Someone found my GLA blog searching for "conservative literary agents." So, I started to wonder about the question, "Do you need a conservative literary agent to publish a conservative-minded book?"—such as, let's say, Why Liberals Will Ruin This Country or whatever. Would an agent need their beliefs to line up with the book's message? Or is an agent partisan-blind to a nonfiction book that fulfills the big three: 1) has a good idea, 2) proves that markets exist for the book, and 3) has a platform and credentials?
Well, I had no idea what the answer was, so I enlisted three pros: Ted Weinstein, founder of Ted Weinstein Literary; Sharlene Martin, founder of Martin Literary Management and author of Publish Your Nonfiction Book; and John Willig, founder of Literary Services, Inc. Here is what they had to say:
Ted Weinstein Says:
"That's an interesting question, and one without a single answer. I suspect many agents prefer to work only with political authors whose views are at least in the same quadrant as their own. Some, though, including myself, are open to and enjoy the chance to work with clients whose views challenge us and are no less effective at selling those books to the right editor and publisher. I have represented a number of liberal, conservative and libertarian authors writing on a range of interesting topics, and sold their books to a mix of publishers.
"As always, the best way for an author to see if an agent might be right for them, regardless of their political views, is to read the good directories/guides to agents (including your own) and then visit any prospective agent's website to get a more thorough understanding of their work with other clients."
Sharlene Martin Says:
"I believe that in order to be 100% committed and passionate about selling my clients’ work, it’s important for me to be aligned philosophically with their book. It’s so much easier to fight for a sale for something you truly believe in than something you don’t. So, to answer your question, without giving up my political affliations (*smile*), my answer is yes—I personally need to embrace the viewpoint of my client’s work. It makes it easier for me."
"As is so often the case in publishing, there really is not a definitive answer. It can certainly vary from one agent to the next especially considering the topic. There's a broader and critical issue at work here and that is whether your agent (regardless of interests/religious or political persuasions) can effectively reach and knows the editors for your topic and presentation. While he/she may not entirely agree with your perspective, they still could be your best advocate to publishers in that specific genre. So again it can really vary from agent to agent on taking on the topic but it is the writer who must be assured that the agent can effectively represent the project to publishers; thus, they should be doing their homework regarding the agent's expertise in specific categories.
"Sure it's a big plus if the agent is 'aligned' with your topic and passion and if he/she has the knowledge of the market, publishers and editors then the writer is working (initially) in the best of worlds."
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