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Ask a literary agent your question about how to get a publishing agent here. You’ll also find answers to questions other authors have posted. This article is part of our free 15-Part Guide About How to Get a Book Agent. It was created by, and is curated by, a former literary agent who’s now helped hundreds of authors get book agents as an author coach and consultant. See successful authors at How I Got My Literary Agent.

Book agent in brown suit on the Ask a Literary page of Get a Literary Agent

ASK A Literary Agent – FAQ

This Ask a Literary Agent FAQ answers questions about: the definition and role of a book agent, who publishing agents are, when you should query literary agents, how much representation costs, the best way to find book agents looking for authors, submissions to literary agents, how to handle an offer for representation, what happens after you get a book agent, and more.

Group of publishing agents inviting authors to ask a literary agent a question
ASK A LITERARY AGENT
ASK A BOOK AGENT
ASK A PUBLISHING AGENT
ASK A LITERARY AGENT
ASK A BOOK AGENT
ASK A PUBLISHING AGENT
ASK A LITERARY AGENT
ASK A BOOK AGENT
ASK A PUBLISHING AGENT
ASK A LITERARY AGENT
This ask a literary agent page was written by former literary agent turned author coach Mark Malatesta, creator of The Directory of Literary Agents, host of Ask a Literary Agent, and founder of Literary Agent Undercover and The Bestselling Author.

Mark has helped hundreds of authors get offers from literary agents and/or traditional publishers. Writers of all Book Genres have used our Literary Agent Advice coaching/consulting to get Top Literary Agents at the Best Literary Agencies on our List of Book Agents.

Submit Your Question

Ask a Literary Agent

If you have a question about how to get a literary agent that isn’t answered on our website, please post it below. Before posting, scroll above to make sure your question isn’t answered there.

Due to time constraints, we can’t answer questions that have already been answered. Please make your question clear, and concise, since the submission form below is limited to 500 characters.

If you want to remain anonymous, type “Anonymous” in the name field. You’ll receive an email when a reply has been posted (usually within 48 hours). We look forward to helping you get a book agent.

82 Comments

  1. William King

    How do I get a literary agent for Poetry?

    Reply
    • Literary Agent News

      Hi William,

      There are so few agents who represent poetry, and most of them only want poetry from award-winning poets who are well published, that I don’t have those agents identified in my agent directory, unfortunately. But if you do a Google search such as “literary agents who represent poetry” you’ll likely find someone(s) with those agents online.

      You’ll likely find this helpful as well, if you haven’t yet seen it:

      How to Get a Literary Agent (NEW 15-Part Guide)
      https://getaliteraryagent.com/how-to-get-a-literary-agent/

      And…

      If you want/need help with anything else, you can post on my new “Ask a Literary Agent” page at https://getaliteraryagent.com/ask-a-literary-agent/. I’ll always do what I can to point you in the right direction. And, on that same page, you’ll find my answers to the questions authors ask me most.

      All my best,

      – Mark

      Mark Malatesta
      https://markmalatesta.com
      The Bestselling Author
      https://thebestsellingauthor.com
      Literary Agent Undercover
      https://literary-agents.com

      Reply
  2. Patrick Lucas

    Buon Giorno Mark,

    I would simply like to know where I might send Marly Rusoff
    a gift in thanks for her Minnesota Bookstore and her Being which changed my life. If you doubt my legitimacy, I am a close friend of Maurie Lazarus, Rev. Bill Teska, and was of Colleen Engelman, and her sister Tammy — in case you wish/ need (and have time, ha-ha) to consult Marly. I would be extremely obliged for said effort. If in Madrid (Spain) at any
    future moment, e-mail me and I´ll take you for a wine and tapa paseo down Hemming Way…or meet in Wales at Milk-Wood. Congratulations for all you are doing and “Do not go
    gentle…” Tante Grazie, Patrick Lucas

    Reply
    • Literary Agent News

      Hi Patrick!

