Sunday, August 5, 2018

Agent Panel: Jenny Bent

Jenny Bent founded The Bent Agency in 2009. The agency now has nine agents, offices in New York City and London, and a strong focus on international rights. Her authors include New York Times best-selling authors Stephanie Garber, Goldy Moldavsky, AG Howard, and Lynn Weingarten. She is actively looking for new clients across all categories of middle grade and young adult. Her website is and you can find her on Twitter @jennybent.

The panel was moderated by Alexandra Penfold.

What kind of stories do you like? 
I like middle grade and YA.  I like stories with twins or siblings. I like stories that take place in a forest. I like magic and dragons. [Note: these are individual elements--you don't have to have ALL of them.]

What are industry changes have you observed?
When I graduated from college, I interviewed in the subsidiary rights department of at a "Big 5" publisher. The interviewer asked me what area of publishing I was interested in and I told her, " I love YA."' She responded, "Why? There's no money in it!"  I didn't get the job, but it seems funny to remember that,  looking at what's happened to YA and to the industry since then [1992].

What's the volume of queries that you get?
I've been closed to queries for a while--I'm super-editorial, so I closed so I could focus on the people I signed and getting manuscripts ready. I'm opening on August 13th.  I get about 50 queries a day and sign about 3 or 4  new clients a year.

What makes you sign someone?
What stand out is voice. That's what keeps you reading--a distinctive and interesting voice. And if it's about sisters and set in a forest. Or twins.

Closing thoughts
The only reason I got into this industry is because I admire writers because you share yourself  and I'm in awe of your bravery. I was talking to another agent at the manuscript consults and I was thinking, there's no way I would go to one of those consults!

Please don't be hard on yourself. Please celebrate every victory. If you came to this conference, celebrate that. If you spoke to one new person at this conference, celebrate that. If you finished one writing goal, celebrate that.

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