The Big Apple: it’s where everyone who wants to be somebody goes to make something out of his or her career.
And despite the fact that we live in a digital age and people can come into fame through all sorts of outlets, whether it be social media or YouTube, New York is still very much the literary mecca of the world.
So if you’re really serious about this writing business, New York is definitely one of the first places you want to scope out for a good literary agent—especially an agent with all the contacts to the big publishers, like Simon & Schuster.
And that’s the reason why we’ve created this post – to help you in your search for an agent in this part of the States.
Here’s a list of 15 top literary agents in New York City (NYC) you should take a look at.
1. Evan Gregory
The Senior Agent at the Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency can be reached out to via Twitter. Established in 1984, Ethan Ellenberg has represented writers of sci-fi, fantasy, and even romance. This agency also helps writers publish via a new method, called “agent sponsored publishing," where the agent will actually provide the writer with all the necessary advice, tips, and help to publish via e-book, and still create a successful, high quality finished product.
2. David Black
If you’re a non-fiction writer, then you really can’t go wrong with David Black as your literary agent. Black, the owner of the NYC boutique agency, David Black Agency, has been in the business for years and is one of the best literary agents out there. He established the agency in 1989, which has since represented best sellers like The Last Lecture and The Little Book of Talent. If you’d like to query Black, you should take a look at his profile and also the submission guidelines outlined here. Agents at the organization usually require a minimum of eight weeks to respond.
3. Ellen Geiger
If you have an interesting non-fiction book on history, progressivism, science, or medicine, then Ellen Geiger is definitely the agent you want to talk to. The Vice President and Principal agent at Frances Goldin Literary Agency, she’s a great agent for writers who like to tackle the meatier subjects. Not a non-fiction writer? Well, if you’re the author of a historical fiction work or thriller or a thought-provoking novel, then you’re in luck. Established in 1977, The Frances Goldin Agency has helped published numerous pivotal works, including On Immunity. The agency is located on 29th street in NYC.
4. Sam Stoloff
Are you a literary fiction writer? Then you need an agent that’s genuinely interested in that particular genre. Literary fiction is just one of Sam Stoloff’s many literary intrigues. Also a literary agent for Frances Goldin, Stoloff is the agent to query if you typically write works that center around topics like philosophy, international affairs, the justice system, and history. If you’re interested in submitting to Stoloff, you should submit directly via submittable.com. Some agents at Frances Goldin, however, do accept queries via email, so make sure you take a look at the submissions page before querying your selected agent. Agents usually respond within 4-6 weeks.
5. Noah Ballard
Want a chance to work with one of the oldest literary agencies in New York? Then you might just want to consider querying Noah Ballard of Curtis Brown, LTD. With offices both in San Francisco and New York City, the Curtis Brown agency has represented world renowned authors such as Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander series, and Gail Carson Levine, who wrote Ella Enchanted. In fact, Curtis Brown is one of the few agencies around with a significant track record of book adaptations for film and television—so much so that the agency even has its own film and television department. You should query Noah if you write upmarket thrillers or narrative nonfiction books.
6. Ginger Clark
Of course, if you’re a fantasy writer, Curtis Brown also has a niche for you. Whether you write fantasy for adult readers or middle-grade novels, Ginger Clark is definitely the person you want to get in touch with. Interested writers should send an email query to email@example.com. If interested, Ginger will usually respond to your query within two weeks.
7. Chris Park
If you’re a non-fiction writer with a memoir or other narrative non-fiction, then one of the agents you should try reaching out to at Foundry Literary + Media is Chris Park who you can query via email. Park, who also represents fiction works that are usually character focused, has an interest for books that are inspirational, humorous, or focus on sports. She also enjoys works that tie into a Christian theme or interest.
For your information, Foundry Literary + Media, Located on 17th Street in NYC, specializes in all types of books for all types of people. They’ve represented clients like actor and comedian Tony Danza, The Daily Show host Trevor Noah, and comedian and ventriloquist Jeff Dunham. One of the things that’s particularly wonderful about Foundry Literary is that they have a wide scope of books they represent, whether it be novels, non-fiction, or even books on health and well-being. This broad scope means that there’s a niche at Foundry for almost every type of writer—something that’s actually fairly rare in the publishing community. Like some other agencies in New York, Foundry also features a film department that works with authors to help get their books contracted into film; one example of this is Before I Fall.
8. Sam Morgan
Another agent who works at Foundry and is probably the best agent to reach out to if you write sci-fi or fantasy is Sam Morgan. Not a fantasy or sci-fi writer? You still might have a shot of convincing Morgan to take on your work if you write fiction that brings a fresh perspective on a classical theme or is humorous. You can also submit to Morgan via email. Keep in mind, whether you plan on submitting fiction or non-fiction works to Foundry, make sure you include a bio, the first three chapters of your manuscript and a synopsis of your book within your query letter. Writers of non-fiction should also include a table of contents.