      You can find her website on Google and/or find all the agent info we have in our online literary agent database at https://getaliteraryagent.com/literary-agent-database/

      And…

      If you want/need help with anything else, you can post on my new “Ask a Literary Agent” page at https://getaliteraryagent.com/ask-a-literary-agent/.

      All my best,

      – Mark

      Mark Malatesta
      https://markmalatesta.com
      The Bestselling Author
      https://thebestsellingauthor.com
      Literary Agent Undercover
      https://literary-agents.com

      Reply
  3. Paul Vincent Rapisarda

    Can we submit our query letter to you, Mark, for you to review before we make our queries?

    Reply
    • Literary Agent News

      Hi Paul,

      That’s one of the few things I can’t do, unfortunately, to be fair to the authors who participate in my longer-term coaching, as I do that as part of that process. But if you want/need help with anything else, that doesn’t require reviewing material, etc. you can post on my “Ask a Literary Agent” page at https://getaliteraryagent.com/ask-a-literary-agent/. As always, I’ll reply ASAP.

      All my best,

      – Mark

      Mark Malatesta
      https://markmalatesta.com
      The Bestselling Author
      https://thebestsellingauthor.com
      Literary Agent Undercover
      https://literary-agents.com

      Reply
  4. Sandy Leibowitz

    I inadvertently unsubscribed by mistake. Please, please put me back on your email list.
    Thanks so much.
    Sandy

    Reply
    • Literary Agent News

      Hi Sandy,

      Looks like you’re still on there, so you’re all set!

      🙂

      If you want/need help with anything else, you can post on my new “Ask a Literary Agent” page at https://getaliteraryagent.com/ask-a-literary-agent/. I’ll always do what I can to point you in the right direction. And, on that same page, you’ll find my answers to the questions authors ask me most.

      All my best,

      – Mark

      Mark Malatesta
      https://markmalatesta.com
      The Bestselling Author
      https://thebestsellingauthor.com
      Literary Agent Undercover
      https://literary-agents.com

      Reply
  5. Ray

    Hi:
    I am working on my first book, a humorous and satirical critique of Islam and extremism. It’s called ‘Statistic of One: Confessions of an X Muslim’ and I’m at around 5 chapters. I’ve submitted the outline to a few agents but haven’t heard back, with the exception of one, a literary press. I’d love to discuss more. The book is definitely not your typical book on comparative religion, and reads more like a comedy set. My background is in international relations, Islamic studies, and counter terrorism, as well as music and standup. I see the book as PJ O Rourke meets Salman Rushdie meets Stephen King. It’s personal, intense and quite funny. Hope to discuss.

    Reply
    • Literary Agent News

      Hi Ray,

      Nice to meet you, and though I’m no longer an agent, I do have some things you’ll likely find helpful:

      How to Get a Literary Agent (NEW 15-Part Guide)
      https://getaliteraryagent.com/how-to-get-a-literary-agent/

      Literary Agent Database (Directory of Literary Agents)
      https://getaliteraryagent.com/literary-agent-database/

      And…

      If you still want to discuss your work, you might want to look at the following as well:

      Literary Agent Advice (1-on-1 Coaching/Consulting)
      https://getaliteraryagent.com/literary-agent-advice/

      How I Got My Literary Agent (Success Stories)
      https://getaliteraryagent.com/how-i-got-my-literary-agent/

      Lastly…

      If you want/need help with anything else, you can post on my new “Ask a Literary Agent” page at https://getaliteraryagent.com/ask-a-literary-agent/. I’ll always do what I can to point you in the right direction. And, on that same page, you’ll find my answers to the questions authors ask me most.

