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.

* * *

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!

2,066 Comments

  1. Hi mark,
    decades back, african writers made a mark in history by creating their own world with courage. most of them bagged nobel awards for bringing out a unique style of african tales. i am a young writer trying to bring a different flavour in the line of writers with a story about life in my own part of the world. it is titled “life in my own perspective”. a story of a young boy growing up with a single mother and a baby brother that looked up to him as a father figure at the tender age of five. as a first timer on your site, how do i go about getting an agent? thank you

    Reply
    • Mark Malatesta

      Hi Mustapha, and welcome…

      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.

      If you haven’t already done so, make sure you click here to access all the valuable resources I have about getting an agent in my private, members-only area (no charge): https://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: https://thebestsellingauthor.com/ask/. And you can register for an introductory coaching call with me here: https://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
      http://markmalatesta.com
      The Bestselling Author
      https://thebestsellingauthor.com
      Literary Agent Undercover
      http://literary-agents.com

      Reply
  2. Dear Mark,

    Many agents ask to submit three chapters along with synopsis as attachment in single word document. I know how to format manuscript with chapters but I don’t know how to format synopsis after or before chapters. For eg, we center the chapter title, even if it’s only Chapter One, about one-third of the way down the page. When we are including synopsis after or before sample chapters, should the synopsis be also one – third of the way down the page like chapter one?

    2) Is it OK to write THE END after synopsis and THE END after chapters?

    3) If agents want synopsis first, and then chapters, can I write THE END after synopsis and begin chapters after that?

    4) Can I add dedication when I’m sending partial submission as word document? Or should I send it with full manuscript?

    5) Many agents ask to paste few pages in the body of email. Is it necessary to double space pages?

    As undercover agent, you must have read manuscripts with excellent format before. I don’t want to get rejected by any agent with silly mistakes in my manuscript. That’s why I want to take some advice from you. I hope you’ll reply to all my questions.

    Reply
  3. How vital is it to include comparables with published novels and novels represented by the agent you send a query letter? I have spent hours searching and honestly have not been able to come up with any legitimate comparables to my novel. I feel that if I stretch things far enough to say my novel is comparable to some published work, or work represented by the agent I’m querying, it’s bogus.

    Reply
    • Mark Malatesta

      Hi Robert,

      Funny… and 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.

      If you haven’t already done so, make sure you click here to access 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.

      Enjoy your day,

      – Mark

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

      Reply
  4. Thank you Mark for this opportunity. I just completed the manuscript for a book titled “LEADERSHIP AND DEVELOPMENT CRISES IN AFRICA: A new approach to an old challenge.” This book provides the information needed to solve most of the lingering problems in Africa and to chat a new course for the continent’s rediscovery, recovery and relevance in the ever-changing and challenging global environment. How can I get the right publisher for this book?

    Reply
    • Mark Malatesta

      Hi Victor,

      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.

      If you haven’t already done so, make sure you click here to access 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 good Friday!

      – Mark

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

      Reply
  5. I have just completed my second novella in a projected series of ?? short novels. Picking a genre is hard for me; perhaps literary/crime/fantasy–but which one? I have the image of Kafka, Conrad, and Wodehouse as contestants on the Great British Baking Show.

    I picked “literary,” because I feel the overarching “theme” of my work is its formal voice–a gently mocking throwback to the 19th century, liberally leavened with modern slang.

    Where would I begin with over 200 agents to choose from?

    Reply
  6. Having completed 3 novels in three genres I’m ready to seek an agent (cozy 76,000 w, MG 60,000w, sci-fi 63,000w). Should I try to find an agent for all three or find an agent for each novel? Each novel has the potential for a series but writing more of the same without an outlet seems like an exercise in futility. Or does completing more than one in a series increase the odds of representation/ publication?

