Finding a literary agent in Australia

It is a woeful tale, known the world over by every budding author out there who has ever experienced the pain of rejection, yet still retains some semblance of hope. There are thousands, if not millions of us out there who have already tasted that soul-destroying sting, yet still hunt down literary agents regardless, with a rosary bead in one hand, and a crucifix in the other. Because we all know that if you’re going to have any success in this game, you’re going to need God (or an insane amount of talent) on your side.

I have re-begun my search for an agent for my latest novel, The Echo In the Woods, a psychological/suspense/mystery novel and I am both excited, and terribly apprehensive about this. The first novel I ever queried, Mesmerise, didn’t make it past the partial submission stage, and while I expected this due to its slightly odd concept, I never found out if it was due to the unpublishable genre or my ineptness as a writer. It is entirely possible that they were too kind to tell me how much my writing skills were in serious need of improvement.

I recently read about how one author (Lynn Rush) only landed an agent with her tenth novel, although it wasn’t until she’d written her thirteenth that she finally got published.  But there is hope. On the other end of the spectrum you have Katherine Brabon who won the 2016 Australian/Vogel’s Literary Award with her very first novel. How wonderful would it be to find out so early on that your writing is worth publishing?

First stop for aspiring novelists in Australia is the Australian Literary Agent’s Association, where you will find a grand total of 15 literary agents waiting (or not) to uncover your diamond in the rough.

I have compiled a list below to share with you all and have determined that I can only send my psychological mystery to 6 of these agencies. When I was querying Mesmerise I got a quick and lovely response from Danielle Binks at Jacinta di Mase Management. I’m not going to lie, I absolutely fancy her as my future literary agent… if I could but write a YA novel she’d love!

So happy hunting everyone! And good luck, God speed etc… oh and almost forgot, the NSW Writers’ Centre provides a very good example of a query letter at the bottom of their article.

Here’s the list!

Australian Literary Management

  • Open
  • Looking for everything except scripts of any kind, children’s books by unpublished authors, self-published novels
  • By query via email or phone:
    • Brief query letter
    • One or two-page synopsis

 

The Authors’ Agent

  • Open
  • Looking for adult fiction, narrative non-fiction, children’s and young adult
  • Send query via mail:
    • Outline/synopsis, First chapter + 2 others
    • biographical note

 

The Cameron Creswell Agency

  • Closed

 

Curtis Brown (Aust) Pty Ltd

  • Open
  • They are NOT looking for: fantasy, sci-fi, stage/screenplays, poetry, self-help books, children’s picture books, early reader books, comic books, short stories, cookbooks or translations
  • Send query via email:
    • 300 word covering letter
    • Short Synopsis
    • First 3 chapters or first 50 pages

 

Drummond Agency

  • Open
  • Looking for: fiction and non-fiction for adults and YA fiction, but not fantasy or science fiction. They do not consider educational materials, poetry, plays, film scripts or children’s picture books
  • Send query via email, phone or letter:
    • Brief query letter

 

Golvan Arts Management

  • Closed

 

HLA Management Theatrical Agency Australia

  • Closed

 

HMMG Pty Ltd

  • Closed

 

Jacinta di Mase Management

  • Open
  • Looking for: middle grade and young adult ONLY (look towards bottom of webpage)
  • Send query via email:
    • Brief query letter

 

Jenny Darling & Associates

  • Closed

 

Margaret Connolly & Associates

  • Unknown

 

Margaret Kennedy Agency

  • Open
  • Looking for: contemporary, literary fiction receives high priority and general and historical fiction is sometimes of interest. Fiction not represented includes fantasy and science fiction, chick lit and chook lit, horror and erotica.
  • Send query via email:
    • Brief query letter

 

The Naher Agency

  • Closed

 

The Other Woman and Company

  • Open
  • Looking for: Represents adult non-fiction mainly, as well as book designers.
  • Query via phone

 

Rick Raftos Management

  • Open
  • Unknown
  • Send query via email:
    • Short cover letter about yourself
    • One page synopsis

 

 

 

57 thoughts on “Finding a literary agent in Australia

  1. I’m in Scotland. My own agent really got going in order to help me get published, and his agency took off from there. My second book (my first novel) was published by a publishing house founded by a writer who couldn’t find a publisher.*

