Jan. 13, 2017
Today we are thrilled to present Jennifer March Soloway, Associate Agent at Andrea Brown Literary Agency. She will be giving away a GOLDEN QUERY PASS at Kidlit411's birthday bash giveaway next week (sign up for our email updates to get the giveaway posts).
Tell us about your background and how you came to agenting.
After college, I worked in public relations and marketing in a number of industries, including banking, health care, and toys—and except for the banking, there was always a focus on kids. But I had always loved literature—especially YA—and after a number of years, I went back to school to get an MFA in English and Creative Writing with an emphasis on young adult literature.
I was first introduced to the Andrea Brown Literary Agency at the Big Sur Children’s Writing Workshop. On a whim, I applied to be Executive Agent Laura Rennert’s assistant to learn more about the industry and quickly discovered I love agenting. I enjoy reviewing contracts and thinking strategically on behalf of the clients. I love writing pitches. I even like reviewing royalty statements. Most of all, I love editorial. It gives me great joy to help writers find their story.
Last year, after three years of assisting Laura, I was promoted to Associate Agent, and I have been lucky to find and represent incredibly talented clients. Working for ABLA is my dream job.
What types of books are you looking for these days?
I am open to any good story that is well written with strong, authentic voices of all kinds, but I'd love to find the following:
I am actively seeking MG, and I'm open to anything. I like boy and girl protagonists, adventure, spooky-but-not-too-scary ghost stories, puzzles, mysteries, funny contemporary stories, fantasy, etc.
Young adult is my sweet spot. I am always looking for a good psychological horror that blurs the lines between the real with the imagined. I love the question: Is it real or is it all in my head? Action-packed thrillers and mysteries, full of unexpected twists. I am also drawn to literary stories about ordinary people, especially those focused on family, relationships, sexuality, mental illness, or addiction.
For picture books, laugh-out-loud stories are my favorite. I like sweet picture books too but I always appreciate a dose of humor.
That’s my wish list, but the truth is an author might have something I have never considered before, and it might be absolutely perfect for me. Please query me!
What type of agent would you describe yourself as? What is your communication and working style?
I like to be very hands-on with my clients; I want to be both their champion and their advocate. I like to be transparent, responsive, and honest. I work closely with my clients and inform them every step of the process, and I encourage them to also stay in close communication.
I am also very editorial. My goal is to help my clients revise and polish their manuscripts for publication and make their project the best it can be, so I spend a lot of time reading client manuscripts and providing editorial feedback. I want to put our very best foot forward.
What excites you most about a manuscript?
I find the projects that capture my interest have at least three of the following traits:
A strong, engaging voice.
An intriguing premise that somehow feels different from anything else I’ve seen.
A dynamic opening scene filled with drama that had enough context to immediately ground me in the world and suck me into the story.
An irresistible character with high stakes and agency.
An additional story thread that is also compelling.
What are common mistakes you see in queries or manuscripts?
I think the biggest mistake is submitting work too soon. I see potential in almost every submission, but most projects I receive are at too early a stage for me to offer representation. The drafts tend to be too raw and in need of more work. Often, I can tell the author is still writing to discover, or if they have discovered the end, they have yet to rework the beginning and middle.
I am looking for something with potential, something I think I can sell. I want to read the story and have a vision for how the work could be elevated and polished. A manuscript doesn’t have to be perfect, but at the same time, it has to be really good.
What is one thing most people don’t know about you?
I am a retired, amateur boxer.
What is the best way to query you?
Please send a query plus the first ten pages or a complete picture book manuscript in the body of the email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
See our agency web site for submission guidelines and advice: http://www.andreabrownlit.com/how-to-submit.html