Meet the Conference Faculty: Jennie Dunham

“No single answer is right for all writers.”

-Jennie Dunham

Every year, the Writers’ League of Texas brings a faculty of close to thirty agents, editors, and other industry professionals to Austin for its Agents & Editors Conference. As we look ahead to the 26th Annual A&E Conference, taking place June 28–June 30, 2019, we’re happy to share Q&As with some of our faculty here.

An Interview with Jennie Dunham

Jennie Dunham has been a literary agent in New York since May 1992. In August 2000 she founded Dunham Literary, Inc. She represents literary fiction and non-fiction for adults and children. Her clients have had both critical and commercial success. Books she has represented have appeared on the New York Times Best Sellers in adult hardcover fiction, children’s books, and children’s book series. Her clients have won numerous awards including: New York Times Best Illustrated Book, The Schneider Family Award, Boston Globe Horn Book Honor, and Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist. She is a member of AAR (Association of Authors Representatives) and SCBWI. She worked at three different literary agencies before she founded Dunham Literary, Inc. She graduated from Princeton University with a degree in Anthropology and has a master’s degree in Social Work from New York University.

 Scribe: What is your approach to the author/agent relationship?

Jennie Dunham: I’m looking for clients who want an agent to be a member of their team. We need to be able to discuss editorial and business issues together openly because no single answer is right for all writers. As a team we can celebrate good news together but come up with new plans when there’s difficult news.

Scribe: Are there specific elements that draw you to a project?

JD: This is a hard question to answer because every project is individual. That makes my work interesting since I’m always learning something new. In general, I want to be engaged the characters and the plot so that I’m immersed in the story. I need a fresh premise to pique my interest in the story. But, usually it’s the writing style and voice which make me want to become an enthusiastic advocate for the writer.

Scribe: Tell us about a recent project you’re excited about!

JD: I’m very excited about a graphic novel called The Daughters of Ys by M. T. Anderson that my client Jo Rioux has illustrated. She can both write and illustrate, and she has an astute eye for character and an intrinsic talent in building narrative.

Scribe: And also, who is your favorite current children’s lit author?

JD: I don’t have a single favorite author. What I like is the wide variety of authors, books, and stories. Books are better than ever for adult readers and especially for children’s book readers.

Thanks, Jennie!

Click here to read our 2019 A&E Conference agent bios.

Click here for more information on the 2019 Agents & Editors Conference, a weekend long event in Austin, TX (June 28-June 30) that focuses on the craft of writing, the business of publishing, and building a literary community.

Meet the Conference Faculty: Kristin van Ogtrop

“Just try to stay on brand, whatever your brand is.”

-Kristin van Ogtrop

Every year, the Writers’ League of Texas brings a faculty of close to thirty agents, editors, and other industry professionals to Austin for its Agents & Editors Conference. As we look ahead to the 26th Annual A&E Conference, taking place June 28–June 30, 2019, we’re happy to share Q&As with some of our faculty here.

An Interview with Kristin van Ogtrop

Kristin van Ogtrop is the former editor-in-chief of Real Simple and an agent at InkWell Management. Under her stewardship, Real Simple became the #1 American women’s lifestyle magazine brand with a print and digital reach of 25 million and was nominated for 15 National Magazine Awards. Kristin’s blog, “Adventures in Chaos,” was nominated for a Media Industry Newsletter “Best of the Web” award, and in 2014, she was named by Fortune magazine as one of the “55 Most Influential Women on Twitter.” She is a contributor to the New York Times bestseller, The Bitch in the House and the author of Just Let Me Lie Down, published by Little, Brown. As an agent, she will represent memoir, commercial women’s fiction, humor, lifestyle and big idea books driven by counterintuitive thinking.

Scribe: What is your approach to the author/agent relationship?

Kristin van Ogtrop: It really depends on the author. Sometimes I am the conductor and sometimes I’m head cheerleader. But in all cases I am here to support, encourage, advise, edit (early and often) and offer gentle course correction when needed.

