This week's Agent Spotlight features Sarah Burnes of The Gernert Company.
Status: Open to submissions.
About: “Sarah began her career on the editorial side of publishing, first at Houghton Mifflin, then in the Knopf Group, and last at Little, Brown. She became an agent in 2001, joining The Gernert Company in 2005. As an editor, she acquired and edited literary fiction and non-fiction, and as an agent has added children's fiction to her list. She is always on the lookout for sharp, original voices. Sarah sits on the board of non-profit progressive publisher the New Press and lives with her husband and three children in Brooklyn.” (Link)
About the Agency:
“The Gernert Company is a literary agency located in Manhattan. Our client list is as broad as the market; we represent equal parts fiction (commercial and literary writers, both well-known and soon-to-be, whether writing for adults or younger readers) and nonfiction (biographers, memoirists, journalists, essayists, bloggers, and writers of trade and scholarly nonfiction in subjects ranging from sports and history to current events and science). We sell domestic, foreign, and subsidiary rights for our clients and partner with subagents in select foreign markets and in the film/TV industry.
“The Gernert Company was founded in 1996 by David Gernert after he left his post as Editor-in-Chief of Doubleday to become an agent. The agency currently represents more than 125 authors and has five full-time agents.” (Link)
What She's Looking For:
Fiction: Literary fiction, commercial fiction, middle grade, young adult.
Non-Fiction: Adventure / true story.
“She is always on the lookout for sharp, original voices.” (Link)
What She Isn't Looking For:
Picture books, screenplays. (Info via e-mail)
She requests revisions from her clients as needed.
As of this posting, Ms. Burnes is listed on Publisher’s Marketplace as having made 9 deals in the last 12 months, 5 six-figure+ deals, and 42 overall. Recent deals include 3 middle grade, 1 young adult, 1 debut, 1 general/other, 1 memoir, 1 religion/spirituality, and 1 digital.
NOTE: PM is usually not a complete representation of sales.
Submission Guidelines (always verify):
“Please send a query letter, either by mail or email, describing the work you’d like to submit, along with some information about yourself and a sample chapter if appropriate. Please do not send emails to individual agents, even if their personal email addresses are available elsewhere online. […] Indicate which agent you’re querying.” (Link)
See the Gernert Company website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines.
The agency only responds if interested, usually within four weeks. (Link)
Ms. Burnes’ response time on requested material ranges from a couple weeks to a couple months.
What's the Buzz?
First an editor for Houghton Miffin, then Knopf, and finally Little, Brown, Sarah Burnes became an agent in 2001, joining The Gernert Company in 2005. She has an amazing client list, and her clients seem really happy with her representation.
There isn’t much information available regarding her particular tastes but a look at her clients (Gayle Foreman, Alyssa Sheinmel, Margaret Stohl, Pseudonymous Bosch, Adam Gidwitz, etc.) suggests an interest in contemporary and fantasy.
Worth Your Time:
“Your Book Is Your Hook!” Show – YA NY Times Bestseller Gayle Forman & Her Literary Agent, Sarah Burnes (5/2011).
Around the Web:
Check out the agency “News” page for client news and happenings.
The Gernert Company thread on AbsoluteWrite (2007- present).
The Gernert Company on P&E ($, Recommended).
Sarah Burnes on P&E ($).
A Week in Culture: Sarah Burnes, Literary Agent, Part I at the Paris Review (11/2010).
A Week in Culture: Sarah Burnes, Literary Agent, Part II at the Paris Review (11/2010).
Please see The Gernert Company website for contact and query information.
Last updated: 1/19/12.
Agent Contacted For Review? Yes.
Last Reviewed By Agent? 1/23/12.
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.