At Writing Tips Oasis, we are committed to promoting diversity in the publishing industry.
One area we like to focus on, is the contribution black people have made and continue to make to the sector, from individuals such as these renowned authors, to corporations such as these African American book publishers.
In this article, we feature 19 top black literary agents.
If you’re looking to collaborate with a supremely talented literary agent, Sarah Bolling is your best bet! Born in Washington D.C and currently residing in Manhattan, she holds a bachelor’s degree in East Asian studies (Brown University) and a master’s degree in comparative literature (University of London). Previously working at Norton’s editorial division, she’s been a literary agent at the Gernert Company since 2017.
Sarah is actively seeking literary and genre fiction – including works that are a mix of both. Ideally, they should feature remote locations, and experimental narrative styles, and a bold and diverse set of characters. But don’t worry if you’re writing non-fiction! Sarah also likes memoirs and writings on both psychology and sociology.
So if you have a fitting work in mind, you can reach out by sending a query letter by email and stating Sarah as your requested agent.
As the founder of the biggest African American-owned literary agency in the US, Regina Brooks is someone you can’t ever go wrong with, which is why you need to collaborate with her! While others on our list were in the publishing industry from the get-go, Regina was in aerospace engineering. In fact, she’s the Ohio State University’s very first African American woman to earn a BSc degree in the said field.
And as Regina switched industries, she founded Serendipity Literary Agency in 2000. Based in New York, New York, she and her agency have gathered and developed acclaimed writers in fiction, nonfiction, and children’s literature.
As of now, Serendipity Literary Agency is closed for submissions. On the bright side, it will resume accepting submissions starting in late September 2021. Regina is intrigued by fiction (literary, commercial, young adult, children’s) and nonfiction (self-help, business, women’s issues, etc.) alike, so you should check the guidelines for fiction, nonfiction, and children’s fiction now while you wait.
Have you heard of The Knight Agency from Madison, Georgia? If you haven’t, it’s high time you approach one of its best agents, Jackie Williams. A lover of Haruki Murakami’s writings and a graduate of John Hopkins University, she’s an associate agent with an interest in many subjects.
Jackie is searching for fiction in various genres: fantasy, suspense, sci-fi, mystery, thriller, literary fiction, and horror. Moreover, stories with elements of surrealism, magical realism, and cultural diversity are much welcome.
In the nonfiction section, you can submit books about lifestyle, food and drinks, or any other topic, especially if you can present them in a humorous and approachable way. Memoirs are also included, particularly those with rich cultural details.
4. Monica Odom
If you want to collaborate with a literary agent who understands the sheer importance of representation and inclusivity in storytelling, Monica Odom is your best option. She has a bachelor’s degree in English, a master’s degree in Publishing, and has worked for Bradford Literary Agency and Liza Dawson Associates. Now, she’s the founder of the Odom Media Management agency.
Currently, Monica is accepting submissions of literary fiction. Genre fiction is not her cup of tea, but she’s open to many nonfiction topics. The categories include politics, relationships, culture, history, and social studies that examine social justice, race, and sexual orientation, among others.
To send your email and other queries, visit the submissions page. She’ll evaluate them in as fast as four weeks and will promptly reply if she likes your proposal.
Latoya C. Smith has been in the publishing industry for more than 15 years. Even before graduating from college, she was already working as the editorial manager of leading author Teri Woods. Over time, she opted for several big and small-time offers until she founded LCS Literary Services in 2016 and co-founded the ArtHouse Literary Agency in 2021.
Owing to her consistently incredible performance, Latoya bagged the Golden Apple award in 2017 for Agent of the Year. As of now, she’s open to fiction and nonfiction proposals. Some of her particular interests in the former are women’s fiction, LGBTQ stories, suspense, and romance. On the other hand, Latoya’s non-fiction preferences include memoirs, sports, and social justice.
So, if you’re looking to collaborate with her, here’s everything you need to know about the submission guidelines.
With her bachelor’s degree in English (Vassar College) and relevant experience at Liza Dawson Associates, Kayla Lightner joined the New York-based Ayesha Pande Literary Agency. As a valuable member of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee of the Association of American Literary Agents, she’s determined to uncover stories that are equally gripping and enlightening from a wide range of authors.
Currently, Kayla is looking for commercial fiction (horror, sci-fi, speculative fiction, and fantasy), literary fiction, and nonfiction (narrative, young adult, memoirs, and even essay collections). If you have a manuscript that fits the bill, head to the queries page to see the guidelines and submission form.