9. Debbie Carter
With a background in book publishing and the music business, Debbie Carter of Waverly Place Literary Agency in NYC is one of the few boutique agencies in New York that works with small and large publishers alike. Carter is interested in literary fiction and short story collections, thrillers and mysteries, narrative nonfiction, historical fiction and nonfiction, as well as books for children. For a list of what not to send to this agency, please visit the website. Queries should include a one- to two-paragraph synopsis of the book along with some information about the writer’s background via email.
10. Cynthia Cannell
Are you a self-help author? Is spirituality your topic of choice? Well, then the Cynthia Cannell Literary Agency just might be the place for you. Established in 1988, the Cannell Agency has represented a wide range of authors and a wide range of subjects. They’ve represented fiction authors, non-fiction authors who write on social or global issues and even authors that write about Feng-Shui. The agency also helps authors adapt their work for the big screen. If you’re interested in querying this agency, you can query them via email or by mail. If querying by email, send a small synopsis of your work as well as some background information on yourself. Authors of children’s books, cookbooks, romance, mystery, or sci-fi should not query this agency.
11. Joy Harris
The Joy Harris Literary Agency is a small, boutique agency in the middle of New York City. Three agents run the store, with Joy Harris being the head agent/owner. Started in 1990, this is a good agency to query if you write contemporary fiction, memoir, or narrative non-fiction. Over the course of its lifetime, the agency has represented many bestselling authors and even musicians including Carole King, Alice Walker, and Rachel Sherman. If you’re interested in submitting to this agency, they ask that you send a query via email and that you include a query letter and sample chapters. A thing to note, however, is that the agency is not currently accepting poetry, genre fiction, self-help, or screenplays.
12. Byrd Leavell
Located on Fifth Avenue, the Waxman Leavell Literary Agency (WLLA) was started in 1997 by two professional agents, Scott Waxman and Byrd Leavell. The agency has represented a wide range of voices over the years, from fiction authors like Rae Carson to celebrities like Donald Trump. Having worked as an agent for 14 years, Leavell represents authors like Caroline Calloway and “Weird Al" Yankovic. Authors should query this agent if they have works of non-fiction, especially on topics such as sports or comedy, or exceedingly well written commercial fiction. Typically, it takes around 6-8 weeks to consider a submission.
It should be noted that one of the most remarkable things about this agency is the scope of voices it represents, from right-wing commentators to sports analysts. Writers with funny, fresh, and unique voices might just find their home at this agency.
13. Scott Waxman
Co-founder of WLLA, authors of non-fiction should query this agent. If you have a well-researched book and a truly compelling story on anything from health and fitness to business and history, then you should definitely consider reaching out to Waxman. To query Waxman, or any agent at WLLA for that matter, you should send a query letter via email. One thing to keep in mind is that this agency does not accept multiple queries simultaneously, meaning that you should only query one agent at a time. Also, do not send attachments, but rather include any sample chapters in the body of your email.
14. Lisa Erbach Vance
One of the top literary agencies in New York, located on 41st Street, is the Aaron M. Priest Literary Agency, Inc. Established in 1974 by Aaron M. Priest, this agency has represented numerous well-known authors and works including Madeleine L’Engle, author of A Wrinkle in Time. Agent Lisa Erbach Vance is currently taking on works in contemporary and historical fiction, especially with works that feature female protagonists, thrillers, and psychological suspense novels. To submit to Vance send a one-page query letter along with a sample chapter of your work in the body of an email.
15. Stephen Barbara
If you’re a particular fan, and have a book that’s comparable (though it doesn’t have to be exactly the same in style or voice keep in mind) to the work of Laura Amy Schlitz or Lauren Oliver, then Stephen Barbara of Inkwell Management could be the agent for you. Located in Brooklyn, Barbara has had some of the work he’s helped published selected to become feature films or T.V series. If you interested in submitting to Barbara, send one to two chapters of your work in the body of your email along with a query letter.
In general, Inkwell Management is definitely a literary agency you want to look into. With clients like Paul Schneider and Liz Crain, there’s a potential hub for almost any kind of writer at Inkwell. With a wide range of agents to choose from, Inkwell is one of the world’s leading literary agencies, with co-agents located all over the world.
This list is just a starting point when it comes to finding high-quality literary agents. So if you’re really dedicated to your writing, get out there and find the right agent for you.
What did you think of our list of top literary agents in New York City? Have you had experience of working with any of these individuals? What was it like? Are there any literary agents in New York City, which we missed out? Please tell us more in the comments box below!
Are you looking for a book publisher? Be sure to check out our list of 21 Top Book Publishing Houses in New York City.
Do you need an editor for your book? Here are 19 Top Book Editors in New York.
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.