.
You cannot select a Subtopic until you have selected a Topic. We don't recommend selecting a Subtopic unless the piece is a good match for one of the options. If searching for a specific Subtopic using Search Level: Exact doesn't return enough results, try a Fuzzy or Broad search level.
We recommend including this option in every search, unless you truly have no preference between sending electronic submissions and postal submissions.
We highly recommend including this option in every search. The options here are fairly self-explanatory (see our glossary if not).
If you are looking to place a fiction collection
or a work that's shorter than novel-length (such as a novella
), be aware that very few agents represent those. We recommend you try searching for Fiction Publishers
Check the "Accepts Simultaneous Submissions" box if you are (or will be) submitting this piece to several agents at the same time. (Note: Do not submit to more than one agent at a single agency unless their guidelines make it clear that's permitted.)
Sort By (available on every tab)
The default option is to sort the search results alphabetically by last name, but if you care more about Response Time*, or Acceptance Percentage*, you may want to use those options instead.
Important: The Sort By options marked with asterisks (*) will also eliminate any listings with fewer than 10 fiction submissions reported to us in the past 12 months. If you want to ensure you see all matching listings, avoid using those options.
Search Level (available on every tab)
The default option ("Exact") is to show only listings that are exact matches for all of your search criteria.
"Fuzzy" searches will broaden the search, but most of the search results will still be likely matches to all or most of your search criteria.
"Broad" searches are even broader than fuzzy searches. These can be useful when you search on a lot of criteria and/or very specific criteria, such as Subgenre (when applicable) or Subtopic, and the Exact or Fuzzy results are too few.
Second Tab: Exclusions
Screenshot of Exclusions tab
There are some powerful options on this tab for eliminating unwanted search results and ensuring that you don't make any embarrassing mistakes (such as submitting the same piece twice to an agent or accidentally sending multiple submissions).
If you are only interested in Agents who are members of Professional Associations, Fledgling agents, or agents you've added to Your Favorites, select that option.
Here you can exclude Fledgling agents, agents that only accept submissions from a Limited Demographic, and/or agents that may represent some "Mature" content.
If you are searching for a specific piece that's already in your List of Pieces, you can exclude agents/agencies where it has already been submitted by selecting that piece in the drop-down list. (Note: This option only appears when applicable.)
If you want to avoid submitting to any agents/agencies where you already have submissions pending, check the "Exclude all agents/agencies where I have pending responses" box. (Note: This option only appears when applicable.)
Note: Any listings in your Ignore List will always be excluded from the search results.
We hope this information has helped you become a better searcher. If you have any suggestions on how we can improve this guide, please let us know.