How to Search for Literary Agents BETA

This guide to our Agent Search feature will help you become a better, more efficient searcher. The search options are different for each category, so first select which guide you'd like to read:
Note: On the agent search page, first make sure you are searching for Fiction agents. If not, use the "Switch to" drop-down list at the top of the search page to select Fiction.

The Search page has criteria across four tabs:

First Tab: The Basics

Screenshot of Basics tab

Country

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.

Genre

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."

Subgenre

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.)

Style

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.)

Audience

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.

Topic

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.

Subtopic

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.

Submission Type

We recommend including this option in every search, unless you truly have no preference between sending electronic submissions and postal submissions.

Length

We highly recommend including this option in every search. The options here are fairly self-explanatory (see our glossary if not).

Note: If you are looking to place a fiction collection or a work that's shorter than novel-length (such as a novella or novelette), be aware that very few agents represent those. We recommend you try looking for Fiction Publishers instead.

Submission Details

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).

Show Only

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.

Exclude

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.

Third Tab: Other Options

Screenshot of Other Options tab

Acceptance %

While this is a fun search option, you should be aware that using it will eliminate any markets with fewer than 10 fiction submissions reported to us.

Fourth Tab: Save Search (individual and group members only)

Screenshot of Save Search tab

Saved Searches

Here you can access any Saved Searches you have previously set up, or you can set up a new Saved Search. To save a search, you will need to enter a name for the search and then run the search as usual. (For more information, read our Guide to Saving Searches.)

Running the Search

Once you've selected your search criteria, run the search. If it returns over 300 results, we highly recommend refining your criteria until you get a manageable number of results. You can return to your search form at any time by clicking the "Show the Search Form" link.

Exploring Your Search Results

Screenshot of actual Search Results

You can hover over most of the colored icons in the search results for more information. Also, the little plus sign to the left of the market's title displays the cover art and general description (when available).

Running a search is just a first step. You should always research a publication and review their submissions guidelines before submitting to them.


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.

Happy searching!