Saturday, April 16, 2011

7 Questions For: Literary Agent Jennifer Rofé

Jennifer Rofé handles children's fiction projects ranging from picture books to young adult. Middle grade is Jennifer's soft spot and she's open to all genres in this category, especially the tender or hilarious. She is always looking for fresh and distinct voices; stories that simultaneously tug at her heartstrings and make her laugh out loud; and unassuming, "adorkable" heroes. As for YA, Jennifer is drawn to contemporary works; dramatic or funny romance; and urban fantasy/light sci-fi. She's especially interested in mind-blowingly smart projects that are layered, complex, and unexpected. In terms of picture books, early readers, and chapter books, she is interested in character-driven projects and smart, exceptional writing. Jennifer also enjoys how-to and sports-related nonfiction.

Some of Jennifer's clients include Laurie David and Cambria Gordon, authors of the critically acclaimed nonfiction THE DOWN TO EARTH GUIDE TO GLOBAL WARMING; Crystal Allen, author of HOW LAMAR'S BAD PRANK WON A BUBBA SIZED TROPHY; Kathryn Fitzmaurice, author of THE YEAR THE SWALLOWS CAME EARLY and the forthcoming DIAMOND IN THE DESERT; Denise Doyen, author of the E.B. White Read Aloud Honor picture book ONCE UPON A TWICE; Cynthea Liu, author of PARIS PAN TAKES THE DARE and founder of Authors Now!; Barry Wolverton, author of NEVERSINK: A PUFFIN SAGA; and Lauren Strasnick, author of NOTHING LIKE YOU, HER AND ME AND YOU, and DAKOTA WEBB IS MISSING.

Jennifer is co-author of the picture book PIGGIES IN THE PUMPKIN PATCH (Charlesbridge). She has been on faculty for several conferences including the Pacific Northwest Writers Association and San Diego State University conferences, the Big Sur Writer's Workshop, and multiple SCBWI conferences. Jennifer earned a BA in English with a minor in Social and Ethnic Relations from UC Davis and has a background in secondary education.

For more information about Jennifer Rofé, as always I recommend checking out her page on my friends Casey McCormick's and Natalie Aguirre's amazing blog, Literary Rambles.

And now Jennifer Rofé faces the 7 Questions:

Question Seven: What are your top three favorite books?

I'm sure everyone gives you a hard time about this question because it's so hard, so I'll chime in, too. Three?! Top?! Ack. Too hard! But I'll give it a go:

As of right this moment (April 2011), my top three favorite, non-client and non-ABLA books are

Adult: The Known World by Edward P. Jones

YA: The Dairy Queen (entire series) by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

MG: Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce

Question Six: What are your top three favorite movies and television shows?


1. Dirty Dancing

2. Sweet Home Alabama

3. Rushmore

Television shows:

1. Sister Wives on TLC

2. Chopped on The Food Network

3. The Soup on E!

Question Five: What are the qualities of your ideal client?

Someone who always strives to grow and learn in his or her craft; someone who works toward staying relevant in a constantly changing market; someone who tirelessly promotes his or her work; someone who is an active member in the kids' lit community; and someone who isn't overly high maintenance.

Question Four: What sort of project(s) would you most like to receive a query for?

First, I'm going to tell you the generic "anything with strong voice and strong writing." The caveat being that I'm definitely *not* interested in horror or adult projects. Now, I'm going to give some specifics: For YA, mind-blowingly smart projects that experiment with format (something in the vein of Jonathan Safran Foer) and swoony romances; any kind of middle grade (I love it all); nonfiction for boys of any and all ages; and funny character-driven or beautifully written picture books, especially by author-illustrators.

Question Three: What is your favorite thing about being an agent? What is your least favorite thing?

Rejection's a bummer, and excellent books that don't receive the attention they deserve is also disheartening.

My favorite thing is helping an author build a career. Some of the first clients I ever signed on are now on their third and fourth books. Amazing!

Question Two: What one bit of wisdom would you impart to an aspiring writer? (feel free to include as many other bits of wisdom as you like)

Read the kinds of books you want to write and study them! Figure out how successful authors craft their stories and apply those tactics to your own work. Also, join SCBWI.

Question One: If you could have lunch with any writer, living or dead, who would it be? Why?

Living would be Toni Morrison. By no exaggeration, she is a brilliant storyteller.

Dead would be Shakespeare, followed closely by the Bloomsbury Group authors like Katherine Mansfield, Virginia Woolf, E.M. Forster. Can you imagine a sit-down with them?! Mark Twain would probably also be fun. I suspect the lunch would be an adventure. Maybe we'd even meet on a steamboat.


  1. I just love this series, Rob. You give so much insight into a person's personality in just 7 questions.

    (They all seem to grumble about Q1, though. Perhaps you can tweak it like Jennifer Rofe does? Or even what's on your nightstand/kindle. Or "what three books changed your life?" Tweaks like this might keep the inevitable "only three?!" to a minimum.)

    Lunch with Twain on a steamboat? Excellent idea.

  2. Great interview. I'm glad to learn Jennifer Rofe is so into middle grade. I love this series too.

  3. Thanks for a great talk at SCBWI in Boise today. We appreciated hearing from an industry insider.

  4. Andrea Brown is an agency of superstars. Great interview. Everyone should watch The Soup. It is my weekly fix of Pop Culture. Oh no here go hell come.

  5. Michael,

    I've thought about changing number one, but we're too far into this to change the rules now. It wouldn't be fair to all of the writers and literary agents I've already interviewed who opened a vein figuring out which three books to pick. Instead, I just encourage everyone to cheat and list as many books as they want:)

  6. Great to see someone interested in middle grade books, but we do need a bit more horror for this age. I'm going to have to start importing titles from the UK, because there is just not enough here.

  7. My all appreciations are with you..Keep on blogging..


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