I love poetry, but…

…I don’t represent poets.

Few U.S. literary agents represent poetry. I won’t add insult to injury by explaining why.

Every year, I receive queries from poets, so it can’t hurt to post the form letter I send in reply, just in case a writer somewhere is conducting online research in the hope of having a book-length collection of poetry published by a respected literary press in the U.S.

The market for books of poetry is entirely different in languages other than English and in other parts of the world, but I’m monolingual, and the poets who contact me usually write in English.

To poets who ask if I’ll consider being their agent (a form letter)

If you’re reading this form reply from Robin Mizell Ltd., chances are you haven’t seen the agency’s website, RobinMizell.com, which provides up-to-date query guidelines. I don’t represent poets. A small number of agents work with the most celebrated poets, but most poets work directly with the publishers of their work.

In many cases, in order to have a book of poetry accepted by a traditional publisher, first you must have your poems published in highly respected literary journals and poetry anthologies. I can’t stress enough the importance of submitting your work only to the best small magazines and presses. The Poets & Writers website lists literary journals and contest deadlines. I think you’ll find its online resources helpful.

If you truly wish to pursue the idea of having a literary agent, then you should look for submission or query guidelines on literary agencies’ websites before contacting them. If poetry is not listed as a category of manuscripts an agent is seeking, then that agent is not looking for new poets to represent.

Learn which literary agencies might be seeking new poets as clients by reviewing the agency listings on free networking sites like these:

QueryTracker

Agent Query

Association of Authors’ Representatives

Your local library also will have guidebooks such as Poet’s Market. There’s no need to purchase the book. You can borrow it from the library nearest you. Find the closest library by searching WorldCat.org.

Good luck with your endeavors.

Sincerely,

Robin

If you’re reading this blogpost and can suggest improvements or additions to this form letter, please let me know, either via email or in the comments section. Is there a reliable online resource for writers who want to learn how to find reputable publishers for their poetry?

One thought on “I love poetry, but…

  1. Robin Mizell Post author

    The Poets & Writers website indicates these two agencies handle poetry, but it’s probable that the poets or estates they represent were well known and already established with excellent publishers long before requiring the agencies’ services:

    Georges Borchardt, Inc.

    Bill Clegg of William Morris Endeavor

    STOP! READ THIS: If you think your poetry is the exception, don’t simply contact these agencies. Please take a few weeks to conduct further research, and try to understand the market before forging ahead. You won’t regret acquiring the knowledge. You must be willing to do the essential preliminary work if you hope to succeed at having your poetry published.

    Try reading the following useful information first:

    Victoria Strauss — Literary Agents for Poets?

    Why Poets Should Not Seek Literary Agents

    Poets.org: Writing and Publishing FAQ

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