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Agent Spotlight: Jennifer DeChiara

This week's Agent Spotlight features Jennifer DeChiara of the Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency.   

Status: Open to submissions. 

jencopyAbout: “Jennifer DeChiara is president and owner of the Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency, which she founded in 2001. Before forming the agency, she was a literary agent with two established New York agencies, worked in the editorial departments of Simon & Schuster and Random House, and was a writing consultant for several major corporations. A New York City-based writer, she is a frequent guest judge for the WRITER’S DIGEST, WOW! WOMEN ON WRITING, and THAT FIRST LINE writing contests, among others, and is a frequent guest lecturer on publishing and the art of writing at universities and writers conferences throughout the country, which have included New York University’s Summer Publishing Institute, the Penticton, Canada Writers Conference, the San Diego State University Writers Conference, Backspace, the International Women’s Writing Guild, and the Learning Annex. She represents both children’s and adult books, fiction and non-fiction, in a wide range of genres and represents many best-selling, award-winning authors, including Lambda Award-winning YA novelist Brent Hartinger, best-selling children’s book authors Chanda Bell and Carol Aebersold, and #1 New York Times best-selling author Sylvia Browne.” (Link)

About the Agency:

“The Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency is a New York City-based full-service literary agency founded in 2001 and named one of the top 25 literary agencies in the country by Writer’s Digest.

“The agency represents children’s literature for all ages – picture books and middle-grade and young adult novels – but also represents high-quality adult fiction and non-fiction in a wide range of genres. The categories we are most enthusiastic about agenting are literary and commercial fiction; mysteries, thrillers, celebrity biographies; humor; psychology and self-help; parenting; health and fitness; women’s issues; men’s issues; pop culture; film and television; social issues and contemporary affairs.

“JDLA is proud to be one of the few literary agencies to represent illustrators, as well as screenwriters for both television and film, including Emmy-winning writers and a Peabody Award-winning illustrator.” (Link)

Web Presence:

JD Lit Website.

Agency Twitter.

AgentQuery, QueryTracker.

What She's Looking For:


Fiction: Literary Fiction, Commercial Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Mystery, Humor/Satire, Gay/Lesbian, Thrillers/Suspense, Short Story Collections, Children’s, Middle Grade, Young Adult, Illustration.

Non-Fiction: Celebrity, Pop Culture, Music, Film/Entertainment, Humor, Current Affairs/Politics, How-To, Parenting, Health/Fitness, Psychology, Self-Help.

(Link, Link)

From the Website:

“Our doors are always open to new writers and illustrators. Currently we are looking for children’s books for every age – picture books, middle-grade, and young adult – and adult fiction and non-fiction in a wide range of genres. If in doubt, just query us.” (Link)

From an Interview:

“The agency represents children's literature in a variety of age ranges and genres, everything from picture books to middle-grade books to young adult books; we also represent adult fiction and nonfiction in almost every genre - literary fiction, commercial fiction, women's fiction, celebrity biographies, film and television, self-help, health, social issues and contemporary affairs, mysteries, thrillers - and much more. We also represent screenplays, TV projects, and stage plays.” (Link)

From an Interview:

“The agency represents all kinds of fiction, but we are most passionate about literary fiction, which I define as beautiful writing that is a pleasure to read.
A literary novel usually appeals to a more intellectual crowd; it either has a unique style or exquisite writing, or both. It's the kind of book where I find myself reading a sentence or a paragraph over and over because the language feels wonderful on my tongue; I will remember sentences that the writer has written many years later.” (Link)

What She Isn't Looking For:

Romance, Sci-Fi, Westerns, Poetry. (Link)

Editorial Agent?

“I'm a very hands-on agent, and I regularly work with my authors to edit/rework their manuscripts to get them ready for submission. Sometimes a book will need a total restructuring, and sometimes it will need only minor line editing or proofreading. I love all of it!” (Link)


“I love representing children's books because I love the idea of doing something that will possibly create a child's lifelong relationship with books. I can still remember the books I loved as a child, and there are books that I know influenced me to become the person I am now. It's thrilling to be a part of that. Children's books are challenging because you not only have to appeal to a child, but also to the parent buying the book. But they're also a lot of fun to work on. Most important for me is knowing that one of the books I've helped create and/or sell might put a smile on a child's face. I don't think there's anything nobler than that.” (Link)

“The secret to success in publishing is realizing that there are no secrets. Writers must be willing to work hard on their art and just as hard in learning about the business of publishing. They must be able to take constructive criticism and be willing to learn about and be responsible for their own book promotion. But, most important, they must hang on to their dreams and never give up.” (Link)

“I wish authors knew two things before they contact me: First, that it's good to dream, but you have to dream in the real world; a writer's road is often a rocky one, with a lot of potholes along the way. Second, dreams come true - every single day. DREAMS COME TRUE.” (Link)


The agency represents over 200 clients, including a PEN Award-winner and a Newbery Honor Medal winner. Selected lists of clients can be found on the site; writers here, illustrators here


As of this posting, the agency is listed on Publisher's Marketplace as having made 12 deals in the last 12 months, 1 six-figure+ deal, and 62 overall.  Recent deals include 4 young adult, 3 middle grade, 1 picture book, 1 general/other, 1 sci-fi/fantasy, 1 memoir, 1 pop culture.

