Ask a Literary Agent – Submit Your Question About Book Agents

Ask a Literary AgentAsk a literary agent your question here (any question) about getting a literary agency to represent you, so you can get a traditional publisher and book deal. Scroll below to get started. Just make sure you also check out our home page to see all the other info available on this Literary Agents website.

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Submit Your Question Below

What question would you ask a literary agent
if you had one all tied up?

Well, this is your opportunity because…

Ask a Literary Agent a Question About Anything

I’m a former book agent.

There’s a form below where you can submit your question.

And I actually want you to ask a literary agent
(this literary agent) your question.

You see…

I like it when authors ask me questions.

It makes me feel smart.

I like talking about publishing.

Ask a Literary Agent Your Question

And I like…

Helping other authors.

In fact, I like it so much that I didn’t get upset when one author
decided he would ask a literary agent (guess who) a question
in the men’s room at a writer’s conference.

Not while I was washing or drying my hands.

No…

I was literally…
using the restroom.

Ask a literary agent in the restroom

* * *

Ask a Literary Agent a Question
(but not in the bathroom)

It might sound crazy, the fact that I didn’t get upset,
but think of it this way…

How do you feel when someone asks you a question
about something you’re passionate about?

Like (maybe), your writing?

I get excited.

So, don’t hesitate to…

* * *

Ask a Literary Agent (Me) a Question
(the one that’s keeping you awake at night)

Question, ask a literary agent

No question is too big or too small.

And no question is silly.

Really.

I’d be honored to help you.

I went undercover as a literary agent for five years
just to find out how get my own books published.

Now I’m having a blast sharing my secrets…
because I know what it’s like out there.

Oh…

* * *

One More Reason to Submit Your Question

Ask a Literary Agent Your Question

* * *

Each time you ask a literary agent a question (or leave a comment) using the form below (or anywhere else on this website), you’ll have a chance to win a $20 Gift Card from Amazon.

Every week I select a winner (from those who left a question or comment the previous week). You can leave as many questions or comments as you want (that will simply increase your chances of winning), but you only need to comment or ask a question once to be eligible.

Winners are chosen randomly, so flattery will get you everywhere (I mean nowhere). In other words, you can win more than once (multiple weeks) if you consistently ask questions or leave comments. Just make sure your questions and/or comments are thoughtful, and not just obvious attempts to win more gift cards!

* * *

Why Am I Giving Away Gift Cards?

Two reasons:

1) I’m a nice guy

2) I want my online community to be an interactive place so I can be of better service to you. The only way I can do that is to get you engaged (in other words… telling me what you like, don’t like, want, and need).

So, don’t forget to scroll down and ask a literary agent a question below (or simply leave a comment).

Not sure what to say?

Ask me anything about literary agencies, publishing, or writing. Tell me (and everyone else) why you like this column or blog. Or, simply reply to someone else’s question or comment.

That’s it.

I look forward to seeing your thoughts below,

Mark Malatesta

Your “Undercover” Agent

P.S. – Your question/comment will be posted and responded to on my blog ASAP!

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1,843 comments

  1. I need help!!! How will I know when my boOK is ready? I’ve sent it to a few literary agencies and they say it’s not ready but do not elaborate!!! Help!!

    • Mark Malatesta

      Hi Kim, sorry to hear that but don’t give up just yet. You can often get a drastically different response by tweaking or changing your pitch materials (query letter, synopsis, book proposal, manuscript, etc.). My favorite example of this is one of my coaching clients who’d pitched her favorite “dream” agent three times over the course of two years. Rejections every time. After I helped her rewrite her query letter, she approached the same agent a fourth time and he requested the full manuscript. So don’t get too discouraged. You might just be a few changes away from getting what you want.

      As a next step (if you haven’t already done so) click here to access to all the resources I have about getting an agent in my private, members-only area (no charge): http://thebestsellingauthor.com/membership/. Once you’ve entered your name and email address there, click on the link that says, “Audio Training Library”. Then you’ll see my main audio training (and text transcript), which reveals the 7 Insider Secrets You Need to Know to Get a Top Literary Agent, Publisher, and Book Deal.

      That might have what you need
      to get to the next level…

      If you want help with anything else, you can post questions for me online here: http://thebestsellingauthor.com/ask/. You can also (if you haven’t done so already) get access (no cost) to all the valuable resources in our private, members-only area here: http://thebestsellingauthor.com/membership/. And you can register for an introductory coaching call with me here: http://thebestsellingauthor.com/coaching/intro-call/.

      Either way, I’m looking forward to learning more about you and your work.

      Have a great week, and hang in there,

      – Mark

      Mark Malatesta
      The Bestselling Author
      http://thebestsellingauthor.com
      Literary Agent Undercover
      http://literary-agents.com

  2. How much does the diary format turn off literary agents? Also, how about various page formatting. For clarification, a line of dialogue set entirely on the right side of the page. Thank you.

