Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

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  • Caroline Trussell Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 5/20/2024
  • Jenna Satterthwaite Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/10/2024
  • Bethany Weaver Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/24/2024

Agent Spotlight & Agent Spotlight Updates

  • Agent Spotlights & Interviews have been updated through the letter "K" as of 3/28/2024 and many have been reviewed by the agents. Look for more information as I find the time to update more agent spotlights.


Today I’m thrilled to have agent Wendi Gu here. She is an associate literary agent at Janklow & Nesbit Associates.

Update as of 5/5/2022. Wendi is currently an agent at Sanford Greenburger Associates. 

Status: Open to submissions

Hi­ Wendi! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Wendi:

1. Tell us how you became an agent, how long you’ve been one, and what you’ve been doing as an agent.

I was on my way to Singapore to do an internship, and my flight connected through New York City. I had a few hours to kill, so a friend’s mom gave me quick car tour of Manhattan, as I hadn’t been since I was a toddler. Even from within the mini-van, I knew that I had to live here after college. I’d been a Midwestern suburban girl my whole life, and I was completely enamored by what I saw and felt.

I’d always loved books the most, and I’d always been curious about book-making. And when I learned that that publishing industry thrived in New York, I saw my path bright and clear before my eyes. So for my final college internship summer, I applied wildly to every publishing internship I could find. I landed one with Brenda Bowen at Sanford J. Greenburger Associates, and became her literary assistant after I graduated from Northwestern University in 2013. I learned so much with Brenda. She taught me how to pitch, sell, and advocate for my clients. With her encouragement and support my list began to grow.

About a year ago, I started at Janklow & Nesbit to join Brooks Sherman start the kid lit department!
As an agent, I want to work with books that unveil a little-known piece of American history. These unsung hero stories are important pieces of our country’s story. I also love contemporary, deeply emotional stories about underdogs who learn to find their voice.

About the Agency:
2. Share a bit about your agency and what it offers to its authors.

Janklow & Nesbit offers incredible support for their clients. It’s like having an army behind you. All of my colleagues are very, very good at making deals for their authors and illustrators. The publishing industry can feel very byzantine to navigate at times, but the team of agents (combined with our legal and accounting teams) are always looking ahead for their authors.
I would also like to take the opportunity to plug JNA’s growing children’s book department, fearlessly lead by Brooks Sherman!

What She’s Looking For:
3. What age groups do you represent—picture books, MG, and/or YA? What genres do you represent and what are you looking for in submissions for these genres?

I represent fiction and nonfiction picture books, middle grade, and YA. I am looking for multicultural stories, coming-of-age stories that deal with mental health and family relationships, and female friendship. For funny, I don’t much like slapstick. Weirdo humor is a plus. Otherwise, give me a book that makes me cry! I am a big, sloppy, softie.

4.  Is there anything you would be especially excited to seeing in the genres you are interested in?

Immigrant stories! And, Asian-American everything.

What She Isn’t Looking For:
5. What types of submissions are you not interested in?

I’m not as interested in high fantasy or science fiction, but not closed to it! For example, I loved how Tomi Adeyemi’s CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE deals with colorism, and Dylan Farrow’s HUSH deals with female empowerment.

Agent Philosophy:
6. What is your philosophy as an agent both in terms of the authors you want to work with and the books you want to represent?

Making a book is deeply personal stuff, yet we’ve created an entire industry out of it. With every client, I endeavor to find a strong balance of the professional with a personal touch. As business partners, it’s important that we communicate clearly, openly, and with accountability, but that both sides try to keep the relationship an enjoyable!
Editorial Agent:
7. Are you an editorial agent? If so, what is your process like when you’re working with your authors before submitting to editors?

Yes! Most of the books I work on go through at least two rounds of edits before submission. I like to start the process with a call or in-person conversation, and then I’ll send them the manuscript with track changes. These track changes are a mix of line edits and comments. While I like writing edit letters, I often find that it’s easier to point to the exact moment that requires attention.
I should also add that I love editing picture book biographies. I love editing picture book texts in general – right now, that is my bread and butter.

Query Methods and Submission Guidelines: (Always verify before submitting)
8. How should authors query you and what do you want to see with the query letter?

They should follow the agency guidelines at www.janklowandnesbit.com.

Update on 2/11/2023

Email Wendi at wgu@sja.com. "For novels, please include the query and first ten pages in the body of the email. For picture book illustrators and author/illustrators, please attach your dummy or portfolio as a PDF or link." (From the agency website)

9.  Do you have any specific dislikes in query letters or the first pages submitted to you?

Make sure I know why you thought I might be the right agent for your book!

Response Time:
10. What’s your response time to queries and requests for more pages of a manuscript?

I try to respond within 6-8 weeks. Unfortunately, I cannot respond to each and every query, but if I am interested, I try to make it known to the author within that time frame.