Scribe: Are there specific elements draw you to a project?

KO: It always helps when I have a personal connection to an author or an idea. Right now I find myself working on three projects (two narrative nonfiction and a memoir) about upstate New York, which I know I sparked to initially because I love the Adirondacks. I’m working on a memoir about service dogs, and I happen to have two released service dogs as pets. I love anything that stands out from the crowd: either a really unique idea, a unique treatment of an old idea, or a really distinctive voice.

Scribe: Tell us about a recent project you’re excited about!

KO: I am about to send out a memoir in verse about a writer’s lifelong struggle with food addiction. It came to me as a blind pitch, and it’s clever, a bit funny, and a bit sad. Sort of a perfect combination of weird and wonderful.

Scribe: And also, what advice do you have for writer’s using social media?

KO: Oh, I don’t know. Don’t post anything that will make people hate you, unless that’s your method of getting eyeballs and the reason people might want to buy your book. Just try to stay on brand, whatever your brand is.

Thanks, Kristin!

Click here to read our 2019 A&E Conference agent bios.

Click here for more information on the 2019 Agents & Editors Conference, a weekend long event in Austin, TX (June 28-June 30) that focuses on the craft of writing, the business of publishing, and building a literary community.

Meet the Conference Faculty: Sara Goodman

“The editing process often begins with a conversation.”

-Sara Goodman

Every year, the Writers’ League of Texas brings a faculty of close to thirty agents, editors, and other industry professionals to Austin for its Agents & Editors Conference. As we look ahead to the 26th Annual A&E Conference, taking place June 28–June 30, 2019, we’re happy to share Q&As with some of our faculty here.

An Interview with Sara Goodman

Sara Goodman began her career in 2001 as a junior agent at the Ralph M. Vicinanza, Ltd. literary agency, then moved over to St. Martin’s Press in 2007 to start fresh as an editorial assistant when she realized being an agent was not her calling. In the course of her career, she has edited Rainbow Rowell, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Eleanor & ParkFangirlLandline, and Carry On; Courtney Summers, the New York Times bestselling author of SadieAll The RageThis is Not a TestFall for AnythingSome Girls Are and Cracked Up To Be. I edited the anthologies My True Love Gave To Me and Summer Days and Summer Nights with bestselling author Stephanie Perkins, in addition to editing the co-authored novel by David Levithan & Nina LaCour, You Know Me Well. I also published I Hate Everyone But You by YouTube sensations Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin, which debuted on the New York Times bestseller list.

 Scribe: What is your approach to the author/editor relationship?

Sara Goodman: Authors need to be able to trust their editors implicitly, so communication and honesty are essential.  The editing process often begins with a conversation. I ask a lot of questions and I listen. I never want to turn a book into something the author doesn’t want, but I always want the book to be the best it can be.  That takes trust.

Scribe: Are there specific elements draw you to a project?

SG: A fresh voice. A fresh perspective. A character I’ve never seen before. Good dialogue. I love it when books are funny and sad.  Strong, fully-realized primary and secondary characters. 

Scribe: Tell us about a recent project you’re excited about!

SG: I just wrapped up edits on The Mall by Megan McCafferty, which is a young adult novel set entirely at a mall in New Jersey in the 90s.  It is hilarious and moving and just a delight. It won’t be out until Summer 2020, but I’m already spreading the word!

Scribe: And also, what is your favorite YA novel to have come out recently?

SG: I absolutely loved Opposite of Always by Justin Reynolds. It’s a love story at its heart, but it’s also so much about growing up and doing the right thing.  About following your heart.  It’s wise and warm and wonderful!

Thanks, Sara!

Click here to read our 2019 A&E Conference agent bios.

Click here for more information on the 2019 Agents & Editors Conference, a weekend long event in Austin, TX (June 28-June 30) that focuses on the craft of writing, the business of publishing, and building a literary community.

Meet the Conference Faculty: Jason Pinter

“For me, it all comes down to character.”

