Lisa Tener: How to Meet and Choose the Best Literary Agent for Your Book

Nonfiction Authors Association Podcast

Find video and show notes below.

About Lisa Tener

Lisa Tener is a leading authority in book writing publishing and book proposal development whose clients have signed five- and six-figure book deals with HarperCollins, Random House, Hachette, Beyond Words, New World Library, New Harbinger, St. Martin’s Press, Yale University Press, Johns Hopkins University Press, HCI, and other major publishers. Lisa has been quoted by the New York Times, Boston Globe, Glamour, Vice, and MarketWatch in addition to appearances on ABC World News and PBS TV. Her latest book is The Joy of Writing Journal: Spark Your Creativity in 8 Minutes a Day. You can find out more about Lisa at


Get the interview transcript here.


  • How does an author begin the process of identifying and reaching the best agent for their book?
  • Is it okay to query more than one agent at a time, and what’s the proper etiquette if you decide to do so?
  • What’s the process for sending a proposal if an agent requests one?
  • Can an author get an agent if they self-publish?

Pull Quotes

 Looking at actual books to see who’s acknowledged by the author of a book that might be complementary to yours is a really good way to [find an agent].

  • You definitely want to see [an agent’s] contract and show it to a lawyer because you want to know exactly what you’re signing. And your lawyer may suggest some changes.
  • [If the agent suggests changes that are] really far from your vision, and something feels wrong about it, I would definitely consider is this the right fit? Or are they taking the book in a different direction that I’m not comfortable with?
  • On deciding whether to seek a publishing deal: Is that what you’d like to be doing? Or do you want to get the book out there and really have it be impacting your readers, and also maybe growing your business?


2:20     How does an author even begin the process of finding a literary agent?

4:42     How can authors really identify and drill down on the absolute best match for their book?

5:57     What contracts and expectations should authors be prepared if an agent says yes to their query?

8:57     What is the etiquette for querying more than one agent at a time?

11:00   How long should an author wait to hear back from an agent after a query has been made?

14:22   Is it true that Twitter is a popular venue for meeting literary agents?

14:58   What’s the best way to send your proposal?

16:22   How can an author find an intellectual property lawyer?

17:20   What are the chances of getting an agent if you’ve had a self-published book or are thinking about self publishing?

21:00   What does a book coach do?

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