This week's Agent Spotlight features Jenny Bent of The Bent Agency.
Status: Open to submissions.
“I was born in New York City but grew up in Harrisonburg, Virginia in a house full of books where I spent many lazy afternoons reading in a sunny window seat. I went on to England to get a BA/MA with first class honors from Cambridge University, but I began my career in publishing as an undergraduate, with jobs at Rolling Stone and Ladies Home Journal. I then worked with prominent agent Raphael Sagalyn and with Michael Cader, the force behind the website Publishers Marketplace, before establishing a successful career at several boutique agencies. In 2003 I joined Trident Media Group, where I was promoted to Vice President before leaving to found the Bent Agency in 2009. I now live in Brooklyn in an apartment full of books and while there are not quite so many lazy reading afternoons, I manage to fit one in now and then.
“My list is varied and includes commercial fiction, literary fiction, memoir and humor. All of the books I represent speak to the heart in some way: they are linked by genuine emotion, inspiration and great writing and story telling. I love books that make me laugh, make me cry, or ideally do both.” (Link)
About the Agency:
“At The Bent Agency, we work with authors to map the publishing career of their dreams and work with them to make it a reality. We pay careful attention to every detail, from the terms of a first contract, editorial work and cover design, to the publisher's marketing and publicity plan, royalties and sales figures. We offer the kind of representation that can only be born of years of agent experience in the atmosphere of a smaller boutique firm where every client gets our combined and total focus.
“We pride ourselves on nurturing and discovering authors whom we can help propel to the top of their category. We have represented over 30 New York Times bestselling titles, with many more on USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and other regional lists.” (Link with more)
Bent On Books (blog).
What She's Looking For:
Middle grade, young adult, literary suspense, crime, romance, romantic suspense, women’s fiction, general fiction, literary fiction, humor, memoir and select nonfiction.
From a Blog Post (01/2014):
“In general, if you have written a book that is VERY funny, or VERY scary, or VERY sad, or VERY anything, really, send it to me! I love extremes and I love stuff that really makes me feel something, that is emotionally powerful in some way.
“More specifically, here is what I'm looking for:
“1. Female driven or female authored suspense or crime. Lori Roy's UNTIL SHE CAME HOME was just nominated for the Edgar for best novel (she also won the Edgar for Best First Book for BENT ROAD) and I'd love to find more authors like Lori, who write edge of your seat literary suspense. I also would love more commercial writers of suspense like my authors Kate Brady and Rita Herron. And of course, I have two YA suspense novels coming out in the next year, S.E. Green's KILLER INSTINCT and Lynn Weingarten's SUICIDE NOTES FROM BEAUTIFUL GIRLS. I love really, really dark books in general, so if you've written one, please do send it along!
“2. High concept women's fiction. This is like Lori Nelson Spielman's THE LIFE LIST or Victoria Van Tiem's LOVE LIKE THE MOVIES or Yangsze Choo's THE GHOST BRIDE. Women's fiction with a hook, that I can pitch in a sentence or two. Obviously it also needs to be an emotional, satisfying read.
“3. I love a good ghost story. Sonja Condit's STARTER HOUSE just came out and I'm so excited about this one, along the lines of Joe Hill's HEART SHAPED BOX.
“4. Historical fiction, particularly with a tie-in to a real life person. I'm very excited about the upcoming release of Jan Moran's A PROMISE OF ROSES next year.
“5. Great, funny, voice-driven contemporary YA with a more serious theme, like anything by John Green or Rainbow Rowell.
“6. Classic YA or MG fantasy with a good hook and epic feel, like SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo.” (Link)
What She Isn't Looking For:
Science Fiction, Poetry, Picture Books, Comix, Graphic Novels, Erotica, Gay/Lesbian Literature, Western, True Crime, Textbooks/Academic Books, Serious History or Biography, Political Science/Policy, Business, Reference, Investment, Professional, Sports, Puzzles, Games, Arts, Cinema, Photography, Crafts, Hobbies, DIY, Health, Diet, Mind, Body, Spirit, Music, Musicals, Nature, Ecology, Politics, Current affairs, Science, Technology, Technical, How-to, Travel, World Cultures, Dramatic Works. (Link, Link)
“As much or as little as the client wants/needs. If the client has a long-standing relationship with her editor, I’m not going to muddy the waters by offering my own feedback, unless I’ve been asked for advice by either party. If we are working on submission material, however, I often work quite closely with authors, and offer detailed editorial letters. I often do the most editing when I’m submitting a first novel.” (Link)
“In a career spanning 15 years, I have made a practice of making bestsellers - either by spotting new talent or developing careers for multi-published authors. My list is varied and includes commercial fiction and nonfiction, literary fiction and memoir. All the books I represent speak to the heart in some way: they are linked by genuine emotion, inspiration and great writing and story-telling.” (Link)
“This sounds trite, but you cannot give up and you cannot stop believing in yourself. So many incredibly successful writers spent years and years trying to break into this business and you should take inspiration from how hard they worked and how they never stopped trying. That, and brush up on online promotion—increasingly it is essential for publishing success, both for published and unpublished authors.” (Link)
There is a list of agency clients on the website.
