11 Ways to Find a Literary Agent

Every wanna-be author who has dreams of being picked up and published by a traditional publishing house wants to know how to secure representation by a literary agent. Why? Because the large publishing houses won’t look at manuscripts or proposals from “unagented” writers. Some mid-sized, and most small, university, niche, and regional publishers will look at, and often welcome, unagented submissions, however.

If you dream  of having that publishing business partner called an agent, then the advice offered in this Write Nonfiction in November post by Michael Larsen, a literary agent himself and the author of How to Get a Literary Agent, will interest you. Read on and discover 11 great tips on how to find literary representation.

11 Ways to Find the Agent (or Editor) You Need

By Michael Larsen

Literary Agent and Author

Michael Larsen-Elizabeth Pomada Literary Agents


Finding an agent is easier than ever. Getting one to represent your book may not be. The more challenging the book business becomes, the more careful agents have to be about the books they handle. At the same time, the more challenging the book business becomes, the more eager agents are to find writers whose books they think they can sell.

One of the many reasons why now is the best time ever to be a writer is that you have more options for getting your books published than ever. There’s a list of them at www.larsen-pomada.com. More new writers will either have to self-publish their books, if only to test-market them, or sell their books themselves. The good news is that writers sell more books than agents. Small, midsize, niche, university, and regional publishers buy most of their books from writers, and collectively, they publish far more books than the big houses that agents most want to sell to. So you can also use the list to find a publisher.

Happy hunting!

1. Referrals

The best way to get an agent’s attention is if the first two words the agent sees or hears are the name of a client, editor, agent, author, or bookseller who suggested you contact the agent. The more important the person, the more eager the agent will be to hear from you.

2. Your Networks

You need overlapping, professional, international networks online and off that will be as important to your career as writing and promoting your books: family and friends, speakers, writers, publishing people, professionals in your field, booksellers, fans, suppliers, champions, people around the country, and a promotion network

3. Writer’s Organizations

Members are part of your networks.

4. The Association of Authors’ Representatives (AAR www.publishersweekly.com/aar)

5.  Directories

Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, and Literary Agents 200X; 200X Guide to Literary Agents; 200X Guide to Literary Agents: A Writer’s Guideby Adam Begley; Literary Market Place (LMP); The Writer’s Handbook.

6.  The Web

Google literary agents. Visit www.authorlink.com, www.predatorsandeditors.com, www.publisherslunch.com, www.publishersweekly.com, www.reviewsnews.com,  www.publishersmarketplace.com.  

7.  Literary events

Writing classes, readings, lectures, seminars, book signings, conferences and festivals.

8.  Magazines

Publishers Weekly, The Writer, Writer’s Digest, and Poets & Writers

9.  Publishers’ catalogs and websites

Libraries receive catalogs.

10.  Books

Dedications and acknowledgments in competing and complementary books.

11.  Your Platform

Give talks, maintain a website, write a blog, do an ezine, post to related sites, do podcasts, get published online or off, publicize your work and yourself, build your email list. When your continuing national visibility is great enough, agents and editors will find you.

(Adapted from How to Get a Literary Agent by Michael Larsen.)


About Michael Larsen

 Michael Larsen and his wife Elizabeth Pomada and started the Larsen-Pomada Literary Agents in San Francisco in 1972. They are members of the Association of Author’s Representatives and have sold hundreds of books to more than 100 publishers.

Mike handles general adult nonfiction that will interest New York houses and has social, esthetic, or practical value. He also handles anything that is so so needed or so beautifully written that its commercial value doesn’t matter. Elizabeth represents fiction, narrative nonfiction, and books for women. Their associate agent, Laurie McLean, handles genre fiction, and middle-grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction.

Mike is the author of How to Write a Book Proposal and How to Get a Literary Agent. Writer’s Digest will publish the fourth edition of How to Write a Book Proposalin spring 2010. With Jay Levinson, author of Guerrilla Marketing; and Rick Frishman of Planned Television Arts, Mike coauthored Guerrilla Marketing for Writers: 100 Weapons for Selling Your Work

Mike and Elizabeth are co-directors of  the 6th San Francisco Writers Conference that will take place on President’s Day Weekend, February 13th to 15that the InterContinental Mark Hopkins Hotel. The keynoters will be bestelling authors Richard North Patterson, Jane Smiley, and Lolly Winston, www.sfwriters.org. Mike and Elizabeth are also co-directors of the San Francisco Writing for Change Conference, www.sfwritingforchange.org.

Michael Larsen-Elizabeth Pomada Literary Agents

larsenpoma@aol.com / www.larsen-pomada.com

1029 Jones Street / San Francisco, California 94109


Please write or call if you have questions, 415-673-0939, larsenpoma@aol.com.



  1. J.Serenity says:

    Thanks for sharing this. The other day someone mentioned an agent who specializes in International Literary Fiction and other types of writing. I followed her immediately on Twitter and printed out her contact details from her website. I feel inspired to know that they are real agents who specialize in things that I love writing about. And I also happen to have a copy of M.Larsen’s book on How to write a book proposal. Will definitely come in handy soon.

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