This week's Agent Spotlight features Jennie Dunham of Dunham Literary, Inc.
"She has been a member of AAR (Association of Authors Representatives) since 1993. She served on the Program Committee and was Program Committee Director for several years. She was also a member of the Electronic Committee.
"In 1996 she attended the US/China Joint Women in Business conference in Beijing where she gave a presentation about literary agents in the US. She also attended the NGO Forum at the International Women's Conference.
"She attended international meetings as the AAR representative to create the ISTC (International Standard Text Code) which is being created to ISO (International Standardization Organization) specifications. This business and tracking system will be based on titles not book formats (as is the case with ISBN) and will work in tandem with ISBN.
"She started her career at John Brockman Associates and then Mildred Marmur Associates. She was employed by Russell & Volkening for 6 years before she left to found Dunham Literary, Inc.
She frequently speaks at writers conferences and events." (Link)
Her favorite books from childhood include: DOMINIC by William Steig, ABEL’S ISLAND by William Steig, A WRINKLE IN TIME by Madeleine L'Engle, THE TOMBS OF ATUAN by Ursula K. Le Guin, THE PRINCESS AND THE GOBLIN by George Macdonald, CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY by Roald Dahl, THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH by Norton Juster and Jules Feiffer. (Link)
Status: Open to submissions.
What She's Looking For:
Interests: Literary fiction, nonfiction, and children's books for all ages (mostly middle grade and young adult) as well as some illustrators.
"We have three areas of specialty - Literary Fiction, Non-Fiction, and Children's Books. We tend towards literary, character-driven writing rather than to mass-market, commercial style of writing. Sometimes we handle clients who write other types of books, but we do so less frequently." (Link)
"I don’t represent individual short stories, genre writing such as romance and mystery, but I do like literary books with romance and mystery elements to them. I look for a strong voice, real characters, and compelling, memorable stories. I’m not so keen on easy readers and short story or poetry collections." (Link)
What She Isn't Looking For:
Alternative spirituality projects, poetry (for adults), horror, westerns, romance, individual short stories or articles, screenplays. (Link)
They represent very little sci-fi or fantasy. (Link)
"I’m not so keen on easy readers and short story or poetry collections." (Link)
"Keep writing. Write daily if possible. Take classes. Teachers have experience to share and will encourage developing writers. If you work well with deadlines, set them for yourself or ask someone to set them for you. Join a writers' critique group. The support of friends, constructive criticism, and cheering for each other, can be a lifeline. Writing experience, such as stories and articles in magazines, help give an author credentials for selling a book length project." (Link)
About the Agency:
"Dunham Literary represents authors of quality fiction and non-fiction books for adults and children, and some illustrators of children's books.
"The Denise Marcil Literary Agency, Don Congdon Associates, and Dunham Literary have formed an alliance. Although each of these companies still remains separate, they have created an alliance to share office space and combine back office activities. We share office space. Our decisions about representation, however, are separate, and it's fine to submit query letters to all three agencies.
"The Rhoda Weyr Agency is a division of Dunham Literary. All inquiries for the Rhoda Weyr Agency should be made to Dunham Literary." (Link)
"Dunham Literary develops writers' careers and does not handle clients on a book by book basis or only a certain type of book." (Link)
"Anything cliché such as ‘It was a dark and stormy night’ will turn me off. I hate when a narrator or author addresses the reader (e.g., 'Gentle reader')." (Link)
"While editorial services are not officially part of an agent's job, sometimes we will give some editorial suggestions that will help make a project more salable. We do not demand that these changes are made. No author should change his or her artistic work if it doesn't seem right. We do reserve the right to say we don't feel strongly enough about a project to submit it in which case the client has three options: revise the project, put the project aside and focus on a different project, or find other representation." (Link)
Clients (current or former):
Sandra Dutton, Jody Feldman, Edwige Gilbert, Tod Goldberg, Judy Harrow, Jennifer Hunter, Molly Bruce Jacobs, Nancy J. Jones, Caroline Kettlewell, Michelle R. Kluck-Ebbin, Reeve Lindbergh, M. Macha Nightmare, Margaret Mcmullan, Judy Meyer, Karen Michalson, Lisa A. Phillips, Ntozake Shange, Kirk White, Laura Wildman, Jackie Napoleon Wilson, among many others.
The Agent's Directory from 2004 reports she had over 40 clients (as of that printing) and had made about 30 sales in the previous year.
As of this posting, Ms. Dunham is not a member of Publisher's Marketplace. She has many verified sales, however.
Submission Guidelines (always verify):
E-mail: Send a query letter in the body of the e-mail. No attachments. No pages unless requested.
Snail-mail: Send a query letter and a SASE. No pages unless requested.
Query only one agent at the agency. Query letters are read by all who might be interested. If you receive a request, check out this page for further submission guidelines.
See the Dunham Literary website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines.
"I look for a brief description of the book. A story that seems fresh or has a hook to it that will catch my interest. I also look at an author’s credentials. I look for other publications or relevant life experience the author has had." (Link)
Stated response time on queries is one to two weeks. Logged response times on the net suggest hours to a month. Stated response time on requested material is 4-8 weeks. Logged response times on the net are limited but suggest 4-8 weeks or quicker.
What's the Buzz?
Ms. Dunham has been a literary agent for over 18 years, is a member of the AAR and SCBWI, and continues to attend conferences regularly. While she has a long-established list of clients and isn't actively seeking new talent, she remains open to submissions.
Worth Your Time:
Agent Interview with Jennie Dunham of Dunham Literary, Inc. at K.L. Goings' web site (about halfway down).
See the Terms and Services page for more information on how Dunham Literary does business.
Life After Self-Publishing, an article featuring thoughts from Jennie Denham and other agent by Chuck Sambuchino at Writer's Digest (09/2008).
Please see the Dunham Literary website for contact and query information.
Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com
Note: These agent profiles presently focus on agents who accept children's fiction. They are not interviews. Please take the time to verify anything you might use here before querying an agent. The information found herein is subject to change.