Monday, October 2, 2017

7 Questions For: Literary Agent Janine Le

Janine Le joined the Sheldon Fogelman Agency in 2010 and has gained experience in all aspects of the business, with a focus on editorial, contracts, and foreign rights. She enjoys the balance of creative-minded and business-minded work and knew she had found her niche in the field when she interned at an agency and realized the agent is the author’s biggest advocate. Janine graduated from Bucknell Unversity with honors in English (Creative Writing) and completed NYU’s Summer Publishing Institute. She is accepting submissions for fiction and narrative nonfiction picture books through YA. She is particularly drawn to stories that have emotional resonance and complex characters and relationships. She also looks for innovative concepts, diverse perspectives, humor, fantastic elements, and concise but playful or poetic language. In illustrations, she is looking for fresh styles, expressive characters, and visual storytelling.

You can follow her on twitter or visit her pinterest page. She also recently participated in the 12x12 Challenge.

And now Janine Le faces the 7 Questions:

Question Seven: What are your top three favorite books?

The Giver, Charlotte’s Web, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Nothing can replace the books I loved as a child!)                                 

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

Movies- Say Anything, Zoolander, Life is Beautiful (Nothing can replace the movies I loved as a teen!)

TV- I like family comedies such as Modern Family, nerdy stuff like Human Planet, and reality shows such as Masterchef.

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

Talented, has something unique and interesting to share with the world, responsive to feedback, professional, a nice person in general.

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

I represent picture books through YA. I always look for plucky protagonists, emotional depth, and beautifully written yet easy-reading stories—pleasant reads that make a lasting impression. I’d like projects that are sensitive to the current hopes, dreams, and especially fears of young readers today.

I appreciate underrepresented voices and would especially like to see more mixed race characters and multicultural families, as well as families with adopted or foster children like in Kinda Like Brothers, but I don’t want the family makeup to be the center of the story. I’d love stories that transport readers to another time or place we might not be familiar with but should be.

I love A.S. King’s use of surrealism and would love to see someone who can use interesting devices to give the reader a fresh look at ordinary lives. I’m constantly amazed at how smart kids are and would love to see protagonists who can use their intelligence to draw readers in, like in The Thing About Jellyfish, Counting by 7s,and Out of my Mind.

Family and friends are very important to me and I’m interested in characters navigating relationships with friends and family that are special but not always easy. I’d like to see stories with characters juggling more adult responsibilities like working or helping out with siblings.

I enjoy magical realism but am not looking for high fantasy. I’m also a very active person who’s at various times been into running, cycling, climbing, and backpacking and now babywearing hiking, so characters who push themselves physically or have unusual hobbies that are vital parts of their lives might be up my alley. 

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

My favorite thing about being an agent is that our role is such an interesting blend of the creative and business side of publishing and that everything we do is for our clients’ benefit.

My least favorite is helping clients manage disappointment since I want everything to go perfectly for them and it doesn’t always go that way.   

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)

Seek out criticism and look for ways those readers’ concerns can help you strengthen your work. I’ve taken on clients because I was impressed with their revisions but have never taken on something because the author made a convincing argument why my concerns were invalid. (Trust me, it’s been tried!)

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

Lois Lowry. I appreciate her life experience and outlook.

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