Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 13, 2017

Jennifer Soloway: October Agent of the Month – Interview Part One.


Jennifer represents authors and illustrators of picture book, middle grade, and YA stories, and is actively building her list. Although she specializes in children’s literature, she also represents adult fiction, both literary and commercial, particularly crime, suspense and horror projects.

For picture books, she is drawn to a wide range of stories from silly to sweet, but she always appreciates a strong dose of humor and some kind of surprise at the end.

When it comes to middle grade, she likes all kinds of genres, including adventures, mysteries, spooky-but-not-too-scary ghost stories, humor, realistic contemporary and fantasy.

YA is Jennifer’s sweet spot. She is a suspense junkie. She adores action-packed thrillers full of unexpected twists. Throw in a dash of romance, and she’s hooked! She’s a sucker for conspiracy plots where anyone might be a double agent, even the kid next door. She is a huge fan of psychological horror that blurs the lines between the real and the imagined. But as much as she loves a good thriller, she finds her favorite novels are literary stories about ordinary teens, especially those focused on family, relationships, sexuality, mental illness, or addiction. In such stories, she is particularly drawn to a close, confiding first-person narrative. Regardless of genre, she is actively seeking fresh new voices and perspectives underrepresented in literature.

That’s her wish list, but the truth is an author might have something she has never considered before, and it might be absolutely perfect for her. She is open to any good story that is well written with a strong, authentic voice. Surprise her!


What are your favorite genres?

Contemporary YA
Literary suspense
Literary thrillers & mysteries
Literary psychological horror
MG mysteries
MG humor
Laugh-out-loud picture books

Are there any story or themes you wished someone would submit?

I would love to find something like THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN, by Sherman Alexi—such a great book! His voice is so honest and real, yet funny. I especially love a close, confiding, authentic first-person narrative. Best of all, it gives insight to a world I wouldn’t never find or know on my own.

Do you represent New Adult manuscripts?


If you had a client that wrote YA and decided to write a New Adult Novel would you represent them with that?

It would depend on the project. I wonder if the “New Adult” novel might be an adult project, which is a much broader category with greater publishing opportunities.

What do you like to see in a submission?

The projects that capture my interest have at least three of the six following traits:

(1) A dynamite opening line (or lines)
(2) A strong, engaging voice
(3) An intriguing premise that somehow feels different from anything else I’ve seen
(4) An opening scene filled with drama that had enough context to immediately ground me in the world and suck me into the story
(5) An irresistible character with high stakes and agency
(6) An additional story thread that is also compelling

And the ones I request right away have all of the above.

How important is the query letter?

Query letters are important, and I appreciate a well-crafted, professional letter. The query is an opportunity to introduce oneself and the project, and it creates my first impression of the author and/or illustrator.

But for me, the most important piece is the writing. If I fall in love with the story and the writing, I don’t mind if the pitch isn’t perfect.

How far do you normally read before you reject a submission?

I always err on the side of caution. If I see potential in something, but I’m not sure, I’ll mark it a “maybe.” I might go back to that project and read it several times to make sure I’m not missing something. I want to fall in love with a project, and I read everything with that hope.

Would you lose interest in a submission if the writer missed correcting a few misspelled words?

I prefer a clean manuscript, but if the writing is amazing, a few minor editing errors aren’t deal killers for me.

Do you let people know if you are not interested in what they sent?

I read every query carefully, and I wish I could respond to everyone personally. Unfortunately, because of the high volume of material our agency receives, we are not able to respond personally to every submission. If I responded to everyone who queried me, I wouldn’t have time to represent my clients.

How long does it usually take to respond to requested material?

I try to respond within 6-8 weeks, or sooner if I can.

Do the agents at Andrea Brown ever hand off a submission to another agent, if it doesn’t work for them, but is a good story and is written well?

Yes, we’re a collaborative agency. If I see something that I think would be a good fit for my colleague, I will pass it to them, and they will do the same for me.

Have you noticed any common mistakes that writers make?

I think the biggest mistake is submitting work too soon. I see potential in almost every submission, but most projects I receive are at too early a stage for me to offer representation. The drafts tend to be too raw and in need of more work. Often, I can tell the author is still writing to discover, or if they have discovered the end, they have yet to rework the beginning and middle.

I am looking for something with potential, something I think I can sell. I want to read the story and have a vision for how the work could be elevated and polished. A manuscript doesn’t have to be perfect, but at the same time, it has to be really good.


Talk tomorrow,



  1. Great interview! Thank you!


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