Thursday, January 24, 2013

7 Questions for: Literary Agent Jenny Bent

Jenny Bent has worked in publishing for over 15 years, both as an editor and an agent, most recently as Vice President at Trident Media Group before founding The Bent Agency in 2009.  There she has continued her tradition of representing bestsellers, with over 15 titles on the NYT list since she opened her doors.

The agency recently expanded to include an in-house foreign rights agent and a children's book agent, Susan Hawk, formerly the Marketing Director at Henry Holt Children's Books.  She is looking for young adult, literary suspense, crime, romantic suspense, and general fiction.  Please see her website,, for submission guidelines.

Here is Jenny Bent in her own words:

In a career spanning 15 years, I have made a practice of making bestsellers - either by spotting new talent or developing careers for multi-published authors. My list is varied and includes commercial fiction and nonfiction, literary fiction and memoir. All the books I represent speak to the heart in some way: they are linked by genuine emotion, inspiration and great writing and story-telling. 

I was born in New York City but grew up in Harrisonburg Virginia in a house full of books where I spent many lazy afternoons reading in a sunny window seat. I went on to England to get a BA/MA with first class honors from Cambridge University. After graduation I worked in magazines, bookselling and agenting, most recently at Trident Media Group, before founding THE BENT AGENCY in 2009. I now live in Brooklyn in an apartment full of books and while there are not quite so many lazy reading afternoons, I manage to fit one in now and then. 

For more information, check out my friends Natalie Aguirre and Casey McCormick's wonderful blog, Literary Rambles.

And now Jenny Bent faces the 7 Questions:

Question Seven: What are your top three favorite books?

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler

Honorable mention:
The Shipping News by Annie Proulx

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

I Went Down (obscure but fabulous Irish movie from 1997)
Something Wild (Melanie Griffith and the awesomely scary Ray Liotta from 1986)
Old School/Bridesmaids in a tie

Television shows:
Hex (first season on BBC only)
My So-Called Life 

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

Prolific, courteous, honest, hard-working, kind, talented

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

Terrific women's book club fiction, suspense/crime with a female lead, really interesting, innovative, creative YA

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

I really love it all.  I get to read great books, meet smart and interesting people domestically and internationally (both writers and publishing people), I even like the geeky business stuff like contracts and accounting.  Least favorite thing might be that there's just not enough time in the day to get everything done.

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)

Act as professionally as possible all the time and always be kind and courteous to everyone with whom you come into contact.  This is a small business and fortunes rise and fall all the time--be the person that others want to help, even when the chips are down.

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

Jane Austen.  Because so much of her life is surrounded in mystery--I want to know more!


  1. Jenny comes across as a wonderful person. Would be lovely to be repped by her :)

  2. Jenny sounds like a fabulous agent. I loved her advice. I agree with Rachna. I'd love to be represented by her.

  3. Thanks for taking the time to do this Jenny and mgNinja! There are many eager sponges like me soaking up as much industry info as possible. Here's wishing I wrote to her interests.

  4. Jenny seems unafraid to represent the book that might not have the best elevator pitch, which is why she would discover so much more talent out there. This would be a reason that she would have discovered The Pursuit of Happyness as *well* as Seven Pounds. This was an incredible read, and I love her attitude toward self-publishing. It seems that she roots for the underdog getting the chance to prove he's got something, and that's just awesome!


Thanks for stopping by, Esteemed Reader! And thanks for taking the time to comment. You are awesome.