    Reply
    • Mark Malatesta

      Hi DG, the odds of you finding one agent to handle all three of those projects is slim… but it could happen. You should start by trying to get the best agent you can… for the book that you feel has the most potential… and then worry about whether you need to get a second agent… after you’re done doing all you can to get the first. Good news is that you have three novels ready to go… and… therefore… three shots at immediate success.

      Also…

      If you haven’t already done so, make sure you click here to access 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

      Reply
  7. Hi Mark,

    I have a new novel I believe would be categorized as a literary fantasy but it focuses largely on two teen age protagonists and it has been suggested by a couple beta readers it might actually be a YA fantasy (or maybe a cross over of sorts). Problem is, it’s 116,000 words and I an a debut author. If I query this as a YA fantasy at 116,000 will I be shot down automatically for going over the 80k seemingly accepted max?

    Reply
    • Mark Malatesta

      Hi Mike… not necessarily… you might be okay… depends on the agent… and fantasy can be a bit longer… give it a shot and see what happens… if you get blowback… you can make changes then… knowing that you have to.

      Also…

      If you haven’t already done so, make sure you click here to access 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

      Reply
  8. Hello Mark,

    I’m considering booking an introductory coaching session with you, and want to check if it’s fine with you that I send you a sample of my work-in-progress for two writing projects prior to our call (one a middle grade fantasy, the other an adult fiction)? I am still deciding which one to focus on to kick-start my career as a published author – and that would be one of the things I would like to discuss on the call, among other things.

    Thank you

    Reply
    • Mark Malatesta

      Hi Belle, actually… you’ll get more out of the call if we focus mostly on one book… but… if/when you register… email me immediately after you do… so I can get on the phone with you for a couple minutes to help you figure out which project you should focus on primarily in the author questionnaire. I’ve done that for people in the past… and it will help you get more out of the call.

      Have a great week!

      – Mark

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

      Reply
  9. Mark I just want to say thanks for putting this amazing resource together for us. It has made life a lot easier for me and I just want you to know that it’s something I don’t take for granted.

    Tim Crawshaw
    http://www.timcrawshawfoto.com

    Reply
    • I’m glad buddy! You deserve it, it must have taken a long time to put it all together and how funny that you say that everyone is quick to take and not to give because that is one of the themes in my book that I am approaching agents with! The book is called “So, You Want to Be Rich… But Jesus Doesn’t”. I’ve had the CEO of World Vision and some amazing others write a testimonial for me. It’s a picture book for adults. If interested have a look at http://www.timcrawshawfoto.com

      Reply
      • Mark Malatesta

        Thank you Tim, I’m in the weeds right now playing catchup with comments and other things… for my coaching clients… since getting back from five days away for our wedding anniversary… so I can’t take time to check out the site right now… but I love your energy and wish you much success (but not TOO much). LOL

        You know what I mean,

        – Mark

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

        Reply
        • Yeah that must have been fun!

          Next anniversary you should come to Tasmania, Australia, where I live (pics at website when you get a chance).

          Seriously, I’d forgotten all about it – I just wanted to say THANK YOU!

          Reply
  10. Hi Mark,
    I’m wondering if agents want to know that you previously had an agent. My agent switched agencies shortly after I signed,and couldn’t take all projects along. My ms hasn’t been sent out to editors yet. Should I mention this when querying again?

    Reply
    • Mark Malatesta

      Hi Judy, if it hasn’t been sent out to editors… it’s not as important to share that info. If it was a reason that doesn’t make you look bad like the health of the agent etc… you might be inclined to mention it because having had an agent makes you more credible. If… on the other hand… you did something wrong or just had a falling out… you might be less likely to mention that.

      If you haven’t already done so, make sure you click here to access 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 good night,

      – Mark

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

      Reply
  11. Hi! I have an unpublished manuscript under consideration with an industry giant. Problem is, it’s for tv and not print! I was going to self publish originally, but now I have people telling me that I should look into going the traditional route. Tv =/= publisher, but my friends seem to think that if one industry has already taken a shine to it, maybe I should try and find representation for my novel instead of going at it alone like I’ve prepared to. Should I be looking into querying agents?

