Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 26, 2017

Featured Agent – Jennie Dunham Part Three Interview

Jennie Dunham owner of Dunham Literary Agency has agreed to be May’s Featured Agents and will critique four first pages from the submissions sent in this month. She has been a literary agent in New York, New York since May 1992. In August 2000 she founded Dunham Literary, Inc.

She represents authors of quality fiction and nonfiction books for adults and children and some illustrators of children’s books.

She has been a member of AAR (Association of Authors Representatives) since 1993 and is a member of the SCBWI. She served on the Program Committee and was Program Committee Director for several years. She was also a member of the Electronic Committee.

In 1996 she attended the US/China Joint Women in Business conference in Beijing where she gave a presentation about literary agents in the US. She also attended the NGO Forum at the International Women’s Conference.

She attended international meetings as the AAR representative to create the ISTC (International Standard Text Code) which is being created to ISO (International Standardization Organization) specifications. This business and tracking system will be based on titles not book formats (as is the case with ISBN) and will work in tandem with ISBN.

She started her career at John Brockman Associates and then Mildred Marmur Associates. She was employed by Russell & Volkening for 6 years before she left to found Dunham Literary, Inc.


What happens if you don’t sell this book? Do you keep trying? Do you go back to the drawing board? When do you tell the client to work on something else?

There is no single plan that fits all authors and books. Sometimes I keep trying. Sometimes I talk with a client about revisions if one or more editors have responded with comments that resonate with me as changes that would improve the manuscript.

Waiting for responses is one of the hardest parts of having a manuscript on submission, so I recommend that clients immerse themselves in writing the next project. I’ve also had the experience that the first project doesn’t sell, but then the second project does. Sometimes I can turn that deal into a two book offer. And if not, authors often go back to that first manuscript with fresh eyes and solid experience to revise the first manuscript.

How many editors do you go to before giving up?

There isn’t one answer to this. If I get consistent feedback from editors, I can pass that along to a client, and we can talk about a possible revision. I find that revisions during the submission process can be very helpful.

How long is your average client relationship?

I’ve represented some of my clients for over 20 years. It’s satisfying to see writers build like that. But it is equally exciting to find a new writer with a voice I’m passionate about.

Are you open to authors who write multiple genres? 

Yes, as long as I represent all those genres.

Do you enjoy attending writer’s conferences?

I love them! They are as inspirational to me as to the attendees. I’m at home on a stage and really enjoy public speaking from my days in the theater as a kid. While it takes some work to put together a new talk, making a new presentation allows me to reflect on my business and the creative process which is rewarding to me and I hope as well to the audience. I like reading manuscript samples and meeting with new writers to give critiques too. Meeting new writers and watching them develop is part of the fun of working in publishing.


In the subject line, please write “April 2017  Critique” and paste the text in the email, plus attached it as a Word document to the email. Please make sure you include your name, the title of the piece, and whether it’s a picture book, middle grade, or young adult, etc. at the top on both the email and the Word document (Make sure you include your name with the title of your book, when you save the first page). REMEMBER: ATTACH THE WORD DOCUMENT AND NOT GET ELIMINATED!

Your First Page Word document should be formatted using one inch margins and 12 point New Times Roman font – double space – no more than 23 lines – only one page. Send to: kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com.

PLEASE FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES: Your submission will be passed over if you do not follow the directions for both the pasted email and the attached Word doc. This is where most people mess up.

DEADLINE: May 25th.

RESULTS: June 2nd.

Please only submit one first page a month, but do try again if your first page wasn’t one of the pages randomly picked. Thanks!

Talk tomorrow,


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