Literary Agents for Poets?

Thanks to a tip from another WD blog, Poetic Asides, I heard about a good article on the Writer Beware site addressing how big-name literary agents never accept poetry submissions. Here’s a snippet from the article:

      “Listen up, poets. Apart from celebrity projects and writers who are already well-known, successful literary agents rarely represent poets. Even in the best of circumstances, poetry collections are a tough sell, and the poetry market, which is dominated by small presses, simply isn’t lucrative enough to make it worth most agents’ while. Poets generally get their start by selling individual poems to reputable markets. Once they’ve built up a track record, they can submit their collections to small publishers on their own. Beware, therefore, of literary agents whose guidelines say they represent poets or that they’re seeking poetry collections. Nearly always, they’re unscrupulous operators looking to charge a fee, or amateurs who know nothing about the realities of the business. Most have no track record of sales to paying publishers of any kind.” Check out the full article here.

Basic Agent Info:

About 99 percent of what literary agents represent is novels and nonfiction books. Some agents specialize in handling plays. Some will represent collections of short stories, but such collections are a hard sell, which is why very few agents do this. Poetry is even worse, with almost no literary agents accepting poetry submissions. And, of course, literary agents do not represent magazine or newspaper writing. Poetic Asides and other sites will tell you much more about how to legitimately get your poetry published, but I will tell what I know – and what I know is that writers should stay the heck away from (By the way, the Poetic Asides blog was recently declared “Blog of the Week” by the Institute of Children’s Literature. Coolness.) 

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