How to Write a Query Letter

Query letters to help you land an agent are different from
the query letters you send a magazine or newspaper editor.
The emphasis here is on books.

***How to Write a Query Letter: Nonfiction and Memoir (Jane Friedman, 1-5-16) A query letter for a nonfiction book isn’t all that different from a fiction query: you’re still trying to get an agent or editor interested in looking at your work, but that may mean a book proposal and sample chapters, rather than the full manuscript. (Nonfiction is often sold on the basis of a proposal.),...A query letter for a nonfiction book isn’t all that different from a fiction query: you’re still trying to get an agent or editor interested in looking at your work, but that may mean a book proposal and sample chapters, rather than the full manuscript. (Nonfiction is often sold on the basis of a proposal.) She outlines the query letter elements needed for narrative-driven nonfiction, information-driven nonfiction, for a "narrative-driven hook that's not a tired storyline," what to include in first paragraph, and much more.
How to Write a Query Letter ( “A query letter is a single page cover letter, introducing you and your book....[It] has three concise paragraphs: the hook, the mini-synopsis, and your writer’s biography. Don’t stray from this format. You won’t catch an agent’s attention by inventing a creative new query format. You’ll just alienate your chances of being taken seriously as a professional writer. A query letter is meant to elicit an invitation to send sample chapters or even the whole manuscript to the agent.” See the sample "hooks" AgentQuery provides.
How to Write a Book Proposal (Jane Friedman, 5-28-17) Be sure to have read this as you begin your query letter, as many of the same principles will apply.
The Conflicting Advice You’ll Receive on Query Letters (Jane Friedman, 11-1-17) At its core, a query letter is a sales document, and so it’s meant to sell. But opinions differ on the best possible sales approach in a query. "Always remember: brevity is your friend in a query. The shorter the query, the less trouble you’re likely to get in. Plus, you don’t want agents lingering over your query; you want them to be reading the manuscript or proposal. You need to hit on the most salable aspects of your work, and avoid a book report..." This is worth reading partly for what not to do
The Complete Guide to Query Letters (Jane Friedman, 9-7-16)
9 tips for the effective query letter (agent Andy Ross, 11-28-10) Item 5: "Answer the key questions: What? Why? Who? What is the genre? What is the book about? Why does it need to be published? Who am I to have the authority to write it? And remember that in this day and age 'platform' is everything in commercial publishing, so most agents will look for your qualifications first."
How to Write a Query Letter (agent Rachelle Gardner's advice is different from AgentQuery's--give them what they want!)
How To Write Query Letters ... or, really, how to revise query letters so they actually work (Query Shark, 9-4-16) Good "before-and-after-edits examples to show you what not to do)
Three Agents Reveal What They’re Really Looking for from Authors (Agents' Roundtable, Authors Guild, 6-22-16) What makes for a good query letter (the query before the full-length proposal); what else can authors do to make themselves appealing to an agent; how do agents shape their strategies for marketing a book and how actively involved and informed is the author; what makes for a successful pitch to a publisher; what does the agent look for in a publisher; what are publishers currently looking for in books; how the industry has changed.
Query Shark. Spend a little time on this site studying how queries get rewritten and improved. Offer your query for revision, study the revisions offered to others, scroll down the left column toward the bottom and studies revisions on "Queries that got to yes." Here's a good example (#224).
Slushpile Hell (Tumblr, One grumpy literary agent and a sea of query fails)
The Complete Nobody’s Guide to Query Letters (Lynn Flewelling, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America)
Successful Query Letters for Agents (Jason Boog, Media Bistro, with 23 agent query letters that actually worked, 12-18-12)
How to Write a Query Letter (free 15-part guide on Mark Malatesta's website) See also the Query Letter Blog (a series about agent queries that worked). On the same site, a Literary Agencies: The Directory of Literary Agents--with a pitch also for List of Literary Agents.
Successful Queries: Agent Jenny Bent and "Oh My Gods" (Chuck Sambuchino, Writer's Digest, 10/​4/​11)
Successful Queries (on this page are links to many in a series of query letters that succeeded in getting writers signed with agents).
How to Write a Successful Query (Moira Allen,, on query letters for magazine articles)
Writing a Query Letter (romance writer Charlotte Dillon's excellent page of tips and links to more advice about query letters, and samples of winning query letters for romance and erotic novels
9 Frequently Asked Questions about Query Letters (Chuck Sambuchino, Writer Unboxed, 9-24-12)
Queries and Synopses and Proposals (Writer's Digest)
Anatomy of a winning query (agent Rachelle Gardner, 4-28-09)
My Tweets from QueryDay (Rachelle Gardner)
Agent Colleen Lindsay on some reasons she rejects queries
The biggest mistake writers make when querying literary agents (jm tohline), followed by The best query letters do...what?
The best and worst times to send an agent a query (Wendy Lawton)
How to Write Irresistible Query Letters by Lisa Collier Cool
How to Write a Great Query Letter: Insider Tips and Techniques for Success by Noah Lukeman
Pitch Perfect: How to Say It Right the First Time, Every Time by Bill McGowan
QueryFail. In March 2009 literary agents Lauren E. MacLeod and Colleen Lindsay hosted “QueryFail” on Twitter, an exchange of rants in which agents and editors shared worst query lines from their slush piles. Tara Lazar did a roundup of lessons learned (without the quoted lines) on, which you can read at the entry called QueryFail: How Not to Land an Agent. Literary agent Janet Reid brought up the prospect of a parallel "AgentFail" in her blog column The agent bubble (incidentally, she says that one of the few places agents get to hear what writers think is AbsoluteWrite), and the BookEnds Literary Agency hosted a forum for writers: Agentfail Right Here.

