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This article about how to get a literary agent for nonfiction is for writers of all types of nonfiction books. Here you’ll find advice about nonfiction publishing agent requirements regarding your manuscript, platform, and submissions. This article is part of our free 15-Part Guide About How to Get a Book Agent.

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Get a Publishing Agent for Nonfiction

How to get a literary agent for nonfiction:

  1. Make sure your author profile or platform is as good as it can be.
  2. Ensure your nonfiction book is in the required word count range.
  3. Use the proper nonfiction book genre label(s) in your query.
  4. Follow nonfiction book agent submission requirements.

Nonfiction Author Platform Requirements – How to Get a Literary Agent for Nonfiction

Nonfiction authors seeking literary agents should talk about their author “profile” or “platform” when they send out query letters. Here we explain what the terms author profile and platform really mean.

Authors who want to know how to get a literary agent for nonfiction must understand the term “author profile” or “author platform.” Though publishing agents have somewhat different definitions for what the terms author profile an author platform mean, all book agents want to see an author’s ability to get exposure and sell books. In other words, book agents prefer knowing you have one or more of the following:

  • A large social media following
  • A large email list
  • A website with lots of visitors
  • Articles regularly published in large print or online outlets
  • Regular speaking engagements
  • Media interview/appearances
  • Influential connections

Author representatives and publishers like seeing things like those above because they reinforce the idea you have:

  1. Valuable content. Book agents, book publishers, and readers expect nonfiction books to be written by authors who are experts or very knowledgeable about the topics explored in their books.
  2. A willingness and ability to get exposure and help sell books. Publishers get far more submissions from authors than they can possibly publish. That allows them to be selective and, more times than not, partner with writers who have well-written books and strong platforms.

All the above isn’t as important for memoir and gift/novelty book authors. But, for any type of nonfiction book, literary agents and publishers look more favorably on authors with more impressive platforms.

They’re less risk.

Improve Your Nonfiction Author Platform

Anyone can improve their author profile and author platform–and they don’t need to spend money, or much money, to do so. You will need to invest some time. Here you will see the easiest and fastest ways to make your author profile and platform stronger.

How to get a literary agent for nonfiction? You do not need a published book to build or strengthen your author profile or platform. You simply need information and/or inspiration that people will find valuable. For example, an author coach might publish articles, speak at events, and be a guest on writer podcasts–but not have a published book of their own. It’s never too early to start connecting with possible promotional partners, and lay the groundwork for the promotional activities you should do later to help sell your book once it is published.

Best Ways to Make Your Nonfiction Author Platform Better

There are many ways to improve one’s author platform. However, some strategies are smarter than others because they give you the greatest return on your time investment. Here are the strategies we recommend most.

  1. Author Website: These days, it’s easy to create an author website that looks professional, without spending much (or any) money, using WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, the GoDaddy website builder, etc.
  2. Social Media: You don’t need 10k+ followers, but you should have at least one social media account. You should also join social media groups relevant to the topics/themes in your book. That way you can say you’re part of many groups with hundreds of thousands or millions of followers, and that you’ll promote your book via those groups.
  3. Blurbs: It’s not that hard to get some influencers to say they will let you send them a review copy of your book if/when you secure a publisher.
  4. Articles: Ask relevant print and online outlets for permission to send a review copy of your book as well and/or related articles: websites, blogs, newspapers, magazines, newsletters, journals.
  5. Interviews/Speaking: Ask places to interview you or have you as a speaker, as well. In person or virtually via podcasts, etc. One of our coaching clients–after having a Literary Agent Advice Session with us–started her own podcast, which led to her getting a literary agent and a book deal with Harper Collins. You can see her, and many other successful authors, at How I Got My Literary Agent.

You will be required to tell literary agents and book publishers about your author platform, so it’s a good idea to do something.

Now, what else do you need to know about how to get a literary agent for nonfiction?

Nonfiction Book Word Count Requirements – How to Get a publishing Agent for Nonfiction

Most nonfiction books published by major publishers are 50-90,000 words. Exceptions include gift/novelty books, which usually have far less words. Figure out the average word count range for your type of nonfiction book, and consider making your book fit within that range to give yourself the best chance of getting representation.

Use the Proper Nonfiction Book Genre Label – How to Get a Literary Agent for Nonfiction

Increase your chances of getting a nonfiction publishing agent by labeling your book accurately in your query letter. If you use the correct category description, you’re much more likely to get the right publishing agents offering representation. And, in some cases, you can use more than one category description, allowing you to query a greater number of book agents.

For example, we are currently coaching a woman who has written a nonfiction book about her and her military father. Though the book is memoir more than anything else, calling it memoir is not our only option. Publishing agents who say they represent one or more of the following book genres might also be interested: Biography, Narrative Nonfiction, Nonfiction History, Nonfiction Military/War, Upmarket Nonfiction, Multicultural Nonfiction, and General Nonfiction.

Make sure you understand the book genres relevant to your book. Doing so will allow you to categorize your book in the best way, but it might also let you use more than one label, depending who you are querying–and that can allow you to query more book agents.