      All my best,

      – Mark

      Mark Malatesta
      https://markmalatesta.com
      The Bestselling Author
      https://thebestsellingauthor.com
      Literary Agent Undercover
      https://literary-agents.com

      Reply
  6. Cynthia A. King

    I understand about seeking an agent for a self published book, what about a self published author shopping around an unpublished ms? Are you automatically a hard no? I usually do the queries and such, but if nobody bites, what’s wrong self publishing? You put in the time and think you have written a quality book, why should it languish in the bottom of a file cabinet? With the odds against getting an agent so slim, books are meant to be read. What stick is up their ass they can’t look at someone who is so committed to becoming an author they put the money and time into learning how to self publish. It’s not easy. It says a lot about a person who’s willing to take that on.

    Reply
    • Literary Agent News

      Hi Cynthia,

      I’m glad you asked. A self published author shopping around an unpublished ms is much easier. More times than not, though, unless someone asks, best to not mention the self-publishing history unless there are impressive sales numbers. And if nobody bites, definitely. An author should get an audience. I’d try small- and medium-size publishers first, those that don’t charge fees or require literary agents. And if that doesn’t work, no shame in self-publishing. Hopefully you’ll land an agent though.

      To the end, if you haven’t seen the following yet, you’ll likely it helpful:

      How to Get a Literary Agent (NEW 15-Part Guide)
      https://getaliteraryagent.com/how-to-get-a-literary-agent/

      Literary Agent Database (Directory of Literary Agents)
      https://getaliteraryagent.com/literary-agent-database/

      And…

      If you want/need help with anything else, you can post on my new “Ask a Literary Agent” page at https://getaliteraryagent.com/ask-a-literary-agent/. I’ll always do what I can to point you in the right direction. And, on that same page, you’ll find my answers to the questions authors ask me most.

      All my best,

      – Mark

      Mark Malatesta
      https://markmalatesta.com
      The Bestselling Author
      https://thebestsellingauthor.com
      Literary Agent Undercover
      https://literary-agents.com

      Reply

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How I Got My Book Agent

Successful Authors

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Thanks in part to your query letter, manuscript suggestions, and support prioritizing agents, I received multiple offers from agents. Within two weeks of sending out the first query, I knew who I was going to sign with. I value our friendship.

N E L S O N . J O H N S O N

NY Times bestselling author of Boardwalk Empire, produced by Martin Scorsese for HBO, and Darrow's Nightmare: The Forgotten Story of America's Most Famous Trial Lawyer

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After following your advice, my book was acquired, the prestigious PW gave it a great review, and Time Magazine asked for an excerpt. Thank you for believing in my book, and for helping me share the surprising truth about women’s most popular body part!

L E S L I E . L E H R

Author of A Boob's Life: How America's Obsession Shaped Me―and You, published by Pegasus Books, distributed by Simon & Schuster and now in development for a TV series by Salma Hayek for HBO Max

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Fine Print Lit got publishers bidding against each other [for my book]. I ended up signing a contract with Thomas Nelson (an imprint of Harper Collins) for what I’ve been told by several people is a very large advance. What cloud is higher than 9?

S C O T T . L E R E T T E

Author of The Unbreakable Boy (Thomas Nelson/Harper Collins), adapted to feature film with Lionsgate starring Zachary Levi, Amy Acker, and Patricia Heaton

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AHHH! OMG, it happened! You helped me get three offers for representation from top literary agents! A short time later I signed a publishing contract. After that, my agent sold my next book. I’m in heaven!

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Author/illustrator of Penny and the Plain Piece of Paper (Penguin Books/Philomel), Scribble & Author (Kane Miller), and other children’s picture books

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Photo of Mark Malatesta - Former Literary Agent MARK MALATESTA is a former literary agent turned author coach. Mark now helps authors of all genres (fiction, nonfiction, and children's books) get top literary agents, publishers, and book deals through his company Literary Agent Undercover and The Bestselling Author. Mark's authors have gotten six-figure book deals, been on the NYT bestseller list, and published with houses such as Random House, Scholastic, and Thomas Nelson. Click here to learn more about Mark Malatesta and see Mark Malatesta Reviews.
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