If you’re new to historical fiction and are about to embark on writing your first book in this genre, our guide on how to write historical novels will help you to get started.
On the other hand, if you’re written a historical fiction novel and would like to approach a large publisher about the possibility of getting it published, you’ll need a literary agent to negotiate the best publishing terms possible for you.
Below you’ll find 15 historical fiction literary agents. Of course, as most agents, historical fiction is just one of a few genres the following individuals represent.
The president and founder of Nelson Literary Agency based in Denver, US, Kristin Nelson believes that her job is to provide the authors she represents with the opportunity to earn a living doing what they’re best at – writing. She is proud to say that that is 90% of her clients today, as she represents authors at the very top of best-seller lists.
She gained credibility in the domain of historical fiction when she took on Sherry Thomas as a client, the writer who penned down The Luckiest lady in London and is known as one of the most important romance writers today. Considering that Sherry is one of the biggest authors she represents, you shouldn’t be surprised to hear that Kristin likes her historical fiction with a romantic flare. But she believes that the most important elements of a novel are characters and a unique voice. She will represent both, literary and commercial fiction.
For more information on how to submit, head to the agency’s submissions guidelines. Type QUERY in the subject line, and include a one-page query letter and first 10 pages of your manuscript and send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Nancy Yost
Chief agent and founder of the Nancy Yost Literary Agency Nancy herself, believes that a good historical fiction should have a distinct narrative voice and tell the stories of today in an exotic, historical setting. She will only accept stories that are character and or voice-driven. She lives and works in New York, and has a hefty number of best-selling authors under her leadership. She is the name behind some of the most successful historical fiction titles today, like Captives of the Night, by Loretta Chase, Good Earl Hunting, by Suzanne Enoch, and The Paris Affair, by Theresa Grant.
You can send her a query via mail, and address it to 121 West 27th St., Suite 1201 New York, New York 10001, or simply fill out the comprehensive form on their submissions page.
When you’ve penned down literary historical fiction but feel like it might have mainstream potential – Dorian Karchmar is the agent for you. Working with WMA – one of the oldest and most notable talent and literary agencies today with multiple offices in the US, Dorian has gathered two decades of experience representing some of the leading voices in fiction and non-fiction , such as Alice Munro, Jhumpa Lahiri and Meg Wolitzer.
Apart from being with the agency that brought you some of the biggest and most known talent today, she is, herself, a notable name behind some of the finest literary and commercial historical fiction titles like This is Not Civilization by Robert Rosenberg and The Book of Unholy Mischief by Elle Newmark. She wants historical fiction that is immersive and teaches her about another time and place, and stories that are as focused on the psychology of the character as they are on plot. If you believe your manuscript is the right fit for this literary giant, query her at email@example.com. You only need to send her a query letter – pages are sent upon request.
Working with the Donald Maass Literary Agency since 1993, this Brooklyn-based agent has gained tons of experience representing a wide variety of fiction authors, and has worked with names like Jim Butcher and Anne Bishop.
Jennifer is looking for both, established and emerging writers throughout all genres of novel-length fiction – historical included. Genre-wise, sci-fi and fantasy were her first love, so if your historical-fiction has fantasy elements in it – this is the agent you should query. She is particularly interested in historical fiction that has a dark/gothic vibe and deep psychological themes. If this is what you write – compose a query letter, a 1-2 pages long synopsis, include the first 5 pages of your novel and send it all to firstname.lastname@example.org.
5. Eleanor Wood
The director, founder and agent at Spectrum Literary Agency since 1976, Eleanor Wood is known as one of the most seasoned commercial fiction agents today. With her impressive resume, which includes an M.A. from Bryn Mawr College and a long-time collaboration with The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), you can be sure that she has what it takes to fight for your manuscript if she deems it worthy. She has represented authors from across all genres, including Claudia Bishop, Kathryn O’Sullivan, Steve Barnes – and many more.
The agency is situated in New York, and they accept historical fiction in whichever sub-genre you can think of: from thrillers, mystery and suspense, to romance. The only thing they ask is that your fiction be suitable for commercial market. If you think you fit the description, send her a query with an obligatory SASE at Eleanor Wood, Spectrum Literary Agency, 320 Central Park West Suite 1-D, New York, NY 10025. They won’t read submissions sent by e-mail or fax. For more details, refer to her agency’s submission guidelines.
6. Daniel Lazar
Another NY-based agent working at Writers House wants to let you know that historical fiction is his favorite genre, and he has garnered quite a name representing authors writing in this genre. One of his proudest moments was taking up Richard Harvell and his novel The Bells as his passion project. This mixture of history, and fantasy, character and voice-driven narrative is a perfect example of what he’s looking for in a book. He has also named Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, The Magicians and The Discovery of Witches as prime examples of what he wants his historical fiction to be. He is particularly interested in the American Civil war, WWI and II, as well as the French Revolution and the Tudor era, although he will consider anything with strong characters and mind-bending plot.
If you like what you’ve read and think Daniel would be swept-away by your story, send him a query via email, and make sure to include a query letter and 5 pages of the manuscript in the body (no attachments), or submit regularly via mail to Writers House, 21 West 26th Street, New York, NY 10010, but make sure to address him specifically at the beginning of your letter.
President and founder of Jill Grinberg Literary Management, this NY-agent has over ten years of publishing experience. She has represented massive names in both, fiction and non-fiction, her diverse track-record straining from Andy Griffiths, Christopher Healy and Kevin Hearne, to Jennifer Holm, Rosina Lippi, Melina Machetta and Marissa Meyer. She will represent both, literary and commercial historical fiction.