In essence, here are the lessons for authors submitting to agents: Do your research on the agent, follow their submission guidelines, address your query to the right agent (and spell their name right), and copyedit your query so it contains no grammatical or spelling errors. That alone will bring your query to the top. As for agents: Be sure the guidelines on your website are up to date. Respond! Everyone: be courteous and remember, we're all human. One side effect of this exercise was that some agents came across as "Mean Girl."
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How to pitch a magazine story

Queries for magazines and newspapers are different from queries for books

The Pitch: How to get the attention of a senior editor at Smithsonian Magazine (Katia Savchuk interviews editor Jennie Rothenberg Gritz, Nieman Storyboard, 11-14-17) Gritz says of story pitches she accepts: "There has to be something surprising and narratively interesting there." “You don’t always need to have a character driving the pitch. It could just be an interesting juxtaposition of ideas or a really cool technology.” She annotates a cold pitch she got from journalist Ben Crair that ended up running in the April 2017 issue; online it was called “The Biggest Tree Canopy on the Planet Stretches Across Nearly Five Acres.”
Sample Magazine Query or Pitch Letter (Alena Tapia, The Balance, 2-4-17)
How to Pitch Magazine Editors (Adrianna, New York PR Girls, 4-15-13) and How to Pitch Online Magazine Editors (4-22-13)
The Pitch: Jason Fagone on Landing “The Willy Wonka of Pot” in Grantland (Jason Fagone, Nieman Storyboard, 10-10-17). The launch piece in a Storyboard series about the mystical art of pitching longform stories, annotated. “If you can’t sell it in a couple of paragraphs, you can’t sell it at all. My rule of thumb is: Have three paragraphs, and they should be short.”
Escape the Slush Pile: A Self-Editing Checklist for Short Story Writers (Brandon Taylor, Authors Guild, Nov. 2017) A list of common problems he sees in stories from “the slush pile” (an unkind industry term for unsolicited submissions), that prevent promising stories from getting past the form rejection.
Why You Should Aim for 100 Rejections a Year (Kim Liao , Literary Hub, 6-28-16) "In the book Art & Fear, authors David Bales and Ted Orland describe a ceramics class in which half of the students were asked to focus only on producing a high quantity of work while the other half was tasked with producing work of high quality. For a grade at the end of the term, the “quantity” group’s pottery would be weighed, and fifty pounds of pots would automatically get an A, whereas the “quality” group only needed to turn in one—albeit perfect—piece. Surprisingly, the works of highest quality came from the group being graded on quantity, because they had continually practiced, churned out tons of work, and learned from their mistakes. The other half of the class spent most of the semester paralyzed by theorizing about perfection, which sounded disconcertingly familiar to me—like all my cases of writer’s block."
Pitching Errors: How Not to Pitch (Laura Helmuth and six other magazine editors, The Open Notebook, 1-4-12)
The Psychology Behind Writing a Great Pitch (Andrea Lehr, Convince& Convert). "As a promotions associate, I spend a fair amount of time crafting pitches. What is the best way to connect with this editor? What are the most interesting points of the data? Should I use bullet points or just a few short paragraphs? And once I’ve finally crafted the perfect pitch, I wonder whether or not the editor will even see it—some editors receive more than 100 pitches a day. So what causes an editor to show interest?" Interesting article and infographic.
6 Ways to Track Down a Magazine Editor (Kristen Fischer, MediaBistro, 2-2-16) Harness your sleuthing skills to get your pitch into the right hands
The Science (Not Art) of the Magazine Pitch (Kathryn Roethel, The Future of Freelancing, Stanford)
How to Pitch a Story to an Editor in the Media (Mandy, XO Jane, 1-12-14)
How to Pitch a Story: 9 Insider Tips for Contacting the Right Editor (Susan Shain, The Write Life, 6-26-15)
3 Mistakes That Make Editors Throw Your Pitch in the Trash (Melanie Brooks, The Muse)
Why won’t an editor reply to my pitch? (Monya Baker, Science Writers' Handbook, 4-17-13)
What Editors Want in Your Personal Essay (Brittany Taylor, MediaBistro, 8-3-16) Include these essentials in your first-person story
How to Write the Perfect Article Pitch (Freelance Writing)
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The Art of the Pitch

Advice on various types of pitches, in case you have to make them all.
The Pitch: Jason Fagone on Landing “The Willy Wonka of Pot” in Grantland (Jason Fagone, Nieman Storyboard, 10-10-17). The launch piece in a Storyboard series about the mystical art of pitching longform stories, annotated. “If you can’t sell it in a couple of paragraphs, you can’t sell it at all. My rule of thumb is: Have three paragraphs, and they should be short.”
The Art of the Pitch (Alan Rinzler's insider tips for preparing and delivering a winning pitch to an agent or editor at a writer's conference, The Book Deal, 3-29-10)
Secrets of a Great Pitch (agent Rachelle Gardner)
The Art of the Pitch (Authors Guild)
Constructing a Pitch--Dramatic Structure, Part 1: Looking for the Hook, Dramatically (Merilee D Karr, Science writing as theater, 10-7-15) Then, Part 2: Play Doctoring (10-11-15, on building a cast of characters). And Part 3. Dramatic Structure. Constructing a Pitch for Building Science. Part 4: Science to the Rescue (How do science-as-protagonist stories work? 10-31-15)
Pitch with Confidence and Think Like an Editor (Meighan O'Toole)
Creatively Pitching Your Project (agent Rachelle Gardner)
Blog Pitch Workshop, Part III (one of several excellent analyses of what makes a pitch work, by agent Kristin Nelson, Pub Rants, 10-27-07). Check out links to three sections of pitch archives along the right.
Making the Perfect Pitch: How To Catch a Literary Agent's Eye by Katharine Sands.
Why Writers Conferences Are Rethinking Pitch Sessions (Karen Dionne, Huff Post, 2-3-11) More writers conferences are changing to the no-pitch format. Authors who invest the time and money to attend a writers conference deserve better than a few stressful minutes with a bored, exhausted agent.
What's a pain letter? (Liz Ryan, Human Workplace, 8-28-14) "There are four parts to a Pain Letter: the Hook, the Pain Hypothesis, the Dragon-Slaying Story and the Closing." In this letter to a potential employer, show that you know in what parts of the business they might need help and suggest how you might be the person to provide it.
How to pitch reporters (Harry McCracken, Time magazine's editor-at-large, discusses good and bad pitches in a podcast, 2-22-13. PR pros, turn your listening ears on.
Power up your Pitches: 13 Fully-Critiqued Queries to Help your Freelance Success ( Kelly James-Enger, Dollars and Deadlines, 8-4-13)
Writers: How to Pitch Your Stories to an Editor (Paula Neal Mooney, Yahoo! Voices, 8-31-06)
How to Pitch an Editor and Win the Gig (Susan Finch, Men with Pens, 4-18-11, on getting an article assigned)
What Is Speed Dating? A common feature now at writers conferences, where attendees can spend 8 to 10 minutes, typically, meeting an agent or editor and pitching an article or book idea. (San Francisco Writers Conference)
Speed-dating for agents
Literary Speed Dating: How Not to Find an Agent for Your Book ( Karen Dionne, Daily Finance, 2-13-11) Other conferences use the "pitch-slam," or "speed-dating" format to connect authors with agents.
"Pitch sessions are a staple at most writers conferences, offering authors the opportunity to sit down face-to-face with a literary agents to talk about their projects. Some conferences pair writers and agents for ten minutes of one-on-one time, often for an additional fee. At one popular event, authors can book up to three such sessions for an extra $40 each.
"Other conferences use the "pitch-slam," or "speed-dating" format to connect authors with agents. Several dozen literary agents are seated in a large room, while authors stand in line for the chance to make a 3-minute pitch to one agent before moving on to the next."
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How to write a book proposal

