When people think of the book industry they tend to think of the big apple, much the same way most people tend to think of Hollywood when they think of the movie industry. But while New York City is probably the place where you’ll find the most publishers and literary agents, it’s not the only place.
In fact, one of the things that many writers are shocked to discover when they first start their publishing journey is the innumerable amount of literary agents located all across the country.
So where’s one place that you can find an abundance of literary agents that holds a candle to NYC? If you guessed, Los Angeles on the west coast, you’re pretty darn close.
The west coast has a variety of literary agents, all waiting to find that next bestselling manuscript—which could just be yours.
If you’re not familiar with them or just want to do a little background research on these agents, the following list of 18 top literary agents on the west coast, with a particular emphasis on California and Washington State, is a good place to start.
Located in La Jolla, California, the Margret McBride literary agency is known for spiritual and self-help books by The Secret contributor John Assaraf, and even business success books by author Joel Baker. The agency began in San Diego in 1980 and was founded by none other that Margret McBride herself. The agency is known for selling to a variety of well-known publishers, from Simon & Schuster to HarperCollins. Although the agency is known for self-help and non-fiction books, it also accepts fiction and memoir submissions.
2. Amy Levenson
Established in Seattle, Washington, Blue Heron Literary is known for representing gripping titles with unique narratives. The agency was established by Amy Levenson who previously worked at leading companies like Becker & Mayer and The Pokémon Company International. Amy represents both fiction and non-fiction titles spanning across multiple genres. She approaches both major publishers and independent publishing houses on behalf of authors. Currently, Amy is closed for fiction submissions. If, however, you want to submit a non-fiction manuscript to Amy, send a query letter and a full proposal to her. Take a look at this page for full details of how to make a submission to Amy and Blue Heron Literary, along with information on what to include if you plan on submitting a nonfiction manuscript.
Established by Andrea Brown in 1981, the Andrea Brown Literary Agency has represented a wide range of well-known literary books, including bestsellers like Thirteen Reasons Why and Crank. Associate agent Jennifer March Soloway is definitely the person to talk to at this Northern California agency if you write children, middle grade or young adult fiction. Like a lot of other professionals in the industry, Soloway really knows her stuff when it comes to good writing, and she has a very keen editorial eye. For her, good fiction is all about raising questions in the reader’s mind that keeps them coming back for the answer. You can send a query to Jennifer on this page.
4. Jill Marr
Jill Mar is one of several agents at the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. Sandra Dijkstra, a literary agent who’s been practicing for over 35 years, is the founder of the agency and is known for her keen sense for good literature. Dijkstra is so good at what she does, Newsweek dubbed her as the “best agent in the west.” This agency is a particularly a good fit for all writers since it accepts commercial fiction and literary fiction as well as non-fiction. For writers that are especially interested in genre fiction, Jill Marr is the person to query. Jill is currently accepting commercial fiction focusing on mysteries, thrillers, horrors, and romantic suspense. She is also open to submissions for historical fiction and commercial fiction for women. In non-fiction, she is looking for authors who have got their works published. Her preferred genres include science, history, sports, politics, pop culture, humour, music, and narrative non-fiction. If interested, you can send your queries to Jill on this page.
Mandy Hubbard is founder and also an agent at Emerald City Literary Agency, which is located a stone’s throw from Seattle. Mandy founded the agency in 2015, and after previously becoming a published author, she found herself being drawn to the business side of publishing and subsequently developed a career as a literary agent. Gaining work experience as an agent for other agencies, by the time she has founded her own agency, she had sold nearly 70 books to major publishing houses. If you write genre romance, middle grade, young adult, or have an LGBTQ+ element to your book, Mandy would welcome your submission.
Although it’s a smaller agency, Veritas Literary Agency is one of the older agencies based in San Francisco. Founded by Katherine Boyle, the San Francisco agency is home to three agents: Katherine Boyle and associates Michael Carr and Chiara Rosati. While Veritas represents diverse genres, Katherine is currently looking for titles in narrative non-fiction, historical and literary fiction, history, pop culture, women’s studies and natural studies. She is also looking for children’s titles in the sub-genres of young adult, middle grade, and picture books. You can reach out to Katherine on this page.
For children’s writers or writers of historical fiction, mystery or middle grade, you might find Bradford Literary Agency’s Natalie Lakosil to be the right agent for your book. She’s been a member of this San Diego based agency since 2011. The incredible thing about the Bradford Literary agency, which was established in 2001 by Laura Bradford, is that it’s a boutique agency with a long list of bestselling authors. Unlike big agencies like Trident, boutique agencies give writers the one-on-one time they often need with their agents in order to craft the best version of the manuscript possible. This agency is known for representing some of the hottest authors on the market today including Anya Bast, Sarah Castille, and Lauren Dane. Natalie represents a wide range of genres including picture books, chapter books, middle grade fiction, and young adult fiction in children’s literature. She also represents mysteries, female-protagonist driven thrillers, upmarket women’s fiction, and some selected works in non-fiction. You can reach out to Natalie by filling this form.
