Q & A With Agent Jenny Bent

Jenny Bent of The Bent Agency

The Agents Conference is coming to town! On June 10-12, the WLT’s annual Agents Conference will give writers an opportunity to meet and learn from some of the best in the business. Today we bring you the second in our series of Q&As with the fabulous conference faculty! Check back every week to learn more about our amazing lineup of agents and check out the 2011 Agents Conference here! (Or register here!)

How did you get started in publishing?

I worked as an assistant for a very prominent agent, Raphael Sagalyn, in Washington DC.  He represents business books, political books, and journalistic nonfiction, so we had very different tastes, but he’s a great agent and I learned a lot from him.  The best lesson he taught me was that he was always extremely ethical and thoughtful in his dealings with authors and editors.

What’s the average number of submissions you receive in a month?

If you mean queries, I get 50 to 100 a day.

If you could give writers one small piece of advice about the world of publishing, what would it be? 

Don’t take it personally!  Everyone has different taste and not everyone is going to love your work.

Who was your first client?  

A writer named Carrie Brown.  I sold her first novel, a book called ROSE’S GARDEN, to Algonquin.  I think it’s still in print; it’s an absolutely beautiful book.

What was the first project you sold?

See above.

What do you love most about your job?

Reading! Finding projects that I love and helping writers begin their career.  I also really like career development, because it’s essentially problem-solving.

How do you navigate the various ups and downs of a writer’s career? What is something that you often see beginning writers doing wrong? 

You have to be resilient as a beginning writer.  You will fail more than you succeed and you need to be able to pick yourself up and keep going.

What is a little known fact about yourself?

I’m such an open book, it’s hard to say. I put all my dirty little secrets out there on twitter every day.  Maybe that in high school I worked in a chicken factory?  I packed chicken backs and necks and it was very hard work!  It really showed me the value of getting a college education and made me never take that privilege for granted.

What book are you reading right now?

I just finished Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson.  I LOVED it.

If you could have a beer or coffee with a literary luminary living or dead, who would it be and why?

Jane Austen!  Her life is so shrouded in secrecy, I want to know all about her.

Beer or coffee? 

Diet coke.  ;)

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