If you don't have experience in book publishing, it is important to understand the process of getting a book published. Although the process has changed (and the option of self-publishing is now a more realistic alternative), certain things are still true for getting the imprimatur of a major publisher. You will almost certainly need an agent to place a book, for example, especially if you're a new writer. (To get an agent, send a one-page query first to see if they are interested in receiving your book proposal.) If you're seeking a publisher for a novel you'll probably have to write the whole novel first (to show that you can pull it off) but even then you may start with a proposal and sample chapters. If you're writing nonfiction, you won't normally write the whole thing first, but will sell the concept from a book proposal, a sales piece for the proposed book--to find out if publishers see a potential market for a book on a particular topic and think you have the chops to pull it off and can also attract a big enough audience for the book. Indeed, you will probably need to sell the book from a book proposal even if you have already written the book, because the acquiring editor needs something to share with colleagues in the editorial meeting, where decisions are often made about whether to commission a book and to bid against other publishers for it.

Among other things, what publishers are interested in are:
• The title (some books have sold on the title alone; if yours isn't great, the publisher is likely to change it)
• How good an idea you have (in the proposal overview you must grab the editor's attention)
• How well you can develop it (for a nonfiction book, you'll show this in a descriptive table of contents--with chapter titles and brief summaries of what each chapter is about) -- indeed, can you write a whole book? Some writers are great at articles but cannot pull off book-length projects.
• Your "brand" (how recognizable your name is)
• Your voice (an intangible but crucial component, that should come across in your sample chapter(s), if not the proposal itself)
• The quality of your writing (which you demonstrate in both the proposal and sample chapters)
• Your track record (sales on previous books)
• Your platform (the size of your fan base, or potential fan base, and how --and how easily -- you can expand it for this book). In short, how many books can you sell because of "who you are or who you can reach" (see Jane Friedman's definition of platform).How many followers do you have on social media? Where does your work appear?
• Your competition and comparables (how well have comparable books done in the past? What is your main competition and what unique advantage do you have? Access to unique sources? Personal involvement? Time passed since an earlier book on the subject has been done? Fresh material?
• How timely the topic is (for nonfiction) and how easy to sell in 25 words or less--the space on a book cover
• How you plan to promote the book (including how promotable you are, which includes how you come across personally). If you have a video of yourself giving a dynamic talk, you might include that, or a link to it or part of it.

Here are some articles on the process:
How to Write a Book Proposal (Jane Friedman, 5-28-17) "Your business case may matter more than the writing People don’t like to hear this, but for many nonfiction books, the artfulness of the writing doesn’t matter as much as the marketability of the book or the author. (You can see this played out in the rejections received by award-winner Rebecca Skloot.) f your book’s purpose is to impart useful information or to benefit readers’ lives, then you’re selling it based on the marketability of your expertise, your platform, and your concept. The book proposal persuades agents/​editors that readers will pay $20 or more for the benefit that your book provides. ...Some types of nonfiction can be credibly pitched by anyone with proven journalistic or storytelling skills. (Think of a narrative nonfiction book, such as Seabiscuit.) If your book must succeed based on its ability to artfully weave a story, then your strength as a writer becomes more and more important. It’s still necessary to prove there’s a market for that story, but you won’t be successful in your pitch if you can’t deliver on the writing." Also, read what she writes on six key book publishing paths (there is an info-chart, but also scroll down and read the straight prose explanation.
How to Publish Your Book (Jane Friedman, 10-13-15). You have to understand the process!
How to get your book published (Jane Friedman)
The Reality of Writing a Good Book Proposal (Rachel Toor, Chronicle of Higher Education, 2-11-13) A "book proposal contains an invitation, a seduction, and an unromantic assessment of where you stand relative to others. You have to work to get the editor interested in you, and then outline exactly who will buy the book once you've written it." And you have to answer several specific questions, persuasively.
Writing an Irresistible Book Proposal (PDF, Michael Larsen, Writers Digest)
How to Write a Book Proposal (agent Rachelle Gardner, short and to the point).
Which sample chapters should you send to agents? (Writer's Digest)
How many sample chapters should you send? (Writer's Digest)
What are the guidelines for formatting a manuscript? (Writer's Digest)

Here are some books to help you think through the process:
Thinking Like Your Editor: How to Write Great Serious Nonfiction – and Get It Published, by Susan Rabiner and Alfred Fortunato, explores how to think through a serious nonfiction book (and to understand an editor).
The Fast Track Course on How to Write a Nonfiction Book Proposal by Stephen Blake Mettee (short, to the point --what to do and what not to do-- from a seasoned editor and publisher)
Nonfiction Book Proposals Anybody Can Write: How to Get a Contract and Advance Before Writing Your Book by Elizabeth Lyon, offers a template, a step-by-step process, for writing the proposal, good for authors who need hand-holding.
The Forest for the Trees: An Editor's Advice to Writers, by Betsy Lerner, is good on the whole process of publishing.
Write the Perfect Book Proposal: 10 That Sold and Why, by Jeff Herman and Deborah M. Adams, shows and tells (but many disagree with some of his suggestions)
The Art of the Book Proposal, by Eric Maisel (Kindle edition), developing the idea.
Getting It Published: A Guide for Scholars and Anyone Else Serious about Serious Books by William Germano (for publications in academia). See also these proposal guidelines for Harvard University Press
Nonfiction Book Proposal Outline (an excellent and succinct guide, from Ted Weinstein Literary Management)

Check out the late Sarah Wernick's excellent advice on the process of finding a publisher: So you want to write a book (Sarah's excellent guide to basics). See also Caitlin's Guide to Choosing Precise Comparables (Caitlin Alexander,, 4-30-12) "My book X will thrill fans of Y and Z." "Comps aren't as much about what your specific story is as about who the audience is--what specific readers your book can be effectively sold to."

