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What are the odds of getting a literary agent? 1 in 6,000. However, writers can increase their chances of getting a book agent using these tips. This article about the chances of getting a publishing agent is part of our free 15-Part Guide About How to Get a Book Agent. It explains how hard it is to get a literary agent, and what authors can do about it.

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How Hard Is It to Get a Literary Agent?

Though the odds of getting a literary agent are daunting, don’t let that stop you. Book agents reject 95-99% of all submissions, but you can increase your chances of being part of the group of successful authors who get representation.

How did we come up with the statistic saying the chances of getting a publishing agent are 1 in 6,000? The best book agents get 1,000-1,500 queries per month. Some of those author representatives only offer contracts to six new clients per year. Many publishing agents offer to represent more authors per year, but six is a common number so let’s use that as an example.

If a literary agent offers to represent no more than six new writers in a year, that’s an average of just one new author every two months. In that scenario, the chances of getting a literary agent would be 1 in 3,000. Book agents who are very successful, however, aren’t just looking for new or debut writers. They’re looking for proven writers.

Publishing agents love established authors who’ve already published books with major publishers: writers who need new book agents because their previous author representatives retired, passed away, etc. And some of those writers are bestselling or successful authors with a strong history of sales, and strong author platforms.

Don’t let the odds of getting a literary agent stop you from querying though. Understanding the odds is only half the battle. Now that you know the chances of getting a publishing agent, you can use that understanding to help you be realistic, adjust your strategy, and increase your odds.

Is It Impossible to Get a Book Agent?

To a great extent, getting a book agent isn’t luck. It’s a decision. This literary agent guide shows how and why that’s the case, and how authors of all book genres–fiction, nonfiction, and children’s books–can significantly increase their chances of getting a literary agent.

Improve Your Chances of Getting a Book Agent

The odds of getting a literary agent are discouraging and prevent some authors from seeking representation. Other authors stop trying to get representation too soon. Instead, do these four things to increase the likelihood you will get a book agent.

  1. Acknowledge the difficult odds of getting a book agent.
  2. Focus mostly on what you can do to increase your chances of getting a publishing agent.
  3. Improve your book, query letter, synopsis, book proposal (primarily for nonfiction authors), author profile or platform (also primarily for nonfiction authors).
  4. Consider getting 1-on-1 support to do all the above.

Stay focused on what you have control over and what you can do to increase your chances of getting a literary agent vs dwelling on the depressing odds of getting a book agent. It’s not about being naive about how hard it is to get a literary agent. It’s about being empowered, staying positive, and staying productive.

This article about the odds of getting a book agent–and the best way to increase your chance of getting a book agent–was written by former publishing agent turned author coach Mark Malatesta, creator of The Directory of Literary Agents, host of Ask a Book Agent, and founder of Literary Agent Undercover and The Bestselling Author.

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

Odds of Getting a Literary Agent? – Next Steps

Now that you know the chances of getting a literary agent, click here to:

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

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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!

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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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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Free Author Resources

Enter your first name and email address for instant access to all our information about how to get a literary agent. Our resources for finding and getting a publishing agent include:

  • The official Directory of Book Agents
  • Our Author Training Library (text and audio archives)
  • The Ask a Book Agent section of our website where you can read (and post) questions about publishing agents
  • Our popular Book Genre Dictionary
  • Insider Articles and Updates
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