You can research fiction categories at our Book Genres website, and read more below about how to get a literary agent for nonfiction.

Nonfiction Book Submission Material Requirements – How to Get a Literary Agent for Nonfiction

Nonfiction book authors–including new, unpublished authors–don’t need a completed book to query literary agents. They do, however, need a query letter and a book proposal with chapter summaries and 2-3 sample chapters.

A nonfiction book proposal should include a cover page, table of contents, overview, target market, competitive analysis, author bio, marketing plan, chapter summaries, and sample manuscript pages or chapters (usually 2-3 chapters).

Facts About Nonfiction Literary Agents 2022

  • There are 963 nonfiction book agents in the U.S.
  • 665 nonfiction publishing agents are female
  • 297 nonfiction literary agents are male
  • 1 nonfiction book agent is nonbinary
  • 772 nonfiction publishing agents accept email submissions
  • 224 nonfiction literary agents use online website forms
  • 136 nonfiction book agents accept postal mail submissions
  • 244 nonfiction author representatives are members of the AALA/AAR
  • 671 nonfiction publishing agents are on LinkedIn
  • 618 nonfiction literary agents are on Twitter
  • 180 nonfiction book agents use FB

List of Top Nonfiction Book Literary Agents 2022

The best nonfiction book agents, listed here, are the most successful based on the amount of significant fiction book deals they’ve reported in the last year, according to

Top 10 Nonfiction Book Agents

  1. Lee Sobel (Lee Sobel Literary Agency)
  2. Susan Canavan (Waxman Literary Agency)
  3. Tanya McKinnon (McKinnon Literary)
  4. Don Fehr (Trident Media Group)
  5. Jill Marsal (Marsal Lyon Literary Agency)
  6. Alexander Field (The Bindery)
  7. Joseph Perry (Perry Literary)
  8. Chip MacGregor (MacGregor & Luedeke)
  9. Steve Troha (Folio Literary Management)
  10. Nicole Tourtelot (The Gernert Company)

List of Nonfiction Book Literary Agents Seeking New Writers 2022

Find all nonfiction book agents looking for new clients here. Increase your chances of getting a literary agent by making sure you only query nonfiction publishing agents looking for new clients, who don’t require referrals.

20 Nonfiction Book Agents Seeking New Writers

  • Stephany Evans (Ayesha Pande Literary)
  • Theresa Park (Park & Fine Literary and Media)
  • Kate Woodrow (Present Perfect Dept.)
  • Jacqueline Lipton (Raven Quill Literary Agency)
  • Markus Hoffmann (Regal Hoffmann & Associates)
  • Mackenzie Brady Watson (Stuart Krichevsky Literary Agency)
  • Stephanie Tade (The Stephanie Tade Agency)
  • Meg Thompson (Thompson Literary Agency)
  • Coleen O’Shea (Allen O’Shea Literary Agency)
  • Betsy Amster (Betsy Amster Literary Enterprises)
  • Laura Rennert (Andrea Brown Literary Agency)
  • Nicole Aragi (Aragi Agency)
  • Danielle Egan-Miller (Browne & Miller Literary Associates)
  • Cynthia Cannell (The Cynthia Cannell Literary Agency)
  • Terra Chalberg (Chalberg & Sussman Literary Agency)
  • Farley Chase (Chase Literary Agency)
  • Paige Wheeler (Creative Media Agency, Inc.)
  • Helen Breitwieser (Cornerstone Literary Agency)
  • Richard Curtis (Richard Curtis Associates)
  • Kerry D’Agostino (Curtis Brown Literary Agency)

Nonfiction Literary Agents Representing All Nonfiction Book Genres 2022

Create your personalized list of nonfiction literary agents using the literary agent database here in the Directory of Literary Agents™. It’s free and lists publishing agents representing all nonfiction genres, including the most popular nonfiction genres you see here.

  • Animals/Pets
  • Art
  • Autobiography
  • Biography
  • Business
  • Cooking
  • Current Events
  • Cultural/Social Issues
  • Dating
  • General Nonfiction
  • Health & Wellness
  • History
  • Humor
  • Memoir
  • Military
  • Multicultural
  • Narrative Nonfiction
  • Parenting
  • Politics
  • Psychology
  • Self-Help
  • Religion
  • Science
  • Spirituality
  • Sports
  • Technology
  • Travel
  • True Crime
  • Women’s Issues

This article about how to get a literary agent for nonfiction was written by former literary agent turned author coach Mark Malatesta, creator of The Directory of Book 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 Book Agent Advice coaching/consulting to get Top Literary Agents at the Best Literary Agencies on our List of Literary Agents.

How to Get a Literary Agent for NONFiction – Next Steps

Now that you’ve read this guide about how to get a book agent for nonfiction, click here to:

  1. See the next part of this guide about getting an Offer of Representation from a Literary Agent.
  2. Visit our Ask a Publishing Agent page, where you’ll find more information about how to get a literary agent for nonfiction, including a complete list of questions and answers about getting a book 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

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

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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