-Jason Pinter

Every year, the Writers’ League of Texas brings a faculty of close to thirty agents, editors, and other industry professionals to Austin for its Agents & Editors Conference. As we look ahead to the 26th Annual A&E Conference, taking place June 28–June 30, 2019, we’re happy to share Q&As with some of our faculty here.

An Interview with Jason Pinter

Jason Pinter is the founder and Publisher of Polis Books, an independent press he launched in 2013, and the bestselling author of six novels and two children’s books. Polis titles have been nominated for the Edgar, Anthony, Macavity, and Thriller Award, and Jason’s own books have been nominated for the Strand Critics Award, Thriller, Shamus, Barry, and more. He was named one of Publisher Weekly’s inaugural Star Watch honorees, which “recognizes young publishing professionals who have distinguished themselves as future leaders of the industry.”

Scribe: What is your approach to the author/publisher relationship?

Jason Pinter: As a writer myself, I empathize with the publishing process from my authors’ perspectives. I know how much work went into their manuscripts, and all the anxieties and unknowns that are a part of being a debut author—or even an author starting out with a new publisher. So I try to be as communicative as possible, to make sure the authors know each step of the process and timelines, what to expect and when. Publishing may be a business, but I try to make our authors feel like they’re part of a creative partnership, so that by the time their book comes out and hits shelves and e-readers, they’re happy with the finished product inside and out.

Scribe: Are there specific elements draw you to a project?

JP: Writing. Characters. Plot. You can tell right off the bat—I mean page one—if an author can write. That’s a talent evident in every sentence. But you need to delve into the manuscript to see if they create fully-fleshed out characters, and a story that moves and engages. I like to see stories we haven’t seen before or familiar stories told in a different way. But for me, it all comes down to character. If I’m going to spend the next 300-400 pages with a group of people, I want be fascinated with them, and disappointed when they leave my life at the end of the book.

Scribe: Tell us about a recent project you’re excited about!

JP: Ain’t Nobody Nobody is a debut novel we’re publishing this fall from a Texas author named Heather Harper Ellett. Every sentence has personality, every character feels like someone you could meet on the street, and the amount of humor and humanity Heather packs into her story just floored me.

Scribe: And also, what is your favorite thriller that came out recently?

JP: Finding Katarina M. by Elisabeth Elo is a riveting novel about a woman who thought her family had perished years ago in Stalin’s gulags, only to find out that may not be the case. And she then must go from D.C. all the way to snow-packed Siberia to learn the truth. On the non-Polis side, I’m not sure it’s a thriller but I can’t stop raving about Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton. It’s The Talented Mr. Ripley for the social media generation, a coiled snake of a novel that continually surprised me (and I’m not easy to surprise).

Thanks, Jason!

Click here to read our 2019 A&E Conference agent bios.

Click here for more information on the 2019 Agents & Editors Conference, a weekend long event in Austin, TX (June 28-June 30) that focuses on the craft of writing, the business of publishing, and building a literary community.

Meet the Conference Faculty: Saba Sulaiman

“Our interests are aligned in that we both want the author to succeed, so ideally we work together to make that happen.”

-Saba Sulaiman

Every year, the Writers’ League of Texas brings a faculty of close to thirty agents, editors, and other industry professionals to Austin for its Agents & Editors Conference. As we look ahead to the 26th Annual A&E Conference, taking place June 28–June 30, 2019, we’re happy to share Q&As with some of our faculty here.

An Interview with Saba Sulaiman

Saba Sulaiman holds a BA from Wellesley College and an MA from the University of Chicago, where she studied modern Persian literature. She joined Talcott Notch Literary after working as an editorial intern at Sourcebooks, where she worked primarily on their romance line. She’s looking primarily to build her Middle Grade and Young Adult lists, and is particularly (although not exclusively) interested in contemporary realistic stories. She’s also open to category romance (all subgenres except paranormal), literary, upmarket, and commercial fiction, tightly plotted, character-driven psychological thrillers, cozy mysteries a la Agatha Christie, and memoir.

