This week's Agent Spotlight features Linda Epstein of the Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency.
Status: Open to submissions, actively building her client list.
About: “Before joining JDLA as an Associate Agent in 2011, Linda read manuscripts, book proposals, and queries at Folio Literary Management; was Submissions Manager at the McVeigh Agency; and interned at the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency and also Meryl Zegarek Public Relations. Prior to that she was Community Relations Manager at Barnes and Noble, where she set up author readings and signings and organized book groups and book fairs. Currently, Linda co-edits The New York Bookwoman, the newsletter of the New York chapter of the Women’s National Book Association, and manages their blog. She also leads workshops about publishing at Hofstra University. Linda graduated from Buffalo University with a BA in English and Environmental Studies and went on for graduate work in Creative Writing at Temple University. She also holds a BSN from New York University. Linda is an avid reader, a fiction writer, the mother of three children, and a native New Yorker whose breath is taken away every single time she sees the NYC skyline.” (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)
What She's Looking For:
General fiction, Juvenile Fiction, Mind/Body/Spirit, Health, Lifestyle, Cookbooks. (Link)
From the Website:
“Adult Fiction - I like accessible literary fiction, quality upscale commercial fiction, vibrant narrative nonfiction, and compelling memoirs. When I read a manuscript I want to be so immersed in its world that I can't put it down. A distinctive voice is imperative. I love to learn something about another time, place, or culture while engrossed in a gripping story. Books with Jewish or other spiritual/religious themes or undercurrents are of particular interest. I am partial to underdogs and outsiders. Occasionally I like to read something funny, and sometimes a little magical realism is entertaining. I don't like bodice-rippers and won't read anything with dead, maimed, or kidnapped children. I don't read horror. I'm not really interested in traditional SciFi, but I do like fantasy and I'm intrigued by Steampunk. I'm the wrong person for romance, thrillers, or anything but a very offbeat cozy mystery.
“For Children's Fiction - I like middle-grade and YA fiction and appreciate the same things in books for this age group as I do for adult fiction. For middle-grade, it should be particularly character driven and quirky, with excellent pacing and rhythm. For YA, I'm a sucker for strong girls, deep friendships, and overcoming adversity.
“For Non-fiction - I like alternative health and parenting books, cookbooks (especially, but not limited to, Gluten Free cooking), select memoirs, and the right spiritual/self-actualization book (think Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra, Don Miguel Ruiz).
“I am particularly committed to representing books that include, are about, or are geared toward people in the LBGTQ community, for both adult and children's literature.” (Link)
From a Blog Post (01/2012):
“You know what kind of manuscript I’d love to find?! I’d love to find an historical literary fiction set in GreenwichVillage in 1979. Or a YA Steampunky story where the Steampunkness is incidental and the story part is phenomenal. Or a very sad story about two best friends. Or a really romantic gay love story set at the turn of the last century. Or a MG story for boys with some adventure and personal growth but no paranormal or fantastical creatures. Or a feminist retelling of a Celtic pre-Christian legend. Or a story that takes place on an island. Or a story about food. Or a road trip. Or hats.
“I have eclectic taste in literature. I don’t really know what I want to find until I find it. I like to keep my options open. I like to take chances. I like to be moved. And to think.” (Link)
What She Isn't Looking For:
Picture Books, Horror, Hard Sci-Fi, Thrillers, Mysteries (except as mentioned above), Romance, Screenplays. (Link)
Yes, as needed. See this post on her blog.
The agency represents over 200 clients, including a PEN Award-winner and a Newbery Honor Medal winner. A list of selected clients can be found on the site here.
As of this posting, Ms. Epstein has not reported any deals to Publisher’s Marketplace. The agency is listed as having made 12 deals in the last 12 months, 1 six-figure+ deal, and 68 overall.
NOTE: PM is usually not a complete representation of sales.
E-mail: Yes (only).
Submission Guidelines (always verify):
Fiction - Send a query in the body of an e-mail with a one-paragraph bio and one-paragraph synopsis and the first 20 pages of your manuscript. No attachments. Put “QUERY” in the subject line.
Non-Fiction – Send a one-paragraph bio and a one-paragraph synopsis of your book in the body of an e-mail. Attach the entire proposal as a word document. Your proposal should include a sample chapter.
Query only one agent at the agency at a time.
See the Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines.
“With query letters, authors need to remember that a. it’s a business letter, they’re not writing to a pal, and b. if it’s too long, I stop reading. There are about a million places on the internet that give advice on how to write a good query, so they really have no excuse for not writing one.” (Link)
Related blog posts:
The agency’s stated response is 2 weeks for queries. Stats on the web show Ms. Epstein responding to most queries in this time-frame, often within days. Data on requested material is limited.
What's the Buzz?
Linda Epstein began agenting August 2011 and is actively building her client list. The Jennifer De Chiara Agency is recommended by P&E.
Worth Your Time:
Member Monday: Meet Linda Epstein! at WNBA-NYC (01/2012).
Ms. Epstein has a blog called The Blabbermouth. There are a lot of posts that will give you insight into her preferences and agenting style. As always, I recommend reading through the archives.
When A Query Letter Goes Wrong by Linda Epstein, guest post at Jeannie Ruesch’s Happy Endings (08/2010).
Call Yourself A Writer by Linda Epstein, guest post at Jeannie Ruesch’s Happy Endings (07/2010).
Query Short List of Lessons by Linda Epstein, guest post at Jeannie Ruesch’s Happy Endings (06/2010).
Mixing Metaphors & Petting Peeves, guest post by Linda Epstein at Jeannie Ruesch’s Happy Endings (05/2010).
Around the Web:
Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency thread on AbsoluteWrite.
Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency on P&E ($ Recommended).
See this post for a list of conferences Ms. Epstein has scheduled for 2012 so far.
Please see the Jennifer DeChiara website for contact and query information.
Last updated: 2/16/12.
Agent Contacted For Review? Yes.
Last Reviewed By Agent? 2/16/12.
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.