Elizabeth Wales is a co-founder, owner, and principal agent at Wales Literary Agency. A veteran of the publishing industry who started her career in 1980 at Oxford University Press, Elizabeth runs this agency in Seattle, which was founded in 1990. The agency has represented many New York Times bestsellers, bestselling works that have made their way onto other national bestseller lists, and other works that have won numerous awards. At her agency, Elizabeth represents quality fiction and non-fiction. She is particularly interested in plot-driven narratives, bold, new narrative voices, and progressive, cultural viewpoints. Take a look at this page for further details. Expect a response of 1-3 weeks to your query.
9. Dara Hyde
Created in 1979 by Bonnie Nadell, the Hill Nadell Literary Agency is a popular San-Francisco based agency that represents literary fiction, commercial fiction, and narrative non-fiction. Dara Hyde works as a senior agent at this agency. Before her stint at the Hill Nadell Literary Agency, Dara worked as an editor and rights and permissions professional for Grove Atlantic, an independent, New York based publisher. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Bard College and harbors a special interest in film and literary works. In addition to being, an excellent senior agent, Dara also assists with the foreign and film rights projects for the entire agency. She is currently open to submissions for literary and genre fiction, young adult titles, graphic novels, narrative non-fiction, and memoirs. You can reach out to Dara on this page.
10. Gail Ross
The Ross Yoon Agency was co-founded by Gail Ross and Howard Yoon. Gail currently serves as the president of this agency and she is the primary force behind its creation. When Howard Yoon joined as a literary assistant in 1992, Gail was impressed by his contributions and decided to make him a part of her venture. In the agency, she closely works with her team to represent quality titles with bold and unique narrative voices. She also has an agency-specific blog where she encourages writers to discuss their challenges and varied experiences. She continually inspires them to view their roles as the members of a growing literary community. Gail primarily represents commercial non-fiction, spanning across memoirs, historical titles, biographies, popular science, and humour. Visit this page to for a complete insight into the submissions process.
11. Suzy Evans
A premier agency for West Coast based authors, the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency represents almost every genre and sub-genre in both fiction and non-fiction. Suzy Evans works as a literary agent here and she is best known for representing well-written works covering diverse themes. In addition to being an agent, Suzy is also an attorney and an author with a Ph.D. in History from UC Berkeley. At the agency, she represents adult non-fiction with a focus on history. She is also interested in parenting titles and cookbooks with smart, inventive styles. Other areas of interests include books focusing on food, health, thrillers, middle grade fiction, young adult fiction, and children’s non-fiction. Suzy is currently accepting submissions and can be contacted on this page.
For writers that aren’t interested in the NYC/ Hollywood spotlight and just want a quality agent that has the time to devote for one-on-one help and advice, this is the west coast agency you want. If you’re a California local/ native, you may be familiar with the name if you’ve ever heard of the Law Office of Paul S. Levine. Levine is a literary agent with a peculiar background, having worked as an entertainment lawyer for years. That experience, however, transferred over well when he decided to open up the literary agency in 1996. Since then, he’s sold more than 150 books to a wide variety of editors at numerous publishing houses. Works he’s sold include non-fiction and fiction titles like Kill the Messenger: The Media’s Role in the Fate of the World and Fung Shui Mommy. The Venice, California based agency has sold to a range of well-known publishers including Prometheus Books and Rutgers University Press.
Currently, Paul is open to submissions via his agency. For fiction, he is interested in children’s titles, romance, mysteries, thrillers, women’s fiction, comic books, and graphic novels. He is also interested in narratives focusing on adventure, law, and politics. For non-fiction, he is accepting titles in the lines of business, commerce, contemporary issues, law, politics, relationships and sports. You can also send ‘how-to’, and self-help titles to his agency. Paul S. Levine can be reached out via email. You can send him a copy of your query letter here.
Another small agency which is particularly interested in the more literary vein of publishing is Betsy Amster Literary Enterprises. If you’re a literary author, or the author of a book or novel that explores psychology, social trends, history or health and well-being, this LA agency is definitely one of the first places you want to reach out to. This is also another great place to consider querying if you write poetry for children and young adults, as well as contemporary and historical YA fiction. The agency was founded by Pantheon and Vintage editor Betsy Amster and also features associate agent and YA specialist Mary Cummings. Betsy is interested in literary fiction, women’s commercial fiction, thrillers, mysteries, narrative fiction, etc. You can find a full list of her preferred genres on this page. If you’re looking to send your submissions, contact her here.
