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How to find a literary agent in the UK

For writers seeking traditional publishing, finding a literary agent is crucial. While not required, literary agents can be invaluable thanks to the guidance, support, and connections they provide. To find a literary agent in the UK, you need to know what to look for, where to look, and how to make the best impression.

Here you’ll find links to some of the best websites to search for a literary agent, what an agent query pack is, and a list of some UK literary agencies with clear submissions guidelines.

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Where to find a literary agent in the UK

There are many ways to find a literary agent in the UK, but it’s important to first define what you’re looking for. Your novel isn’t the perfect fit for every literary agent you come across, and finding literary representation can be a very long and slow process.

What to look for

To make the most of your time, you can narrow your search by refining what you’re looking for. Ask yourself:

  • What genre(s) does my book fit into?
  • What do I want from a literary agent?

When literary agents advertise that they’re accepting submissions, they usually list exactly what they’re looking for, including genre and any particular tropes or ideas they’d like to see more of.

Knowing what you’re looking for from a literary agent is also important. If you want someone who can spend more time supporting you, an agent with a long list of represented authors is probably not going to be able to spare you as much time as an agent with only a few authors.

Now when you search for literary agents, you can save yourself some time by eliminating literary agents that won’t fit you or your novel.

Places to find a literary agent in the UK

Finding a literary agent can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Once you’ve worked out what you’re looking for, create or download a spreadsheet to start tracking your ideal literary agents. Then it’s time to start finding them.

You can go directly to the websites of literary agencies to find all of their agents. A list of some of the most well-known UK literary agencies can be found further down this page.

The Association of Authors’ Agents has a directory of literary agencies who follow best practices. This includes agencies from around the world.

With a subscription to the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook, or by looking at a physical copy of the latest yearbook, you can find entries for literary agencies in the UK and Ireland.

Jericho Writers has a list of some of the top UK literary agents with profiles showing what they’re looking for. A subscription is required to view all information provided about each agent, but the bio helps you get started. Simply search the agent’s name and find their agency website to view publicly available information about their submissions.

Many authors use QueryTracker instead of a spreadsheet. Not only can you find agents through their database, you can also track your submissions.

How can I get my book accepted by a literary agent?

For your book to be accepted by a literary agent, your first step is to perfect your query pack.

A literary agent query pack, also known as an agent submission pack, is how you’ll grab the attention of a literary agent. The agent query pack is comprised of three things:

  • A query cover letter, introducing your novel to the literary agent and telling them why you think your manuscript is a good fit for them
  • A synopsis of your book’s plot
  • An extract of your book, usually the first 3 chapters or first 10,000 words

If a literary agent likes what they receive in your query pack, they’ll request a full manuscript. From there, they’ll make the decision whether they can represent you and your book or not.

Perfecting your agent query pack is essential for getting accepted by a literary agent, and the more full manuscripts you get, the closer you’ll be to having your book published.

I offer agent query pack proofreading to authors who don’t want any typos or grammar mistakes to take away from their query.

Remember to read the submissions guidelines of each agent: some will ask for up to 10,000 words in the sample, others will ask for the first 3 chapters. If your first 3 chapters go over the 10,000 words, your query might be passed over.

Some agents will even only ask for an initial query letter. One of the most common submission guidelines to watch out for is how they want to receive the query letter: in the body of your email or as a separate document.

Submissions guidelines will also specify how they want your sample and manuscript formatted.

For more on improving your chances of literary representation, make sure to check out my agent query letter tips for aspiring authors.

UK literary agencies

The following literary agencies are based in the UK and all have submissions pages with clear instructions on how to submit to them.

Good luck!

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