How to Find Publishers

how to find publishers and agents

Note from Jane: If you’d like guidance on researching either traditional book publishers or literary agents, I’m offering a class on Sept. 9, Research Agents and Publishers Like a Pro.

The following post was first published in 2011 and is regularly updated to include new resources.

If you have a book idea or a manuscript, one of your first questions is probably:

How do I find a publisher?

Or, if you’re more advanced in your knowledge of book publishing, you may ask:

How do I find a literary agent?

The good news: there’s no shortage of resources for researching publishers and agents. The bad news: you can easily spend hours going down the rabbit hole of available information.

For years (since 1920), the most comprehensive resource in the United States was the annual Writer’s Market directory. It used to be accessible and searchable online via paid subscription, but no more. And unfortunately, the future of the print edition is unclear. The 2020 guide may be the last, and it’s now at least one year out of date.

Going forward, writers will have to rely on other guides, primarily those online. Some of the sites I mention below offer useful features such as submission trackers, community message boards, and stats generated by users—which can be just as useful as the listings themselves.

Here’s a summary of the most well-known and popular places to find publishers and agents. If I’m missing an important resource, contact me.

Where to Find Publishers

Be aware that most New York book publishers do not accept unagented submissions, so sometimes “searching for a publisher” really means finding an agent (see next list).

  • Jeff Herman’s guide. This is a well-established print-only competitor to Writer’s Market, assembled by a literary agent and updated every couple years.
  • Duotrope ($). You’ll find thousands of listings in this online database, with an emphasis on literary journals, magazines, and online publications, many of which don’t pay. (E.g., they have more than 2,000 listings for markets that accept flash fiction, but fewer markets for full-length novels.) But they do include a sizable number of agents, publishers, contests, and anthologies.
  • QueryTracker. Free to start, with premium ($) levels—but more agent listings than publisher listings.
  • The Association of University Presses publishes an annual subject grid of university presses and the subjects they publish. This is an essential resource for finding an academic publisher. Thanks to John Warren for the tip.
  • Manuscript Wish List. Editors and agents often post on social media what kind of books they’re actively seeking. This site aggregates those mentions. (However, this site is not endorsed by the agent who started Manuscript Wish List; the official site is here.)
  • Submission Grindr. Free, focused on science fiction & fantasy.
  • Ralan. Free, focused on science fiction & fantasy.
  • Poets & Writers. Free database of small presses that are best for literary novelists, poets, short story writers, and so on. Use with caution; many of the listings are out of date.
  • New Pages. This is a curated list of markets popular with creative writing programs and instructors; it’s a good place to go if you’re publishing short stories, poems, and essays.

Where to Find Agents

Many of the same resources that offer publisher listings also list agents. But there are a couple of resources that are unique and irreplaceable when conducting an agent search.

  • PublishersMarketplace. Pricey ($25/month), but if you search the deals database at this website, you can study what books agents have sold going back to 2001, by category and keyword.
  • AAR Online. This is the official membership organization for literary agents. Not all agents are member of AAR, but it’s not a bad place to check if you want some reassurance on the professionalism of your agent.
  • Duotrope ($). See above.
  • Manuscript Wish List. See above.
  • Jeff Herman’s guide. See above.
  • QueryTracker. See above.

Other Helpful Listings

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Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the publisher of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors, and was named Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World in 2019.

In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. Her book for creative writers, The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), received a starred review from Library Journal.

Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.

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