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How long does it take to get a literary agent? It can take minutes, days, weeks, months, or a year or more to get a book agent. This article about how long it takes to get a publishing agent is part of our free 15-Part Guide About How to Get a Book Agent. It explains the best way to query, the best times to query, publishing agent reply times, and more.

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The Best Strategy to Get a Book Agent Quickly

How long it takes to get a literary agent has a lot to do with your querying strategy. The faster you query lots of book agents, the faster you’ll be able to get a book agent. However, there are guidelines regarding how many publishing agents you should query at once. This article explains.

How Genre Affects the Time to Get a Book AgeNT

How long it takes you to get a book agent will be impacted by your book genre. For some book categories, you can query hundreds or many hundreds of publishing agents. However, if you’ve written a collection of short stories or poetry, you’ll find there are very few author representatives who represent those types of books.

How long does it take to get a literary agent? The more book agents there are who represent your type of book, the longer it will take you to query them all. Let’s hope, of course, you won’t need to query them all. But, if you do–and you’re willing to do to the work–it will obviously take more time to query hundreds or many hundreds of author representatives than two dozen.

In addition, some of the literary agencies you query will have more than one literary agent you can query. Remember, literary agencies don’t let authors submit their work to multiple publishing agents at one agency at the same time.

If you get a rejection letter from a book agent at a literary agency with multiple book agents, you can–and should–query the next book agent there who represents your type of book when you get a rejection. The same thing applies if it’s been two months since you queried an author representative at the literary agency and you haven’t received a reply or request for your manuscript.

If the author representative who rejects your book says your book is not right for “us” or “our literary agency,” however, you should not query the next book agent at the literary agency.

Author Case Studies – How Long Does it Take to Get a Literary Agent?

No one can say how long it will take you to get a literary agent. However, some authors get book agents in less than 30 days after starting to submit query letters. Other authors take a year or longer.

How long does it take to get a literary agent? Here are two contrasting examples from the How I Got My Literary Agent section of our website, to show you how quickly–and slowly–writers can get book agents.

  • Case Study #1: “Within 4 minutes of sending out my query letter, a top literary agent called me on the phone. Less than 30 days later I had three major publishers making offers: Penguin, Harper Collins, and Random House. A few days after that, I signed a deal with Random House.”
  • Case Study #2: “When I first contacted you about author coaching, my daughter was in kindergarten–now’s she’s in middle school! I never gave up on querying, and now I have a literary agent with Red Fox Literary, and three children’s books coming out with Chronicle Books!”

As you can see, the question, ” How long does it take to get a literary agent?” can have very different answers. What’s most important is realizing and remembering that authors don’t have complete control over how long it will take them to get literary agents. But they can get educated about everything above and below to help them get a literary agency contract faster.

This article about how long it takes to get a publishing agent was written by former book agent turned author coach Mark Malatesta, creator of The Directory of Literary Agents, host of Ask a Publishing 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.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Literary Agent? – Next Steps

Now that you know the answer to the question, “How long does it take to get a literary agent?” click here to:

  1. See the next part of this guide to getting a book agent, How Much Does a Literary Agent Cost?
  2. Visit our Ask a Book Agent page, where you’ll find a complete list of questions and answers about getting a publishing agent.

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    How I Got My Book Agent

    Successful Authors

    Photo of author NJ sharing a Mark Malatesta review at Get a Literary Agent

    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

    NJ Book Cover for BE on boardwalk with cast from the HBO TV series, posted by Get a Literary Agent

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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

    LL Book Cover posted by Get a Literary Agent Guide

    Photo of author SL sharing a Mark Malatesta review at Get a Literary Agent

    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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    Photo of author MLP sharing a Mark Malatesta review at Get a Literary Agent

    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!

    M I R I . L E S H E M . P E L L Y

    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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    Find answers to all your book agent questions. Search our Ask a Literary Agent FAQ and/or post your question(s).

    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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