Today, we are lucky enough to be interviewing literary agent Jenny Bent, of The Bent Agency on the blog. Welcome, Jenny!
Me: How did you become an agent?
Jenny: At some point in my childhood, my mother gave me a book about careers for people who like to read. It was at that point that I became interested in publishing. Then in college, I took a class in editing and publishing, and a writer named Joyce Johnson came and spoke to us. She explained the difference between agenting and editing and it was then I decided that agenting would be a better match for me. After college, I got a job as an assistant to a literary agent, and I haven’t looked back since!
Here’s a link to a blog post where I go into this in more detail: http://www.jennybent.blogspot.com/2012/10/in-answer-to-your-questions-post-by.html
Me: Many of my readers are aspiring authors and are actively looking for their first agent. Can you tell them a little bit about what the author/agent relationship is like? What can they expect after they sign with an agent?
Jenny: I think it can really vary, depending on the agent and also the author. At the least you should expect communication about the agent’s plans for the manuscript, and get a full submission list when the agent sends the book out. I send my authors all correspondence from the editors who are considering the book and then when there is an offer or offers, we talk through the options and make a decision together. I think an author should feel like the agent is always available to them, whether via phone or email, and feel comfortable discussing career problems, etc.
Me: What are you looking for right now in fiction submissions and not getting? Are there any subjects or genres that are near and dear to your heart? And on the flip side, what are you getting too much of?
Jenny: I would love to see more high concept women’s fiction and twisty turny female-driven suspense (like Rosamund Lupton or Gillian Flynn). On the flip side, I don’t think I’m getting too much of any one genre.
Me: What is one thing about you that a writer would be surprised to learn?
Jenny: I feel shy at writers conferences too!
Me: Best piece(s) of advice you can give a writer we haven’t talked about yet?
Jenny: Don’t take it personally. It’s the surest route to giving up. Remember it’s a business and just keep trying, every day.
Me: Are you open to submissions? If so, how should a writer go about submitting?
Jenny: Right now I am closed to queries, I reopen in January. Guidelines are on our website.