The distinction between commercial/genre/popular books and literary work is not hard and fast. 1984 by George Orwell is genre fiction (dystopian), and is wildly popular, but it is not considered commercial fiction, because it is a work of social commentary.
IMPORTANT: You should NEVER query an agent without checking the agency website first. Submission requirements change, and agents may close their lists, or switch agencies.
Note: You can find a comprehensive list of dozens of new and established agents actively looking for new clients here: Agents Seeking Clients.
Mitch Hoffman (Aaron M. Priest Literary Agency)
Mitch Hoffman joined the Aaron Priest Literary Agency as a Senior Agent in 2015. A 20-year veteran of the publishing industry, he was most recently Vice-President, Executive Editor at Grand Central Publishing. Mitch is actively building a list of authors writing across the spectrum of fiction and nonfiction, including thrillers, suspense, crime fiction, and literary fiction, as well as narrative nonfiction, politics, popular science, history, memoir, current events, and pop culture. His clients include Meg Bortin, Raymond Khoury, Charles Linehan, Tom Rob Smith, and Radha Vatsal.
How to Submit: Please submit a one-page query letter via e-mail. Please do not send attachments. However a first chapter pasted into the body of an e-mail query is acceptable. Send queries to queryhoffman [@] aaronpriest.com.
Caryn Karmatz Rudy (DeFiore and Company)
Caryn Karmatz Rudy joined DeFiore and Company in the fall of 2010. Prior to becoming a literary agent, Caryn spent seventeen years as an editor of both fiction and nonfiction for Warner Books/Grand Central Publishing. Her experience on the other side of the publishing desk has armed her with invaluable insight into the hurdles editors face throughout the entire publishing process from the book’s initial acquisition to the marketing, publicity and sales vital to ensuring strong sales…and she believes falling shamelessly in love with a book is the ultimate weapon in any agent’s arsenal.
How to Submit: Please email at Caryn@defliterary.com, using the word “Query” and your book’s title in the subject line. Please include a brief, compelling description of the book in the email, along with a short bio, and for fiction and memoir, please include the first five pages of the manuscript in the body of the email. Attachments will not be opened unless I have requested them.
Amaryah Orenstein (Go Lit)
Amaryah began her career at the Laura Gross Literary Agency in 2009 and, prior to that, she worked as an Editorial Assistant at various academic research foundations, including the Tauber Institute, where she edited books for Brandeis University Press/University Press of New England. Originally from Montreal, Canada, Amaryah earned a BA at McGill University before coming to the United States to pursue graduate studies in American History. She completed an MA at Ohio University’s Contemporary History Institute and a PhD at Brandeis University, and currently serves as Co-President of the Boston chapter of the Women’s National Book Association.
How to Submit: Please send your queries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Emails should include a description of your work and a brief biographical sketch. Please do not send your manuscript, whole or partial, unless it has been specifically requested.
Steve Kasdin (Curtis Brown)
Steve Kasdin joined Curtis Brown in 2012 as Director of Digital Strategy. He supervises Curtis Brown’s eBook program, consulting with Curtis Brown’s agents in developing custom digital opportunities for their clients with eBook publishers and digital retailers. Previously on the Kindle team at Amazon.com, Steve has been in the publishing business for over 20 years. He has served as Marketing Director at St. Martin’s Press, Scholastic and Harcourt, as an agent at the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency, and as a buyer for Barnes & Noble.
How to Submit: Please send a query letter about what makes your book unique, a 1-3 page plot synopsis, a brief bio (including a description of your publishing history, if you have one), and the first 40-50 pages of your manuscript as an attachment to the e-mail to skasdin [@] cbltd.com. If querying Steve, do not query Kerry, also on this list.
Stacy Testa (Writers House)
Stacy is seeking literary fiction and upmarket women’s fiction, particularly stories with international settings, unique subcultures, historical hooks, magical realism, and/or strong, empowered women. "On the nonfiction side, I am interested in acquiring remarkable memoirs, humor writing, essay collections, narrative nonfiction, and prescriptive titles with strong platforms. Broadly speaking, I am drawn to anything with a compelling narrative voice and/or a great sense of humor. And now, more than ever, I want to represent titles that promote social justice."
