Need help submitting your writing to literary journals or book publishers/literary agents? Click here! →

Category Archives: Literary Agents

Get The Inside Scoop On A Literary Agent

literary agent

When researching literary agencies, most writers choose which literary agents to query based on the brief descriptions available in books of market listings. But if a literary agent that you queried contacts you to request your complete manuscript or to make you an offer of representation—first, do your happy dance, because that doesn’t happen every day!—then, consider conducting a thorough investigation into your potential partner.

The first thing you should do is visit the agent’s website. And during any discussions, you should ask the agent specific questions to get a better sense of how he or she operates (read more: Nine Questions To Ask A Literary Agent).

But if you want to know about a literary agent’s reputation within the larger publishing community, you need to uncover the behind-the-scenes scoop. So put on your amateur sleuth deerstalker hat and let’s start digging up clues!

Five Ways To Get The Inside Scoop On A Literary Agency

Sign up for Publisher’s Marketplace.  Publisher’s Marketplace is a website where literary agents, writers, and editors post information about successful book deals. The website is not free, but anyone can join.

While not every literary agent will post a book deal on Publisher’s Marketplace, many literary agents and editors do check in regularly. You can do the same: Log in and search for news on your potential literary agent. Has the agent been active? For how long? And how recently? How many book deals has he or she done? Is he or she a new literary agent?

Like our insider info and writing advice?

Then you’ll love the many other ways Writer’s Relief can help!

From effectively targeting markets, writing dynamic query letters, building authors’ online platforms, and much more—find out how Writer’s Relief can boost your exposure and maximize your acceptance rate.

Find more clues online. Many writers Google the name of their potential literary agent, skim the first page of results, and stop there. But you can often find more information about a literary agent when you check the second, third, and fourth pages of your search engine results.

You may find other writers talking about your potential agent in a chat room or forum. You may discover blog interviews or commentaries. You might also uncover interviews with writers who are represented by your potential literary agency. Every little bit of information helps when you are trying to decide whether or not a literary agent is right for you.

Visit Predators & Editors. Predators & Editors is a central hub where writers can share complaints or grievances about publishing industry professionals (you can also search for jobs, contests, etc.). Check to see if there are any complaints against your potential literary agent.

Ask around. If you are involved in a writing group or association, ask the other members what they know about your potential literary agent. But remember: If the writer you are talking to does not have direct experience with the literary agent in question and is simply repeating what he or she has heard, take the information with a grain of salt.

In a best-case scenario, you will be able to connect with another writer who has worked directly with the literary agent in question. But if you’re hearing whispers from many different writers saying your potential agent is not on the up-and-up, you could be right to heed the warnings.

Go to a writing conference. Many literary agents make appearances at writing conferences. Find out where your potential literary agent will be speaking or appearing and make plans to attend. If your potential literary agent is speaking at a well-known and reputable writing conference, he or she is probably respected and above board. Here’s where you can find a great list of writing conferences.

Remember To Look At The Big Picture

Talking to one writer or visiting one website will not give you enough information to accurately evaluate your potential future literary agent. You could meet one writer who has had a fabulous experience with your agent, or another who describes the partnership as “so-so.” Your best bet is to gather as much information as you can from multiple sources—only then will you be ready to make one of the most important decisions of your life!

Not sure that your potential agent is your top choice? Read more: When Is A Good Agent Good Enough?


Writer QuestionsQUESTION: Which of the above suggestions have you used to find out more information about a literary agent?

Interview With An Author: Tanuja Desai Hidier

In our Interview With An Author series, Writer’s Relief asks professional writers to share their tried-and-true secrets for publishing success. Tanuja Desai Hidier is an award-winning author, singer-songwriter, and “booktrack” innovator. The recipient of the 2015 South Asia Book Award (for Bombay Blues) and the James Jones First Novel Fellowship Award, Tanuja’s short stories have… Continue Reading

8 Signs Your NaNoWriMo Novel Is Ready For Lit Agent Representation

After National Novel Writing Month is over, literary agencies are often flooded with 50,000-word manuscripts that, frankly, aren’t quite finished or polished enough for a successful agent-writer connection. NaNoWriMo books CAN become best sellers (here are a few that did!). But how do you know if your novel is truly ready for submission to a… Continue Reading

What To Do If You’re Offered A Book Contract But Don’t Have A Literary Agent

There are so many book publishing companies these days that the big New York publishers no longer have the corner on the market. Writers can often directly approach smaller and independent publishers without having to first secure literary agent representation. But when an offer of book publication does come in (yay!), a writer who doesn’t… Continue Reading

Awkward Moment Or Red Flag? 11 Literary Agent Practices Worth Questioning

Some literary agent practices are honest and aboveboard. Others fall into an awkward, ethical gray area—and some of these practices should send writers running for the hills. Here’s how to make sense of questionable literary agency practices when you’re not sure what to do. Literary Agency Practices: How To Tell The Dubious From The Dangerous Charging… Continue Reading

Learn More
Live Chat Software


This page was chock-full of great info...
and there's so much more here to help you meet your publishing goals!

Be sure to sign up for our FREE guides as you enter each site.

For advice, marketing ideas, and step-by-step guidance through the self-publishing process!

Featuring smart ways to boost your online presence, build your author website, or improve your existing website.

For everything you need to know about writing, preparing, and targeting submissions to literary agents and editors!