Literary Agents Accepting Genre Fiction
If you’re thinking about publishing your book through the traditional channels then you will need to first submit the completed manuscript to a literary agent. They serve as your liaison to publishing houses and your interpreter for contract negotiations. However, submitting to any agent that crosses your path isn’t necessarily the way to success. First, you must locate an agent who accepts your genre, and then you must write them a query letter. For further details on query letter writing, I recommend the 2013 Guide to Literary Agents. The purpose of this article, however, is to give you a starting list from which to locate agents. I gathered this list while shopping around my fantasy novel so they deal primarily with genre, or ‘commercial’ fiction. This encompasses fantasy, science fiction, and horror, though there is a lot of bleed-through with mystery, romance and thriller. But, before you start sending out your query letter, there are a few things you should know about agents.
1 – Not all agents accept the same things.
I will be providing a list of agencies, not agents. This means that one agent at the agency might accept science fiction, and another might not. Most, if not all, of agency websites list bio pages for each agent which gives you a rundown of the genres they accept. Read these carefully and select the agent that is the best fit for you. Some agencies use a blanket-rejection approach, where a refusal from one agent is a refusal from them all. Pay attention to their submission guidelines because often times you’ll be able to submit to multiple agents at the same agency, thus cutting down the need to keep shopping around.
2 – Agents don’t stay with the same Agency forever.
Though I’m listing many agencies that accept genre fiction, there is a good chance that their desires have shifted over time. If the one agent who represents fantasy left the agency, then they may no longer accept that genre at all. In fact, over the course of my year submitting my book, I witnessed several agency changes as junior agents were promoted, or broke away to start their own company. Read carefully, and check back each time you want to make a new submission.
3 – Read guidelines closely.
Most agencies have a submission guidelines page, which is of paramount importance. However, every once in a while, an agent will have a different set of guidelines than the site lists. For example, I found one agency that only accepted snail mail queries. After reading the agent bios, I found one woman at that same agency who accepted email queries. It was incredibly helpful and I wouldn’t have known about it if I hadn’t read closely.
Best resource for up-to-date agents and query guidelines:
4 – Agencies aren’t always accepting submissions.
Some of the agencies I link to may not be accepting submissions forever. When their client list becomes full, they have every right to close their doors to new authors. However, just because an agency is closed to submissions, doesn’t mean they will always be closed. Like with fluctuating agents, there are also fluctuating clients. I saw several agencies close/open over the course of that same year. So, if a place accepts your genre, but isn’t open for submissions, check back periodically for a chance to slip in.
5 – Not all rejections are sent.
Most agents are pretty good about sending out rejection letters, but periodically you will forget about an agent you submitted to, only because they never responded. It’s a common practice to assume that anything over two months is a rejection. Some websites have a shorter turnaround time, and again you should read carefully to be sure, but don’t feel like you have to wait around for a year to hear back from an agent who has long since moved on.
6 – Be cautious and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Legitimate literary agents will not charge you any sort of reading fees. They will only get paid when your book sells and it’s a pretty standard percentage across the industry. Also, if an agent agrees to represent you, don’t be afraid to ask for credentials, if you didn’t already see them on their website. You want to make sure your book has the best possible representation.
In no particular order, here is the list of agencies I’ve compiled:
And here are a few publishing houses that accept unsolicited manuscript submissions (in case you don’t get any bites from agents).
If you're curious, this is the fantasy novel I was shopping around.