Scribe: What is your approach to the author/agent relationship?

Saba Sulaiman: Every author/agent relationship is naturally different, but I like to think all of my clients trust me and my judgment implicitly and feel comfortable approaching me about anything at all. Our interests are aligned in that we both want the author to succeed, so ideally we work together to make that happen. This means keeping communication channels open at all times and checking in frequently with each other regarding our expectations of each other as well as our changing circumstances. As long as we remain honest, forthright, and dedicated to working as hard as we can towards achieving our common goals, the relationship should remain healthy and (hopefully!) prove fruitful.

Scribe: Are there specific elements draw you to a project?

SS: A strong, personable, authoritative, and stylish voice with a fresh take on a topic/themes I’m interested in.

Scribe: Tell us about a recent project you’re excited about!

SS: I’m very excited about the first YA novel I sold—it’s called Tarnished Are the Stars by Rosiee Thor (Scholastic, October 2019), and it’s an incredibly written science fantasy novel with queer main characters who are ambitious and flawed and on an unforgettable journey to achieve their (often conflicting) goals. Oh, and there are villainous parents and large hats involved, so how can you resist?

Thanks, Saba!

Click here to read our 2019 A&E Conference agent bios.

Click here for more information on the 2019 Agents & Editors Conference, a weekend long event in Austin, TX (June 28-June 30) that focuses on the craft of writing, the business of publishing, and building a literary community.

Meet the Conference Faculty: Paul Stevens

“If I’m drawn in and want to keep reading, that’s a really good sign.”

-Paul Stevens

Every year, the Writers’ League of Texas brings a faculty of close to thirty agents, editors, and other industry professionals to Austin for its Agents & Editors Conference. As we look ahead to the 26th Annual A&E Conference, taking place June 28–June 30, 2019, we’re happy to share Q&As with some of our faculty here.

An Interview with Paul Stevens

Paul Stevens has been an agent with the Donald Maass Literary Agency since 2016. Before joining DMLA, he worked as an editor at Tor Books for 15 years focusing on science fiction and fantasy. Paul is primarily looking to represent science fiction and fantasy for adults, but he also will consider other genres such as mystery and suspense if they have science fiction / fantasy elements. He represents authors such as Kel Kade, Jeremy Finley, Dan Koboldt, Leanna Renee Hieber, and Sean Grigsby.

Scribe: What is your approach to the author/agent relationship?

Paul Stevens: I’m generally a pretty laid back person, so I prefer to have a pretty calm relationship with my clients. I’m happy to answer their questions and explain how the process works, and I do my best to make sure that the client is kept informed as things develop.

Scribe: Are there specific elements that draw you to a project?

PS: I get most excited about projects where I am immediately drawn into the story. This can happen even with something as short as a 5-page sample–if I’m drawn in and want to keep reading, that’s a really good sign.

Scribe: Tell us about a recent project you’re excited about!

PS: The Record Keeper by Agnes Gomillion, which goes on sale June 18, in print, ebook, and audio. Agnes submitted a query and a 5-page sample that captured me with its lyrical writing and intriguing story. When I emailed her to ask for more, my first comment was, “Wow, Agnes. This is pretty awesome!” The Record Keeper is a near-future dystopia that examines past and present race relations and is based on the life of Frederick Douglass.

Scribe: And also, in your bio, you mentioned that you’re interested in sci-fi and fantasy that subvert their tropes. Is there a recent novel that you’ve encountered that does this?

PS: Fate of the Fallen by Kel Kade , which is scheduled for November 5, in print, ebook and audio. Kel is the New York Times bestselling author of the King’s Dark Tidings series. With Fate of the Fallen, Kel begins a brand new, unrelated series that takes the classic “hero’s quest” trope and turns it on its head.

Thanks, Paul!

Click here to read our 2019 A&E Conference agent bios.

Click here for more information on the 2019 Agents & Editors Conference, a weekend long event in Austin, TX (June 28-June 30) that focuses on the craft of writing, the business of publishing, and building a literary community.