  3. Chloe /

    I’m a new author who is wanting advice on finding the right agent in the mystery/thriller genre. I’m still not close to submitting but would like to have an idea where to begin my research.

    • Mark Malatesta

      Hi Chloe,

      I’m happy to help if possible… but I want to make sure you know that I’m a former literary agent turned author coach. Now I help authors get top literary agents, publishers, and book deals.

      Now, when you sign up at any one of my sites, you should always end up afterward on a welcome page. That page has a link to the directory, along with other things, all in one place so it’s easy to get to things. Have you ever seen that page? You can easily find the best agents for you by using my Directory of Literary Agents that you can access here (no charge): http://literary-agents.com/directory-literary-agents/.

      You should also (if you haven’t already) click here to access to all the valuable resources I have about getting an agent in my private, members-only area (no charge): http://thebestsellingauthor.com/membership/. Once you’ve entered your name and email address there, click on the link that says, “Audio Training Library”. Then you’ll see my main audio training (and text transcript), which reveals the 7 Insider Secrets You Need to Know to Get a Top Literary Agent, Publisher, and Book Deal.

      If you want help with anything else, you can post questions for me online here: http://thebestsellingauthor.com/ask/. You can also (if you haven’t done so already) get access (no cost) to all the valuable resources in our private, members-only area here: http://thebestsellingauthor.com/membership/. And you can register for an introductory coaching call with me here: http://thebestsellingauthor.com/coaching/intro-call/.

      Either way, I’m looking forward to learning more about you and your work.

      Have a great week!

      – Mark

      Mark Malatesta
      The Bestselling Author
      http://thebestsellingauthor.com
      Literary Agent Undercover
      http://literary-agents.com

  4. Emma /

    I’ve been getting mixed information about query formats. Some sites say that its hook, a paragraph-long synopsis that doesn’t reveal the ending, and the closing. Others say the synopsis should be 500-600 words long. I’ve read some example queries and some are just synopses while others have an introduction (why they queried to that agent) and a closing. Is there a strict format for queries and , if so, what is it? What’s the most effective format and how long should the synopsis be?

  5. Dawn B /

    Just curious… what percentage of the final, published work, was actually in the first draft of fiction, generally? Meaning, how much editing really goes into the story, say for YA, on average? I’m sure it varies, but I’m curious if by that step they are minor changes, or could they be storyline changes, etc. Thanks!

  6. Sheryl /

    Hello,

    I am in the midst of trudging through the creation of a query letter and synopsis for my manuscript.

    My question pertains to the synopsis. I am getting mixed information and I know you would have a straightforward answer. Is the synopsis a full rundown of the story including the plot twists and end or just a taste without spoilers?

    Thanks for taking the time to answer this. The Query and Synopsis are for some reason harder for me than actually writing the story.

    -Sheryl.

  7. Denise Buckley /

    Is it just agents in the USA or does it include the UK? Would they also be interested in my self-published through the SBPRA?

    • Mark Malatesta

      Hi Denise,

      The literary agent directory referenced on this website only includes US agents… but most literary agents in the United States will consider any book if it has appeal for the American market. In other words, the primary focus and value of the work needs to include content that an American reader can relate to. As long as you do that, you can write about anything, anyone, and anyplace.

      And it’s never too late for a previously published author to get a literary agent, traditional publisher, and book deal… but it can be tricky. Read this article which talks about that, and a few other things you might find interesting and helpful: http://literary-agents.com/its-not-what-you-say/.

      Also…

      If you haven’t already done so, you should click here to access to all the valuable resources I have about getting an agent in my private, members-only area (no charge): http://thebestsellingauthor.com/membership/. Once you’ve entered your name and email address there, click on the link that says, “Audio Training Library”. Then you’ll see my main audio training (and text transcript), which reveals the 7 Insider Secrets You Need to Know to Get a Top Literary Agent, Publisher, and Book Deal.

      If you want help with anything else, you can post questions for me online here: http://thebestsellingauthor.com/ask/. You can also (if you haven’t done so already) get access (no cost) to all the valuable resources in our private, members-only area here: http://thebestsellingauthor.com/membership/. And you can register for an introductory coaching call with me here: http://thebestsellingauthor.com/coaching/intro-call/.

      Either way, I’m looking forward to learning more about you and your work.

      Have a great day,

      – Mark

      Mark Malatesta
      The Bestselling Author
      http://thebestsellingauthor.com
      Literary Agent Undercover
      http://literary-agents.com

  8. Fiona Harewood /

    I would like my query letter for a work of fiction critiqued.

    I have a non-fiction self published book, can you help me do anything with it? (I know you mentioned stick to one genre until published but this is after the fact)

  9. Bob Smith /

    I’m living on a needs based income & if I receive any money from work, my needs based income drops dollar for dollar. Is there any way to get started in fiction without losing my current income for a possibly one time advance of $5,000? It’s a bad risk v reward, which may not work out. Any ideas?