Developing a 'selling' book title

Much good advice here, and remember: The title alone can sell the book, so don't look for one that is especially meaningful to you but won't necessarily grab most readers. And when you have a good title, run it by a few people to market test it. Even better, get others help you find a title. I spent two years interviewing people for a history of the department of psychiatry at the University of Maryland, and then invited everyone interviewed or in the department to suggest potential titles and subtitles. Reviewing the suggestions helped the department chair, Tony Lehman, come up with a great title: CHANGING TIMES, CHANGING MINDS: 100 Years of Psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine . You can see the cover here (with cover art by Linda Sibio).

The following articles may help you develop a great title:
Four Writers Tell All About Titles ( Matthew Gallaway, The Awl, 6-21-11) Extremely helpful stories and advice, from four authors describing the process of choosing their particular great book titles. Enjoy these fabulously written short pieces by Laurie Frankel ("The Atlas of Love'), Suzanne Morrison ("Yoga Bitch: One Woman's Quest to Conquer Skepticism, Cynicism, and Cigarettes on the Path to Enlightenment"), Richard Rushfield ("Don't Follow Me, I'm Lost" and "American Idol: The Untold Story" with the front-cover blurb "The rivalries, the meltdowns, and the departures, The battle of the Simons, The Truth behind the voting, and The stars in their own words."), and Urban Waite ("The Terror of Living, A Novel"). Don't get too attached to your working title; expect pushback from the publisher's marketing or editorial department; work with your editor; appreciate the value of group brainstorming; don't stick with a title that requires explanation; and other valuable advice.
Secrets to Developing the Best Title for Your Nonfiction Book (Jody Rein & Michael Larsen, Jane Friedman's site, 9-5-17) Excellent advice. If you're pitching your book to agents or editors, the perfect title for your book will define your subject and grab their positive attention. It should be a label they can confidently share with colleagues in editorial board meetings and use to convince the powers-that-be to release money to acquire your book. The authors provide good examples of titles plus subtitles to emulate if you are writing a prescriptive or platform-driven book or if you are writing narrative nonfiction, literary nonfiction, memoirs, or biographies.
How to Title a Book: Making Titles That Sell (Dave Chesson, Kindlepreneur). "A good title is part Art and part Marketing." Chesson discovers such factors in title success as intrigue factor, title discoverability, genre mesh, and being informative. Check out the Kindle and Amazon Keyword Search.
Title Generator (Aabashenya, Fanfiction Primer, Fiction Alley)
How to Choose Your Novel’s Title: Let Me Count 5 Ways (Chuck Sambuchino, Writer's Digest, 4-4-15)
5 proven ways to create a bestselling book title (Rob Eager, Tools of Change for Publishing, 1-29-13) Very different angles on finding a "killer title": Is the title easy to remember a week later? Would a reader feel cool if someone saw them reading a book with that title? Is there an implied promise or an answer to the reader’s ultimate question, “What’s in it for me?”
How To Pick a Title For Your Book (Saul Bottcher, IndieBookLauncher, emphasizing fiction titles). Simple formula: (essence of your book) + (a twist) = your title. With tips on how to find the right elements.
Best book titles (Goodreads)
4 Steps to Choosing Your Book Title (iUniverse)
The Evolution of a Book Title (Kathy Ide, author of Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors, writes about how PUGS became Proofreading Secrets.
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How to Find and Choose the Right Literary Agent

and other Q's and A's about agents

Agents vary on many counts (including how much and how well they help you shape your proposal, how aggressive they are in finding publisher, how well they know how many publishers, and how reliable they will be about protecting your interests after the book is published), so finding one through another writer friend is perhaps the best way, especially if the friend can also recommend you. Many writers have found this book very helpful: Making the Perfect Pitch: How To Catch a Literary Agent's Eye by Katharine Sands.

To find an agent without leaving home, check the online database, Agent Query (which contains fabulous links to other resources for writers). Check the Association of Authors' Representatives to see if a particular agent is a member (you want them to be--agents are going to be handling and managing your money!). (In the UK, the equivalent agency is Association of Authors’ Agents (AAA).) You can also find contact information on agents in the reference book Literary Marketplace (Directory of the American Book Publishing Industry with Industry Yellow Pages), available in many public libraries. But to make life easier on yourself, if you're going to be making a lot of submissions, consider buying Chuck Sambuchino's Guide to Literary Agents (for the current year), which contains much useful information about the process, or Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, and Agents, describes the tastes and track records of the agents and editors listed therein. The Writers Digest Guide to Literary Agents is revised annually, as is Many writers find How to Get a Literary Agent by Michael Larsen useful. You can learn a lot about an agent through Publishers Marketplace, a subscription website that tracks book deals (by $$ size), with agents listed, and provides a wealth of information, including a contact database, hosted web pages, a rights and proposals board, a book review index, a book tracker. Publishers Marketplace publishes Publishers Lunch, a free sampler of the more comprehensive Publishers Lunch Deluxe ($25 a month), which keeps you up to date on recent deals. Rachelle Burk's website, Resources for Children's Writers, is targeted to that specialty, and you'll find links to just about everything you need, including lists of publishers and agents who specialize in books for the young. Finally, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America publish an online Thumbs Down Agency List and additional cautions about bad-apple agents.
Agent Research & Evaluation (check on an agent's reputation and public record). (Will someone who has used this service let me know if it is worthwhile?)
• Agency directories (about which, read Victoria Strauss on literary agency directories (Writers Beware)
~~Association of Authors' Representatives, Inc. (AAR). Search their database of members by genre or name. (agent listings)
~~QueryTracker (publisher listings and agent listings)
~~AbsoluteWrite forum on agents (with links to agencies)
~~Preditors & Editors (listings of agents and other representation)
~~Chuck Sambuchino’s Guide to Literary Agents
---1000 Literary Agents
---First Writer
---Duotrope (not really about agents, but about where to submit: a subscription-based service for writers and artists that offers an extensive, searchable database of current fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and visual art markets, with a robust search function)
Agents’ Roundtable: Three Agents Reveal What They’re Really Looking for from Authors (Authors Guild, 6-22-16). Interview conducted by e-mail after panel conversation held at the Virginia Festival of the Book in Charlottesville, Virginia, on March 19, 2016. Agents Eric Myers, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management; Regina Ryan; David Forrer, Inkwell Management
“A Right Fit”: Navigating the World of Literary Agents (Michael Bourne, The Millions, 8-15-12) "If it sounds like I’m saying, “It’s all about who you know,” that’s because that is exactly what I’m saying. You can rail about how unfair that is, and how it makes publishing into an incestuous little club, and to a degree you would be right. But that’s the way the machine is built, people." "Mainstream publishing is a Rube Goldberg machine of perverse economic incentives, in which large numbers of mostly idiotic self-help guides, diet books, and airport thrillers subsidize an ever-shrinking number of mostly money-losing literary novels and books of poetry. But just because publishing operates on a crazy economic model doesn’t mean it doesn’t make sense. There is a market, however tiny, for good books, and there are a small number of smart, hard-working people who live for the thrill of finding a talented author. If you are one of those talented authors, then it is your job to stop whining and figure out how to make it easy for them to find you."
Negotiation Tactics of Good Agents (Kristin Nelson, Pub Rants, 5-8-15) See many posts on agenting under two articles series: a) What Makes a Good Agent and b) Agenting 101. Check out the pitch workshops, too.
How to Find a Literary Agent for Your Book (Jane Friedman, always a good resource, 4-29-15)
Inside Traditional Publishing: A Tale of Two Authors (A Cautionary Story) (Karen Dionne, Huff Post, 5-9-15). Be sure to read the items any good agent will negotiate.
Some consider it a conflict of interest if an agent offers to refer you to an editorial service--some agents run editorial businesses on the side, or get a referral fee for referring you to one. It might not be the best way to find a good editor or book doctor. (Similarly, many consider it a conflict of interest that agents are beginning to act as publishers, since agents are supposed to represent authors' interests with publishers--but that's another whole ball of wax.)

