If you’re on a quest for an agent or publisher, there are a few sites you’ll need to get well acquainted with. Whether directories of trustworthy agents/publishers or places to scope out tips, these stops will help you fully prepare for the plunge into capital-q Querying.
For your convenience, I’ve also included a file at the end you can download to track your research. I called it my Stalker List of Agents during my hunting, and found it a great resource for the complicated mess agent-research becomes. (I was highly influenced by Susan Dennard, I think, and her advice on querying.)
Free Services to find an Agent
WritersNet Agent and Publisher Directory is primarily a place to browse in your initial search. The overall information for individual agents leaves much wanting, but it’s a good start if you’re just beginning to tip your toe in the options. You can browse by topic or location, in addition to using the search engine.
The AAR is a legit vetting company for agents, and a great place to look for someone trustworthy. As it says on the website, “Agents must meet the AAR’s minimum experience requirements and agree to adhere to its Bylaws and Canon of Ethics.” Though a reputable agent might not be a member of AAR (especially if they aren’t in the U.S.), agents on the roster are generally some of the best in the industry.
Agent Query is another stellar search engine option for your browsing needs. This one tends to be much more thorough than some of the others, though as always you should check for updated information on the agent’s website before you start sending emails out.
QueryTracker is (yet another) nice search engine for agents, though often it doesn’t have the most thorough information. A good place to start in your initial exploration!
Absolute Write Water Cooler is one of the largest writing communities on the web. There are places to share excerpts, queries, and synopses for feedback (and to give feedback on others’ submissions). Important for your search is the Bewares forum. Here, writers leave feedback about their experiences with different agencies, and forum members do investigative work on anything that feels fishy. This is also a great place to get a feel for how fast (or if) an certain agent might respond, and what you can expect from working with them.
MS Wishlist compiles tweets that used the hashtag #MSWL. This is a fabulous way to see what agents are actively looking for, and can be useful in your query (many of the agents ask you to put MSWL in the subject of your email so they can get to it faster). There are some categorizing options on the site (for example, you can look at genre-specific wishlists), but sadly it’s not as advanced as one might hope (you can’t look for only agents who want YA, etc.). Nevertheless, it’s a really fun tool, and quite easy to browse.
Literary Rambles is my absolute favorite resource for YA, MG, and children’s authors (particularly in the U.S.). It is incredibly easy to explore and has fantastically detailed information on the agents. Always double-check to be sure the info is current, but this is a great place to get a good overview before you dive deeper.
Paid Services to find an Agent
1. Writer’s Market (from Writer’s Digest)
Though the Writer’s Market service does cost money, the fee is fairly mild (monthly for $6 – less than Hulu!) and it has the benefit of offering insights in the publishing side of the industry and non-agent opportunities (plus agents as well). Apparently “over 9,000 listings for book publishers, literary agents, magazines, online publications, contests, conferences and more!” This can be a helpful way to go, especially if you want to give yourself a targeted deadline (like a month) to do intense research.
Publishers Marketplace is a bit more expensive than Writer’s Market (at about $25/month), but is a great way to stay on top of the publishing industry. If you want to know what deals are happening and which agencies are in on them, this is an excellent resource.
Freebie: A Spreadsheet to Help You in Your Agent Quest!
I made this spreadsheet based off of others around the web (again, I think it was Susan Dennard) and used it extensively in my prep and in my actual querying. On the first page, there is the Stalker List of Agents, which includes categories for contact information, wishlists, submission processes, etc. On the second page, there’s a tracker to help you know where you are in each submission. I’ve included a few sample agencies on the sheet as examples.
Download it for maximum sleuthing capabilities! It’ll save you some stress when it comes time to submit.
What awesome resources have I missed? Leave a comment to let us know!