DocBenway's picture
DocBenway March 29, 2017 - 6:25am


I've written two novels [out of a possible six novel series] which I'd describe as dark conspiracy horror, or maybe woke horror, or maybe The Turner Diaries if it had been written by Trotsky in the era of Black Lives Matter.

Anyway, I was going to wait to shop them around until I'd finished all six but now I'm beginning to feel that maybe I should start now. I'm writing them at a rate of about two a year, but with Get Out having been a huge success I feel like maybe now is the time.

I'm unpublished so I have no real idea where to start. I was thinking I'd shop it around to agents first. Maybe a handful every six weeks or so. See what happens. If that fails, the small presses. 

I am aware of Duotrope. Do they include agent listings? If not, where do genre writers [particularly horror writers] look to find agent names and info? 

Any tips would be welcome. 



DocBenway's picture
DocBenway March 29, 2017 - 6:47am

I just read in the Duotrope FAQ that they do not list literary agents, so nix that question. 

There's the Guide to Literary Agents volume that is published each year by Writer's Digest and also Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Publishers, Editors and Literary Agents. Anyone have any thoughts on the usefulness of these book?  

Other than these, any recommended resources to find literary agent info, particularly in horror? 

MattF's picture
MattF from Tokyo is reading Borges' Collected Fictions March 29, 2017 - 7:50am

You don't need 6 novels, 2 novels, or 1 novel (generally) to shop it. The first 50 pages and a synopsis is enough.

Do not wait. Start shopping what you have now. 

"...which I'd describe as...or maybe...or maybe..." -- You need to be able to describe it first. A solid 50 pages, a solid synopsis and pitch is all you need to start.

Decide what your goals are: an agent and big publisher, small press, self-publishing, etc... Google is all you really need to get started. My advice with novels is to start big and work your way down (though you should really start with short stories and work up first).

I believe your first 50 pages is the most important thing.

Good luck.


Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal March 29, 2017 - 9:22am


Can you elaborate on why the first 50 pages is the most important?

DocBenway's picture
DocBenway March 29, 2017 - 11:03am

All I'm really looking for are people's recommendations for resources for finding agents. Preferably agents who aren't allergic to horror. Thanks!

MattF's picture
MattF from Tokyo is reading Borges' Collected Fictions March 29, 2017 - 6:02pm

Thuggish: Only because that's what agents request, and that's all they're going to read. If it's good, they'll request the rest of your novel (which is also important of course). But your first 50 need to be great to get your foot in the door.

Alan: My suggestion was google. Search "horror agents" and you'll have more than enough to get started. You just need to put in some time and effort to research the listings. Everything you need is online. 

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal March 31, 2017 - 10:47am


am i a dick for saying, fuck that, your entire book needs to be as great as the great first 50?

MattF's picture
MattF from Tokyo is reading Borges' Collected Fictions March 31, 2017 - 4:28pm

no, you're a dick for myriad reasons, here you're just missing the point: your entire book needs to be great to be published. only your first 50 pages need to be great to submit it. there could be years of work between the two.

in some cases you can submit an incomplete manuscript--if you have fifty pages and a synopsis--and begin work with an agent. they may not be looking for printable pages but talent, and you can expect considerable editorial input before a manuscript is considered done. 

JeffreyGrantBarr's picture
JeffreyGrantBarr from Oregon is reading April 6, 2017 - 10:01pm

Upvotes to MattF.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated April 15, 2017 - 4:31pm

Am I going to say this? I am. Fudge. Lots of books that aren't great get published guys. Even bad first 50.

Rachel Capps's picture
Rachel Capps from Sydney, Australia is reading Fight Club April 22, 2017 - 12:01am

I am going to describe my own situation to say why I disagree about submitting after 50 pages. We can agree to disagree, just hear me out.

Yes, after continually submitting 50 pages around agents it may take 2 years but what if it doesn't? You only have potentially one shot at impressing an agent - how unprofessional will it look if you can't send the full ms if they request it? Remember, they are professionals. I sent my 50 pages and within 2 weeks a full ms was requested. How would it look if I said "it's not finished"? At the very minimum it screams, "has she even written a novel before?" Finish, polish, edit, then polish again THEN submit. Start your next novel while you wait.

MattF's picture
MattF from Tokyo is reading Borges' Collected Fictions April 22, 2017 - 8:20pm

Rachel, I totally agree. If you're submitting a novel, your novel needs to be done.

However, there are cases where you can submit an unfinished manuscript, or the opening of a novel--"pitching" a project, if you will (I've done it). It is a rarer situation, and depends on the agent's policies. The key--and to your point--is not misleading an agent. 

It was a bit hyperbolic, and has taken on too much focus in this thread. The point was to encourage the original poster, who has written two of six novels, to begin submitting now, and not wait until all 6 books are done. They would be wiser to revisit their first 50, polish and submit it, before moving on to book 3. That's all I'd wanted to say.


Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal April 24, 2017 - 1:16pm

I don't think it's taken too much focus at all. I think we've hashed out some interesting and good-to-know details. So thanks for your insight, it's valuable.