As for why you might want an agent: The smaller publishers will often accept submissions directly from authors, but the big five or six major publishing groups generally require submissions through an agent--partly because agents filter out some of the worst material, screening authors and mss. for acceptability. A good agent will know how to orchestrate a book contract in the author's best interest--will know where the publisher might bend or be known for never accepting certain terms. (Not to mention that the whole process of negotiating contracts is odious to most authors, who tend not to understand the implications of various contract terms, to know that they can ask for alternatives, and to know which ones ought to be deal breakers.) Even if you have an agent, it may pay to join the Authors Guild and get its book explaining book contract terms--so you know how to talk to your agent. Not surprisingly, many first-time authors are so excited to find a publisher that they accept the contract the publisher sends them, not even daring to ask questions. Don't give up rights that will put you in limbo if the book goes out of print (which is highly likely). An agent is expected to be tough and in theory at least can protect your long-term interests. Some do that better than others, and experience helps, which is one reason I'd think twice about using novices.

There's one agent (BD we'll call him) who routinely sends out calls for writers for projects that require a good deal of research on often complex topics. His requests typically end with "This will be a work for hire for a low four figure advance; no royalties; with a 15% commission deducted by the agent." I'm sure he finds authors, but this is an atrocious deal on every possible basis (rights, lowball $, no royalties). This is not an agent you want representing you.

How to find an agent

How To Find A Literary Agent (Nathan Bransford, and do read Publishing Essentials, links to which are along left side)
The Safest Way to Search for an Agent (Victoria Strauss)
From Medium to Book Deal in 12 Months (Sarah Cooper, The Cooper Review, 9-19-16) How a Google employee turned blogger wrote one article that went viral, proposed to turn that article into a book, and got a three-book book deal. "It’s important to have a real connection with your agent. He or she is going to be your champion, fighting for you and your work every step of the way. You don’t want someone who’s lukewarm about you. You need someone who wants to be your partner for this book and beyond."
How to Get a Literary Agent and Publisher (Jim Brown interviews Mark Malatesta, founder of Literary Agent Undercover)
How To Find A Literary Agent (When You’ve Self-Published) (Laura Cross, author of The Complete Guide To Hiring A Literary Agent, guest-blogging on The Savvy Book Marketer, shares tips for self-published authors seeking agent representation)
Everything you wanted to know about literary agents... (Neil Gaiman, 1-11-05)
How to Land (and Keep) a Literary Agent (agent Noah Lukeman). See also Ask a Literary Agent (Lukeman answers aspiring authors' questions about writing and getting published).
The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide To Staying Out of the Rejection Pile
Finding an Agent by the late Sarah Wernick (part of So, You Want to Write a Book!
Yes Virginia, There Is No Agent Fairy (Bob Saenz, Bob's Take, 12-15-15) "Agents and Managers are looking for writers who will have careers, not one trick ponies....You get [screenwriting] jobs by being great in a room, having what the people who you meet with want, and impressing the hell out of them with your personality and talent. If you can do this, then you get to keep your agent or manager to go out and do it again, keeping in mind that the person waiting in the outer office when you finish is there to do the same thing."
Publishing Secrets: Battle of the “UNs”--Unagented/​Unsolicited Submissions (Jeff Herman, Publishing Secrets)
6 Benefits of Having an Agent in Today's Publishing World (Jody Hedlund, 6-29-11)
Top Literary Agents Reveal How To Get a Deal With a Major Publisher (PDF, Steve Harrison's Million Dollar Author Club). Transcript of comments by agents Marilyn Allen, Jeff Herman, John Willig, and Kelly Skillen and Justin Branch from Greenleaf Book Group, a book distributor.
Guide to Literary Agents (editor Chuck Sambuchino's blog -- with many helpful posts)
MS WishList (manuscript wishlist, what specific agents are looking for -- what's "hot" for them now). Or follow MSWL on Twitter.
Agents who handle children's books (PDF, SCBWI Agent Directory, ed. Aaron Hartzler & Kim Turrisi, 2009-10 SCBWI Publications Guide, Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators
Researching an Agent's Track Record (Victoria Strauss).
(a Writer's Digest blog, with entries about new agents.
Agent & Publisher Research (Grad Student Freelancers--hire one to find what you need if you just can't do the research yourself)
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Author-agent agreements (contracts)

SFWA Model Author-Agent Contract (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America)
What to Look for in an Agent’s Contract (Janet Kobobel Grant, on Books&Such, 7-9-12)
Author-Agent Contracts (Victoria Strauss, Writer Beware, 2-5-06)
Agency agreement (Wikipedia definition)
Literary Agent Contract (Literary Agent Undercover, series of eight articles)
What's an Author-Agent Agreement (agent Rachelle Gardner)
to the National Writers Union Preferred Literary Agent Agreement: Understanding the Author-Agent Relationship
(pdf, NWU)
The Agent Clause (Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Deal Breakers 2012, The Business Rusch, 8-8-12).
How to Read a Book Contract – Who Decides What Contracts You Sign? (Passive Guy, 8-5-11). See also How to Read a Book Contract – Can I Ever Get Rid of My Agent? (3-15-12)
How to Fire Your Agent (Rachelle Gardner, agent)
The Agent Clause (Kristine Kathryn Rusch, 8-8-12). The agent clause is the clause in a book publishing contract that says payments come to author through the agent. So what happens if you and your agent fall out? Rusch provides a roadmap to pitfalls common in this clause. Do your homework!