Update on 2/11/2023
Around the Web

Interviews and Podcasts
Interview at EasternPennPoints (03/2020)
Interview at Only Picture Books (02/2019)
Interview at Kirkus Review (Date unknown but after Wendi moved to her new agency)

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Wendi.

­Wendi is generously offering a query critique to one lucky winner. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follower button if you're not a follower) and leave a comment through November 10th.  If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either contest. If you do not want to enter the contest, that's okay. Just let me know in the comments.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. This is an international giveaway.

Profile Details:
Last updated: 2/11/2023.
Agent Contacted for Review? Yes
Last Reviewed By Agent: 10/29/201

Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at natalieiaguirre7@gmail.com

Note: These agent profiles and interviews presently focus on agents who accept children's fiction. Please take the time to verify anything you might use here before querying an agent. The information found here is subject to change.


C. D. Monson said...

I know who I am querying.:) And, yes, I would love query critique!

Maddie Rodriguez said...

Awesome interview :) I really want to query Wendi now.

Sherry Ellis said...

Well, if my book, Bubba and Squirt's Big Dig to China hadn't been picked up by Dancing Lemur Press, I would be querying you! Nice to learn how you became an agent.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I think providing feedback is awesome. That's the main reason I wanted an agent. I mean, when I am done with a story I think it's awesome, but then I also went through the plaid pants phase in the 80s, so getting input is always helpful.

Ann Finkelstein said...

Thank you for the informative interview.

Julie K Rubini said...

I have a PB bio of an African American unsung hero that might be of interest to Wendi. Great interview, thank you!

Scott said...

Thanks for the generous giveaway!

Kate P. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kate P. said...

Trying this again with email and photo added to Blogger profile : ) I'd love to win a query critique from Wendi, thank you for this post!

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

What a wonderful opportunity! Thank you Wendi and Natalie!

Snuffalupagus said...

Great article!

Angie Quantrell said...

Great interview! A picture book query would be wonderful! Thanks for the chance! Angelecolline at yahoo dot com.

Tonja Drecker said...

Enjoyed the interview! Thank you.

Sylvia Liu said...

Great interview! sylliu at yahoo dot com

Little Foote Designs said...

Great interview!! Thanks for sharing!
Kristen at Spina dot com

Loie D said...

Great interview! Thank you:) loiedunn at gmail dot com

The Littlest Dunham said...

I found this interview illuminating - thanks for the interview and the query contest opportunity! elennadunham at gmail dot com

Unknown said...

Very helpful interview; Wendi seems like a great agent! tessmcanfield(at)gmail(dot)com

Rosi said...

I could sure use help with my query letter. Thanks for an informative interview.

khadijahnm said...

Great to find out that her love of books lead her into publishing. Great interview.

nashvillecats2 said...

Great interview Natilie. Enjoyed the post.


Natalie Aguirre said...

Leaving a comment for Carolyn Chambers Clark. She tweeted the post. CarolynChambersClark@gmail.com

Lauri Fortino said...

Nice to learn more about Wendi Gu.

PJ McIlvaine said...

Great article! I have a pal who is represented by Wendi and loves her.

Lenny Lee said...

hi Miss Natalie and Miss Wendi. Cool interview. Lots of useful info. i never, ever wrote a query, so don't put me in the contest. it's really nice of you, Miss Wendi, to offer your time to help someone with a query. seems like so many authors struggle with query writing. if i ever get my m.g. novel done, for sure i'll query your agency.

...hugs from Lenny
Blog: http://lennys-world.blogspot.com/

K. said...

Thanks so much for the giveaway! :)

Karen Lange said...

It's so nice to meet you, Wendi! I love to read immigrant stories too. So much potential for conflict and great stories there. Wishing you well!

Natalie, appreciate you hosting this week. Hope you are doing well and enjoying fall. I'll pass on the giveaway. Take care!:)

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Enjoyed the interview, Natalie and Wendi. Being an agent sounds very busy.

Dawn Simon said...

Great interview, Natalie and Wendi! I tweeted about it. :)

Linda H. said...

What a great interview! Just like I love hearing how an author got the idea for a book, I enjoy reading about how agents got into the profession. Wendy's story really shows her passion. And I love how she says "I love editing picture book texts in general – right now, that is my bread and butter." I'd be thrilled to have her critique one of my picture books stories.

frank wilson mccoll said...

I would love to win this!

Maile McCarthy said...

What a fantastic interview. Thank you for offering the query critique! I'd love a chance to win.

Christine said...

Thanks so much for the great interview. I'd love a critique.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

Excellent interview. Thank you. And I would love a query critique. proudspirit@juno.com

Morgan said...

Thanks for the fun interview, my email is pet16008@byui.edu