This week's Agent Spotlight features Jennifer Rofe of Andrea Brown Literary Agency, Inc.
About: “Jennifer handles children's fiction projects ranging from picture books to young adult. Middle grade is Jennifer's soft spot and she's open to all genres in this category, especially the tender or hilarious. She is always looking for fresh and distinct voices; stories that simultaneously tug at her heartstrings and make her laugh out loud; and unassuming, ‘adorkable’ heroes. As for YA, Jennifer is drawn to contemporary works; dramatic or funny romance; and urban fantasy/light sci-fi. She's especially interested in mind-blowingly smart projects that are layered, complex, and unexpected. In terms of picture books, early readers, and chapter books, she is interested in character-driven projects and smart, exceptional writing. Jennifer also enjoys how-to and sports-related nonfiction.
“Some of Jennifer's clients include Laurie David and Cambria Gordon, authors of the critically acclaimed nonfiction THE DOWN TO EARTH GUIDE TO GLOBAL WARMING (Scholastic); Crystal Allen, author of HOW LAMAR'S BAD PRANK WON A BUBBA SIZED TROPHY (HarperCollins/Balzer & Bray); Kathryn Fitzmaurice, author of THE YEAR THE SWALLOWS CAME EARLY (HarperCollins) and DIAMOND IN THE DESERT (forthcoming, Viking); Denise Doyen, author of the E.B. White Read Aloud Honor picture book ONCE UPON A TWICE (Random House); Barry Wolverton, author of NEVERSINK: A PUFFIN SAGA (forthcoming, HarperCollins); Cynthea Liu, author of PARIS PAN TAKES THE DARE (Penguin) and founder of Authors Now!; and Lauren Strasnick, author of NOTHING LIKE YOU (S&S/Simon Pulse), HER AND ME AND YOU (S&S/Simon Pulse) and DAKOTA WEBB IS MISSING (forthcoming, S&S/Simon Pulse).
“Jennifer is co-author of the picture book PIGGIES IN THE PUMPKIN PATCH (Charlesbridge). She has been on faculty for several conferences including the Pacific Northwest Writers Association and San Diego State University conferences, the Big Sur Writer's Workshop, and multiple SCBWI conferences. Jennifer earned a BA in English with a minor in Social and Ethnic Relations from UC Davis and has a background in secondary education.” (Link)
Status: Open to submissions.
What She's Looking For:
Genres/Specialties: Children’s books, picture book through young adult fiction; select how-to and sports non-fiction.
From her Bio:
“Middle grade is Jennifer's soft spot and she's open to all genres in this category, especially the tender or hilarious. She is always looking for fresh and distinct voices; stories that simultaneously tug at her heartstrings and make her laugh out loud; and unassuming, ‘adorkable’ heroes. As for YA, Jennifer is drawn to contemporary works; dramatic or funny romance; and urban fantasy/light sci-fi. She's especially interested in mind-blowingly smart projects that are layered, complex, and unexpected. In terms of picture books, early readers, and chapter books, she is interested in character-driven projects and smart, exceptional writing. Jennifer also enjoys how-to and sports-related nonfiction..” (Link)
From an Interview (12/2010):
“I am very interested in smart, young adult books, urban fantasy, maybe even commercial-historical young adult. I love all sorts of middle-grade projects: literary, commercial, quirky, contemporary.
“I also have a personal fascination for extreme religion. I would love a project about a kid growing up in an extreme religion who, for one reason or another, decides to find his or her way out of it and what that entails. Because, if it's something you were raised in and that's all you know and believe, what does it take for a young adult to move away from that? What are the repercussions from your family and community?” (Link)
From an Interview (10/2010):
“I'm interested in picture books and early readers, but they have to be exceptional and unique. I love smart, beautiful picture books like the E.B. White Read Aloud Honor book Once Upon a Twice by my client Denise Doyen (illustrated by Barry Moser). I also like character-driven picture books in the vein of Olivia, and I'm open to character-driven early readers and chapter books.
“In terms of middle grade, I like it all—classic and timeless, funny and zany, literary and commercial. I have a soft spot for middle grade and am always on the lookout for strong manuscripts in any genre.
“I'm much pickier with YA. I find so much YA to be angst-y and dark, and I'm not up for reading these stories every day. That being said, I'm interested in contemporary YA, commercial or literary; dramatic or funny romance; and urban fantasy/light sci-fi. I'd especially like to see something mind-blowingly smart; something layered and complex and unexpected. Also, I'm presently obsessed with the DAIRY QUEEN series and would love to read something in a similar vein.” (Link)
From an Interview (02/2008):
"I'm most interested in fiction from picture books through YA, and I find myself drawn to projects that are literary, commercial-with-heart, and/or funny. I like multicultural, magical realism, paranormal, and reality-based fantasy.
"In terms of chapter books through YA, I have a soft spot for stubborn girls who are softies at heart and underdog boys who do something brave. I like stories with emotional depth--ones that make me laugh or cry. I'm a fan of coming of age stories. I'm a big fan of middle grade/tween, and I'm currently interested in acquiring a middle grade boy adventure. Something gritty.
"In regards to picture books, I like unique. For example, I recently sold a picture book to Random House (Once Upon a Twice by Denise Doyen) that is a 'cautionary tale for mice' written in the nonsense style of Jabberwocky. I also like slight picture books (under 900 words)." (Link)
What She Isn't Looking For:
Poetry, screenplays, adult projects.
