Check my Query and Publish series: one episode per agent.
Unless stated otherwise, the data here is from QueryTracker.net. The charts are my own interpretation of those numbers.
In 2017, I began analyzing literary agents open for queries in the United States. This year, I decided to adapt this content into an annual series divided into two posts: Genres & Genders.
This is the 2018 Literary Agent Analysis – Gender Edition.
Note: if you want to check analysis of single agents, check my Query and Publish series where I analyze six different agents based on their tweets. See also my Science Fiction special focused only on SciFi queries.
So, without further ado, here are the 2018 numbers. The data here is from querytracker.net, which is an awesome site to track how many agents wished you the best of luck to find an agent.
- Unless specified, the charts are about agents open for queries in the US.
- Click on the charts for a higher resolution version, in case you can’t read them.
In February 2018, querytracker.net had 1591 agents in their database. 1237 of them were in the US and 909 were accepting queries.
The genders here are how the agents are identified in querytracker’s website. This study is not supposed to be about sexual orientation. At least 4% of Americans identify themselves as LGBQT+, and we should all support them.
As for genres: they are not mutually exclusive: Agents are often open to multiple genres. So if one is accepting Young Adult and Thrillers/Suspense, they’re included in both. Also, I’m highlighting Science Fiction in most charts since my own unagented book is Science Fiction and I’m selfish like that.
In 2018, between 65.2% of agents are identified as women. This number grows for agents open for queries, where 73.4% are women, 25.9% men, and 0.8% other.
There are 7 more women agents open for queries in the US in 2018, while the number of male agents is down by 9 (others is down by 1). Due to this change, men now make 25.9% of the literary agents open for queries, down almost a whole percentage point. Women still make the majority, or 73.4%, up 1% from 2017.
These numbers are similar when divided by writing styles. Men looking for Literary Fiction is slightly higher than the overall average, but the difference is negligible, and women still dominate the genre.
Note: Unlike the genre edition blog post, for this article literary, commercial and upmarket are in the same charts below (when comparing 2017 and 2018).
Since we have more female agents, they also dominate most genres.There are more women looking for Young Adult, Literary Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Commercial, Middle Grade and Thrillers/Suspense. Fewer women are looking for Erotica, Action/Adventure, Western, Military/Espionage and Poetry.
For men, Young Adult is in fourth place after Literary Fiction, Thrillers/Suspense, Mystery, and Science Fiction and Fantasy.
The next charts normalize this distribution. For instance, for fiction genre preference normalized, of the all agents looking for Science Fiction (100%), 66.2% are women and 33.8% are men.
There are not enough agents in Poetry for us to reach any conclusions. 100% of the people looking for Poetry are women, but there’s only two (one more than 2017, though). Ignoring that, the chart indicates that more women than men prefer Chick Lit, Upmarket, Erotica, New Adult, Women’s Fiction and Romance, while more men are into Military/Espionage and Action/Adventure. Humor and Satire was a toss-up in 2017, but not anymore.
In 2018, more women are looking for Science Fiction (+6), General Fiction (+8), Multicultural (+6), Picture Books (+1), Chick Lit (+4), Crime/Police (+2), Family Saga (+1), Graphic Novels (+7), LGBT (+11), Upmarket (+28), Humor/Satire (+7), Offbeat/Quirky (+2), Action/Adventure (+2), Military/Espionage (+1), and Poetry (+1). All other genres are the same or went down.
Poetry (100%), LGBT (45.8%), Humor/Satire (33.3%), Military/Espionage (33.3%), Contemporary (32.3%), and Graphic Novels (20%) all have 20% more female agents than 2017. New Adult took the greatest hit, down by 23.8%, followed by Horror (-14.3%), Erotica (-13.3%), and others.
Men agents dropped from 2017 for most genres. The exceptions are Women’s Fiction (+2), Historical (although just by 1), Horror (+2), Picture Books (+3), Contemporary (+2), and Upmarket (+2).
Upmarket went up from zero to 2 male agents. Contemporary and Picture Books are both up 25%. Erotica is down 50% from 2017, followed by Chick Lit (-40%), New Adult (-25%). Science Fiction is down 12.5%.
Women agents look for Memoirs, Narrative, Pop Culture and History, and Science/Technology. After that we have a gentle slope with several other genres like Health/Fitness, Food/Lifestyle, Current Affairs/Politics, Biography, and many others. Non-fiction books about Pets, Decorating/Design, Reference and Military are not that popular with women.
Most men that are open for non-fiction queries prefer History, Narrative, Pop Culture, Memoirs, Science/Technology, Current Affairs/Politics, Biography, Sports, and Business/Finance. Few male agents look for Pets, Decorating/Design, Juvenile, Gardening, and Reference.
If we look at the proportion of men vs women in non-fiction, it’s clear that women prefer Women’s Issues, Juvenile, Parenting, Psychology, where less than 20% of the agents are men. More men than women prefer Sports and Military.
The only non-ficiton genres with less female agents in 2018 are Women’s Issues (-2), Cookbooks (-3), Psychology (-7), Relationship/Dating (-4), How To (-2), Pets (-3) , Decoration/Design (-1), and Reference (-1).
Juvenile (35.7%) and LGBT (33.3%) had the largest gain relative to 2017 for female agents.
There are more male agents in 2018 looking for Memoirs (+1), Current Affairs/Politics (+3), True Crime (+1), Religion/Spirituality (+2), Self-Help (+1), Military (+1), Parenting (+1), Psychology (+2), LGBT (+2), Juvenile (+1). The other genres are either the same or down from 2017.
Like the female agents, a lot more male agents are looking for LGBT (22.2%) and Juvenile (20%) in 2018. The largests drop from 2017 were in How To (-13.6%) and Travel (-14.3%).
Conclusion: Which Agent Gender Should You Pick?
It doesn’t matter. I just wrote this post because I was curious. In the end, you must do your research and submit to agents that may be a fit for your manuscript. Only after you get their rejections, you may freak out and submit to any agent that accepts your genre, or even genres that sound like yours. Clearly, every novel is Speculative, right? And I’m pretty sure you can call any book a Memoir of some sort. Obviously, I’m kidding. Read my Query & Publish series for analyses of specific agents.
Also, you should send the best version of your manuscript. Polish it as much as you can, and humbly accept feedback from all your beta readers, editors, and most of your loved ones (but not aunt Judith). Neil Gaiman says that if someone tells you something’s wrong with your novel, they’re almost always right.
And just between us, here’s a step-by-step how-to guide about how to become the next J. K. Rowling.
Thanks for QueryTracker.Net to let me use their data here. Also, thanks to my lovely daughter for the stick figure drawing.
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