List of the best US literary agents (best because they’ll actually read your manuscript and query!)
I’m an eternal optimist so when I completed my debut US novel, I confidently queried all the best literary agents in the country. Some didn’t reply at all, others sent a form rejection, yet others’ assistant’s assistant wrote back saying their client list was full. Amid the doom and gloom, these literary agents with A-list clients responded quickly asking for the full manuscript and provided specific, detailed feedback on the same. Eventually, a few offered to represent me as well. Note: I approached them cold through the slush pile without industry or author connections so this comprehensive list should work for every debut author. You can also read my query letter and overall timeline from writing to publication here.
So here goes the best literary agents in the US:
Mollie Glick, CAA
My current agent. Very driven, smart and passionate, she represents several bestselling authors yet gives individual attention to each. She responded to my query within three days and read my full manuscript overnight.
Jodi Reamer, Writer’s House
Jodi represents the top of the top (Stephanie Myers, John Green etc.) yet she and Alec Shane, her extraordinarily responsive assistant, replied within a week to my query and sent a very specific critique on my manuscript within a month. Alec and Jodi are busy and need a little prodding but in general, I found them very humble and courteous.
Suzanne Gluck, William Morris Endeavour
Despite heading one of the leading literary agencies in the country, Suzanne responded to my query within a day and sent helpful feedback on my full manuscript in two weeks.
Jeff Kleinman, Folio Lit
Jeff’s extraordinary 24×7 email responsiveness would put a hungry debutant novelist glued to his screen waiting for agent responses to shame. He responded to my query letter within minutes, then traded back and forth emails on my manuscript as he tore through it within the same day.
Stephany Evans, Fine Print Literary
Although Stephany didn’t extend me a representation offer in the end, she read my whole manuscript within 2 weeks. I re-imagined my novel’s climax because of her thoughtful, sensitive feedback.
Natasha Kern, Natasha Kern Literary Agency
The #1 fiction agent on Publisher’s Marketplace, I queried Natasha because she identified herself as a Yogi in an interview. It’s easy to see why. Despite her stature, she is quick and accessible with a great gut for storytelling. I greatly valued her one paragraph critique on my manuscript even though she represents a very different genre than what I was writing in.
Melissa Flashman, Trident Media Group
Melissa responded to my query within a day and gave me feedback on my manuscript within a week despite being a top agent in the #1 literary agency in the country. She was generous with her praise and straightforward with her assessment.
Sarah Jane Freymann, Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency
Sarah Jane was an exceptional fit with my genre (journeys of spiritual transformation) and her team was quite prompt in responding to both my query and manuscript.
Anna Ghosh, Ghosh Literary
Anna is unique in representing mainstream East-West crossover novels and was very perceptive in her manuscript feedback. I changed my beginning significantly using her input. She was also fairly quick with her response to my query and later, my manuscript—but needed a little gentle prodding.
These agents rejected me at the query stage with a quick form rejection but I’ve heard about their extraordinary responsiveness from other writers—Jenny Bent, Kristin Nelson, Cameron McClure and Daniel Lazar.
For the complete list of sixty agents I contacted, you can sign up here! And here is wishing you luck in getting one of these extraordinary agents to represent you. Once they do, you’ll see the light at the end of the rejection tunnel and get a publishing deal quickly.