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.
I’m from Brazil, English is not my first language, and I was told by many readers that I have a unique storytelling style.
In 2017, I began analyzing literary agents open for queries in the United States. Last year, I decided to adapt this content into an annual series divided into two posts: Genres & Genders.
This is the 2019 Literary Agent Analysis – Gender Edition.
Only one fiction genre there are more male than female agents. Can you guess which one is it? Hint: it’s not Sports!
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 2019 numbers. The data here is from querytracker.net, which is an awesome site to track how many agents did not connect with the voice of your narrator.
- 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 January 2019, querytracker.net had 1646 agents in their database. 1256 of them were in the US and 886 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 and Fantasy in most charts because my just released debut novel Challenges of the Gods is SFF and I’m just selfish like that.
In 2019, 66.6% of agents identified themselves as women. The proportion of women versus men is even larger for agents open for queries, where 72.9% are women, 26.1% men, and 0.8% other.
There are 19 less women agents open for queries in the US in 2019 when compared to 2018, while the number of male agents is down by 4. Due to this change, men now make 26.1% of the literary agents open for queries, up 0.2%. Women still make the majority, or 73.1%.
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 Action/Adventure, Erotica, Western, Military/Espionage and Poetry.
For men, Young Adult is in fourth place after Literary Fiction, Thrillers/Suspense, Mystery, and and ahead of 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%), 69.1% are women and 29.6% 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 three (one more than 2017, though). Ignoring that, the chart indicates that more women than men prefer New Adult,Chick Lit, Upmarket, and Romance.
Only in one genre we have more male than female agents: Military/Espionage. Action/Adventure was a toss-up in 2018, but not anymore.
After years of doing this analysis, only this year I learned about Sports Romance. Perhaps we should have one called Engineer Romance. Unfortunately, there’s no way to drill in the Romance genre in QueryTracker.Net.
Young adult leads the pack, but the number of agents is slightly decreasing since 2017. It’s followed by Literary Fiction, also decreasing. Next, we have Women’s Fiction (decreasing), Commercial (decreasing), Middle Grade (decreasing), and Thrillers/Suspense (stable).
Note that there are more female agents looking for both Fantasy and Science Fiction in 2019 when compared with 2018.
Poetry is at the bottom but it’s increasing, right after Military/Espionage, also increasing. Next, we have Western and Erotica.
Women – Absolute Growth – Fiction
In 2019, more women are looking for Upmarket (+30), Historical (+24), Contemporary (+21), Multicultural (+17), LGBT (+16), General Fiction (+15), and Family Saga (+15).
At the bottom, Middle Grade lost 9 agents, followed by Literary Fiction (-8), and Commercial (-6).
Women – Percentage Growth – Fiction
Upmarket grew 107.1%, followed by Action/Adventure (+58.3%), Contemporary (+51.2%), and Western, Military/Espionage and Poetry (all +50%).
Erotica took the greatest hit. It lost 30.8% female agents. It’s followed by Middle Grade (-4.2%).
Men – Fiction Trends
Literary Fiction is the preferred genre for men but it’s decreasing, followed by Thrillers/Suspense (stable)and Commercial (decreasing). Young Adult, the preferred genre for women, is in fourth place here and stable since 2018 (after a drop in 2017).
Men – Absolute Growth – Fiction
Graphic Novels had 6 more agents in 2019 when compared to 2018. Next, we have General Fiction (+3), Picture Books (+3), Religious/Inspirational (+2), Upmarket (+2), and Action Adventure (+1). Women’s Fiction, Erotica, and Poetry didn’t change from 2018 (Poetry had none, anyway). All other genres have less male agents in 2019.
The biggest losers were Commercial (-7), Mystery (-6), and Historical (-5).
Both Science Fiction and Fantasy lost 4 male agents each.
Men – Percentage Growth – Fiction
Upmarket grew 100% from 2018 (from 2 to 4). Religious/Inspirational grew 33.3%, followed by Graphic Novels (30%), Picture Books (20%), General Fiction (11%), and Action/Adventure (7.7%).
New Adult lost 66.7%, followed by Chick Lit (-33.3%) and Military/Espionage (-28.6%).
We love reading a historical account or biography from personal knowledge or special sources. This is why Memoirs are one of the most sought non-fiction genre for all agents.
Women agents look for Memoirs, Narrative, History, Pop Culture and and Science/Technology. After that we have a gentle down slope with several other genres like Health/Fitness, Food/Lifestyle, Current Affairs/Politics, Biography, and many others. Non-fiction books about Decorating/Design, Pets, Reference and Military are not that popular with women.
Most men that are open for non-fiction queries prefer History, Memoirs, Narrative, Pop Culture, Science/Technology, Current Affairs/Politics, Biography, Sports, and Business/Finance. Few male agents look for Pets, Garenind,Decorating/Design, 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, Juvenile, and Psychology, where less than 20% of the agents are men. More men than women prefer Sports and Military.
Women – Non-fiction Trends
Memoirs is first and it’s stable from 2018. Narrative grew slightly. History is stable, and Pop Culture had a drop.
Women – Absolute Growth – Non-fiction
Psychology added 17 female agents in 2019. Juvenile and Sports added 13 each, and Multicultural, Cookbooks, Cultural/Soc all added 10 each.
Pop Culture lost 15 females agents, followed by generic Non-fiction (-12), Business/Finances (-11) and Self-Help (-9).
Women – Percentage Growth – Non-fiction
Reference grew 71.4% from 2019 (+5 agents). It’s followed by LGBT (+45%), Military (+40%) and Juvenile (+34.2%). The biggest losers were Non-Fiction (-23.1%), Self-Help (-10.2%), Business/Finances (-9.8%).
Men – Non-fiction Trends
Most male agents are interest in History, and it’s somewhat stable since 2017. There was a jump in Memoirs, while Narrative and Pop Culture went down. Few men are interested in Reference, but it’s up from 2018.
Men – Absolute Growth – Non-fiction
There are more male agents in 2019 looking for Memoirs (+5), Food/Lifestyle (+5), Religion/Spirituality (+3), Journalism (+3), and Juvenile (+3).
Narrative had the largest absolute drop (-7), followed by Self-Help and Current Affairs (both -4).
Men – Percentage Growth – Non-fiction
Juvenile and Reference had the largest percentage growth – 50%. They are followed by Food/Lifestyle with 12.8%. The largest percentage drop was in Self-Help (-18.5%) and LGBT (-18.2%).
I posted the raw data on Reddit. Link here.
Conclusion: Which Agent Gender Should You Pick?
It doesn’t matter. I just wrote these series 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.
Don’t forget to check my debut Science Fiction and Fantasy novel Challenges of the Gods!