    • Mark Malatesta

      Hi Bob, I don’t understand your question. If your novel is complete, you can pitch it to agents and possibly start making money. But the book needs to be complete.

      As a next step…

      If you haven’t already done so, make sure you click here to access to all the valuable resources I have about getting an agent in my private, members-only area (no charge): http://thebestsellingauthor.com/membership/. Once you’ve entered your name and email address there, click on the link that says, “Audio Training Library”. Then you’ll see my main audio training (and text transcript), which reveals the 7 Insider Secrets You Need to Know to Get a Top Literary Agent, Publisher, and Book Deal.

      If you want help with anything else, you can post questions for me online here: http://thebestsellingauthor.com/ask/. And you can register for an introductory coaching call with me here: http://thebestsellingauthor.com/coaching/intro-call/.

      Either way, I’m looking forward to learning more about you and your work.

      Have a great day, and weekend!

      – Mark

      Mark Malatesta
      The Bestselling Author
      http://thebestsellingauthor.com
      Literary Agent Undercover
      http://literary-agents.com

  10. Patrick /

    Hi, I have a finished, illustrated manuscript – it is written in verse and would appeal to children and adults alike. I have looked at various competitions but it seems to fall inbetween genres. What would be the best was to get exposure and acquire an agent? Thank you for your time

  11. Louis Antonio Lopez /

    UGH! for the past several years I’ve been trying to get my fairytale picture book text represented and published. No one seems to be interested unless your a celeb writing a picture book. I submitted countless times. Is this genre dead for the unknown writer? I dont want to self publish. Are there any agents left interested in children’s picture book stories by new talent? I am seriously considering giving up. KNOW ANYONE? I’ve submitting practically to everyone.

    • Mark Malatesta

      Hi Louis,

      Sorry to hear it hasn’t been going well…

      But, you can easily find more agents who might be a fit by using my Directory of Literary Agents that you can access here (no charge): http://literary-agents.com/directory-literary-agents/.

      And you can often get a drastically different response by tweaking or changing your pitch materials (query letter, manuscript, etc.). My favorite example of this is one of my coaching clients who’d pitched her favorite “dream” agent three times over the course of two years. Rejections every time. After I helped her rewrite her query letter, she approached the same agent a fourth time and he requested the full manuscript. So don’t get too discouraged. You might just be a few changes away from getting what you want.

      As a next step (if you haven’t already done so) click here to access to all the resources I have about getting an agent in my private, members-only area (no charge): http://thebestsellingauthor.com/membership/. Once you’ve entered your name and email address there, click on the link that says, “Audio Training Library”. Then you’ll see my main audio training (and text transcript), which reveals the 7 Insider Secrets You Need to Know to Get a Top Literary Agent, Publisher, and Book Deal.

      That might have what you need
      to get to the next level…

      If you want help with anything else, you can post questions for me online here: http://thebestsellingauthor.com/ask/. You can also (if you haven’t done so already) get access (no cost) to all the valuable resources in our private, members-only area here: http://thebestsellingauthor.com/membership/. And you can register for an introductory coaching call with me here: http://thebestsellingauthor.com/coaching/intro-call/.

      Either way, I’m looking forward to learning more about you and your work.

      Have a great day,

      – Mark

      Mark Malatesta
      The Bestselling Author
      http://thebestsellingauthor.com
      Literary Agent Undercover
      http://literary-agents.com

  12. Trey Rogge /

    Hello,

    I’m not sure if this is up to the agent, but I’ll ask anyway.

    Is it possible in today’s market for an author to choose not to grant interviews or do book tours? Would an agent be less likely to sign the author if that was their choice?

    Granted, saying “I just don’t want to” is stupid and childish, but say the author wants his work to speak for itself and considers interviews pointless or harmful to his work. How feasible is this choice in today’s media-driven literary market?

    Thanks.

    • Mark Malatesta

      Hi Trey… in short… the better your book… the more say you get over everything from title to cover to promotion etc. However… best not to bring it up until if/when agents show serious interest. It’s hard enough to get them interested. Don’t start by telling them what you’re not going to do.

      Also…

      If you haven’t already done so, make sure you click here to access to all the valuable resources I have about getting an agent in my private, members-only area (no charge): http://thebestsellingauthor.com/membership/. Once you’ve entered your name and email address there, click on the link that says, “Audio Training Library”. Then you’ll see my main audio training (and text transcript), which reveals the 7 Insider Secrets You Need to Know to Get a Top Literary Agent, Publisher, and Book Deal.

      If you want help with anything else, you can post questions for me online here: http://thebestsellingauthor.com/ask/. And you can register for an introductory coaching call with me here: http://thebestsellingauthor.com/coaching/intro-call/.

