Monday, April 11, 2011

Jenny Bent's answers

And here are the rest of the answers from Jenny Bent. Thanks for being patient while I attended RT - it was fabulous!

1) I notice you list commercial fiction as one of your interests. What are your favorite genres of commercial fiction?
2) I am sure the authors you represent are authors you also read for pleasure! Are there any genres you read for pleasure that you don't represent?
Writer and Cat
I like romance, urban fantasy, and thrillers.
I read a little bit of everything, including sometimes adult fantasy like Terry Pratchett. I wouldn't represent something like that because I wouldn't know the right editors to send it to.

Hi Jenny. Is it preferable to write a paranormal series, or is there still a market for stand-alone, full-length paranormal romances?
Carolyn Rosewood
Right now I would say it's preferable to do it as part of a series.

I know you don't rep sci fi, but am wondering if you enjoy it in TV and the movies. If so, what are some of your favorite sci fi films/shows?
Annie Solomon
I haven't seen a sci fi movie in AGES. I did enjoy TOTAL RECALL years ago as well as the brilliantly subversive STARSHIP TROOPERS.

Hi Jenny,
I love adventure stories, YA or adult romance, especially those set in unusual places. I also notice they are hard to find on the bookshelves. Do you see many submissions of this type? And do you think the YA market is open to adventure that does not include paranormal aspects?
Thanks for stopping by the Diner!
Monica McCabe
I'm hearing now that YA publishers are looking for realistic thrillers, not paranormal, so the answer I guess is yes, maybe. But I'm not really sure what you mean by "adventure stories," I guess. Do you mean thrillers, or something like Indiana Jones?

Hi, Jenny. I was wondering what do you think of the "New adult" category of Young Adult fiction? Where do you see it going in the future, or is its time already passed? Thanks.
I always thought that "New Adult" was an exception, rather than a rule, meaning that some of these books worked very, very well, but not so much that there should be a new genre or imprint devoted to them, necessarily.

Hi Jenny,
In the world of YA what trends would you like to see, what avenues are worth exploring, and are we done with good vampires yet?
Eve WI
I keep saying that I'm dying to read a very wholesome young adult book with a female protagonist in an interesting setting, and I think that's starting to happen now that YA Publishers are buying some Amish romance. I don't think we'll ever be "done" with good vampires, as it's a classic fiction trope, but certainly it's not what editors are looking for right now.

Hi, Jenny! How does your author career development work? Do you suggest new avenues of writing, help find marketing partners, sell to excellent publishers--some combination? Thanks! Mary
Mary Hughes
Yes, all of the above. It's all about thinking long-term and figuring out strategies for success.

Hi Jenny,
Do you think some agents, if approached respectfully, might be open to looking at a significantly revised manuscript? (Especially if their website doesn't specifically outlaw it). If so, what would you recommend that a writer say in the new query?
Marlo Berlinger
A lot of agents will tell you that unless they specifically ask to see a revision, they don't want to see one. Having said that, is there any harm in asking? I would say that you have nothing at all to lose by asking very politely: remind them that they requested the ms in the past, briefly describe how you have revised it, and ask if they would be willing to see it again. If the answer is no, at least you tried!

Hi, Jenny. I've been wanting to ask an agent directly, so since you're kind of a "captive audience" here on the Otherworld Diner, here's my question. What is the minimum word count that you would consider representing? The minimum for fantasy or romance genres, if different? A basic type of question, but since I don't want to offend an agent by sending something too short to be worth her, or his, while. Thanks for answering a newbie type question and for making yourself available to the Otherworld Diner.
Well, an agent can't do much with a 20,000 word novella. Something needs to be I would say a minimum of 65,000 words for me to be able to sell it to a publisher. It might help you to go to a book store and look at the various genres—do an estimated word count for a page and then multiply it by number of pages. You'll see that most books are in the 75,000 to 100,000 word count range.

Hi, Jenny and thanks for the opportunity. We sometimes hear things like, "that genre is out, that time period is in" from agents or publishers. Should you write what you think 'they' want, or should you write what you are best at (what you are in love with) even if its not the 'in' thing?
I always say the same thing about this, which is: be aware of the market, but don't let the market dictate what you write. The market is a very fluid thing. If you try to write something because you think it's popular, or working right now, by the time you finish it, the market will have changed. But the flipside is that you should know what's working or what's not working because if you are writing romantic suspense, but romantic suspense isn't what's working right now, you need to be aware that you're going to have an uphill battle. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't write romantic suspense, but that you should be prepared to make the case to an agent or editor that your romantic suspense is different enough, exciting enough, to really break out.


  1. Great Q&A session! I love the Diner and really appreciate the time you've spent here, Jenny. Helping to solve the world's publishing mysteries is truly a worthy cause!!

    As for adventure in YA, Indiana Jones'ish, sort of. There's elements of that. Not sure I'd call it a thriller, but it's realistic adventure along the lines of say...the Amazon River, jungle trekking, head-hunters, & a quest that risks their lives.

    Do you think there's a market for something like that?

  2. Love the Q&A. Just discovered you through Jenny's tweet. As urban fantasy is my genre, you are now at the top of my blogs to follow list.

  3. Hi Monica, to be honest it sounds more middle grade than YA. Although, if you could make it into a thriller then it might be a very commercial concept for YA.

  4. Thank you so much for posting these! Wonderful Q&A!

  5. Thanks Jenny and Jeannie,
    I appreciate you two hooking up to answer our questions.

  6. Fabulous Q&A! Thanks so much for the honest answer to my question, Jenny. I have a further question. What if all the agent saw was the first ten pages that went with the query and those first ten pages had changed substantially? Essentially, it would be like a re-query. Would that be okay?


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