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Finding an agent for my sci-fi/fantasy novel
April 6, 2007 2:49 PM   Subscribe

Is there a definitive resource on the web for finding literary agents who represent science fiction and fantasy?

I've written a book. I want to sell this book. I would like an agent to help. Pretty simple stuff. The book has spaceships and lasers and swords and some magic and a whole lot of action. Purists would call it a fantasy novel in a sci-fi setting.

I have found some agents here. Some agents there. It's frustrating that there doesn't seem to be a reasonably authoritative list on the web. At every turn I find a new little batch that I hadn't found before, and I'm just starting the research process.

Does anyone have any insight into where I might find such a list of agents, and, even if not on the web, which of the many books is the best at being current, accurate, and complete?
posted by JWright to Writing & Language (13 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
Writer Beware and the accompanying blog will tell you who to avoid.

Do you read Locus? There's a feature in every month that lists sales and the accompanying agents.

Also, find current authors with similar books and find out who their agents are.
posted by sugarfish at 2:56 PM on April 6, 2007


(I realize that these aren't a single list but these sources will tell you who is currently working instead of just calling themselves an agent.)
posted by sugarfish at 2:57 PM on April 6, 2007


Again not a definitive list, but if you don't get a good answer here, look through the archives of Making Light, a blog by two editors at Tor Books and some author friends. They often talk about publishing issues, including agents, scams, etc, and if there's a definitive source it would be mentioned there.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:20 PM on April 6, 2007


Miss Snark's blog, while not a list of agents to query, is an indispensable resource for the agent-finding process. The "Snarkives" sort out her old posts by subject. In this slightly dated post, she has some good suggestions, including the Association of Authors Representatives and Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Publishers, Editors and Literary Agents.
posted by Zonker at 3:23 PM on April 6, 2007


As I understand it, one of the best ways to get a literary agent is for an established author to read your slush and take it to their agent saying "You need to sign this guy/girl"

Also, if an established author likes you or you book enough you might be able to work out a co-author project where they help polish and clean up the book and you get a lot more sales.

This happens a lot in Skiffy since the advent of word processors.
posted by Megafly at 3:26 PM on April 6, 2007


LobsterMitten beat me to recommending Making Light. This post, in particular, links to a couple of good resources, and also has some good advice on how to tell good agents from bad ones.
posted by moss at 3:28 PM on April 6, 2007


Oh, and this enormous pot from Neil Gaiman's blog (but mostly written by Teresa Nielsen Hayden), with a whole bunch of links and advice.
posted by moss at 3:33 PM on April 6, 2007


Post. This enormous post.
posted by moss at 3:34 PM on April 6, 2007


AgentQuery.
posted by mothershock at 3:36 PM on April 6, 2007


How about a book? Jeff Herman's Guide to Literary Agents isn's sci-fi only, but it has updated info about tons of agents listing their preferences.

Also, if you're a Writer's Digest subscriber, or sign up with them, you can search their online agent directory by genre, etc.
posted by GaelFC at 3:44 PM on April 6, 2007


Note this bit of advice from the post to which moss links: Sell the book to a publisher first. Then find the agent to negotiate the contract.

It sounds backwards, but there's a logic to it: there a lot of wannabe writers with completely unmarketable stuff, and they only have so many hours in a day.

It would not hurt if you had some short fiction sales to professional markets as well.
posted by mcwetboy at 4:26 PM on April 6, 2007


As of June 2006, a list of agents who represent at least 3 living members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. It's a place to start, though you'll want to double-check guidelines and addresses because things change so often in publishing.
posted by Jeanne at 4:39 PM on April 6, 2007


Yeah, the traditional path for a new SF writer is to make some professional short fiction sales. That can get your novel in front of an editor rather than in the middle of a gigantic slush pile with all the other ten gazillion unsolicited manuscripts. If your novel doesn't suck and the editor wants to buy it, then you get yourself an agent to negotiate the contract.

That's primarily for SF&F. Most non-genre publishers no longer accept unsolicited manuscripts so this advice does not apply except for genre stuff.
posted by Justinian at 5:11 PM on April 6, 2007


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