      Either way, I’m looking forward to learning more about you and your work.

      Have a great week,

      – Mark

      Mark Malatesta
      The Bestselling Author
      http://thebestsellingauthor.com
      Literary Agent Undercover
      http://literary-agents.com

  13. Rebecca York /

    Hi there,

    I am writing a book that contains lyrics from multiple songs. How do I go about requesting the rights to publish a book with song lyrics in it? Should I have an agent do that? And should I request that before or after I begin working with a publisher?

    Thank you!

    Rebecca York

  14. Rodney Woods /

    My daughter and I have written a short children’s book and would like to get it published and marketed. I would like to speak with someone live to discuss the process with your organization.

    Thanks,

    Rodney Woods

  15. saw-lian cheah /

    I understand that the manuscript sent to the agent has to be in double spacing. Should there be any indentation where the paragraphs are or should they also be aligned to the left?

  16. elizabeth Kirkpatrick /

    Dear Mark,

    I’ve been working on a book now for a while…and being more of an illustrator than a writer.. My question is I’d like to get this book out there NOW but it still needs to be tweeked in terms of writing so, at what point would a book agent become involved? How could they help me?

    • Mark Malatesta

      Hi Elizabeth, depends on the genre. If it’s nonfiction, you only need sample chapters, complete chapter summaries, and a book proposal. For fiction it needs to be completely done. Either way, the writing needs to be well thought out and as polished as possible.

      To learn more about agents… what they can do for you… and how to get one interested (if you haven’t already done so) click here to access to all the valuable resources I have about getting an agent in my private, members-only area (no charge): http://thebestsellingauthor.com/membership/. Once you’ve entered your name and email address there, click on the link that says, “Audio Training Library”. Then you’ll see my main audio training (and text transcript), which reveals the 7 Insider Secrets You Need to Know to Get a Top Literary Agent, Publisher, and Book Deal.

      If you want help with anything else, you can post questions for me online here: http://thebestsellingauthor.com/ask/. And you can register for an introductory coaching call with me here: http://thebestsellingauthor.com/coaching/intro-call/.

      Either way, I’m looking forward to learning more about you and your work.

      Have a great week!

      – Mark

      Mark Malatesta
      The Bestselling Author
      http://thebestsellingauthor.com
      Literary Agent Undercover
      http://literary-agents.com

  17. Grace /

    Losing over 3 mil, devstng story (not told in head)of bank mortgage servicing fraud, BNK defraud Senators, Fed Reserve Bank, fedBNK help bank avoid 20 mil fine, BANK FORGING checks, all from a Father/Son bank who paid over 18 mil re settle fraud cases 2009. West Virginia corruption (including buying lawyers) at its finest. Excellent evidence docs. I want a good author who wants to write the story. Great mv potential. Real story. Obama Big Short not valid any more.HA Help with finding author?

    • Mark Malatesta

      Hi Grace, I mostly help authors improve their work and find agents and publishers. If your story is good enough, you might be able to get a publisher on board but you’ll need a ghostwriter to help get the book written. I don’t have a specific article on the topic to point you to but I do have an audio interview with a ghostwriter that I know in my audio library that you might want to check out.

      To access that (if you haven’t already) just click here to access to all the valuable resources I have about getting an agent in my private, members-only area (no charge): http://thebestsellingauthor.com/membership/. Once you’ve entered your name and email address there, click on the link that says, “Audio Training Library”. Then look for the interview described above. You’ll also want to listen to my main audio training (and text transcript), which reveals the 7 Insider Secrets You Need to Know to Get a Top Literary Agent, Publisher, and Book Deal.

      If you want help with anything else, you can post questions for me online here: http://thebestsellingauthor.com/ask/. And you can register for an introductory coaching call with me here: http://thebestsellingauthor.com/coaching/intro-call/.

      Either way, I’m looking forward to learning more about you and your story.

      Sounds like a good one (to read about, that is)!

      Have a great week,

      – Mark

      Mark Malatesta
      The Bestselling Author
      http://thebestsellingauthor.com
      Literary Agent Undercover
      http://literary-agents.com

  18. Joy Baglio /

    Hi Mark!

    As someone who’s spent years working on (and trying to publish) short stories, I’m wondering if there are any agents who’ll consider taking on short story writers? I know many of the top literary journals require solicitation, so an agent would be very helpful. (I do have a novel I’m working on, though the short fiction is what I’ve honed and polished most, at the moment. I’ve also received a lot of favorable rejections, so I think I’m close!)

  19. Meaghan Curley /

    Hey Mark,

    My question is: Wanna be my agent :)?
    No but really my question is sometimes when I submit to agents their guidelines read “paste query letter into the body of email” but I assumed the query letter was the email? What else were they expecting in the letter? If it’s marketability I already covered that in the query.