Writers that are looking for an agency that will give them the attention and care they feel they deserve might just be right at home at the Angela Rinaldi Literary Agency. Established in 1994 by (you guess it!) Angela Rinaldi, the agency has represented a wide range of fiction and non-fiction works including Who Moved My Cheese and Verge. Andrea previously worked as an editor for leading American publishing houses. Later, she also served as the manager of The Los Angeles Times Book Publishing Program for almost one decade. At her agency, Angela is looking for both commercial and literary works that include mystery, upmarket contemporary fiction, gothic suspense, and multicultural fiction. Additionally, she also represents non-fiction works including biographies, memoirs, and topics focusing on psychology, health, business, and parenting to name a few. Angela is currently open to submissions and can be reached out on this page.
The Ross Yoon Agency is a leading agency for both first-time authors and veterans. The agency is known for representing quality titles in adult non-fiction. Anna Sproul Latimer has been working as a literary agent here for last fourteen years, and during her stint, she has represented several best-selling authors across the US. Specializing in almost all form of non-fiction, Anna is especially interested in working with authors who are looking to explore new communities and unearth hidden worlds with their ground-breaking works. She is fond of inventive narrative voices, humorous titles, and books that motivate bravery and activism. Anna holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in English Literature from the iconic Oxford University. She is currently accepting new titles in her agency and can be reached out here.
Those who write young adult and middle grade fiction as well as middle grade nonfiction might especially appreciate the experience and fresh prospective that Taylor Martindale Kean brings to the table. An agent at Full Circle Literary, Kean represents numerous well known and bestselling YA authors, including Emery Lord, Tim Bradley, and Diana Rodriguez Wallach. If you hope to someday be an award-winning author, Full Circle Literary is one of the agencies that’s known for finding those diamonds in the rough. Established in 2005, the agency has sold books to numerous publishers including Arthur A. Levine Books, Viking and Macmillan. In addition, this agency has a pretty good turnover rate when it comes to movie deals, having signed over movie rights to major entertainment companies like Disney. Currently, Taylor is open to submissions for young adult, middle grade fiction, and works in magic realism. You can reach out her on this page.
17. Roz Foster
If you’ve heard of popular non-fiction titles like Bad Moon Rising and hope to one day be published at a major and well-established University Press, Roz Foster is most definitely your girl. As one of the agents at the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency, she’s particularly known for specializing in non-fiction works that focus on politics, history, sociology, current affairs, business studies, technology, design, memoirs, business, and cultural studies. However, she’s also known for representing literary and commercial fiction, especially those that center on suspenseful plots and multicultural themes. Her books tend to get sold to university presses like Oxford and Yale. If interested, you can reach out to Roz on this page.
18. Bonnie Nadell
Bonnie Nadell established the Hill Nadell Literary Agency in 1979. Since then, this San Francisco based agency has represented diverse genres spanning across important, culturally relevant topics. During 2019, multiple titles represented by Bonnie made it to the New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice list. Her background includes teaching or speaking and conferences and universities such as the Mayborn Conference on Literary Non-Fiction, Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, the writer’s conference at Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Antioch University, and USC’s Masters of Professional Writing Program, among others. Bonnie is open to submissions and she represents both fiction and non-fiction titles. In fiction, she is looking for thrillers, women’s fiction, upmarket fiction, and literary fiction. In non-fiction, she is looking for works focusing on current affairs, food, memoirs, and narrative non-fiction. If interested, contact Bonnie on this page.
Here’s the deal:
No matter what kind of writer you are or the type of manuscript you happen to have, you have the opportunity to be successful when it comes to finding an agent. The key, however, is to seek out an agent that is genuinely interested in the type of work you’ve created. The biggest mistake that most writers make is that they query agents, or agencies, that have no interest, or expertise, in the kinds of books they’ve written. Don’t be that writer who sends a commercial romance novel to a literary agent who specializes in poetry and sells most of their books to university presses!
Instead, take the time to research the agent. If you’re still not sure if they’d be interested in your work, it’s never a bad idea to send an email and just ask if they represent a particular kind of genre. Most people will be more than happy that you inquired and will be willing to point you in the right direction.
Do you know of any other literary agents in Los Angeles, or another part of California? Please tell us about them in the comments box below!
Looking for literary agents for self-help books? Here’s a list of 15.
As a graduate from the University of Arizona in English and Creative Writing, Rofida Khairalla’s love for classical literature and post-modern fiction extends beyond the realm of books. She has provided her services independently as a freelance writer, and wrote on the news desk for the student-run newspaper, The Daily Wildcat. As an aspiring children’s book author, she’s refined her craft amongst the grand saguaros of the Southwest, and enjoys playing with her German Shepherd on the slopes of Mount Lemmon.