    People praise the ability to ‘leapfrog the gatekeepers’ these days. Let’s face it, it has never been easier to PUBLISH – just do it yourself. However, self-publishing is an ocean made of the self-belief of the mediocre, and good self-published writers can submerge in it. That’s just as frustrating as not being able to break through into the mainstream. The thing is – the mediocre are entitled to do it, as are the rank bad, there’s no point in complaining and, in fact, every right to celebrate. Let ’em do it! If it floats their RIB, so let it float! People have been predicting the demise of The Book and of mainstream commercial publishing for several years now, and it seems to survive. But who knows what tomorrow may bring.

    The main thing is to keep writing. There’s no magic formula. Just keep writing. Writing is good in its own right.

    *Unfortunately, due to the violent death of her husband, she has had to suspend the publishing house AND move to another country; but we await news of its revival.

    Like

  2. Pingback: Are writers born or made? | Milly Schmidt

  3. I wish you all the success and am always glad to read your posts on this topic which are utterly kind and selfless. I’m so hopelessly lacking in confidence to even take the first step.

    Like

  4. Finding an agent is a tough gig in Australia! I’m working on a psych thriller too, but i have been querying agents for my crime fic manuscript without much success. Have started to look at international agents, but it’s just so hard to get your foot in the door!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m currently trying international agents as well as Australian ones. Way more to choose from and plenty are happy to at least consider international submissions. Might be worth a shot for anyone reading this too.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I was told by a very senior person at a well-known Australian publishing company not to bother trying to find an agent. It was made very clear that agents were not well liked or thought of as necessary at all from that person’s perspective and they had a lot of decision-making power. I got through to that person from a direct unsolicited submission. So an agent is one option but an unsolicited submission is another and almost all publishers accept them now. Certainly more publishers than there are agents accepting new clients. As always, great work, Millie. ☺

    Liked by 2 people

    • After trying Australian agents for a year (including Danielle Binks) and getting nowhere, I was also advised by a MS assessment service that it’s not really necessary to have an agent in Australia and to just go to publishers instead since most accept unsolicited manuscripts.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yeah that’s true, compared to the US (where you have to have an agent) in Australia you can submit direct to most of the traditional publishers. I thought I’d try all the agents first though and then try the traditionals, then try a few manuscript competitions, and then self-publish when all else fails! ☺

        Liked by 1 person

        • That was my plan too. Try agents and then move onto publishers. The only agent that ever gave me usable feedback was Danielle Binks, who said the third person narrative I used pulled her out of the story and suggested that I look at The Maze Runner as a good example of the kind of action-packed, opening sequence a YA novel should have. It actually put me off writing at the time because it made me think my whole book was bad. I’ve moved on to trying publishers now though, and will also self publish if that goes nowhere. I didn’t want to self publish without knowing I gave trying to get traditionally published a real shot.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I think that’s why I love Danielle Binks – she actually gives individual feedback, which is wonderful. Her response to my novel Mesmerise (urban fantasy) was that ‘it wasn’t quite right for her’ and that she ‘personally couldn’t picture it’, which she said was just 100% her taste in stories. She didn’t mention what my writing was like, so I still have no idea if I’m way off the mark or getting closer. But she was right about my story idea though – it’s a bit far out there! So I’ll just be self-publishing that one … ☺hahaha

            Liked by 1 person

          • Yes, it is nice to get some individual feedback instead of a standard form letter. It’s learning to either use or let go of that feedback though, to keep yourself going. Not knowing if your writing style is good enough is the worst. It’s such a hard thing to get feedback on because everyone’s opinion is different.

            Like

          • Oh and I’m sorry that you got put off writing for a while. Must have been tough for you. Same thing happened to me too once after I had a face-to-face pitch. I was so devastated by the negative response that I couldn’t look at my poor old manuscript for a few weeks (I usually write every day). Don’t let it get you down!! I like to think I made my manuscript stronger and better by taking on board what the publisher had to say – and as a result I got more requests for partial submissions after I revised the entire thing (no requests for fulls though..)

            Liked by 1 person

          • Thanks. Yeah, looking back I was annoyed I let it get to me so much. If the agent isn’t a fan of third person POV, and that’s the way the book is written, then they were never going to like it enough to consider it. Face-to-face must have been tough. Good on you for not giving up and for making your MS stronger.

