Lesson No. 4: Publisher’s Marketplace & Research

Agent Research

So, you’ve finished your manuscript, polished your query and synopsis, and are ready (but nervous to submit) . . . well, the best way to avoid unnecessary rejections is to be sure you are querying the right agents.

Seriously, I can’t tell you the number of times a week I receive children’s books, thrillers, mysteries, etc. etc., and I am forced to reject these because WE JUST DON’T WORK IN THESE GENRES. And, had they simply read our website they would know that and all these rejection would have been avoided. 

So, confirm some initial basic facts:

  • Agent’s name, agency, and gender
  • Unsolicited submissions are accepted in your working genre (by specific agent)

Now, for your toolbox: unlike QueryTracker.com and AgentQuery.com, Publisher’s Marketplace is much more reliable and accurate; information on PM deals are provided by editors and agents and other industry professionals directly involved. 

Yes, there is fee ($25.00 per month), and no I don’t work for them, but I truly believe this site is really one of the best publishing tools out there. 

Here’s Why

“You can access our ever-growing, proprietary databases of information you can’t find anywhere else at any price. It’s the only way to read Publishers Lunch every day via the web, and the only place to search the archive of previous Lunches. You can use features like our Book Review Index and contact database, which far outpace much more expensive rival services at a fraction of the cost (with daily updates).”

Deals: The authoritative reports of dozens of new sales every day—and a database of over 75,000 deals.

Dealmakers: Individual pages show and analyze the deal history of thousands of agents, agencies, editors and imprints.

The Automat: Constant rolling headlines and links, and editorial highlights, from almost 150 publishing news sources, updated 24/7.

Book Tracker: Automatically follow sales results at Amazon and BN.com and cross-reference against a dozen bestseller lists and Book Review database—which follows top newspaper reviews daily.

Contacts: How to reach thousands of agents, editors, and more.

Who Represents: Representation records for nearly 30,000 authors.

Publishers/Imprints: Live charts (connected to our Deals info) showing all the imprints, divisions and even distributors for dozens of the biggest publishers.

Member Pages: You get an easy-to-post web page—alongside 400 agents, and over 1,000 other writers and industry professionals.

Coming Soon: As existing members already know, PM gets better all the time, with new features and ever-growing databases. Some of the benefits different kinds of members particularly enjoy:

Agents: With hundreds of agents hosting web pages, Marketplace is already the largest most popular place to find information about top literary agencies. The deals database and daily updates provide essential information, and searches reveal editors’ buying patterns and more, while the contact database keeps track of editors on the move. And the book tracker and book review index let you follow books for your agency and your clients.

Editors: Editors can post pages (and those who do tend to be very popular), though most currently rely on the live daily deal information to check proposals they’re considering against recent sales, find and follow agents, watch the competition, and figure out who represents whom. The book review index is a massive time-saver for pulling jacket quotes, checking critical opinion, and identifying small press books worth a look. Plus, more e-mail and other contact information on more agents than any other source, updated daily.

Writers: Everyone from serious aspiring writers to long-term professional authors has flocked to Marketplace. The deals information and contact database provide “inside” information and a sense of the business in ways no other source can. Plus, hosted pages and rights and proposals board posting have worked for writers time and again in connecting with agents, publishers, and other licensees. Unlike at some sites that profess to help writers get attention, publishing professionals use and respect Marketplace, and pages and board are designed to let the audience you want to reach view your material in a way that works for them.

Industry Professionals: Publicists, freelance editors, consultants, technology providers, and many others find our easy-to-use hosted pages a great way to have a professional presence for a very modest fee (one good contact usually more than pays for a year’s worth of membership). And you get to enjoy all the other databases and features that make PublishersMarketplace a site more book professionals rely on every day.


Use Publisher’s Marketplace to research five appropriate potential agents for your title, considering the following:

  • Who represents comp, or comparable, tiles to your book
  • Who represents your favorite titles in your genre
  • Agent’s previous sales and current clients; you want to show you’re writing him/her with reason

For example, if I wrote a literary fiction book, in the vein of Dinaw Mengestu, Ramona Ausubel, and Shelly Oria, which all share a degree of “foreign otherness,” I would notice after looking them all up that they all share an agent: PJ Mark.

Do spend a few hours exploring the website and familiarizing yourself.  This assignment is certainly challenging, and time consuming, so don’t hesitate with questions or concerns. 

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Please use Universal Manuscript Guidelines when submitting: .doc or .docx, double spacing, 10-12 pt font, Times New Roman, 1 inch margins, first page header with contact information, section breaks “***” or “#.”