How to Submit: Please send your query letter to stesta [@] writershouse.com, with the first 5-10 pages of your manuscript pasted into the body of the email. No attachments, please.
Alison Fargis (Stonesong)
With more than 20 years in publishing, Alison represents a wide range of commercially successful properties and is actively looking for lifestyle, pop culture, health/wellness, diet, parenting, select middle grade and young adult fiction, and adult fiction that blurs the line between literary and commercial. Prior to joining Stonesong in 1995, she taught English to President Vaclav Havel’s staff at the Prague Castle and taught high school English in Příbram, Czech Republic. Alison was the recipient of a Dana Foundation Grant and a Foundation for a Civil Society (Soros Foundation) Fellowship. She graduated Vassar College with a B.A. in Art.
How to Submit: Send queries to submissions [@] stonesong.com. Include the phrase “Query for Alison: [Title]” in the subject line of your e-mail to ensure she receives it and it isn’t filtered as spam. Include the first chapter or first 10 pages of your work, pasted into the body of your e-mail, so that she may get a sense of your writing. Please do not send attachments. Please note that Alison is closed to queries during the months of August and December.
Laura Mamelok (Susanna Lea)
Laura represents a range of fiction and nonfiction, both commercial and literary. Laura is French-American and has lived in both Paris and New York. She obtained her BA in comparative literature at Barnard College and her MA in comparative literature and film at Columbia University and the University of Paris. Prior to joining SLA in 2009, she worked as a literary scout for Maria B. Campbell Associates. She lives in Brooklyn.
How to Submit: Queries by email only: email@example.com Please send a concise query letter, including e-mail address, phone number, and any relevant information (previous publications, etc.), a brief synopsis, and the first three chapters and/or proposal. Please include the word “Query” in the subject line of your e-mail. Laura will respond if interested.
Robin Mizell (Robin Mizell Ltd.)
Robin possesses a BA in English literature. Prior to becoming an authors’ representative she accumulated a decade of publishing experience in the corporate and government sectors and as a freelance writer and copyeditor. She launched her blog, Treated & Released, to demonstrate to her clients the value of transparency. An avid monitor of media criticism, she often writes about social networking and publicity for authors.
How to Submit: First five pages of the manuscript along with the query email. Send to mail [at] robinmizell.com.”
Shannon Hassan (Marsal Lyon Literary)
Before becoming an agent, Shannon was the Acquisitions Editor at Fulcrum Publishing, and prior to that, a corporate attorney at Arnold & Porter in New York. She received her JD from Harvard and her BA from George Washington University.
How to Submit: Please send a query letter by e-mail, with the word QUERY in the e-mail’s subject line, to Shannon [@] MarsalLyonLiteraryAgency.com.
Sarah LaPolla (Bradford Literary)
Sarah LaPolla joined Bradford Literary Agency as an agent in 2013. She had previously worked in the foreign rights department at Curtis Brown, Ltd., and became an associate agent there in 2010. Sarah received her MFA in Creative Writing (Nonfiction) from The New School in 2008, and has a B.A. in Creative Writing from Ithaca College.
Representing MG, YA, and Adult fiction, Sarah is especially drawn to the following genres: literary fiction, science fiction, magical realism, dark/psychological mystery, literary horror, and upmarket contemporary fiction. No matter the genre, Sarah is drawn to layered/strong characters with engaging voices. She seeks stories that evoke strong connections and novels that offer a wide range of emotions. Whether they write dark, gritty YA, light coming-of-age narratives, or edgy urban fantasy, Sarah’s authors tend to reflect larger themes within a character-focused story, such as feminism, tolerance, religion, and challenging the status quo.
How to Submit: Please paste your query + first five pages into the body of an e-mail to sarah [@] bradfordlit.com with the subject line reading “Query: [title].”
Kerry D’Agostino (Curtis Brown)
Kerry D’Agostino started working at Curtis Brown, Ltd. in 2011 as assistant to Tim Knowlton and Holly Frederick in the Film and Television Department. Before Curtis Brown, she received her certificate in publishing from the Columbia Publishing Course, her masters in Art in Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education, and her bachelors from Bowdoin College.
How to Submit: Please e-mail query letters to kd [@] cbltd.com, along with a synopsis and three sample chapters.
If querying Kerry, do not query Steve, also on this list.