            Like

          • Omg funny story – just got a ‘form’ rejection response email from Curtis Brown for my latest novel. Like, they rejected it within, what, 4 days? That doesn’t seem like a good sign to me… my other one took about 1-2 months before they rejected it

            Liked by 1 person

          • My rejection from Curtis Brown took 2 months. I sent it in November though so they might have been closed over Christmas and couldn’t get back to me before they did in January. Sorry to hear that you were rejected.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Oh that’s a funny coincidence, I sent a query to Curtis Brown for my first novel in November last year too! Didn’t hear back until January. I keep thinking of those lucky buggers who get the magical phone call or email saying ‘we love your book and want to represent / publish it!!’ Argh one day…

            Liked by 1 person

  7. Keep the faith. Your perseverance and your dream will lead you somewhere. I had a writer friend who has published books already and one advice I could never forget was, if your country does not support your genre, the world is a vast place, you can find your spot somewhere and you will build up your readership.
    I was rejected twice but it didn’t stop me to keep on writing.
    Good luck to you. Hope to see your book published one day soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. When you say ” I expected this due to its slightly odd concept, I never found out if it was due to the unpublishable genre or my ineptness as a writer,” it rings so true for me. I am finding myself in the exact same situation. I have done something unique with my books structure and it seems that agents are being put off by it. I am at about 12 rejections so far. The rejections don’t bother me. I am tracking 91 rejections on my short story submissions (I wrote a lot of stories). The thing I really hate is not knowing exactly what the problem is. As you say, is it the concept or the sample pages that killed my query? I’ve been sending short follow up emails asking the agents this. So far only two have replied, citing the unique structure as the major turn-off. But as you suggest, maybe the others just don’t want to tell me my sample pages are garbage! If I may ask, how many rejection did you get before you decided it will never pass? I’m American, so I probably have many more potential agents to query that you. Is 50 too many? I am still trying to figure out where my cutoff should be before I start to serious rethink my plan. (I’m already considering restructuring the first pages of my MS to have more kick, by rethinking the plan I mean something like moving away from agent queries to sending directly to smaller publishers.) I’d love your advice!

    Like

    • I’ve already worked it over with an editor. 3 revisions. Im confident with the text itself. Changing the unqiue narrative structure would require writing a totally different book. That’s the thing that is causing the hangup, at least in part. The one thing I cannot change.

      Like

    • Anyways, I’m sure at this point the MS is not the problem, since none of the agents read it yet. I feel that I’d have a decent chance if I can just get a full read, since I did go through a professional editing process. I’m getting rejected at the cover letter/concept level not the MS read. I’m considering changing my first chapter so it starts faster. Most agents only ask for 5 pages initially and mine are a bit slow.

      Like

  9. “Odd concept?” “Unpublishable genre?” Well now I’m intrigued. I live for that kind of stuff. 🙂 If you feel comfortable sharing, I’d love to know what Mesmerise was about!

