Agent Spotlight: Jennifer March Soloway
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
I am intrigued with your transition from amateur boxer to literary agent; you are unique and that is really cool! Oh the stories you must have. From you previous work in marketing and public relations that always had a kid focus, I can see how you came to be a literary agent; makes you good at what you do. The fact you are also highly editorial, is a great quality (in my opinion) for a literary agent to have. Great interview Jennifer! The kidlit world is lucky to have you. :)ReplyDelete
Thanks, Traci. I'm thrilled to be a part of the kidlit world.Delete
Jennifer, Thanks for sharing your background and agenting interests/style. I was also surprised to read that your background includes amateur boxer. I'm curious if boxing influences your interests.ReplyDelete
Good question. I haven't thought about it, but now that you mention it, I'd love to receive a boxing story!Delete
Jennifer, you certainly have the right name to be an agent at Andrea Brown. ;-) I am willing to bet your boxing comment was a joke. Now we'll have to get the true story. I enjoyed reading about you and the writing that appeals to you. I'll get back to work on my laugh-out-loud story.ReplyDelete
Not a joke. All true, and I have the broken nose to prove it. Would love to see your laugh-out-loud story when you're ready to submit. P.S. I am Jennifer #4 at ABLA.Delete
I always enjoy these agent spotlights but was especially excited to see one from the agency I've had my eye on for some time now! Polishing my MG query now to send off in the near future :)ReplyDelete
Yes, please query me with MG. Good luck!Delete
I also enjoy these spotlights! Thanks for letting us get to know you more, Jennifer! (also my sister's name) I'm polishing up revisions on my MG fantasy/adventure story and look forward to sending a query to you, when it's ready. It's wonderful that you're so hands-on with your clients!ReplyDelete
Thanks for sharing.
Wow, what a cool background! My fighting experience is somewhat limited, but I have a black belt and teach self defense, so I can sympathize on that broken nose. ;)ReplyDelete
If you don't mind my asking--because I am actively querying now--would a super adventurous fairy tale mashup MG be of any interest?
Thank you for sharing your story! I love to hear what agents are specifically searching for in their inboxes. My humorous MG mystery is still a work-in- progress, but I will put you on my list to query! Back to the editing cave. Gotta nail that ending.ReplyDelete
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Great interview. Thanks for letting us get to know you! 4 Jennifers...it must be fate! Congratulations.ReplyDelete
amateur boxer! wow! It's amazing to see what a diverse background we all come from. Thanks for sharing your story.ReplyDelete
Great to hear about your journey. I've just started querying a YA with a boy MC, so happy to see you are good with either. I look forward to sending you a query.ReplyDelete
Always interesting to learn specifics about an agent. ��ReplyDelete
Thank you for sharing your wants and interests. I may have to start a story about boxing. I look forward to querying you with a humorous PB.ReplyDelete
And now you are fighting of stories, Jennifer. I will be querying a funny/heartfelt PB soon. Really think you are correct, some folks submit a piece too soon. TY for more info about YOU.ReplyDelete
Thank you for sharing your interests and style as an agent. I love that you take a "hands-on" approach and wish to be both champion and advocate for your clients! :-)ReplyDelete
A couple of years ago time travel seemed to be a hot topic, but my novel wasn't ready. Now that it's ready, is it too late for a YA time travel story?ReplyDelete
Jennifer: I loved learning about your past history as an amateur boxer. What could be better than a surprise twist? Here's hoping many great stories come your way at ABLA!ReplyDelete
Jennifer: Amateur boxing! The closest thing I've come to that is kickboxing class at the gym. LOL, but my female YA character uses some of those moves in her dark thriller. Thanks for sharing a little of your life with us. Will surely be querying you soon. :)ReplyDelete
Your enthusiasm for your job shines through, Jennifer! Thanks for the great interview!ReplyDelete
Thanks for your informative interview. The boxing was a nice surprise. It lets us know agents are real people too.ReplyDelete
Thank you for sharing the agent perspective. I love that you know what you're looking for, but are also open to being swept away by a story you never expected.ReplyDelete
I am still interested in hearing more about the boxing!ReplyDelete
Wow! A badass lit agent able to take (and give) a punch! That's an agent to have in this literary climate! (um... Can one query two completely different kinds of books (a PB & a YA Suspense) to ABL at the same time?ReplyDelete
Jennifer is awesome. Energetic and positive. Loved meeting her at an scbwi regional event last year.ReplyDelete