In a hurry?

This page talks about the market for fiction and how to choose a shortlist of agents for your novel. If you just to dive straight in to a list of suitable agents, then go to our search page here and select the most suitable option (possibly "General fiction") in the genres filter.

But remember: Access to Agent Hunter's tools and data is limited for non-subscribers. Subscribing is fast and easy, and costs as little as a few pounds. More info.


 

Literary agents with an interest in fiction

With few exceptions, all literary agents will handle at least some fiction, even when their main interest is in non-fiction. So we strongly recommend that you use our search filters and agent profiles to create a shortlist of possible targets.

What if your novel isn't in a genre?

A lot of novels aren't clearly classifiable, and that's fine. So if your novel isn't a crime, isn't a simple romance, isn't SFF in one of its forms and yet isn't challenging enough to count as literary fiction, then simply select "General Fiction" on your genres list. That's fine! Youdon't need to be more specific than that.

Sometimes a novel brushes up against two different territories - for example, was "The Time Traveler's Wife" women's fiction or general fiction? You could definitely argue it both ways, but you're more likely to want an agent who is open to women's fiction as well as general fiction, because then you know that your novel is likely to appeal.

How many agents should I aim to pick?

You probably want to end up with a list of 8-10 agents, but remember that there are plenty of agents out there, and if you select "agents who have an interest in general fiction" you'll still be left with a pool of many more than you can handle.

Other ways to trim your selection down include:

  • selecting for size of agency: if you want your agent to be part of a large agency, you can make this clear in your seach filters
  • selecting for agent experience: less experienced agents are likely to be more hungry for clients and vice versa.
  • selecting for client list status: if an agent reports their list as being "List largely complete" that's basically a signal not to send them work unless you have something really exceptional to offer

How to descibe your novel if it doesn't have a clear genre

When presenting a covering letter to an agent (see example here) you don't need to bracket your novel in a specific genre. It's fine, for example, to say, "The novel is set in backwoods Canada and tells the story of a young mother coming to terms with her daughter's disability." That tells the agent enough about the novel for them to be able to pigeonhole it in their mind. Or, for example, you can refer to other novelists. For example, "This novel occupies the same kind of territory traditionally associated with writers like Susan Hill, except that I've relocated those traditional elements to a modern multi-cultural London."

Remember to do your research

After you've used our search tools to narrow down a list of agents, you need to dive into individual profiles to learn more about each one. We encourage agents to talk as much as possible about what kind of books and authors they love. We strongly suggest that you research your names enough to get a feel for whether they might fit the kind of book you're writing.

You can get more help here, and even more help here.

Good luck with the search - and happy hunting!

 

About Agent Hunter

Agent Hunter was created by a team led by Harry Bingham, an acclaimed crime author, whose work has sold in every major territory internationally, has been adapted for TV, and has appeared on bestseller lists as well prize short- and longlists.

Agent Hunter was designed to make the process of getting an agent far easier and more rational than it has ever been in the past. Great feedback from our users tells us that we've got things pretty much right - and we're continuing to update the site all the time.

And since you've spent a year or more writing a manuscript - doesn't your work deserve a few quid to get it into the best possible hands? So sign up for Agent Hunter today, find the perfect agent - and get your book out there. Best of luck!