    15 is a crazy small number of agents to query – not to mention 6!! Are you limited to only Australian agents? Might an overseas agent still take you on? I’m not sure what the policies are, but so much is done online and by phone anyway… Well either way, I wish you the best!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I wish you oodles and oodles of luck, Millie! I’ve gone through about twenty ‘no’s with Exposed before someone finally requested to see more material. I’m currently waiting for their response back and it’s a nail-biting feeling. I’ve already shared a super rough first version of the book on Wattpad, which has more reads than someone of my standing will probably ever receive on that site, and I’m just hoping this agent’s the one and she really likes the concept.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Did you self publish Mesmerise? I’m querying my first novel right now. I’m not sure I have the courage to self publish, but the idea of sticking in a draw doesn’t sit right either.
    I’m curious what other authors do.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’ve sent queries to a few of these, but before I developed a proper understanding of what it takes to write a query letter that supposedly works. Since then I found the website “Query Shark” and honed my queries down to what they should have been. I’ve been querying overseas agents, but with zero success. It doesn’t worry me too much–I’ll just continue refining and sending out to others. Something’s got to give.
    BTW Jacinta di Mase Management is not accepting unsolicited submissions at this time.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I truly believe that you are a beautiful writer, Millie, if I may say. Your work is very well written, with the depth, clarity, and imagery that only a talented writer can truly portray. Thank you for all that you do, and I can’t wait to have your book in my hands!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Milly, I’ve been there before also. I began writing in 2003, now I have eight books, write a weekly column for a newspaper, have freelance written for three magazines, have a blog since 2009 with 15,000 viewers and travel the United States, going to elementary schools, reading to children and putting on presentations. On two occasions, my third book was picked up my New York literary agencies. On both of those occasions, I was cut loose at the last minute for simple changes of mind. Between those two moments, I have lost a child, lost a sibling, been homeless, bankrupt, foreclosed, gone hungry and divorced. The amazing thing I discovered through those appropriately called, ‘stings’ is doing it anyway. I took that third book, printed it myself and hit the road to school, libraries and bookstores that would let me through the front door to hold a signing.This year, I have sold 1,000 copies of my book, my feedback is awesome and I have the walls of my home lined with thank you cards, pictures and letters. I love going out there and making my success, for many years, I believed I was not an author without an agent but I’ve shattered that falsehood. I enjoyed the post and have begun to follow you on Tw & In and look forward to reading from you!

    Liked by 5 people

    • Good idea! I’m hoping to be a ‘hybrid’ writer 🙂 I’m going to KDP my paranormal romance novels, and maybe find a traditional publisher for my psychological thrillers. Although it’s very unlikely I’ll ever get a contract with a traditional, I almost wish I didn’t want it so badly!

      Liked by 3 people

    • Been there, done that. For me, lacking the knack for promoting and marketing, my foray into self-publishing has been an unmitigated disaster. Less than two dozen copies sold since October last year, multiple times any profit spent on strategic social media paid promotions, it’s the world of ‘nope’ for me. I really do need to defer to superior wisdom when it comes to marketing and distribution, hence all my unpublished material is being sent out for agent consideration. If you can manage all the myriad responsibilities and disciplines required of self-publishing, more power to you, and best wishes for every success. For me–I’m done.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. It is a woeful tale, the journey of finding an agent, but a really interesting adventure as well. I think over the past fifteen years I’ve been rejected by all the agents I could send my novels too in Australia now (for the funnest reasons too) though I have always been grateful that they’re really nice and encouraging.
    I wish you all the best for your querying! Good luck and I hope you find a wonderful agent for your works.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It makes a huge difference when you get a nice and encouraging reply, even if they aren’t interested in taking it on – anything’s better than those dreaded form rejections! Can I ask if you ended up finding a publisher or did you go the self-publishing route?

      Like

      • I’ve had a real adventure with publishers/agents and to where I am now. I started out in Penguin Australia, working on my first novel with them for two years, reached the final acquisition stage only to be rejected due to the ‘economic climate’ of Australia. But they were really nice about it and I’ve kept in contact with the editors there, lovely people, I really recommend Penguin Random House…but…this was awhile ago, they might not accept random submissions anymore. But they are lovely. Anyway, I knew I had a good book…so…I tried agents, and…no bites, thus I just decided to go self-publishing to see if that would work. I don’t think, in this current wave of what is popular amongst agents, that my work is likeable at all so guess I’ve just accepted that.
        But I think if you can write something an agent likes, then I really, really…really…think it’s the better path to go.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. All the best with your querying!

    I’m curious – are you restricting your search to agents in Australia, and if you are would you mind sharing the rationale behind that? I haven’t got to the querying stage yet, but when I get there I plan to hunt internationally unless in the meantime I discover a good reason not to 🙂 (I’m in NZ).

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks! And no, great question! Firstly, I’d love to have a crack at the Australian market, being my home country and all… but the real reason why I’m hesitatant to try the US is I had a bad experience with a small ‘scam’ traditional publisher over there (story’s on my blog somewhere). While I do know that most other US agents and publishers are very reputable, I just can’t do it. So for the time being I’m going to self-publish my paranormal romance novels and seek a well-known and established agent or publisher for my other novels, if I could be so lucky!! 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

  17. Best of luck in your querying! I’ve been there before (taking some time off to write a different novel) and I know how rough it is. Keep your head up and your fingers on the keyboard. -Beth

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s