This week's Agent Spotlight features Jennifer Laughran of Andrea Brown Literary Agency, Inc.
About: "Jennifer began her career in agenting after working as a long-time children's bookseller and buyer. She is also the founder of the extremely popular YA event series "Not Your Mother's Book Club". She joined Andrea Brown Literary Agency in 2007. Always on the lookout for sparkling YA and middle grade fiction with unusual and unforgettable characters and vivid settings, she is drawn to all kinds of books, whether realistic comedies or richly imagined magical adventures. However, the common thread in her favorite stories is an offbeat world-view. Jennifer adores simplicity, but she is not interested in the conventional, predictable, mechanical, gimmicky or ordinary. Jennifer loves funny books, thrilling books, romantic books, books that make her cry, and all-around un-put-downable books... and her true favorites are all of the above.
"Jennifer attends several conferences each year. Past conferences include Willamette, Writer's League of Texas, NE-SCBWI, Book Passage Children's Writers Workshop, and Big Sur Children's Writer's Workshop. She spends most of her free time... well, reading, what else?!" (Link)
Status: Accepting submissions.
What She's Looking For:
Interests: "Children’s and YA only—realistic YA and middle-grade, humor, mystery, adventure, light fantasy and YA romance." (Link)
From her Bio:
"Always on the lookout for sparkling YA and middle grade fiction with unusual and unforgettable characters and vivid settings, she is drawn to all kinds of books, whether realistic comedies or richly imagined magical adventures. However, the common thread in her favorite stories is an offbeat world-view. Jennifer adores simplicity, but she is not interested in the conventional, predictable, mechanical, gimmicky or ordinary. Jennifer loves funny books, thrilling books, romantic books, books that make her cry, and all-around un-put-downable books... and her true favorites are all of the above." (Link)
From an Interview (06/2010):
"I would dearly love to see something that I have never seen before. I should rephrase that. Something AWESOME that I haven't seen before. I actually really like realistic middle grade stories, and teen stories about human teenagers. I wouldn't mind fantasy if it is really well executed historical-fantasy or adventure-fantasy. I like well-done mysteries and thrillers. I love a great romance. I am a sucker for unusual setting, and I like things to be upbeat -- Funny is great, bittersweet is great, but I am not into things that are depressing or unrelentingly bleak." (Link)
From an Interview (04/2010):
"Oh, I am always looking for sparkling, awesome Middle Grade & YA novels. I'd love to see more middle grade of all kinds - adventure, realistic, comedies, mysteries, and fantasy. And cool high-concept YA like Hunger Games. I am actually quite full up on paranormal/fantasy YA, but if something was truly unique I might still be interested." (Link)
From a Contest (04/2010):
"At the moment I have a yen for upbeat and fun books that remind me of Glee... not that it has to be set in show choir per se, but I'd love a fun MG or YA book set in a theatre, band camp, dance competition environment or similar.
"I'd also love an epic romance, along the lines of Jennifer Donnelly's TEA ROSE or GONE WITH THE WIND -- the kind of book that you get lost in and feel that you really know the characters, root for them, cry over them... I was thinking recently that an epic romance/alt historical set in South America might be really cool. Like, imagine EVITA as a YA book. This might be something that only lives in my own imagination, but, worth putting it out there. :-)
"Also I'd like a cool YA thriller, particularly one that is super-fast-paced and has a unique setting. But I am constantly surprised by the things that I fall in love with that I never expected to. So... you know, try me!" (Link)
From an Interview (03/2010):
"I would love some funny wonderful classic-feeling Middle Grade fiction, like THE PENDERWICKS or Andrew Clements. It is extremely hard to write. I would also like high-concept, unputdownable, truly stellar but highly commercial YA. Wouldn’t everyone?" (Link)
From an Interview (06/2008):
"I gravitate toward character-driven stories with a strong voice. A typical answer, right? I love books with ensemble casts, too, like those set in theaters or restaurants or big, busy families. My taste is eclectic--I like old-fashioned stories, family stories, comedies, mysteries, adventures, hybrids--and some books that don't have a category at all." (Link)
What She Isn't Looking For:
Adult fiction, picture books, early readers, nonfiction, high fantasy, religious stories, or talking animals. (Link)
"Ugh. I am so NOT fascinated by trends. I am the opposite of fascinated by them. I would say 95% of my inbox at the moment is paranormal romance with some sort of creature (mermaid, selkie, siren, werewolf, unicorn, vampire, zombie, mummy, or some combo like selkwolf or mercorn) - and I am totally not interested, unless it is truly, totally genre-busting. I have enough. No more room at the inn! (Link)
"I am much more an email person than a phone person, though I do call when there is good news to share. I am an open book when it comes to the submission process and anything else. My clients know they can be in touch with me any time they like--I am a very communicative person, so I think they are satisfied that I am really here, and really paying attention." (Link)
"There is always a market for AWESOME." (Link)
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)
"We're looking for fresh, different, and new. As a largely West Coast based agency, we follow in a tradition of West Coast innovation in our passion for discovering new voices and sparking new trends. We're a part of the NY-centered publishing world but also cultivate the advantage of an insider's/outsider's perspective. We have access, standing, and visibility but also think outside the box. Our agents make regular trips to New York, attend industry conventions, and participate as faculty at writers' conferences all over the country. We ensure a high profile for our clients and keep our fingers on the pulse of publishing." (Link)
Her Advice to Writers:
"Most problems I see in slush would be solved if the author was a better reader. If you want to be a good writer, read a lot. Read a lot of children's books, read a lot of adult books, read a lot of classics, read weird things on subjects you don't normally touch. Now read some more. No no, that isn't enough, read more." (Link)
Pre-queries and certain followups. (link)
"I want the manuscripts to be in the best possible shape before they go out. However, the author is the artist, and I don't believe in imposing my sensibility on their work. Therefore, while I do give notes, the notes I give tend to focus on clarity rather than extensive re-working." (Link)
Literaticat's Finger Trap (no longer posts there).
