Friday, July 4, 2014

Can I land an agent with a short story collection?

Hi Noah,

I'm a short story writer with a finished collection. I've published 6 of the 11 stories in literary journals -- reputable journals, but not the New Yorker. What is the likelihood of my landing an agent? Is it highly unlikely? I've been contacted by a few agents when my stories have appeared (a good sign) but they've lost interest when I didn't have a novel in the works. Is this more or less how it will go if I start querying agents? Thanks for sharing your thoughts and for your generous blog!

The fact that you've landed several stories in reputable journals and that agents are contacting you is a very good sign. It is not impossible to land an agent with just a collection, particularly a younger agent who is just starting out and has a passion for literary fiction. But it is much harder to do so without having a novel ready, too--or at the very least a synopsis for a novel and the first 50 pages. I would really suggest, if at all possible, having the novel synopsis and pages ready before querying with the collection. On the other hand, if you don't plan on writing a novel, then query with what you have. Nothing is impossible!


  1. Hello, I'm about to send submissions to literary agents in the UK where I'm based. One of them stipulates to send a covering email, as opposed to the usual covering letter attached to the email. I'm tempted to send covering emails to all of them (and I've checked, they do take email submissions), instead of the rather dull and predictable 'Please find attached...' . Also, I was thinking of using the email header as a first hook, rather than just saying 'Novel submission...' with the title. Are these good ideas or should I stick to a more traditional approach, do you think? Thank you very much! Caroline

  2. The problem with anthologies is most don't sell. Nowadays readers are buying cheaper short e-books, one short story at a time, instead of anthologies. The shorts do sell. But it's tough to get people to buy a whole anthology anymore.


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