Monday, June 5, 2006

Jenny Bent in TWL Author Talks Today & Tomorrow!

What a fun day it's been so far with literary agent Jenny Bent of Creative Media Group as she fielded questions from TWL Author Talks today. She'll be back tomorrow so if you haven't signed up for the group, now's the time! The link is

Here's a recap of today's talk and my thoughts........

Jocelyn asked:
"Is the chick lit genre fading? If so, what are the "hot" new genres that you
are actively acquiring?"

Jenny replied:
"The chick lit genre is DEFINITELY fading, if not faded. I hear middle
grade is very hot right now, however, I haven't really sold or acquired much of
that. Historical fiction is still hot, and nonfiction by anyone with a
really big platform and a good idea is a perennial. In terms of fiction,
everyone, agents and editors, are kind of casting around to see what's
working. I think people want to move away from chick lit and move back
towards literary/commercial fiction, like GOOD GRIEF or THE TIME TRAVELLERS

Well, I heard this about chick lit and it's a shame. I really liked the tone and the cute covers. Sigh. I'm thinking, though, that it's going to eventually come back, but what to do about unpublished manuscripts that these authors have in files? Are they not going to see the light of day? Terrible.

Lisa asked:

"I've seen that some authors do very well right out of the gate in
NYC and others get stuck low or midlist. The bookseller mailings and
attention to the booksellers from the author seems to be a big impact on
this. Is there anything else you can suggest that seems to really help? Is
there some distinct something you see that shows in the ones that hit
bigger than those who don't?

Number two: Also, I've noticed that some authors rush to sign another deal
before the first release with a publisher hits to get security. Others
gamble on waiting and showing great numbers to try to push their earning
potential by way of showing they are bankable. What is your take on the
smartest way to approach this within the same publishing house. Obviously,
if you are prolific and salable in other genres to other publishers that
gets you more exposure but just wondering on a same publisher basis. Slam
dunk another deal for security or wait for those pre-orders to hit hoping
for a bigger pay out but risking sales being bad and getting no

Jenny replied:
"Regarding your first question, it has a great deal to do with publisher
support. Sometimes a book just generates a lot of heat and excitement in house
(and this can be triggered by great quotes, or great reviews, or foreign sales,
or just general enthusiasm on the part of the various departments) and this
translates to a bigger push for the book. Also, if a publisher pays a lot
of money for the book, you can get the same result. Sometimes you just get
lucky, too--a publisher can be surprised by how well a book does just based on
word of mouth and support from booksellers.

Regarding your second question, this is always a dilemma, and there's no
easy answer. Some publishers refuse to offer for a second book before they
see how the first is doing, and that makes the decision for you.
Otherwise, it's up to a decision made by the agent and author working together
to see what the best strategy would be. And it also depends, again, on the
amount of in-house enthusiasm that first book is getting. In one situation
I was in recently, the publisher offered a low amount of money for a third book,
and we decided to pass and see what happened with the second one. In the
meantime, we made a better deal for a different book with another house.
So it's always a judgement call...."

Haven't had no experience with this, I really can't comment. The whole business just kafoozles me anyway.

I asked:
"Can you tell us about the last submission you just accepted as far as what it
was that hooked you? Was it the actual hook, the writer's credentials, the
genre being as one of your favorites, or what?"

Jenny replied:
"I actually just loved the writing and the story-line so much. It was
a YA novel, and I was concerned that there wasn't enough of a hook and that it
wasn't edgy enough (people seem to want YA to be edgy these days and that the
author didn't have strong enough credentials, but I just kept coming back to how
much I loved it, so I took it on. And I sold it in a week, so it had a
happy ending!"

Ah....I love a fairytale ending.

Shon asked:
"Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. I have one for
you. I know there are several reasons why an agent will take on a client,
great writing being at the top of that list. However, as an agent,
what do you see are three key ingredients a writer must possess in order to
stand a chance getting represented?"