Tanya McKinnon’s tryst with books dates back to her childhood days when they kept her company as she and her family moved from one country to another. And right after college, she worked as an editor and a literary assistant. Now, she’s been a literary agent for at least 18 years and is the founder of McKinnon Literary.
Tanya currently holds the principal position at the agency and is fond of nonfiction writing that leads her to distinct fields like journalism, anthropology, sociology, and medicine. Fiction with multicultural aspects, unparalleled narratives, and strong character writing are welcome, and the same goes for children’s books and graphic novels for young minds and adults alike.
Since she is currently open for submissions, you can always send your works here.
One of Serendipity Literary Agency’s breakthrough junior agents is Ameerah Holliday, who is not only an amazing dancer but also an equally stellar poet. In fact, she’s been a core part of Poetry International.
While Ameerah offers her poetry expertise to the San Diego Poetry Annual at present, she’s also ready to discover new and promising written works. Equipped with a degree in English literature (San Diego State University), this agent is specifically looking for literary fiction, fantasy, YA fiction, and romance. Stories with exceptional character growth, diversity, and believable friendships are highly appreciated.
If you’re doing nonfiction writing, Ameerah will consider projects about the performing arts, astrology, and examinations of mental health among minorities. The agency will be open for new submissions in September 2021, so save the links for fiction and nonfiction proposals, respectively.
Best known for her strategic and innovative marketing strategies, The Literary Lobbyist’s founder, Dawn Michelle Hardy, is someone you can’t miss out on if you’re a writer. With multiple interconnected roles including publicist and literary agent, she’s worked with many award-winning and best-selling authors.
And instead of applying the same approach to her clients, Dawn devises unique methods to ensure that quality works get the popularity and financial success they deserve. Her focus is on nonfiction writing in categories like biography, business, socio-cultural issues, and sports.
To know the submission requirements, check the FAQs page of The Literary Lobbyist site and scroll down to the literary agent section.
10. Christina Morgan
With more than 10 years of experience in book publishing, Christina Morgan is yet another incredibly successful literary agent. After graduating from Oberlin College and finishing a six-week publishing course from Columbia University, she bagged editorial positions at Harper Collins and Amistad.
During her stint at Amistad, she actively worked with a team that rolled out several NYT bestsellers like “Confessionals of a Video Vixen” and “Act Like a Lady”. Over the next couple of years, she collaborated with leading writers like Gunter Grass and Umberto Eco.
As of now, she’s working at Serendipity Literary Agency. Christina is actively seeking titles in literary fiction and crime fiction. For nonfiction, narrative works about sports, pop culture, and memoirs are preferred. Send your best fiction and nonfiction writing when the agency resumes accepting proposals in September.
11. Nicole Payne
Nicole Payne is a truly gifted literary agent who loves working on children’s fiction and YA fiction. Currently, she’s part of the Gold Wheat Literary Agency, which houses both spiritual Christian writing and secular works. In other words, you don’t need to have the same set of beliefs or fill your book with obvious religious elements: Your story simply has to respect the Christian belief.
This agent has specific fiction preferences. For one, she’d like to read YA historical romance fiction that’s based in the Middle East. Similarly, emotional YA literary fiction about family and hope are welcome. On the adult fiction side, Nicole wants a story about the competitive world of fashion or one about senior women learning to use melee weapons.
12. Quressa Robinson
Hailing from New York with a master’s degree in Creative Writing (Columbia University), Quressa Robinson is an exceptional agent with many years of experience in the publishing industry. During the early days of her career, she was an editor for a small literary agency. Then in 2017, she joined the Nelson Literary Agency.
Her wish list includes middle-grade fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, contemporary, and literary), YA fiction (contemporary, romance & comedy, sci-fi, and fantasy), adult sci-fi or fantasy fiction, and narrative nonfiction with commercial potential. Additionally, fiction and nonfiction that represent marginalized communities are appreciated. Quressa currently doesn’t accept any queries, but you should check her page some other time for possible updates.
13. Tricia Skinner
Tricia Skinner has at least two decades of experience in the video game industry – and this helped her become a highly competent literary agent. By taking on writing, PR, and editing tasks, she learned the art of effective written communication. And when you add her degrees from the Journalism Institute for Media Diversity at Wayne State University and Southern Methodist University, you can easily see why Tricia is highly sought by authors.
