(Updated February 2024)
It takes a lot of time to trawl literary agencies to find agents who are willing to represent speculative fiction writers, I've done of the work for you with a list here. Plus, where possible, any relevant authors who they represent. Remember when contacting them to adhere to their submission policies rigorously. If you receive a rejection, don't forget it may not be because your work isn't good enough, it may be decided by their List. Agents handle a combination of authors, people with commercial potential combined with commercial income. Agents make their salaries from what their authors earn. Therefore, they take on only a handful of debut writers because the income they generate is not guaranteed, they are a risk. Your work might be brilliant but if their list has a lot of debut writers, they won't want to take on any more because it would affect what they earn. They are entrepreneurs!
With that in mind, here are some agents you might want to approach:
Curtis Brown - not only a literary agency but Curtis Brown Creative is an agent-led writing school. Their courses are in London and online. Courses range from tutor-led write-your-novel to how to edit and pitch your finished work to an agent. Courses always include contact with their agents.
Stephanie Thwaites is open to children's and YA speculative fiction as well as a story with a 'kick-ass' heroine like Villanelle or Arya Stark. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Felicity Blunt is open to 'outstanding speculative fiction, or that which imagines alternative histories' but we warned, she maintains her tastes are reflected by her best two clients, Daphne du Maurier and Jilly Cooper!! Email: email@example.com
Ciara Finan mentioned fantasy and "romantasy" in a bunch of other genres and also is on the lookout for 'under represented communities. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Alice Lutyens is closed to submission until Sept 2024 but is looking for 'a fantastically written novel with a twist of the magical or supernatural, but based in reality'. Email: email@example.com
Conville and Walsh - they are commercially linked to Curtis Brown.
Alexander Cochran is agent to Joe Abercrombie, Neil Gaiman, Tade Thompson and Gareth Powell. He wants 'sci-fi and fantasy that push boundaries or cross genres, but are rooted in the believable.' Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Blake Friedmann - Kate Burke did cover speculative fiction but this has vanished from her profile. Others in the agency specify no interest in it! Two of their senior staff are closed to submissions.
Ki Agency - there is now only Meg Davis at Ki now but she is an advocate for genre fiction. She is friendly and helpful, I've found her to offer helpful insights even while rejecting my work! Email: email@example.com
Johnson and Alcock This is a rather staid agency, its senior personnel are highly respected but "traditional" let's say. Need I say more? Ed Wilson is their speculative fiction agent and represents writers like RJ Barker and Cameron Johnston. On Twitter he's active on his @literarywhore account. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
DHH Literary agency - David Headley is the boss here and is looking for 'expansive space operas and epic fantasy', like everyone he wants a strong narrative voice and an emotional journey for the protagonist, in other words, what every book needs! Email to email@example.com Harry Illingworth is currently closed to submissions with no indication of when he will reopen. He wants 'high concept speculative fiction and science fiction and fantasy of all kinds, especially gritty and epic'. He's the grimdark author, Anna Stephens' agent. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Emily Glenister mentions magic realism in passing but she is also closed to submissions.
DarleyAnderson - Camilla Bolton is MD of the agency now, she claims to be 'a huge fan of anything that embodies the natural world, speculative and epic high-concept stories.' Email to: email@example.com It's a small agency so don't expect a lot of contact.
David Higham - has Lizzy Kremer who is an interesting agent and MD of the agency. She's written a fascinating blog post here which discusses the need for genre writers to innovate whilst being aware of market forces. She talks sense and clearly knows her stuff. Email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
AM Heath - is a large agency though (in my opinion) their profiles suggest they prefer the traditional approach, speculative fiction is rarely mentioned. Oli Munson is the exception. He says, "I do love speculative fiction with high concept plots in the vein of Lauren Beukes, Sarah Lotz and Kate Mascarenhas but I’m not looking for the type of science fiction or fantasy that would solely be found on the SFF table of a bookshop." Make of that what you will.
The Bent Agency - (don't be put off by the name!). Molly Ker Hawn says, "Fantasy was my first love: Ruth Chew, Lloyd Alexander, Susan Cooper, Anne McCaffrey, and Sylvia Engdahl made me the reader I am today. But those influences mean my standards are high. I need solid worldbuilding, intelligent dialogue and real emotion in fantasy." She lists things she wants very clearly, well worth checking, she knows what she wants. Email to: email@example.com
Peters, Fraser and Dunlop - is a large agency, newly arrived Sarah Hornsley (email - firstname.lastname@example.org) mentions interest in n uplifting novel with a speculative edge. Something grounded in reality but sprinkled with a light magical touch. My author Becky Hunter does this brilliantly with her debut ONE MOMENT. (One debut author in this genre might be enough??) and Lucy Irvine deals with their SFF authors, "I am drawn to narratives driven by world building; quick-paced, addictive, and adventurous, with returnable series potential. I love stories set in worlds that pull you in and stay with you long after you’ve finished reading." Email: email@example.com
John Jarrold - the ultimate speculative fiction agent, John specialises in this area and his list includes authors like Kareem Mahfouz, Ben Galley, Harry Turtledove and Richard Webb. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Julie Crisp is closed to submissions until March 2024 and sounds like her editing work is taking up more and more of her time, she quotes support from lots of big genre names in this regard. She is a specialist speculative fiction agent. She represents authors such as Devin Madsen, John Gwynne and Sam Hawke. You can contact her on her site here
Juliet Mushens has recently set up her own agency. Liza DeBlock says, 'When it comes to fantasy, she loves urban and grounded fantasy (no sci-fi please!), and is always happy to look at anything with a vampire, werewolf, witches, warlocks, fairies, and perhaps a sinister selkie or two. She is also very much looking for romantasy and is the best person at the agency to submit that too.' Email: email@example.com
Janklow & Nesbit - Will Francis is now MD of the agency but says, "he has a particular interest in literary fiction and genre writers with a literary edge." Also in the agency is Hayley Steed who is looking for "an uplifting novel with a speculative edge, something along the lines of The Time Traveller’s Wife, The House on the Cerulean Sea or Before The Coffee Gets Cold, where the magic is part of the plot, but set in a real, or grounded, world. I’m keen to explore light fantasy that fits this description, including romantasy. Email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
When you read enough agent profiles you realise they all want similar things. A good hook, a strong narrative voice, engaging characters and emotional resonance. Women's fiction is a popular request and the search goes on for under represented voices. That said, you may also notice how the vast majority of agents went to elite universities! Privileged? I'll let you decide.
If you know of other literary agents who are open to speculative fiction or have constructive experiences you'd like to share, please get in touch and I can add them to this post.