Changing role of the literary agent

The Changing Role of the Literary Agent (Vicky Bijur, ASJA Monthly, Jan. 2014)
Alternative paths to publishing proliferate but the path for authors most likely to be lucrative is still the oldest one (Mike Shatzkin, Shatzkin Files, 2-23-15) "But even an exponential increase in the number of self-publishing successes or, now, in the number of authors going directly to publishers without an agent, doesn’t change the realities of book publishing. The big money almost always goes to the agented author whose work is sold to a big house. The rest of it is, from an overall industry perspective, still a sideshow."
The Changing Agent-Author Relationship (Jane Friedman, Digital Book World, 2-2-10)
Jane Friedman on how literary agents are adapting to survive (Jungle Red Writers, 9-3-10)
The Evolution of the Literary Agent (Jane Friedman, Writer's Digest, 8-31-10) Agents Wendy Keller, Paige Wheeler, Richard Curtis, and Scott Waxman talk about how major changes in publishing, in particular the growth of self-publishing, are changing the agent-author relationship.
The evolving role of agents (Mike Shatzkin, Shatzkin Files, 6-29-09) "When the book agent’s job, most of the time, was to find the biggest possible up-front payment for an author’s work, a straight commission deal made complete sense. With writer-pays options becoming not only more common and accessible, but more sensible as a commercial choice and, indeed, becoming part of the step-ladder to commercial success, it increasingly will not."...Arrangements "where the agent actually charges a fee for helping an author manage self-publishing options, are going to have to become more common in the future."

Agents as Publishers--an accelerating trend and typically a conflict of interest. Here you can find opinions and write-ups on the trend:
Literary agents and the changing world of trade publishing (Mike Shatzkin, Shatzkin Files, 11-14-09). If authors start self-publishing, will agents become consultants? How will e-books change the agents' role?
Why don't agents want to play? Amazon flies a bunch to Seattle to find out (Richard Curtis, eReads, 11-11-10)
Agents Who Are Also Publishers
An Argument Against Agent-Publishers (editorial by literary agent Jason Allen Ashlock, Publishing Perspectives, 9-6-11). Ashlock asks, “Can an agent act in an author’s best interests when they are also acting as their publisher?” His conclusion: “No.”
Your Agent Should Not Be Your Publisher (Peter Cox, Redhammer, 6-8-11), as discussed by Mike Shatzkin in A debate across panels is coming at our London show on June 21 (Shatzkin Files 6-8-11)
Ed Victor sets up publishing imprint (Charlotte Williams, The Bookseller 5-10-11). It's starting in the UK.
More agents to explore publishing models (Charlotte Williams, The, 5-13-11) "Literary agents Curtis Brown and Blake Friedman have said they are planning to follow Ed Victor's move into publishing, after he announced an e-book and print-on-demand venture earlier this week."
How Agents Can Avoid Conflicts of Interest (Passive Guy, The Passive Voice, 5-14-11, a blog about disruptive changes and change agents in publishing). "I believe the current trend for agents to sign their clients to long-term publishing contracts with an in-house agency publisher is not a good idea for several reasons." See also Agents in Conflict
Literary Agencies as Publishers: An Accelerating Trend (Victoria Strauss, Writer Beware, 5-17-11)
Literary agents and publishing: a conflict of interest? (Rob, The Fiction Desk, 5-14-11)
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How to protect yourself against not-so-great

If you end up making a lot of money through deals they negotiate, they're going to probably be handling your money before you get it. You want an agent who is experienced, knows the ropes, and will get you what you're owed, among other things. Character counts.
Thumbs Down Agency List (Writer Beware, maintained by A.C. Crispin and Victoria Strauss)
How To Protect Yourself From Shady Literary Agents (Writer's Relief, Huffington Post, 9-19-12).
Preditors and Editors (agents and editors who are "not recommended")
Bad Agent (Jessica Faust, Bookends agency, 6-27-07).
Writer Beware on various types of agents to avoid, by category: Dishonest agents; Amateur, Marginal, and Incompetent Agents; Telling Questionable from Reputable; Agents Who Are Also Publishers; and more.
Bewares and Background Checks (Absolute Write's discussion group for questions, comments, and warnings about agents and publishers)
Literary Agents You Should Avoid: 3 Major Red Flags Writer's Relief, Huffington Post, 9-5-12)
Harper Lee Sues Agent She Says Tricked Her (Authors Guild story of Harper Lee suing "her former agent, Sam Pinkus, to recover royalties from To Kill a Mockingbird dating back to 2007, when he allegedly tricked her into signing over copyright to the classic novel as she was in an assisted living facility recovering from a stroke."
Fake literary agents target new authors (The Fiction Desk, 9-3-08)
The Truth About Literary Agents' Fees (Writers Beware, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, SFWA)
The Perils of Author Mills (Victoria Strauss) "Author mills aren’t as common as vanity publishers or amateur small presses (both of which also pose hazards for writers). But there are enough of them that writers need to be careful."
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How not to behave with/​around literary agents
Cranky Agent Alert (Wendy Lawton, Books & Such, 10-2-12, on inappropriate query and pre-query behavior by authors--things NOT to do)
10 Ways to Annoy Literary Agents (Writer's Relief, 8-2-12)
Query Fail: How Not to Land a Literary Agent (Tara Lazar)
How Not to Fire Your Agent (Linda Konner, ASJA Monthly, Jue 2013)
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The Adventures of Comma Boy by Keith Cronin (a comic strip for aspiring writers, agents, publishers, and publishing fantasizers, featured in Publishers Marketplace. Comma Boy archives here.

An Editor (Who Helped 'The Help') and an Agent Talk About Revision. Listen to Alexandra Shelley (editor of Kathryn Stockett's "The Help") and literary agent Eleanor Jackson discussing revision, publishing, and how to know when a book is 'finished' (on She Writes Radio).

Building a Memoir Writing Platform: What Is Your Message? Part 1 and Part 2 (Kendra Bonnett, 2-28-10, on Women's Memoirs). What's your message is part of figuring out who is your audience, which means who will buy your books! A very helpful discussion.

