How to Research a Literary Agent

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Paul Whybrow

Full Member
Jun 20, 2015
Cornwall, UK
Nathan Bransford was a literary agent for ten years and is the author of How To Write a Novel and the Jacob Wunderbar series of middle-grade adventures, so knows the publishing world well.

He has an upbeat, but pragmatic, approach to writing and how to get published—including how to track down and check out a literary agent:

How to research a literary agent - Nathan Bransford

#MSWL was incredibly useful: for about a month. Now, it is an endless ticker-tape of girlish screams: "OMG! Like, imagine if you had Moby Dick, but written from a LGBQT perspective and the whale was, like, the Patriarchy!" or the ever popular "I *so* want to see The Odyssey but written for MG with a non-binary love triangle at its core!" :rolleyes:

@Paul Whybrow Thanks for that link. I am about to start mailing out my latest book, but I am just not happy with the agents/agencies on offer via the Writers & Artists Handbook. Time to look further afield and see what those not shouting so loud have to offer, I feel.
While it's certainly true that MSWL can degenerate into fluffy posts that rightly belong on social media, it still has its uses in denoting what an agent is currently looking for.

A good tip, when trying to decide which agent to approach, is to look beyond their profile page on the literary agency website. These profiles are rarely, if ever, updated. They often look like the boss has allotted special interests to their employees to make the agency appear that it's covering all of the bases. For example, I've seen some agents' profiles say that they like crime stories, but on looking through the authors they represent, there isn't a single crime writer listed.

Try searching for an agent's Twitter posts, which may well describe what they're after. Also, have a look to see if there are any recent interviews with them—including YouTube.
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