First, you need to decide what you are going to present to agents.
With fiction, you always need to write the whole book. With non-fiction, you can often get away with offering agents a book proposal – that is, an outline version of the book you intend to write.
If your book is strongly story-led (true of most memoir, for example), you’d be advised to write the whole thing before seeking agents.
If your story is more subject-led, it’s usually fine to work off the back of a proposal.
Second, you need to deliver a wonderful, saleable manuscript. That means:
- Strong, popular, entertaining writing (even if your subject is an extremely interesting one, people won’t want to read what you have to say about it if you write badly, so don’t).
- Write for the market. It’s obvious, but most non-fiction manuscripts aren’t written for the market. If you’re not sure what your market is, go to a bookstore and get the answer.
Third, if you get knocked back by literary agents (non-fiction or generalist) – or if you want to give yourself the best possible chance before you approach them – then go and get professional advice.
We’ve helped propel non-fiction books into print. Authors brought us ideas, talent, work ethic. We brought knowledge of the market, contacts, and expertise in writing.
Put those things together, and you can have a powerful combination with eventual success. That’s how to find a literary agent for non-fiction.
Best of luck.