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

Author:
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!
Casey Wilson: On Writing a Non-Human Perspective

Casey Wilson: On Writing a Non-Human Perspective

Author Casey Wilson shares what it was like to write from the perspective of a dog in her latest novel A Dog's Hope, as well as the journey from indie to traditional publishing.

Family Stories as Inspiration for Historical Fiction

Family Stories as Inspiration for Historical Fiction

When writing fiction, there's always a fine line between reality and make-believe. Debut author Kirstin Beck explains how her family's history became the seed for her novel Courage, My Love.

April PAD Challenge

2021 April PAD Challenge: Day 22

Write a poem every day of April with the 2021 April Poem-A-Day Challenge. For today's prompt, write a nature poem.

The Past Is Never Past: Drawing on Personal History to Write Engaging Historical Fiction

The Past Is Never Past: Drawing on Personal History to Write Engaging Historical Fiction

New York Times bestselling author Karen White discusses what drew her to writing historical fiction and how she uses a modern setting to explore history.

Writing Multiple Timelines and Points of View

Writing Multiple Timelines and Points of View

YA author Natalie Lund gives her top reasons why writers who might be afraid to play with multiple timelines and/or points of view should jump in feet first.

Alexander Weinstein: On Writing a Thematic Short Story Collection

Alexander Weinstein: On Writing a Thematic Short Story Collection

Author Alexander Weinstein discusses how he came to select the theme of his new short story collection, Universal Love, and what it was like to see those themes reflected in the real world.

April PAD Challenge

2021 April PAD Challenge: Day 21

Write a poem every day of April with the 2021 April Poem-A-Day Challenge. For today's prompt, write a blank me poem.

4 Tips for Writing about Family Grudges

4 Tips for Writing about Family Grudges

Author Samantha Downing discusses the techniques she used when writing her literary novel He Started It, which focuses on family secrets, old grudges, and lots of scores to settle.