Preditors and Editors
A guide to publishers and publishing services for serious writers since 1997.
Listings of Agents and other Representation
These listings are organized close to how businesses are listed in a telephone directory or how books are often listed in libraries. In other words, we don't alphabetize by A, An, or The to mention a few articles that are often excluded from such systems of organization as those would put many of the listings in the A's and T's.
Similarly, when businesses bear the name of a person, they're more often filed by the first name first as businesses do not have last names. Thus, The Alphread E. Beta Literary Agency would be filed under A as Alphread E. Beta Literary Agency, The because Alphread begins with an A and not because of the word Agency. Otherwise, the previous problem encountered with articles would be encountered in a similar form, again.
Even though individual agents should be listed by last name first, P&E lists them in the same manner as businesses so that the listings will be uniform. This should also prove helpful to writers seeking search engine matches. Also, some agents later establish their own agencies named after themselves, so listing them in this manner will help us spot and eliminate multiple entries that might contain out-of-date information. To repeat, agents are listed alphabetically by first name or initial.
Literary attorneys are listed with agents because many are also agents. P&E attempts to clearly mark those who practice law only.
Additionally, P&E lists a number of agents and agencies without any contact information. This happens because P&E has obtained information, such as problems or sales, that writers will want to know about should they encounter those listings elsewhere. P&E hopes that its visitors will remember we still need more information and will advise us of what they find so we can provide a more complete description.
Book packagers are also now listed with agents because that appears to be the closest match since book packagers do some work in the manner of an agent, but are more highly specialized.
Suggested Etiquette for Contacting Agents:
- Do not send attached files containing manuscripts to agents unless the agent's guidelines expressly state that those are acceptable within initial correspondence.
- Email messages should be kept to a length of one or two pages unless explicitly invited to send a manuscript or sample chapters.
- Authors should advise an agent where the agent was found listed.
- Do not send synopses to screenplay
agents or movie production companies.
Ratings criteria for all sections of P&E are listed on the P&E's Rating Criteria page.
Has the agent/agency you're interested in taken the P&E Challenge?
You ask, "What's that?"
Answered simply, is the agent or agency listed in Preditors & Editors? Some agents and agencies don't want to be listed with P&E, even though it's free, because P&E dares to give negative recommendations.
If you're unsure of an agent or agency you've found that's not listed here, ask the agent or agency to accept the challenge by sending P&E an email containing the agent/agency's address (either mailing or web URL), what categories they prefer to represent, whether they charge any reading fees, and how many books they've placed with publishers. It would be helpful if they also furnished a few recent titles and the publishers' names for manuscripts they sold for verification purposes. The agent/agency is more than welcome to include a short description of their services to be posted beside their entry.
How An Agent Works
Many writers believe they need an agent to sell their book manuscript. Nothing could be farther from the truth. However, for those who want an agent, it makes sense to know something about how it works.
- First off, reputable agents don't charge you a fee up front to represent your book. They earn their living by selling your book to a publisher and gaining a commission. That commission is a percentage of the proceeds your book earns. For one thing, this gives the agent an incentive to actually market your book around to various publishers likely to buy it for publication. This is another reason why many agents scrutinize submissions carefully. They know what publishers are looking for. Therefore, like the publishers, they're unlikely to accept anything which isn't ready for submission or close enough that a few days of editing will make the difference.
- Most agents do not represent short stories unless they're in an anthology for publishing as a book. There simply isn't enough money paid for short stories so that an agent can earn a living. If you write short stories, plan on sending your work directly to publishers.
- Like any marketplace, agents have differing commission rates though you won't have the option of shopping around freely as much as you might like. For one thing, the agent has to want to represent your work. Once an agent offers representation, then you're best off taking the offer. After you establish your reputation as a novelist, then you can shop around for a better deal if you feel one's to be found.
- True, there are some costs which a reputable agent might pass on to you before your manuscript is sold. Such costs as copying your manuscript, postage, and long distance calls to publishers on your behalf are often typical. You should ensure that the agent documents each expense and keeps the costs within reason.
"Any charge made to the author that is payable prior to the sale of the manuscript to a publisher, however characterized by the agent, is a "fee" and represents inappropriate conduct not in the author's best interest. This clarification is in response to several attempts to evade criticism through semantic changes by questionable agents that do not actually represent any improvement in practices--only in the labels on the bills sent to authors." This paragraph used with permission from the SFWA. P&E agrees with this characterization.
- If your manuscript is truly marketable in the agent's opinion but needs editing, most agents will tell you so but not recommend a particular editing service. For one thing, it can pose a conflict in interest for the agent since there are some scam artists involved in editing services. A good agent might name some without recommending any editing service in particular. As well, a good agent might even steer you away from any editing service known to be a scam. Some agents have even been known to go above and beyond the call of duty in assisting with the editing themselves when they feel they have a sure winner to represent.
However, you should have ensured that your manuscript was edited prior to submitting it to any agent or publisher. One thing you should remember is that the editor of a publishing house is not there to edit out your mistakes. That term, editor, is a title for a decision-making manager.
- The agent is also your money manager besides being the one responsible for getting you the best deal with any publishing house. When your manuscript sells to a publisher, the agent is the one who receives the money. The agent then subtracts the appropriate commission and pays you the remainder. This can be very useful and important to any author who might be travelling about to do research on yet another book.
- Except for those publishing houses which deal exclusively with agents or by invitation, you don't really need an agent to submit your work for publication consideration. For those publishing houses, however, an agent is still needed. Otherwise, you can do everything an agent does, though an agent will have better knowledge of the market and what the publishing houses are buying.
An inquiry letter is not a submission. Use an inquiry letter when contacting publishers who deal by invitation only. If your inquiry letter gains the publisher's interest, the publisher will then request to see your manuscript.
- For most new writers, an agent might not be practical or possible at first. Market instability or other factors might make agents reluctant to take on any new writers, no matter how well the writer writes. However, if you feel you must have an agent, then you must sell both your manuscript and yourself to the agent. A good query letter is your key to selling your work and yourself to an agent.