You can query her at email@example.com. Send her a query letter and the first 50 pages of your manuscript in the body of the email.
8. Theresa Park
Working at her own agency, The Park Literary Group LLC based in New York, Theresa Park was an attorney before she decided to follow her literary ambitions and start an agency back in 2005. Now, she represents some of the most prestigious artists and writers like Debbie Macomber, Emily Giffin and Robert Whitaker. She is looking for historical fiction that is either commercial or a perfect blend of commercial and literary. She is particularly interested in plot-driven stories instead of character-driven ones. If this is you, send her a query at firstname.lastname@example.org, but keep in mind: they only accept queries sent by email. In the subject line of your message state the agent you are querying and the genre of your manuscript. Copy the first 25 pages in the body of the email – no attachments.
Working with Dystel Goderich & Bourret, NY, Jessica has managed to gather quite a few notable authors under her guise. She has worked as an editor, as well as an agent, and the time she spent in Egypt has garnered her a taste in fiction that doesn’t shy away from social issues. This is exactly what she wants in her historical fiction: important narratives that talk about hot issues while having a sense of humor. She will take up commercial fiction but with literary merit, and she wants her stories plot-driven and smart. Historical fiction with an accent on women’s issues is something that is right up her alley, but it’s hard to find. If this is what you write, query her at JPAPIN@DYSTEL.COM. Include the query and the first 25 pages in the body of the email – attachments will not be accepted. For more information, head to the submission guidelines of her respective agency.
10. Albert Zuckerman
Albert Zuckerman founded the Writers House in 1973, and has worked there ever since. In his years garnering all the experience he has, not only worked with massive names like Stephen Hawking, Michael Lewis and Karen Pryor, but also written his own book all about how to compose commercial fiction, called Writing the Blockbuster Novel. He adores historical fiction, and is the name behind The King’s Daughter – a heartfelt profile of Queen Mary by Barbara Kyle, and The Abyssinian Proof: A Kamil Pasha Novel by Jenny White. Albert is especially interested in women’s stories with a commercial appeal, so if this is the kind of historical fiction you write feel free to send your query to Writers House, 21 West 26th Street, New York, NY 10010, and address it specifically to him.
11. Lisa Bankoff
Lisa is an agent working at International Creative Management (ICM) – one of the most notable, successful and prolific talent and literary agencies in the world, with offices in New York and Los Angeles, and at Bankoff Collaborative LLC. But employment at one of the most prestigious literary institutions isn’t the end of Lisa’s qualifications: Clients that have been putting their trust in her for years are countless, and many of them are big names like J. Robert Lennon, David Lipsky and Claire Cook.
She is interested in both, literary and commercial historical fiction, so long as the literary is enticing enough, and the commercial offers enough depth. You can query her via email at email@example.com, or via snail mail at International Creative Management (ICM), 825 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10019, US.
12. Margaret Kennedy
Margaret Kennedy in 1996 formed the Margaret Kennedy Agency following a career in book editing in Australia and the UK. Based in Brisbane and a founding member of the Australian Literary Agents’ Association, Margaret gives main priority to literary fiction of the contemporary type, although historical fiction and general fiction is also of interest from time to time.
If you would like to make a submission to Margaret, in the first instance you need to email a short query letter that explains what your book is about and provides information on how you came about to write it. If your concept is of interest, you will be requested to send a full book proposal. Take a look at this page for more information on making a submission and the process used by this agency for doing so.
13. Joy Harris
Agent at The Joy Harris Literary Agency and a member of the AAR, Joy is surely one of the best agent choices in New York today. He represents a wide range of genres across fiction, and is particularly interested in stories with undeniable literary merit. Commercial appeal is a bonus, but not obligatory. He wants a unique voice, engaging POV and character-driven narratives. Send him your pitch at firstname.lastname@example.org, and include a query letter, and a sample chapter in the body, and the word QUERY in the subject line.
14. Karolina Sutton
Working with Curtis Brown, a London-based literary agency, Karolina has a hands-on approach when it comes to the careers of her writers. Even though she is a part of a large company, she tries to create a private environment in which her clients can steadily grow their career over time. She has worked with many internationally acclaimed names, such as Siri Hustvedt, Malala Yousafzai, and, yes, she is the name behind Haruki Murakami and Margaret Atwood. But it’s not only working with big names that earned her prestige and a place on this list – Karolina is known to build careers of her writers, working patiently on them day in and day out.
She likes stories that have literary appeal and fresh perspective. She especially likes when that fresh perspective is cast onto something tired and old. If this is the kind of thing you write, query her by filling out CBC’s comprehensive submission form, and naming her as preferred agent.
15. Rupert Heath
Working at his own company, The Rupert Heath Literary Agency, based in London, this agent has represented many authors whose books ended up in the hands of the most well-known publishers and their imprints today. That list includes, but is not limited to: Bloomsbury, Random House, Aurum Press, Little Brown, Mantle etc. Rupert attended the Courtauld Institute of Art where he studied history of art, so it shouldn’t surprise you that he is very interested in historical fiction, and he is the name behind many titles in the genre, such as Requiem, The Lost Relic and The Armada Legacy.
He is looking for commercial historical fiction, or something more on the literary side – but it has to be cutting edge. Before you even consider submitting to this agent, you must send him an email with some information about yourself and the work you are considering submitting. Once you’ve gotten into contact, the submissions details will be discussed directly with Rupert.
Are you aware of any other historical fiction literary agents? Please tell us about them in the comments box below.
Sara is a freelance writer with an aspiring author with years of experience under her belt and two or three words of wisdom to share. She blogs at https://sistermantis.wordpress.com/