How to find a literary agent for your book

If you’ve decided that finding a literary agent to obtain a publisher for your book is the best route for you, you’re faced with a new dilemma: Where to find one.

There are a number of routes you could go:
• Book listings – Before the Internet age, thick tomes published by Writers Digest and other organizations were the place to go. A number of such books still are being published and are available through a search as Amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com. You can read through them for free at a bookstore or a library (though the latter usually has old, outdated versions). The upside to these books is that the book publisher solicits responses from the literary agents, so you know in one quick place if the agent is seeking work, the types of work they’re looking for, their submission preferences, mailing addresses and more. The downside is that these responses often were solicited months before the book went to print, so they can quickly become outdated.
• Website – Any number of websites list literary agents, typically with similar information to what you’d find in the published tomes. Sometimes these websites are not regularly updated, however. In addition, some of these sites simply copy information from the above mentioned books or other websites, meaning errors creep into the entries. Two sites I recommend for finding good lists of literary agents include: Writers.Net and AgentQuery.
• Find your own – There are a couple of options here. First, type into a search engine “literary agent AND” and the genre in which your book fits. So, if the book is a mystery, type “literary agents AND mystery”. You’ll find a variety of lists maintained by magazines and writers of that genre, all of varying quality, but that are very specific to your needs. A second option is to look at the acknowledgements or introduction pages of books that are very similar to yours in genre and style. Identify the name of those writers’ literary agents, then locate online that agents’ address. You’ve just found a potential agent who specializes in the kind of book you’ve written. I know of writers who’ve found agents using every one of these methods. Give the one that you think will work best for you a try!