    Reply
  12. How do I get an agent for books that are already self-published, MacLean/e/B00287PHIS/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1?

    (I should add that the flagship novel came out with Atheneum/Macmillan.)

    Reply
    • Mark Malatesta

      Hi Robert,

      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/.

      And…

      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 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 week!

      – Mark

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

      Reply
  13. Is it inappropriate to query an agent with a book that has already been published? In this case the publisher is out of business, book is out of print, author owns the rights and would like to take it to another publisher. And if it is ok to query with a pre-published book, are there dos and don’ts of presenting the “already published” information in a query letter?

    Reply
    • Mark Malatesta

      Hi E,

      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/.

      And…

      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 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

      Reply
  14. I have sent out an initial round of emails to agents. Attracted some initial interest but that’s all.

    A friend says I’ve done it all wrong. I should find books similar to mine and look at the acknowledgements. Find out who their agent is. Then write him/her a personal email that praises the book that referenced him (and in effect, the agent for having good taste) and show how my book is similar but different enough to be published.

    In other words, quality over quantity. What do you think?

    Reply
    • Mark Malatesta

      Hi Diana, it’s a little bit of both. Check out my website about query letters here at http://query-letter.com. That might help.

      Also…

      If you haven’t already done so, make sure you click here to access 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

      Reply
  15. Hello Mark,
    Thank you for this opportunity! What are 3 things that turn agents off in a query letter.
    3 things that really spike their interest?

    Reply
  16. What’s easiest way to stand out when sending a query for an agent

    Reply
  17. Hello Mark, I am a new author and I wanted to know if you could tell me if my query letter is okay or needs work. Thanks

    Reply
    • Mark Malatesta

      Hi Monica, welcome… and yes… I’m happy to help… 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.

      To that end…

      I answer general questions online here (no cost). So, if you want help, you can post questions for me online here: http://thebestsellingauthor.com/ask/.

      You can also get 1-on-1 feedback on things like pitch materials such as query letters, samples pages, websites/blogs, etc. by registering for a introductory coaching call with me (more information about how to do that below).

      And (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, again, 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

      Reply
  18. Hello Mark,

    I am an stage director, playwright, and theater arts & ESL educator with over 30 years of diverse experience, but I am not ‘branded’. I am produced but have been out of the ‘scene’ for a number of years. I am currently living in Asia where I teach ESL and Acting. I have play scripts, a short play/skit collection, a couple of film scripts, and theater arts education materials (ex. improv. starter uppers).

    Can you possibly assist? Should I consider an hour consultation?

    Reply
    • Mark Malatesta

      Hi Robert, I’m sorry to say probably not. Although some authors I’ve worked with have had their work adapted for TV, stage, and feature film… my main specialty is helping authors get top literary agents, publishers, and book deals. That often leads to interest in the other areas, through the author’s agent or publisher. To that end, most top agents who represent fiction help on the TV/film front or they partner up (co-agent) with another successful agency that does it.

      All my best,

      – Mark

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

      Reply
  19. What do you know about Page Publishing?

    Reply
    • Mark Malatesta

      Hi Cheryl,

      I don’t recommend specific publishers but you should read this article if you haven’t already: http://literary-agents.com/best-publishing-companies/. It might help. Maybe not the exact answer you were looking for, but hopefully something better.

      Also…

      The next thing you should do (if you haven’t already) is 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 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 week!

      – Mark

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

      Reply

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About Mark Malatesta

MARK MALATESTA is a former literary agent turned author coach. Mark now helps authors of all genres (fiction, nonfiction, and children's books) get top literary agents, publishers, and book deals through his company Literary Agent Undercover and The Bestselling Author. Mark's authors have gotten six-figure book deals, been on the NYT bestseller list, and published with houses such as Random House, Scholastic, and Thomas Nelson. Click here to learn more about Former Literary Agent Mark Malatesta and read reviews about Mark Malatesta.

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