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How to Research Literary Agents & Their Recent Book Deals


How Do I Find Out What Kind of Books a Literary Agent is Selling to Publishers... (and for How Much Moolah?)

Literary Agents sell publishing rights to Major Publishers. Period. That's their job. That's how they make money. Agents pitch your work to editors at the major publishers. An editor loves it, wants to publish it, and makes an offer. You accept the book deal. And your literary agent takes a 15% commission on your cash advance and subsequent royalties from each book sale.

So... this means that one of the best ways to evaluate the legitimacy, competency, and professional clout of a literary agent is to review their most recent book deals. How do you do that? Well, you can do some of it by revewing an agent's profile in our AQ database. Agents often directly update their own AQ agent profile and list a sample of their newest deals in the NEW DEALS section.

However, our AQ database is all about helping writers research and query literary agents. It's less about listing every single publishing deal made by agents everyday because that's already being covered by the fantastic industry-insider resource:


REGISTER NOW: Track Deals, Sales, Reviews, Agents, Editors, News – and Get Lunch Deluxe Every Day.


PublishersMarketplace.com is the publishing community's premiere resource for tracking book deals and publishing news. When you register to become a PM member, you get unlimited access to PublishersMarketplace.com's comprehensive "agent book deal" database as well as access to their "contact database," which lists the email addresses and company affiliations of most agents, editors, publicists, and other publishing professionals.

We estimate that about 80% of all literary agents in our AQ database report their book deals to PublishersMarketplace.com. For this reason, it's an invaluable resource for zeroing in on an agent's sales history. It's also a useful tool if you're trying to figure out which literary agent represents which author, or if you're looking for an agent or editor's elusive email address. Sometimes, an agent doesn't always want to publicly list their email address, but they will list it behind PM's curtain.

So what's the point of our AQ database then? Well, nothing is ever black or white, especially in the publishing industry.

So here's how our AQ agent database and PM's book deal database usually complement each other. Let's say you're hoping to query agents for your memoir about your adventures as a synchronized parachutist, and an agent in our AQ database lists that she's interested in representing Non-fiction/Sports — specifically, Extreme Sports.

Bingo.

If only it were that easy, right? A more thorough search in PublishersMarketplace.com's "agent book deal" database will reveal that Ms. Extreme Sports Agent only really has experience selling romance fiction to Harlequin.

This agent may indeed be looking to branch out, and she may actually have enough editorial connections to be successful eventually. So her PM sales history doesn't mean you can't query her if she's listing special requests in her AQ agent profile. It's just means that what Ms. Agent likes to read may be different than what she's actually selling on a regular basis. By researching the sales history of your A-list agents in PM's "agent book deal" database, it will become very clear which agents are actively making new deals versus which agents simply aren't. Just more information to help you understand whether she may — or may not be — the perfect agent for you.

If you're not ready to pony-up the $20 per month, then you're still in luck. Like we said, many of the agents in our AQ database list a sample of their NEW DEALS directly within their AQ agent profile. And our AQ database is 100% free.

In addition, we do recommend subscribing to PublishersMarketplace.com's daily "agent deals & publishing news" e-newsletter, Publishers Lunch, which is also 100% free. You'll get a taste of how many agents deals get reported on a daily basis and what kind of books are selling these days (and for how much money). And who knows...? With the perfect query letter and a little bit of perseverance, you just might end up having your own book deal announced in Publishers Lunch sooner than you think.