Adam Selzer, Calef Brown, Daniel & Jill Pinkwater, Daniel San Souci, DL Garfinkle, Erin J. Lange, Gina Willner Pardo, Gwenda Bond, Ilene Wong, Ilsa J. Bick, Jaclyn Dolamore, Jennifer Groff, Jo Whittemore, Kate Messner, Linda Joy Singleton, LK Madigan, Mara Rockliff, Margie Gelbwasser, Matt Faulkner, Patrick Samphire, Sonia Gensler, Tara Kelly, Tiffany Trent, and Whitney Miller.
There is also a select list of Andrea Brown Lit titles on the website.
As of this posting, Ms. Laughran is listed on Publisher's Marketplace as having made 13 deals in the last 12 months, 2 six-figure+ deal, and 31 overall. Recent deals include 3 young adult, 2 middle grade, 1 fantasy, and 1 picture book.
NOTE: PM is usually not a complete representation of sales. You can also see a sample of her deals on the Andrea Brown website here.
E-mail: Yes (only).
Submission Guidelines (always verify):
Brief query in the body of the e-mail. Put QUERY in the subject line. Include publisher submission history and previous publishing credits (if applicable). Only query one agent at the agency. Note if it's a multiple submission. PB: Include full text. Fiction: Include first ten pages. NF: Proposal and sample chapter. Illustrators: Two to three jpegs of children and animals. No attachments.
"FYI, I delete queries that don't follow sub guidelines, are for something I don't rep, aren't addressed to me. Everyone else gets response." (via Twitter)
The agency tries to respond within 4-8 weeks but has a no-response policy in place for busy times (see below). Ms. Laughran usually responds within a month, often very quickly, and she seems to respond anywhere within a week to a couple months on requested materials. If you don't hear within 8 weeks, however, assume rejection.
"We will make every effort to respond to your e-query within 4-8 weeks. Occasionally, it may take longer. We respond as quickly as possible, but we receive a large volume of submissions, and more than one reader is involved in the review process. Due to this large volume, we are sometimes not able to respond to every query personally. Therefore, if you have not heard from the agent you queried within 8 weeks, please assume that we are not interested in your work." (Link)
What's the Buzz?
Great! Ms. Laughran has been an agent at Andrea Brown Literary since 2007 and has invaluable experience as a bookseller, buyer, and reviewer. She has a great list of clients and sales, the backing of an extremely well-respected agency, and is very passionate about books. Her clients seem very happy with her representation. Follow her on Twitter and subscribe to her blog to stay in the know.
Worth Your Time:
Interviews and Q&As:
Publishing Interviews: Jennifer Laughran, Andrea Brown Literary at YA Highway (06/2010).
Marvelous Marketer: Jennifer Laughran at Market My Words (04/2010).
Writing Wednesday with Jennifer Laughran, Agent Extraordinaire at Margie Gelbwasser's site. (03/3010).
Guest Post: Ask Agent Jennifer at Justine Larbalestier's blog (02/2010).
Introducing Jennifer Laughran/Not Your Mother's Bookclub at Beth Kephart Books (07/2008).
Going to Market! an interview with Jennifer Laughran on book selling at Class of 2K8 (07/2008).
Agent Interview: Jennifer Laughran of Andrea Brown Literary Agency at Cynsations (06/2008).
Heidi R. Kling's Author Chat: With...Jennifer Laughran, Famous Book Buyer/NYMBC Founder! (08/2007 - pre-agent).
A Conversation with a Bookstore Buyer at The Flux Blog (03/2007 - pre-agent).
Select Blog Posts:
Open Thread (07/2010).
Mythbusting 101 (07/2010).
Query-stats and Mint Chocolate Chip (06/2010).
What is YA anyway? (06/2010).
The Luxury of Choice (06/2010).
There's Always a Market for Awesome (06/2010).
Time to Part Ways? (05/2010).
Work Your Inner Fierceness (05/2010).
Books I Have a Crush On (05/2010).
Prequeries and Followups (05/2010).
A Bird in the Hand (05/2010).
On Rejection (04/2010).
This is only a sample! Definitely subscribe.
Around the Web:
Check out the Andrea Brown Lit Big Sur Children's Writing Workshop that Ms. Laughran often attends.
Agent Jennifer Laughran Talks Juvenile Writing at the Guide to Literary Agents Blog. (07/2009).
Andrea Brown Literary on P&E (recommended).
Ms. Laughran was the Secret Agent at Miss Snark's First Victim April 2010. You can dig through the archives that month and read Ms. Laughran's comments.
Please see the Andrea Brown 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.