About the Agency:
"We are a mid-size literary agency based in California celebrating over 2,000 titles sold. We bring the best of both worlds to the table—the personal client attention of a small agency and the clout of a larger one. We invest a great deal of care in each project and each client. We devise a strategy at every stage of the writing process, from conception, to editorial, to publication, that is tailored to the client and will enable us to find the best publisher for his or her books. We are seeking long-term relationships with writers and illustrators whose careers we can develop and whose talent we can foster." (Link)
"I'm in regular contact with my clients, but it really depends on what phase a certain project is in and how the client prefers to work. For instance, I have clients who prefer receiving editorial comments via email and others who like to discuss them. For the most part, I typically communicate via email, but I call with good news and to discuss contract terms. I'm looking to build long-term, collaborative relationships with my clients." (Link)
“I need to know if a prospective client is willing and able to revise – if not, then I won’t be able to work with the writer and I certainly won’t be able to connect her with an editor, who will expect revisions. I also consider how many projects/works in progress the writer has and if she is knowledgeable of the industry, belongs to a critique group of some sort, and is willing to spend time marketing her book once it’s published.” (Link)
"One myth that I wish they'd [writers] forget is that agents acquire only big-name authors. It's not true. In my case, the vast majority of my clients are (or were) first-time authors. I enjoy working with new talent and helping them build careers. I find it enormously gratifying." (Link)
"I've never sent a manuscript to an editor without having worked on revisions with my clients. These revisions typically involve big picture issues, such as plot and subplot, character motivations, etc. There are so many strong, compelling manuscripts on editors' desks that you don't want to give them any reason to reject yours." (Link)
"My two greatest submissions pet peeves are queries that include no personalized greeting and queries for materials that I do not handle, such as adult literature or gory thrillers." (Link)
“…educating the agents on the marketplace. I find often the first paragraph will say something like, ‘Kids really enjoy wizarding stories and that's why Harry Potter has been so successful.’ I know Harry Potter's successful. I know the marketplace. That's my job.
“Another pet peeve is telling me that your children and grandchildren and family members and/or students or the students of your teacher-friend all enjoyed the book. Certainly they did.
“Also, comparing your book to some of the best sellers is another pet peeve. I see a lot of, ‘This is like the Alex Rider series,’ and, ‘This is like Harry Potter,’ and, ‘This is like Twilight.’” (Link)
Crystal Allen, Mike Boldt, Tameka Brown, Laura Coffey, Laurie David, Christina Diaz Gonzalez, Denise Doyen, Kathryn Fitzmaurice, Cambria Gordon, Nick James, Cynthea Liu, Meg Medina, Ken Min, Joy Preble, Lauren Strasnick, Samantha Vamos, Barry Wolverton, among others.
There is also a select list of Andrea Brown Lit titles on the website.
As of 02/11, Ms. Rofe is listed on Publisher's Marketplace as having made 11 deals in the last 12 months, 1 six-figure+ deal, and 19 overall. Recent deals include 5 young adult 3 middle grade, 3 picture book.
NOTE: PM is usually not a complete representation of sales.
Some highlighted deals can also be found here.
E-mail: Yes (only).
Submission Guidelines (always verify):
Query only ONE agent at the Andrea Brown Agency.
Send a brief query in the body of an e-mail. Put QUERY and the title of the work in the subject line. Include publisher submission history and previous publishing credits (if applicable). Note if it’s multiple submission. No attachments.
PB: Include full text. Fiction: Include first ten pages. NF: Proposal and sample chapter. Illustrators: Two to three jpegs of children and animals.
If you have not heard back in 6-8 weeks assume rejection. (Link) Ms. Rofe’s response time on requested material ranges from a week to a few months.
What's the Buzz?
Ms. Rofe is a highly respected agent at a top-notch agency. Her clients aren't shy in praising her and many writers claim they'd love to have her as their agent. Her particular interest in MG is refreshing. She attends conferences regularly and is a popular speaker.
Worth Your Time:
Agent Query Interview with Jennifer Rofe at Author Online (12/2010).
Agent Advice Interview with Jen Rofe at the Guide to Literary Agents Blog (10/2010).
Expert Scoop with Jen Rofe at The Brown Bookshelf (01/2010).
Agent Interview Series: Jen Rofe at Class of 2K9 (07/2009).
Interview with Jen Rofe at Kidlit Central (11/2008).
Around the Web:
Andrea Brown Literary on P&E (recommended).
Big Sur Writers Workshop that the Andrea Brown Agency hosts.
Agent Feedback on Jen Rofe here at Literary Rambles (03/2010).
Why my agent, Jen Rofe, is Awesome by Crystal Allen at Lisa and Laura Write (12/2009).
Agent Appreciation Day Post by client Cynthea Liu (12/2009).
Reasons for Optimism, conference notes at Fumbling with Fiction (04/2009).
Revision advice Ms. Rofe gave at at a SCBWI conference over at Writer Musings (11/2008).
Please see the Andrea Brown Literary Agency website for contact and query information.
Last updated: 2/15/2011
Agent Contacted For Review? Yes.
Reviewed By Agent? Yes – 2/15/2011.
Comments: Added clients / Recent interview.
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.