Is There a List of the 20 'Best' Agents?

Publish date:

Q. Just bought your 2009 Guide from Amazon and am reading through it. I'd love to see a listing of 20 agents who have enough "clout" so that they would get the attention of a publisher; a publisher who'd say, "Well, if this agent thinks a book is good, I'm going to give it a serious look." Could you provide such a list?
- Meyer

A. Unfortunately, Meyer, no such magic list exists.
Let's examine this concept of a list for a second. If we were to compile a list of the 20 "biggest" agents making the "biggest" deals, that list would be of no value to you. A huge agent in DC or NYC who is selling multi-million-dollar celebrity biographies is not open for cold querying, so you can't contact them. What you should be looking for is an agent who has a track record of sales in the category/genre you write. Anybody who has a good track record obviously can get publishers' attention, so you know you're in good hands.
Also, I should say that list of sales is important, but it isn't the end-all-be-all factor here. You want to find someone who likes your writing, who is on the same page with you career-wise, and who you can get along with for years to come.

Image placeholder title

Want more on this subject?

  • There is no list of the BEST agents, but there is a list of the WORST (scammers), and it's on Writer Beware's site.
  • Confused about formatting? Check out Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript.
  • Read about What Agents Hate: Chapter 1 Pet Peeves.
  • Want the most complete database of agents and what genres they're looking for? Buy the 2011 Guide to Literary Agents today!

FightWrite™: Crime Fiction and Violence

Author and trained fighter Carla Hoch answers a writer's question about writing from the perspective of criminals and when best to utilize a fight.

Poetic Forms

Sedoka: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the sedoka, a 6-line question and answer Japanese form.


Plot Twist Story Prompts: Dream Sequence

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, let your characters dream a little dream.

WD Vintage_Armour 12:03

Vintage WD: Don't Hide Your Light Verse Under a Bushel

In this article from 1960, poet and author Richard Armour explores the importance of light verse and gives helpful hints to the hopeful poet.


Tessa Arlen: On Polite Editorial Tussles and Unraveling Mysteries

In this article, author Tessa Arlen explains how to navigate the differences between American and English audiences and create a realistic historical mystery.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 547

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a lazy poem.


Denise Williams: Romance, Healing, and Learning to Love Revisions

Author Denise Williams recounts her experience with writing her first book while learning about the publishing industry and the biggest surprise about novel revisions.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

2020 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Next Steps

Here are the final steps for the 13th annual November PAD Chapbook Challenge! Use December and the beginning of January to revise and collect your poems into a chapbook manuscript. Here are some tips and guidelines.