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Literary Agent Biographies – Are you making a common mistake when reading the bios of literary agents online or in books? This article shows that there are probably a lot more publishing agents than you realize, that might be interested in you and your book. But you might not think to submit your work to them.

This article explains…

Every week I help my new 1-on-1 coaching clients find the right prospective agents. In other words, I help them figure out which literary agents are the best fit for their book so they can get a top literary agent, publisher, and book deal. And I walk them through entire process, step-by-step.

A big part of that process is looking at literary agent biographies, but it’s not as easy as you might think to find the right book agents to submit your work to. This article includes one of my best tips to help you be more effective when reading literary agent biographies, so you can get the results you want.

* * *

Literary Agent Biographies – A Word of Caution

Start by thinking of literary agent
biographies as imperfect.

Completely incomplete.

Even the most detailed literary agent biographies don’t necesarily list everything you need to know… to see if your book is a good fit for a certain book agent. Put it this way. Most book agents are open to more types of books than you (or even they) might realize. Their personal experiences affect their professional choices. And good book agents are interested in new experiences (just like good writers).

To help you understand, I’ve compiled a short list of quirky things about me below that you probably don’t know. You won’t see this type of information (for the most part) in literary agent biographies because most book agents wouldn’t see the relevance of including it. But all the items on this list have helped me connect with different authors who’ve written books touching on related topics or themes.

For example,
did you know that:

* When I was little we were so poor that we had a one-piece-of-toilet-paper-per-person-per-bathroom-visit rule.
* I have two half-sisters.
* I’m the youngest.
* My parents split up when I was 10 (the police came and made me decide who I was going to live with).
* My father died of a heart attack when I was 11.
* I’m a romantic who’s written (but you can’t see them yet) 6 books of love poetry.
* When I was an literary agent I read (and represented) virtually all book genres.
* I’ve gone 155 miles per hour on a motorcycle (when I was young and stupid).
* I’ve broken multiple bones (yes, there’s a connection to the motorcycle).
* I have my pilot’s license but don’t fly anymore.
* I’m a certified scuba diver but don’t do that anymore, either.
* I’m more street smart than book smart.
* I majored in Psychology and Communications in college.
* I’m the first person in my family to go to college.
* I like introverts as much as extroverts (I switch back and forth myself).
* I’m a recovering junk food addict turned fitness enthusiast.
* I’ve taken judo and Tae Kwon Do.
* I can probably beat you at billiards and Scrabble.
* I’m a Pisces.
* I like beer as much as I like wine.
* As I kid I was part of a weird Christian church that didn’t allow it’s members to have friends or date outside the church.
* I was a late bloomer socially and college was like high school for me.
* I saved myself for marriage.
* I was married once before (now in my second marriage, together 15 years).
* I do my best not to judge others.
* I try just as hard to encourage others.
* I like dogs and cats and I’ve lived with both.
* I cried my guts out when I watched Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan.
* I like most types of music including classical, country, rock, and rap.
* I think of myself as a renaissance man who likes ballet and opera as much as football (well, almost).
* When I was in school I took a semester of golf, Spanish, and French.
* Before I worked in publishing I was a behavior modification expert and trainer for several social services institutions serving developmentally delayed adults; the homeless; and disadvantaged youth (including jailed offenders).
* My first job was pulling weeds for a neighbor for $1 per hour.
* Other jobs I’ve had: bag-boy, cashier, prep cook, aircraft parts painter, telemarketer, door-to-door sales, logging foreman, and assistant chemist/metallurgist.

I could go on,
but I think you get the idea…

* * *

Literary Agent Biographies – Don’t Assume Anything

Hopefully there was at least one thing on the list above that surprised you and made you feel more of a connection to me… because that means you might have the same experience with other book agents who are still active and looking for new writers. Don’t put too much weight on literary agent biographies.


You might be pitching a book about the 50 best honeymoon locations in the United States, but you wouldn’t know which agents recently got engaged. You might be pitching a book about how to grieve the loss of a loved one, but you wouldn’t know which agents recently lost someone close to them. Or, you might be pitching a novel about forgiveness, but you wouldn’t know which agents were recently betrayed by someone they trusted dearly.

The bottom line…

There are thousands of things you don’t know about the book agents you’re thinking about submitting your work to, even though you’re reading their literary agent biographies. So, don’t assume that a book agent isn’t a good fit for you just because he or she supposedly isn’t (in your mind) the right gender or age or anything else.

Be more open and inclusive when you’re reading literary agent biographies and compiling your list of prospective book agents. Always remember that you’re only looking at a small piece of the puzzle.

Good people are
just like good books.

They can
surprise you.


If in doubt
send the
query out,

– Mark
Ask a Question About Literary Agent Biographies

Mark Malatesta answers questions about literary agent biographies

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