Meet the Conference Faculty: Kim Lionetti

I’ve been dying for a story that focuses on the sibling relationships there: the complicated feelings of obligation, love, responsibility, etc.

-Kim Lionetti

Every year, the Writers’ League of Texas brings a faculty of close to thirty agents, editors, and other industry professionals to Austin for its Agents & Editors Conference. As we look ahead to the 26th Annual A&E Conference, taking place June 28–June 30, 2019, we’re happy to share Q&As with some of our faculty here.

An Interview with Kim Lionetti

Kim Lionetti is a senior literary agent at BookEnds. Having started her twenty-five-year career in the industry as an editor at Berkley Publishing, she enjoys helping authors shape their works into books their readers will love. Kim’s client list includes women’s fiction, suspense, young adult and romance, and she’s looking for new talent in all of these genres, but she’s especially eager to represent more diverse voices. As an autism mom, she’s most passionate about stories featuring neurodiverse characters, and those with special needs.

 Scribe: What is your approach to the author/agent relationship?

Kim Lionetti: I view it as a partnership and have a collaborative relationship with all of my clients. I advise based on my 20+ years in the business, with the benefit of having worked on both the publisher and agent side, but at the end of the day I also respect that this is their book and their career. They need to feel comfortable and satisfied with every decision. Because of my past experience as an editor, I also tend to be pretty hands on. I still enjoy the revision process and helping authors bring their books to their fullest potential.  

Scribe: Are there specific elements draw you to a project?

KL: I’m eager to find more #ownvoices in women’s fiction, suspense, contemporary romance and YA.  I’d most especially like to see more Latinx and African-American adult romcom and women’s fiction. I’d also like to see more special needs families represented in women’s fiction and YA. I’ve been dying for a story that focuses on the sibling relationships there: the complicated feelings of obligation, love, responsibility, etc.  

Scribe: Tell us about a recent project you’re excited about!

KL: Oh wow, it’s hard to narrow it down! I’m excited for USA Today bestseller Rochelle Weinstein’s This Is Not How It Ends that’s coming soon from Lake Union. It’s an emotional women’s fiction novel about love and friendship that is both heart-stopping and timeless. Also, it’s set in the Florida Keys, and I just felt swept away there as I was reading. And Nicola Marsh’s domestic suspense novel, The Scandal, will be released from Bookouture in July. Nicola is a USA Today bestselling author and has written dozens of novels, but this is her first foray into suspense. I love the complicated relationships between the women in this book and the way each of their POVs reveals another part of the mystery.

Scribe: And also, in your bio, you mentioned that you’re passionate about books featuring neurodiverse characters. Is there a recent novel that features neurodiversity that you loved?

KL: Yes, my son’s on the autism spectrum, so it’s important to me to see voices like his represented. Obviously I’m biased, but I’m really excited about what my client Helen Hoang has accomplished in the adult romance market. The Kiss Quotient and The Bride Test are emotional, sexy, unputdownable reads that just happen to feature neurodiverse protagonists. And I love that readers are finding just how relatable these characters are. I’m also a big fan of Cammie McGovern, who writes YA and MG novels featuring special needs and neurodiverse characters. Her book, A Step Toward Falling, is about an attack on a developmentally disabled teen and illustrates various perspectives about how we all relate to one another and how complicated, but important, it is to do the right thing. I think it should be required reading for every high-schooler. I’ve read that she’s currently working on a nonfiction project about her autistic son’s journey aging out of the school system, the wider issue of the population losing access to the resources when that happens, and also about the limitations we put on them based on our own assumptions and expectations of their potential. I’m eagerly awaiting the opportunity to preorder!

Thanks, Kim!

Click here to read our 2019 A&E Conference agent bios.

Click here for more information on the 2019 Agents & Editors Conference, a weekend long event in Austin, TX (June 28-June 30) that focuses on the craft of writing, the business of publishing, and building a literary community.