In general, Tricia is on the lookout for adult genre fiction, but she’s also open to a few YA and middle-grade fiction. More recently, she wishes to receive manuscripts of romance with paranormal or urban fantasy elements. Unpredictable horror, revenge stories, and inclusive fiction are accepted too! Go to her agent page at the Fuse Literary page to submit a query and see more of her interests.
14. Shannon Snow
Just like Tricia Skinner, Shannon Snow proves that you don’t need to be in the publishing industry from the get-go to find success as a literary agent. For 18 years, she established a career in the finance and marketing sector. Just two years after switching industries, she became part of the Creative Media Agency, Inc., where she currently serves as an associate agent.
Given Shannon’s bachelor’s degree in English language and literature, it’s not that surprising to see her diverse taste in stories. Character writing and effectively emotional storytelling are important to her.
For adult fiction, Shannon welcomes all subgenres of romance alongside fantasy, horror, sci-fi, and post-apocalyptic fiction. If you’re a YA novelist, then you can send thrillers, horror, sci-fi, speculative fiction, dystopian fiction, and contemporary fiction. Her agency accepts queries by email. Read more about the submission process here.
15. Crystal Orazu
The junior agent of the New York-based Context Literary Agency developed her passion for reading thanks to the public libraries of Houston. There, she was introduced to wonderfully distinct worlds, timelines, and characters. Now, she has the opportunity to represent new stories that can captivate a new generation of readers.
Her manuscript wish list includes YA, middle-grade, and adult fiction. You can send fantasy, thrillers, and coming-of-age stories. In particular, she hopes that manuscripts about people of color, LGBTQ+, and neurodivergent individuals will be sent to her. If you have a memoir in hand, you can send that via the query submission page as well.
Nikki Terpilowski isn’t just a literary agent but also an avid reader and keen writer. With a bachelor’s degree in English and marketing and an inherent passion for books, she pursued a career in the publishing industry and eventually established a literary agency called Holloway Literary.
Based in Raleigh, she’s focused on adult fiction (women’s, historical, Southern, domestic thrillers, etc.) and nonfiction (new age, history, lifestyle, etc.). However, Nikki also accepts fantasy and sci-fi stories in the field of YA fiction and middle-grade fiction. To submit a query, go to the submissions section and follow the guidelines.
17. Kiana Nguyen
Kiana Nguyen began as an assistant to multiple agents when she was accepted into the Donald Maass Literary Agency in 2016. Thanks to her excellent work and praiseworthy collaboration skills, she was eventually promoted as an agent herself.
As of now, Kiana’s searching for mysterious, wicked narratives that examine the intricacies of the human condition. Similarly, suspense stories or thrillers in a domestic setting will be prioritized on her manuscript reading list. And if you have YA fiction featuring optimistic queer romances or contemporary stories of socioeconomically disadvantaged people, you can submit them too! Just visit her agent page to find her contact details and query guidelines.
18. Cherise Fisher
Your manuscript is in the best hands if you work with Cherise Fisher. For one, she studied at one of the world’s most prestigious academic institutions, Yale University. Second, her long and laudable career includes being the EIC of both Dell Publishing and Plume. Plus, she was approached by leading publisher Simon & Schuster to be their acquisitions editor.
She’s keen on helping novelists who yearn to refine their skills in storytelling. For nonfiction, Cherise likes exceptionally diverse memoirs and projects tackling African American history, racial identity, pop culture, and spirituality, among others. Unfortunately, Cherise isn’t open to unsolicited manuscripts as of writing. For now, read the submissions page and visit the agents page at a later time in case she changes her acceptance status.
Trodayne began his career in the publishing industry as an intern for The Literary Group, but it was his entry to Linn Prentis Literary that unlocked his full potential. Slowly but surely, he built his client list and teamed up with in-demand editors and acclaimed authors alike. By the time Linn Prentis sought retirement, she knew that Trodayne could take the reins as the lead agent and co-president of the agency.
As a writer himself, this agent is highly interested in music and visual media. But as an agent, his preferences are more diverse. Trodayne enjoys examining sci-fi and fantasy manuscripts — and other genres are accepted too! If you have a highly imaginative mind and can introduce intriguing perspectives, send your manuscript to his agency.
Do you know of any other black literary agents? Please tell us about them in the comments box below!
I am Ruposhree, a regular happy-go-lucky girl with not-so-regular (read extraordinary) dreams. I love reading, obsessing over random TV series, dreaming of unrealistic vacations, and most importantly, trying my hand at writing. I want to believe that I somehow have a way with words and maybe one day I’ll manage to see and be everything that I ever dreamt of!