Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 26, 2023

MAY AGENT OF THE MONTH – Jen Newens Interview Part Three


At different phases of her publishing career, Jen has been an author, editor, and publisher, giving her experience in all sides of the business. She comes to Martins Literary Management after a seven-year stint as publishing director at West Margin Press, an Ingram Content Group company. There, she acquired a wide range of different genres, but holds a special place in her heart for young people’s literature. She began to acquire graphic novels in 2019 and sees it as an exciting and burgeoning way to tell children’s stories. 

A subject matter expert in food and drink titles, Jen spent two decades as a cookbook editor and writer (she even went to culinary school!). She’s experienced in working with celebrity chefs, business owners, cooking brands, and food bloggers, as well as accomplished home cooks.

In her role as Senior Literary Manager, Jen applies her 360-view of the publishing business to MLM, seeking out fresh, original voices and developing exciting new talent. On the children’s side, Jen is interested in picture books with sharp writing and compelling messages; MG/YA stories that resonate with the challenges faced by today’s youth; and graphic novels with quirky narration and original art. In the food and drink space, Jen is keen to find original takes on popular topics, books that reveal a riveting personal story, and books with a health and wellness slant. 

The following are on Jen’s current wishlist, but she’s always open to hearing new ideas. 

Childrens/MG/YA/Graphic Novels 

•    Books that portray historically excluded voices, disability, neurodivergent characters, LGBTQ topics

•    Regional books with national crossover potential

•    Author/illustrators with strong storytelling skills and a clear vision

•    Children’s activity books

•    Quirky and humorous stories

•    Cat content (she’s crazy for cats)

Please submit queries here:

Follow her on Twitter @JenNewens



Once you submit a manuscript to a publisher, how often do you communicate with your client during the submission process?

Again, since I’m a new agent, I’m not sure about this yet. But my goal is to have an open-door policy with my authors and be available whenever they need me.

What happens if you don’t sell a book and the author wants to self-publish a book? Would you be okay with that?

Hmmm. I’d need to think about this.

Do you think you will seek help from other agents at your agency to get suggestions on editors and/or publishers to submit to for the clients you sign up to represent?

Absolutely. The agents at Martin Lit are highly collaborative and support each other wonderfully. It’s part of the reason I was keen to join the agency.

What do you think of digital and audio books? Are they part of every sale these days?

In my ideal world, publishers would publish all formats simultaneously so that the book can reach the reader in any format they wish. In reality, digital is typically always part of the deal. Audio depends on the genre and publisher’s strategy.

Do you handle all foreign/film rights contracts or does your firm have someone else who handles those contracts?

Yes. Martin Lit has dedicated agents handling both entertainment rights and foreign rights. Not every book is well suited to these, but we will pitch them if appropriate.

Do you see any new trends building in the industry?

A good trend for all is that we are starting to see retail prices increase for books. This means higher royalties and faster advance earn-outs for authors.

Any words of wisdom on how a writer can improve their writing, secure an agent, and get published?

For children’s books, I recommend joining a local writing/critique group to workshop stories. I would also recommend a trip to the library or bookstore to see what is popular and how the books are written in their genre (picture book, middle grade, young adult, etc.). I also highly recommend joining SCBWI, which has countless resources for kidlit writers. For cookbooks, I recommend following Diane Jacob and buying her book, Will Write for Food. Platform is very important in the food and drink space, so aspiring cookbook writers should focus on creating a blog, teaching classes, bolstering social media, and other things.

I’m discovering that Twitter is a great place to find writing resources and foster community. Most agents are on the platform, so try to follow some that represent your genre and engage in the dialog. The gold standard for agent hunting is Publisher’s Marketplace Dealmakers database where agents can be searched by genre, keyword, and other dimensions.

Would you like to attend other conferences, workshops writer’s retreats?




In the subject line, please write “MAY 2023 FIRST PAGE CRITIQUE” Example: Paste the text in the email, plus attached it as a Word document to the email. Please make sure you put your name, the title of the piece, and genre: a picture book, chapter book, middle grade, or young adult, Non-fiction, contemporary, historical, Sci-fi, fantasy, 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).

PLEASE name the Word document file by putting 2023 MAY FIRST PAGE  – Your Name – Title of first page. Thank you.

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.


DEADLINE MAY 26th – noon EST

RESULTS: June 2nd


Talk tomorrow,


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