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How to Find Out Who Agented a Book

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Q: When an agent isn't listed in the author's book acknowledgements, is there a way to search backwards to find that agent from the author, journalistic facilitator or publisher? Thanks for your expertise. —Alice Lazzarini

A: Finding out who was the agent of a particular book can certainly be tricky, especially if the person isn't mentioned in the acknowledgements—which is the publishing equivalent of not thanking your wife during your Oscar acceptance speech. And here you can't blame it on the orchestra playing you off.

There are several other ways to find out who represented a particular book or author, though. The simplest way is by typing the book's title (or the author's name) and "agent" into a search engine, like Google or Yahoo. Click through the top few links and see what you find. Often it can be as simple as going to the author's website and digging around.

If you don't have any luck finding the agent's name on the author's website, you generally can find contact information (most likely an e-mail address) for the author or the author's publicist. Feel free to shoot the author (or the publicist) an e-mail. I wouldn't sit around longer than a few days waiting for a response, but you might get lucky.

When all else fails, you can call the publisher, says Guide to Literary Agents Editor Chuck Sambuchino. "If you see that Knopf published The Neptune Paradox (the book whose agent you want), call Knopf's main line and speak to the operator. Explain your goal and request to speak with the editor who worked on the book. The operator will say, 'Oh, that's Judy Smith. I'll transfer you.' You won't talk to Judy, but rather her assistant. No matter. Ask the assistant if Judy did indeed edit The Neptune Paradox. When the assistant confirms Judy's involvement, kindly request to know who the book's acting literary agent was. She'll be happy to tell you."

When you finally publish your book, be sure to mention your agent in your acknowledgements. Not only will your agent thank you, other writers will too.

Brian A. Klems is the online managing editor of Writer’s Digest magazine.

Have a question for me? Feel free to post it in the comments section below or e-mail me at WritersDig@fwpubs.com with “Q&Q” in the subject line. Come back each Tuesday as I try to give you more insight into the writing life.

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