Ethics & the Literary Agent: What Rights Do Authors Have? (Sangeeta Mehta, editor, interviews agents Mary C. Moore and DongWon Song, on Jane Friedman's blog, 11-30-17) What should writers do if they feel that an agent isn’t honoring their obligations, contractual or otherwise? What's the best way to speak up? When it comes to queries, some agents have a “no response means no” policy. But many writers feel that they deserve some sort of answer within a reasonable amount of time, especially those who have researched the agent and followed the agent’s submissions guidelines. Apparently, plenty of good agents don’t respond to all queries. Authors: Be realistic: Agents are swamped (get 12 to 15 queries a day). And if a writer gets a "revise and resubmit" R&R, how long a wait is it to get a reaction? A bit of a reality check on how swamped agents who handle fiction are. Second part of the piece talks about what happens when an agent or author (or both) want to end an agent-author relationship. See also AAR Canon of Ethics (Association of Authors' Representatives, Inc.)

How to Get a Book Deal with World's Largest Publisher by Timothy Ferriss (on , author of The 4-Hour Workweek (not a typical book or author -- a super-self-promoter!)

How to Lose Agents & Infuriate Editors (Sally Wiener Grotta, Wordsmiths)

How to Write an Effective Book Description (Richard Ridley, CreateSpace 3-31-11)

Should you, the writer, hire an editor? (Writer Beware's excellent links, including some of these:
Should You Pay Someone to Edit Your Work? (Nathan Bransform, agent-turned-author, 10-5-09)
Should I Hire a Freelance Editor? (agent Rachelle Gardner, 3-25-10)
Should You Hire a Professional Editor? (Jane Friedman, Writer Unboxed, 3-19-10)
The Doctor Will See You Now (book doctor Lisa Rojany-Buccieri on what book doctors can and cannot do)
What to Expect from a Professional Critique (Margot Finke)
The Importance of Self-Editing (Victoria Strauss, Writer Beware)
7 Common Myths About Hiring a Freelance Editor for Your Book (Nancy Peske)
See more such pieces on Writer Beware links.

So you want to write a book (Sarah Wernick's excellent guide to basics)

Ten Factors to Consider When Writing Book Proposals (Dennis E. Hensley,

The Ten Most Common Reasons Book Proposals are Rejected — and What These Reasons Really Mean (Marcia Yudkin)

Title Z ($, track book sales)

The top 5 secrets to getting a book deal (Alan Rinzler, The Book Deal)

What's Your Platform? Another Way of Asking, Who's Going to Read Your Book? (Kendra Bonnett, on Telling Her Stories)

Writing a book proposal, by Sarah Wernick (So You Want to Write a Book)

Advice for Writers: Preparing Your E-Manuscript (Subversive Copy Editor, 7-5-10)

Advocates, Addendums, and Sneaks oh my! (Kristine Kathryn Rusch, The Business Rusch, 5-4-11). Publishers give better contracts to authors with clout, lesser contracts to newbies; agents vary in how well they advocate for their authors. Be aware of what goes on.

Agents and Editors (Poets & Writers interviews)
Agents & Editors: A Q&A With Agent Nat Sobel (Jofie Ferrari-Adler, Poets & Writers 5-08)
A Q&A With Agent Lynn Nesbit by Jofie Ferrari-Adler, Jan/​Feb 2008)
A Q&A With Agent Georges Borchardt by Jofie Ferrari-Adler (Sept/​Oct 2009)
A Q&A With Four Young Literary Agents (by Jofie Ferrari-Adler, interviewing Julie Barer, Jeff Kleinman, Renee Zuckerbrot, and Daniel Lazar, Jan/​Feb 2009)
A Q&A With Agent Molly Friedrich (by Jofie Ferrari-Adler, Sept/​Oct 2008)
Agent interviews -- more of them:
Algonkian Agent Inteviews (interviews with Betsy Amster, Lisa Bankoff, Elise Capton, Robert Gottlieb, Deborah Grosvenor, Jeff Kleinman, Ellen Levine, Noah Lukeman, Donald Maass, and Erin Reel)
Lynn Chu: Agent Unplugged, Barbara DeMarco-Barrett's informative interview with this principal of Writers' Representatives LLC, appears in the public part of the January 2010 issue of ASJA Monthly (the confidential section goes to members only). This is as helpful an analysis of what authors should know about their rights in the new electronic world as you are likely to read. It starts on pp. 6-7 of this PDF file,then jumps to p. 13. Print those pages out and highlight them! Her most valuable comments are on book publishers trying to becoming licensing agents for e-rights while taking a print publishers' share of income and without doing what a licensing agent ought to do, and since authors will very quickly learn how much they can do without the publishers, they are playing a dangerous game. Authors: there IS no standard on e-publishing terms, so do your homework. At a minimum, read this article.

Agents, Writers, and Editors: How does it all fit together (by ??, Inkwell Magazine)

The Art of the Pitch (Alan Rinzler's insider tips for preparing and delivering a winning pitch to an agent or editor at a writer's conference, The Book Deal, 3-29-10)

Association of Authors' Representatives (AAR) , professional organization of over 400 agents who represent both book authors and playwrights

Author-Agent Agreements (What's an Author-Agent Agreement and what should it cover?) by Rachelle Gardner

The Author-Agent Business Model by novelist Laura Resnick (on Novelists Inc. blog, 2-12-10). When things are going well, she's fine without an agent, and when things are going badly, she can’t count on an agent, so Resnick uses a literary lawyer to handle contracts.

Five agents talk about their business (for YA Fantasy authors)

5 Reasons Agents Don’t Explain Their Rejections (agent Rachelle Gardner, guest posting on Books & Such, 2-21=13)

Frequently asked questions:
Frequently asked questions about agents – and answers (Association of Authors' Representatives, AAR)
Publishing Secrets: Battle of the "UNs"--Unagented, unsolicited manuscripts (Jeff Herman)
Everything you wanted to know about literary agents (Neil Gaiman's blog entry. Sample: "If you're writing fiction, the True Secret Answer is "get an offer." If you've got an offer, you can get an agent. If you don't have an offer, you don't want the kind of agent you're likely to get."

Going the Unagented Route--with Fiction (Nicole O'Dell, guest posting on Rachelle GArdner site)

How to Get Happily Published (Judith Applebaum)

How to Get Your Book Published (Jane Friedman, 6-12-17). One of Jane's many helpful articles on writing, publishing, self-publishing, marketing, platform building, and so on.

How to Write a Novel Synopsis (Jane Friedman, 9-16-15)

Indie Bound (a community of independent bookstores)

No Thanks, Mr. Nabokov (David Oshinky's story about Knopf's rejection pile, NY Times, 9-9-07)

Publishers Lunch , a free daily sample from Publishers Marketplace

Publishers Marketplace ($25 a month, for more detailed news of book deals, and archives)

The Publishing Connection (helps writers connect with editors, agents, and publishers)

Questions to ask a prospective literary agent
Rachelle Gardner, on Books & Such
Agent Rachelle Gardner (8-9-10)
10 Questions to Ask When Offered Representation by a Literary Agent (agent Mary Kole)
Really, You Don’t Have to Ask (Tamela Hancock Murray for Steve Laube Agency) You should be able to find answers to these questions by doing your homework.
Literary Agent Offers: Don’t Settle! (Sarah Ockler on what to look at/​for, not what questions to ask)
The next set of questions to ask prospective agents (Janet Reid, 9-28-09)
Questions to Ask Your Prospective Literary Agent (Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware, 2-26-14)
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Top Literary Agents for.... This series (compiled in 2007, by the blog Literary Agent News) is far from perfect. Caveat emptor. I'll add comments as I get them from readers: Top Literary Agents for Memoirs, for literary fiction, for true crime books ("does not include the #1 agent in the genre, Jane Dystel, or anyone at Dystel Goderich; and Wendy Keller agency says thanks, but they've never sold a true crime book"); for horror novels, for mystery novels, for science fiction novels, for fantasy novels, for young adult novels, for romance novels, for self-help books, for travel books, and for business books. Tell me if these links are, or are not, useful. For more up-to-date information, check out the sites profiles of individual agents.

24 Agents Who Want Your Work (Chuck Sambuchino, Writer's Digest 11-10-09)

Twitter handles:
Best book editors on Twitter (Jason Boog, GalleyCat, 3-30-11)
Best literary agents on Twitter (Jason Boog, Galley Cat, 4-8-11)
Twitter Hashtags Writers Should Follow When Seeking a Literary Agent (Diana Urban, 2-6-14)
Seventy-Eight Agents to Follow on Twitter (Poets & Writers list, July/​Aug. 2017)
The best literary agents on Twitter (John Kremer's list)
KidLit/​YA Editors on Twitter (Debbie Ridpath Ohi's @​InkyElbows public list, Children's book/​YA editors (strong interest in kidlit/​YA), editorial assistants)
Twitter for Writers: 7 Quick Tips (Belinda Pollard)
10 Twitter Lists Every Author Should Follow (Wise Ink, 4-9-12) Some of these are a little out of date, obviously.
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Blogs about the book business
(agents, editors, and publishing experts

In this curious age of blogging, you can pick up many tips about agents, book proposals, and how best to market your book to a publisher by skimming these blogs.

• Go first to Nathan Bransford and read "Publishing Essentials." Take time, do your homework, and read the advice and insights in these blogs:
Agent in the Middle (Lori Perkins, specializing in novels and erotica)
Alice's CWIM blog (from the editor of Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market, now moving her blog to SCBWI)
Ask Daphne (Kate Schafer Testerman -- teen chick lit, urban fantasy and magical realism, adventure stories, and romantic comedies)
Ask the Agent: Night Thoughts About Books and Publishing (Andy Ross)
Between the Lines (Books & Such Agency)
Book Cannibal (Cameron McClure on fiction)
••• The Book Deal (Alan Rinzler, An Inside View of Publishing)
••• BookEnds LLC
BookSquare (Kassia Krozier’s blog--"thinking too much about books, technology, and people")
Brian O'Leary, Magellan Media (cutting edge blog with separate posts for magazine, book, and association publishing)
Brooklyn Arden (Cheryl Klein, children's books editor)
Buried in the Slush Pile (an editor's blog about children's book agents and publishers)
Chip MacGregor (a Christian agent)
Dear Author (Jane Little, a romance review for readers)
Deidre Knight (The Knight Agency)
Dr. Syntax (Peter Ginna of Bloomsbury Press)
Dystel & Goderich
Editorial Anonymous (blog of a children's book editor)
Editorial Ass
Et in arcaedia, ego (Jennifer Jackson)
Fine Print Literary Management
The Forest for the Trees(Betsy Lerner)
Hartline (Joyce Hart)
••• Janet Reid (about agenting and publishing)
Jennifer Laughran
Jonathan Lyons (Mary Kole, representing children's literature)
Miss Snark (no longer posting, but lots of good stuff in this agent's blog archives)
••• Nathan Bransford(some read this former agent daily, when he was an agent; now he works for CNet and he's still one of the best bloggers; click on and read "The Essentials")
The Profitable Publisher (Marion Gropen, on independent publishing)
••• Pub rants (Kristin Nelson, Nelson Literary, based in Denver--one of the best blogs). See also her informative Agenting 101 series, which includes such entries as Deal Points, Grant of Rights, and entries about bonuses, royalties, payout, options, author warranties, royalty statements (several on this!), out of print sales threshold, term of contract, and no-compete clauses.

POD-dy Mouth (stopped blogging in 2007 but you can read backlist)
••• Query Shark (study great examples of how to revise a query so it works -- Janet Reid's other site)
••• Rants and Ramblings (Rachelle Gardner, good general advice; specializes in Christian/​inspirational)
Redlines and Deadlines
The Rejecter (an assistant at a literary agency, who rejects bad query letters)
Richard Nash (the #1 Twitter User Changing the Shape of Publishing)
••• The Swivet (Colleen Lindsay, an unrepentant nerd and literary agent with FinePrint Literary Management, apparently on a blogging break)
Upstart Crow. Check their Literary Toolbox,especially the Writer's Bookshelf (especially on book illustrations)
Writer Beware!

A few special features:

Writing Advice Database (Nathan Bransform, agent-turned-author, with solid advice on a wide range of subjects)
Choosing a freelance editor: What you need to know (Alan Rinzler, The Book Deal)
Formatting Your Manuscript (Nathan Bransford)
How a Book Gets Published (Nathan Bransford)
What Do Literary Agents Do? (Nathan Bransford)
How to Find a Literary Agent (Nathan Bransford)
How to Write Query Letters ... or, really, how to revise query letters so they actually work (Query Shark, Janet Reid's specifically query-helpful site)
Frequently asked questions, answered by Nathan Bransford