Why is it so Hard to Find an Agent?

Ah, the age-old dilemma. How to get an agent? Why does it seem like such an uphill battle? It even sometimes feels like agents are actively trying to keep you out!

Exactly WHY is it so hard?

First, let me be clear: we agents love nothing more than saying YES. Our favorite things are finding promising new authors and matching authors with the right publishers. But sadly, for every YES we have have to say NO dozens of times.

It’s a numbers game. There are limited publishing slots, and the number of authors we can represent is limited. But the number of people sending us queries or pitching us at writers conferences is seemingly infinite, so we have to make tough choices.

If you’re pitching agents and nobody’s saying yes, then your pitch may need work, or your book may need work (or both). OR… your query and your book might be just fine, but because there are so many other queries in the queue, and perhaps bad luck and lack of serendipity and an annoying scarcity of fairy dust, agents and/or publishers aren’t biting.

The task to figure out which category you’re in. Do the work of figuring it out. Get a qualified critique partner. Hire a coach or an editor, someone who can look at your query and your manuscript and help you figure out why nobody’s biting.

You might come to a point where you’ve done all you can, you haven’t found an agent or publisher, yet you have outside feedback that says your book really is good. What should you do? Any or all of the following:
*Keep querying.
*Self publish.
*Write another book and query that one.

Just remember, the problem could be your book. Or… maybe not. There’s just a lot of competition out there.


If you should decide to invest in some personalized counsel, I offer coaching for unpublished authors here: My Coaching Services


Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!