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Query Guide Part 4: How to Use Publisher's Marketplace If You're Querying

Updated: Jan 8

At $25 a month, you think this website would be easier to use or understand and not just make you get overwhelmed all over again. Even with the UI updates, it’s a little overwhelming. Lucky for you, I’ve become pretty familiar with it. The two primary things you’re going to want to use are the “dealmakers” and the “who represents” features.

If you’re trying to find an author’s agent and can’t find it on their website, “who represents” is for you. If you’re wanting to gauge if an agent is going to be a good fit, check out “dealmakers.” I also use the “dealmakers” search to add new people to my list, because you can search for agents by who is selling books in what genre and add them to your list.

For the Dealmakers search, I like to browse by top dealmakers. Be sure to select “agents” under “type” and then under “category” select your genre. If you wrote something that blends genres, look at both! There are also categories for both “commercial” and “literary.” I would include these in your search depending on your voice and whether you write in the commercial three-act structure or if you put stories together a little differently (ie if you’re not a follower of Saves the Cat, it’s likely you’re in the literary category). I say this because even if you’re writing genre fiction, if you have a literary voice an agent who sells literary books may still be drawn to it.

From here, Publisher’s Marketplace will give you a list of agents organized by those with the most deals in the last 12 months. At this point, I like to add those agents to a list and start to build out details about them to see if I want to query them. A quick note here: You will likely find (as I did) that a lot of the top dealmakers are not open to new queries without a referral. This is actually a really good sign that they prioritize their current clients. But if an agent you were interested in isn’t open to queries, not all is lost. This is a good way to find top-tier agencies (ie the agency where that agent works). From there, you can go to those agencies’ websites and start browsing bios for other agents who work there that you can query. (I included a list of some top agencies at the end of this blog.)

You’ll want to click through to view deals to get more information on the agents. This will show you their notable titles, and will actually give you a breakdown of total deals, and you can click through each genre to see individual deal information. This is helpful for seeing how well an agent is actually doing selling books in your genre (which I mentioned above). I love using this tool when looking into an agent I found via MSWL.

Querying Guide Breakdown:

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