Jenny replied:
"1. A strong, unique plot 2. A distinctive voice 3. and yes, great

Interesting being as I just did a survey that said that readers were looking more for characterization as opposed to plot, but who knows. But, you see where she adds "unique" there? I can understand that. I think that's a real biggie.

As I am working on a paranormal comedy, I thought I'd throw her a question about that. I asked:
"How is paranormal comedy doing these days? Are the editors looking for
something like this?"

Jenny replied:
"I think it's doing okay, but people would rather see dark, sexy paranormal."

Well, rats. Mine isn't dark, nor sexy unless you consider a ghost being sexy, which she isn't really, although she is beautiful so I guess she could be sexy, too. But, what I think she really means is flirtatious, which mine isn't really. Should I make her that way? I don't know. Like I said, it all confuzzles the hell out of me.

Which leads me to the next question. Cathryn asked:
"How do you feel about the erotic romance market. Do you see the rush
dying down anytime soon? Are you acquiring erotic romance?"

Jenny replied:
"Not actively. I have some authors that are writing it, but I think the
market is going to get flooded very soon since so many publishers are doing
it. I’m just not a huge fan of the genre; which isn’t to say I wouldn’t
take someone on, just that I’m not out there trolling the waters."

Well, probably the same as chick lit. Hell, the whole market whatever way you look at it is flooded.

And, finally, I asked the million dollar question I had been wanting to ask since she came in:
"You mentioned that you are acquiring non-fiction, but those with a strong
platform. I did notice that some of the books you have acquired in the
genre are from experts in the field such as doctors. What are the chances
someone who is not a doctor, but who has just entered the field of expertise as
far as books already published on the subject and perhaps a semi-strong media
presence such as radio spots and a strong Internet presence might have a shot at
being represented by you for subsequent books on the same subject?"

Jenny replied:
"The chances are not all that good, unless the book was a bestseller, or the
internet presence is immense. Publishers want strong medicial credentials
and a very strong media platform.There's no general rule about how long it
takes. Could be a week; could be several months."

Well, I haven't been the same since. I just wanted to throw everything in the wastebasket and become a tomato picker.

So, okay, let's look at the big picture. I have a relationship book finished. I spent months working on it. I have obtained interviews with people who have given me precious words about their own experiences for it. I have queried celebrities for endorsements. I have...I have...NO MEDICINAL CREDENTIALS.

Well, pffft.

Guess I didn't think of that when I was about to graduate high school. All I could think about was getting the heck out of there. Now I see where education is very important. Now I can see what algebra and Latin had to do with everyday life. Who knew I wanted to become an expert in the field of relationships? It was the laaaaast thing on my mind at that time.

Well, pfffffft.

But, I'm not giving up. I can say one thing. I get an A+ in perseverance.

Tomorrow, Jenny finishes up her talk, so if anyone wants to get in on the conversation, the link is in the top paragraph.

Talk to you tomorrow!


  1. I'm sort of sad to see Chick Lit fading. Sometimes you need just a nice light (sometimes mindless) read. Especially after a really heavy book.

  2. Well, this is just one agent, so you can't take her word as gospel. I do know from researching agents they are very tough on non-fiction.

    Funny about the paranormal, I've seen a bunch of humorous paranormal on the market. I'd stick with what you've got. If the writing is good, it will sell.

  3. Saying "chick lit" is dead is so shortsighted. Instead of widening the scope of this new voice, just allowing it to be one of the new contempoary voices in women's fiction, they had to box it in and label it "chick lit," narrowing its focus more and more until people were turned off just hearing the term. In the beginning "chick lit" encompassed so much more, including older women and it had great potential. If it does fade away, I may not find a whole lot I'm interested in reading. Literary fiction is remote and puts me off as a reader. I loved the intimacy of "chick lit."

  4. Hi Dorothy! Great info here. Thanks for stopping by my blog. =D

  5. This is pretty interesting. I still think anything that is well-written will find an audience, though!


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