by Iola Goulton
I often find my clients asking questions that go beyond editing or proofreading, and I know I’m not the only one hearing these questions. Today I’m going to offer my answer to a common query. I hope my answer will help if you’re asked a similar question.
How do I find a literary agent?
Authors who want to be published by a traditional publisher will almost certainly need a literary agent. Most large publishers do not accept any unsolicited manuscript submissions—all submissions must be from literary agents. Many small presses also require or prefer agented submissions.
Finding the right literary agent can be as hard or harder than finding a publisher. If you’re a Christian writing for the Christian (CBA) market, you’ll want an agent who:
• Reflects your faith.
• Represents Christian authors.
• Has a track record of selling manuscripts to CBA publishers.
This means finding a Christian literary agent. But where do you start? Here are five ideas:
1. The Christian Writers Market Guide
The Christian Writers Market Guide was established in 1985 by Sally Stuart, and is now published by The Christian Writers Institute (which is owned by literary agent Steve Laube). The guide is published annually, and is available in paperback and e-book, and as an online subscription.
2. Michael Hyatt
Michael Hyatt has a list of literary agents who represent Christian authors available from his website. You’ll have to sign up to his mailing list to receive it, but you can unsubscribe. Note that the list isn’t completely up to date.
3. Books in Your Genre
Check the copyright and acknowledgements pages of books in your genre. Many publishers include the agent’s name on the copyright page, and most authors thank their agent on the acknowledgements page. This will give you an idea of which agents sell manuscripts in your genre.
4. Books from Your Target Publishers
If your dream is to be published by Bethany House, you want an agent who has previously sold manuscripts to Bethany House, and has a good working relationship with the acquisitions editors at Bethany House. You don’t want an agent who has only sold to small publishers, to digital-first or digital-only publishers, or to publishers who don’t require an agent. Check out new books from your dream publisher and see which agents made those sales.
5. Christian Writing Conferences
Many agents attend Christian Writer’s Conferences (e.g. American Christian Fiction Writers, Mt. Hermon Christian Writers Conference, Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writing Conference). The Christian Writers Guide includes a list of conferences. Check out which conferences are near you, and which agents attend.
Following these steps will help you (or your client) develop a list of Christian literary agents who might be interested in your manuscript. Finding an agent is only the first step, but it’s an important step.
Do you have any advice to add?
Iola Goulton of Christian Editing Services is a New Zealand-based freelance editor specializing in Christian fiction. Iola holds a degree in marketing and has been editing since 2012. She is a member of the Christian PEN, and Romance Writers of New Zealand, and manages the Beyond the Borders zone of American Christian Fiction Writers. When she’s not working, Iola is usually reading, writing her next book review, or avoiding working on her first novel. Iola lives in the beautiful Bay of Plenty in New Zealand with her husband, two teenagers, and one cat. Website: http://www.christianediting.co.nz/ or follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter.