Last week I shared a handy checklist to discern whether you’re ready for a literary agent. It’s best if you go back there and take the test. It’s important that you do your homework when querying literary agents because if you do, and you’re ready, you’ll experience far more success in your quest.
Three things you need to know when you search for Christian literary agentS:
First, are you ready for one? (See the post I referred to). If you don’t have your novel written, you’re not ready. If you have zero platform, no website, and no way to promote your nonfiction book (unless you’re somehow famous), then you’re not ready. If you really only want to write one book, you won’t be attractive to an agent who is typically looking for a career-long relationship.
Second, is your book something that will make money? This is actually the most important question if you would like to be traditionally published. While I also believe in eternal impact and touching people one on one, the question a publication board will be asking is: will this make money? Because of that, iterary agents have to ask this question. They need to know you’ve done your homework, looking at comparables, understanding the market, enlisting the help of experts as you build your website and social media presence. You can assure an agent of this question by writing a stand-out proposal. (See bottom of this post for an inexpensive, but comprehensive guide).
Third, is this agent a fit for your overall traditionally-published strategy? Sometimes writers get a little desperate, longing to find an agent, ANY agent. They don’t realize that this is a strategic investment in what will happen in the future. The agent must be passionate about your particular project. If you write Christian self-help, but they only handle Amish Romance, it won’t be a good fit, nor should you query them. So do your homework. Check out their websites. Follow them on social media. And by all means, attend a conference. An agent/author relationship is just that: a relationship. You need to know if you click, if you have affinity for each other. Don’t let desperation guide your decision making process.
In light of all that, here are some Christian Literary Agents I highly recommend. (My list is not exhaustive. Michael Hyatt shares a longer list here). These are people I know, and I know well. I’ve been around the publishing industry over ten years now, and I’ve had the privilege of interacting with each of these literary agents. If you called me on the phone and asked me who I would personally endorse, these agents win a slot on my favorites list. They’re vetted. They’re professional. They have true integrity. And they’re great at what they do.
PLEASE NOTE: There are other amazing agents out there. If they’re not on this list, it simply means I haven’t had the privilege to have long-term, ongoing interaction with them. It’s not my intention to say these below are the best agents; they’re simply the ones I know very well.
A note: If their name is highlighted, that’s their email for submission. Please, though, do your homework before contacting any agent. Be sure you know what they represent by clicking their submission guidelines.
Christian Literary Agents I Recommend
Jessie and I have known each other several years now. She’s an amazing go-getter who just recently started her own literary agency. She thinks on multi platforms: not simply books, but movies, movie rights, gift books, and she acquires bloggers. She knows this industry, and she passionately supports her authors. She’s not afraid to get on the phone (good quality!), and from what I hear from her clients, she is good at communicating with them.
Bryan is with Alive Communications, the granddaddy of Christian literary representation. My first two agents worked with Alive. The company is well-established, professional, and high powered. I know Bryan from my time as an author for Thomas Nelson. He acquired Everything and The Wall Around Your Heart. He is an amazing lover of words and excellent communication–truly a book nerd. He also is a tenacious supporter of his authors. You can tell a little bit by his smile in this picture that he loves his job, and he enjoys working in publishing. Since he’s been an editor, he has a keen eye for books
Jonathan has his own agency at Wheelhouse Literary Group. We met at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference years ago. Jonathan loves good literature. He is smart, savvy, and passionate about helping others.
Greg has his own agency, Daniel Literary Group. He and I have known each other a long time. I’ve always been impressed by his industry knowledge, his thirst for excellent writing, and his high level of integrity. He is definitely one of the literary agents I often recommend to people because of all this.
David is a veteran in the Christian bookselling industry. He owns the Van Diest Literary Agency. He’s been on all sides of the publishing desk–acquisitions, sales, marketing, etc. So he’s savvy, and he knows how to not only sell your project (he sold one of my heart-projects within one month), but also how to shape it so editors will be interested. He loves his wife and family, has high integrity, and he prays for his authors.
Sarah is married to David (surprise, surprise), and is an amazing writer. I’ve had the privilege of reading her words, and they are deep, beautiful and so far away from common cliche. She has an innate instinct for good writing, is nurturing in the way she shepherds authors, and she’s incredibly intelligent.
Greg pioneered Wordserve Literary several years ago. He has a strong reputation in the industry, and he loves good writing. I remember finally meeting him (after knowing about him) and being so impressed. Why? Because he thanked me for praying for his family, and his sincerity shone through. He’s solid, folks.
I’ve known Nick for years because we’ve both taught at writers conferences together. He’s such a friendly, kind man. He was a senior editor at Harvest House Publishers for fifteen years, so he understands both sides of the agenting desk. Because of all of his experience, he knows what will sell, and he can beautifully shepherd an author through the quagmire of the publishing process. He also works for Wordserve Literary.
Janet Grant founded Books and Such Literary Management. She is an amazing person, and I’m grateful I’ve had several opportunities to talk to her and understand her heart. What I love about Janet is that she’s a consummate word lover. She’s the kind of agent that pushes you to improve, and she has an innate sense about what needs to be done to your project to make it marketable. She is a hands-on agent. She’s smart, savvy, and well-respected in the publishing industry.
I adore Rachelle, who is also with Books and Such. She and I have been friends since we met. I’m ever so grateful she took a gigantic chance on me when she worked for NavPress and acquired my first two novels, Watching the Tree Limbs (get it here for free) and Wishing on Dandelions. Because I consider myself a novelist first, her belief in me, and her championing of my project has endeared her to me forever. All that said, I can confidently say that if Rachelle loves your project, she will shepherd and champion it until it finds a home. She’s tenacious, smart, and a delight to know.
Steve is a powerhouse of Christian publishing. (Maybe we should call him SUPERMAN?) He has been an editor, a bookstore proprietor, and is passionate about helping Christian writers improve in the craft. (Aside: I took this picture of him!) Several of my close friends have him as their agent, and I’ve never heard a negative comment about him. He’s smart, empathetic, and highly trained. He knows his stuff, and he knows what will fly with acquisitions editors. Not only that, he has a great sense of humor, and is really fun to be around.
So there you have it, my curated list of Christian literary agents who I know well and can recommend with joy. I hope this helps you as you navigate the waters of traditional publishing.
Professional literary agents are the best relationship you can nurture for your career. I could not have published the books I’ve published without the expertise, shepherding, wisdom and professional insight of literary agents. They’re coaches, cheerleaders, go-betweens, negotiators, and often, friends. They help you get a better contract, more compensation, and a positive working relationship with your publisher.
You only have one chance to create a first impression with an agent, which means your query letter must be amazing. And when they ask (see my positivity here?) for your book proposal, it must STUN them. I’ve created a proposal tutorial that will empower you to do just that. Authors who go through this tutorial (complete with actual proposal examples) are more likely to land an agent and, inevitably, sign a contract with a publishing house.
Author, speaker and podcast host Michelle Cushatt said this about the proposal tutorial:
“As a new and inexperienced writer, Mary DeMuth’s non-fiction proposal tutorial gave me vital insider information into the proposal writing process. Now, over two years later, I still refer to it as I craft new proposals and refine old ones. An invaluable tool!”
A senior editor at a major Christian publishing house said this:
Mary’s book proposals reflect her intelligence, wit, and charm, as well as her high level of craftsmanship as a writer. And just as important, her concepts are fresh. She has no interest in covering the same ground that has been plowed already by other authors. That’s important to a book editor who is glassy-eyed from reading stacks of proposals.”
A literary agent wrote this:
“As a literary agent, I saw a lot of proposals. Mary’s are top-notch—comprehensive, thoughtful, well written, and professional. I’m proud to send them to the best publishers in the business.”
If you’d like to make that first impression, click below to buy Write a Winning Nonfiction Proposal. (And if you’re writing fiction, I have a fiction proposal tutorial here). Both products teach you how to write a query letter, which is the first step in the process of finding an agent.