Ms. Bent’s clients include: Jennifer Archer, Amanda Ashby, Kathryn Caskie, Tera Lynn Childs, Brent Crawford, Janelle Denison, Stephanie Hale, Sandra Hill, John Kasich, Kieran Kramer, Julia London, Laurie Notaro, Liz Rosenberg, Lynsay Sands, Mark Steensland, Lori Wilde, among many others.
E-mail: Yes (only).
Submission Guidelines (always verify):
“First, review our agents' bios and decide which of us you'd like to query. Please do not simultaneously query our agents; submit your work to only one of us. If she passes, feel free to contact another.
“Second, email your chosen agent and tell her briefly who you are, about your book, and why you're the one to write it. Include the title of your project in the subject line of your email. Then paste the first ten pages of your book in the body of your email (not as an attachment, please).”
See the Bent Agency website complete, up-to-date submission guidelines.
“We have an auto response which acknowledges receipt and then we also respond to each query after we read it. There are different letters that we use but they all, I hope, convey a real respect and appreciation that the author wrote to me in the first place.” (Link)
The agency has a stated response time (or goal, rather) of responding to queries within a month. If you do not receive a response within that time, resend your query and indicate you are resending.
Stats on the web show the agency responding to most queries within hours to a month. Requested material ranges from days to quite a few months.
What's the Buzz?
Jenny Bent is a highly respected agent with an established list of successful clients, including many New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors. Her clients seem very happy with her representation, and despite her full list Ms. Bent is always looking for brilliant new talent.
Worth Your Time:
Query Questions with Jenny Bent at Michelle4Laughs (01/2014).
Interview with literary agent Jenny Bent of The Bent Agency at Amy M. Newman’s site (10/2013).
7 Questions for: Literary Agent Jenny Bent at Middle Grade Ninja (01/2013).
A Few Minutes With Jenny Bent at Where the Grey Matter Pours Out (10/2012).
LitChat Interview: Jenny Bent, The Bent Agency at LitStack (08/2012).
Interview with Jenny Bent at Literary Rejections.
An interview with Jenny Bent at Write Angles Blog (09/2011).
A BBCHAT with Jenny Bent at Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire (06/2011).
Q&A with Jenny Bent at Writer’s League of Texas (05/2011).
Interactive Interview with an Agent: Jenny Bent at Mother. Write. (Repeat.) (04/2011).
The Five-Question [Literary] Agent Interview with Jenny Bent at The Writer’s [Inner] Journey (09/2010).
Interview with Jenny Bent at Novelists, Inc. (04/2010).
Q&A with Jenny Bent at Pennwriters (04/2010).
Interview with Jenny Bent, Spring 2010, at College of Arts and Sciences.
Jenny Bent Tells Us What Agents Want at WOW (12/2009).
Interview: Jenny Bent at A View from the Top (12/2009).
Interview with Jenny Bent of the Bent Agency at Much Cheaper Than Fiction (04/2009)
Agent Advice Interview with Jenny Bent at the Guide to Literary Agents blog (02/2008).
An Interview with Jenny Bent at Algonkian Writers Conference.
Jenny Bent Guest Q&A at AbsoluteWrite (05/2006).
Interview with Literary Agent Jenny Bent at pcquill (03/2006).
Agent & Editor Q&A: Agent Four (Jenny Bent!) at POD-DY MOUTH (02/2006).
Interview with Literary Agent Jenny Bent at readersvoice.com (09/2003).
Around the Web:
The Agent Recommends — Guest Post By Jenny Bent at She Reads (08/2012).
Successful Queries: Agent Jenny Bent and “Oh. My. Gods.” at Guide to Literary Agents (10/2011).
Pitching An Agent: The Bent Agency at MediaBistro (AvantGuild Membership required) (04/2011).
What to Expect When You Get Published by Jenny Bent at Backspace (02/2011).
Dance with the One What Brung Ya, guest post at Backspace (01/2011).
Agent Talk: Jenny Bent, conference notes at Muse (02/2010).
Spotlighting Agent: Jenny Bent at examiner.com (07/2009).
Agent Appreciation Day post by client Robin O’Bryant (12/2009).
Guest: Agent Jenny Bent, great post on contracts at Genreality (08/2009).
Tag! Jenny Bent is it!, pre-blog meme at Pub Rants (03/2006).
Please see the Bent Agency website for contact and query information.
Last updated: 1/17/14.
Last Reviewed By Agent? 7/28/11.
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.