NOTE: PM is usually not a complete representation of sales.

Query Methods:

E-mail: Yes (only).

Snail-Mail: No.

Online-Form: No.

Submission Guidelines (always verify):

Send a query in the body of an e-mail.  No attachments.  Put “query” in the subject line.  If you don't hear back within two weeks, e-mail again.  Query only one agent at the agency at a time.  (Link)

See the Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines. 

Query Tips:

“A good query letter should, above all, make me want to read the book. It should state the book's theme, or ‘hook,’ in one concise sentence in the
first paragraph. The author's credentials should be included in one brief
paragraph, along with his contact information. It should be well written,
simple, and straightforward. Thanking me for my time is always nice…” (Link)

See more great query tips in Ms. DeChiara’s interview with Fiction Factor and her guest post at Your Book Is Your Hook.

Response Times:

The agency’s stated response is 2 weeks for queries. Stats on the web show most queries responded to within hours to a week or so, though it seems they’ve been somewhat behind lately.  Response times for requested material range from days to quite a few months with some instances of no-response.

“Writers should understand that we get hundreds of queries every day, including weekends and holidays, which would make it a full-time job for us just to keep up with them.” (via e-mail)

What's the Buzz?

Jennifer DeChiara is a successful, well-established agent with a lot of great experience in the publishing industry.  She’s always looking for new talent and regularly attends conferences.  Follow her on Twitter @4writers for further insight and submission updates. 

Worth Your Time:


Interview with Jennifer DeChiara at Women on Writing (2007?)

Featured Agent Interview: Jennifer DeChiara - Agent, Owner and Founder of JD Literary Agency at A View From the Top (04/2007).

Interview with Jennifer DeChiara at The Writing Equation (12/2006).

Interview with Jennifer DeChiara at Fiction Factor (2003?).

Around the Web:

Ms. DeChiara’s upcoming appearances can be found on the website here.

Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency thread on AbsoluteWrite.

Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency on P&E ($ Recommended).

Your Book is Your Hook, talk radio with Jennifer DeChiara and author Julia Cameron at Women’s Radio (09/2010).

Writing YA: Advice from literary agent Jennifer DeChiara on Twitter at Peta Jinnath Andersen’s blog (06/2010).

Engaging A Literary Agent: Do’s and Don’ts, guest post by Ms. DeChiara at Your Book Is Your Hook (09/2010).

Why Conferences? (Or, How I Got My Editor and My Agent), client Marie Lamba’s agent/editor success story (10/2006).


Please see the Jennifer DeChiara website for contact and query information.

Profile Details:

Last updated: 7/14/11.

Agent Contacted For Review? Yes.

Last Reviewed By Agent? 7/15/11.


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.


  1. As always, another great spotlight. Thanks so much for this service you provide! It is a lot of work and research and is greatly appreciated!

  2. A great spotlight on a very diverse and talented agent.

    By the way, the website now says query only.

  3. Thanks Pam and Kyle! Kyle, fixed the guidelines. Thank you.

  4. Awesome spotlight. Jennifer sounds like such an awesome agent. And the best thing is that I didn't even know about her. Thanks for increasing my list of possible agents.

  5. Wow! There's a lot of good stuff here...I think if more than usual. How can any aspiring author NOT come here?!

  6. Glad you found another agent for your list, Natalie.

    Thank you, Anita!

  7. What a fantastic and extensive interview. So helpful for writers querying. Thanks!
    Wagging Tales - Blog for Writers

  8. Thank you, once again. These agent spotlights are so thorough!

  9. JD Lit represents a few friends of mine, and I've heard nothing but great things about them!

  10. You're welcome Charmaine and Barbara!

    Brent, I'm so glad to hear it! Thank you for taking the time to leave some feedback.

  11. Awesome spotlight! Thank you, Casey.

  12. Great spotlight. It was nice to learn more about Jennifer and her agency.

  13. Thanks for this post! I love all the agent spotlights. They really help me on my query list so that I know exactly what to send in the letters to each agent.

    I love this blog so much I linked to it on a page on my own blog. If there are writers out there who don't know about it, they need to!

  14. Thank you Martha and Suzanne!

    Donelle, I'm so glad to hear the feature has helped you with your query list. Thank you for the link, and good luck!

  15. Jennifer is my agent, and she has been so thoughtful and encouraging. I'm definitely in the right hands!

  16. Wonderful to hear, Stephanie!

    Thank you for the feedback.