Monday, October 08, 2007

What We Represent

Despite the efforts we make to let people into the BookEnds world through our Web site and this blog, there seems to be some confusion as to what exactly we represent. To help clear things up we’ve made an even more detailed list of some of our specific interests. While reading, please note the date it was written. If you’re buzzing through the archives and come across this in 2009 you might want to try to find a newer post (or remind us to do one). As we change and the market changes so do our interests, so what we are actively seeking today we might not be actively seeking tomorrow.


I think that I’m most known for representing erotic romance, romance, and cozy mysteries. However, I have a number of interests outside of those three areas and a number of genres I’m open to submissions on.

Obviously I love romance of all kinds—erotic, historical, contemporary, paranormal, etc., so to give you perspective on what I’m looking for in this genre it’s probably easiest to start by telling you what I’m not looking for. I’m not actively seeking inspirational romance or chick lit. Why? I like the steaminess of the erotic romance and haven’t found much inspirational that I’ve been, well, inspired by. As for chick lit, it’s a market thing. Chick lit has taken such a dive in the market lately that you dare not even hint that your book might be called chick lit. It’s a tough sell. The rest is open. I love steamy and erotic, but it’s certainly not required. I have as many authors writing erotic romance as I have authors who aren’t. I like humor and I like more serious books. I would love to add some really strong and scary romantic suspense to my list, and when looking at paranormal I have been gravitating toward work that leans to fantasy. I’ve also noticed an upswing in the historical market and I’m very excited about that.

As many of you know, BookEnds has an incredibly strong cozy mystery list. A market that many strangely say is declining. Obviously we haven’t been too affected by this rumor. While I’m always looking for a new cozy mystery with a really exciting and different hook (yet one that would still appeal to that audience), I’m most actively looking for suspense and thrillers—books that make my heart race and my eyes widen with excitement. When I'm talking with editors and other agents, most agree this is one of the toughest things to find. A suspense or thriller from a new author that has a different enough hook to catch the eyes of readers and keep them hanging on the edge of their seats. I would love to find a fresh new voice that could be compared to Karin Slaughter, Lisa Jackson, or Barry Eisler.

Women’s fiction is probably one of the harder genres for me to break down. What do I look for in women’s fiction? I think it’s the relationship. I love Elizabeth Berg, and Jennifer Wiener for me has been hit and miss (I did like Good in Bed, but not In Her Shoes). I like characters who are obviously flawed but who we can all relate to. I love stories about friendship and women who break out of a mold. Either way I want to see the heroine grow and change throughout the book.

For those writing nonfiction the key is platform, platform, platform. If you want to write a self-help book (not narrative nonfiction, not usually my thing) you need to be not just an expert in the field, but one of the top experts. If you’re not, then you need to make sure that the direction and voice of your book stands out from what is always a very crowded market. Cynthia Shapiro did that in her book Corporate Confidential. Cynthia had the expertise, but was not a nationally recognized expert when I took her on. She had, however, written a book, in a voice that made her stand out from the pack. And guess what? Now she’s a nationally recognized expert and an international bestseller with book number two coming in 2008. When looking for nonfiction I gravitate toward parenting books, if you can find a subject that hasn’t been done yet; career books that present a new and unique perspective; and any book targeting entrepreneurs and women (again, a unique perspective is essential). I would also love to take on a sex or health expert with exciting and different ideas.

And as for YA. I don’t represent it. I believe I’ve gotten on some YA lists so there’s obvious confusion, but it isn’t something I’m actively looking for at this time.


I am looking for fiction with a strong hook and voice, including mysteries of all kinds, romantic suspense, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, thrillers. A strong hook is one in which the plot covers something unusual and engaging to the reader, or even something familiar but with a wealth of new information that engages the reader beyond a story with no particular angle or hook. I am open to seeing young adult fiction that is edgy, hip, or topical. I haven’t represented any Christian fiction, science fiction, and spiritual fiction. I look for highly commercial books that will appeal to a wide market. I prefer a brief email query to see if I’d like to take a look at more. I’m attracted to fiction on the dark side; however, I represent a number of cozy mystery writers whose stories are light and often humorous. In the end it comes down to the originality and appeal of the hook, and the quality of the writing. Page-turning fiction is always welcome.

In nonfiction I am looking for health and wellness, business, psychology, parenting, career, finance, self-help. The reality of today’s publishing market requires that nonfiction authors have a strong author platform of expertise and media or audience exposure before their book will be seriously considered by a publisher. A fresh perspective and ground-breaking research are certainly elements that get a proposal immediate attention.

In addition, I look for authors who are savvy about the publishing world and eager to learn. Membership in writing groups and professional organizations shows a desire to connect with a wider publishing community. Contest wins and placements are also helpful. Attendance at writers’ conferences is a wonderful way to learn more about the industry, so is reading blogs, and connecting with other writers. I am happy to answer brief emailed queries at any time.


I represent a wide range of genres, including westerns, romance, women’s fiction, crime novels, cozy mysteries, true crime, and pop culture. However, the areas in which I’m currently interested in expanding are women’s fiction and romance.

I gravitate toward the more serious women’s fiction in the vein of Jodi Piccoult. Books that are both relationship- and issue-driven. If you read my blog piece a while back, you’ll remember that I love a good cry, so don’t be worried about depressing me. That doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate humor as well, but I prefer fun, quirky characters that are part of a larger, deeper story. I’m more a Steel Magnolias kind of girl than a Sex & the City type. I want real problems and obstacles that every woman can relate to. And if it’s Southern, all the better. I’d love to see more great Southern fiction.

I’m also in the mood for great romance. Lately, I’m hungry for more terrific historicals. I like a strong historical voice that reads authentically, but doesn’t necessarily let the period trappings get in the way of a really good story. Nothing epic, but nothing overly light, please. My non-client favorites at the moment are Samantha James and Elizabeth Hoyt. I’d love to find a great, funny contemporary romance author, but I tend to be a tough audience. Few authors can get a good chuckle out of me, but Rachel Gibson is one of them.

I, too, would love to find a great romantic suspense author. I love Lisa Jackson and Sandra Brown. I think the “ultimate” book for me would be a romantic suspense that’s reminiscent of those old gothics I loved by Phyllis Whitney, but modern enough to succeed in today’s market. Lisa Jackson’s If She Only Knew and Sandra Brown’s Envy accomplished that for me. I think it comes down to a really damaged, dark hero. I eat those up!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the information. I have a question, and wonder if you would clarify something regarding your agency. I know that your past posts have indicated you don't like someone querying multiple agents within your agency, but I am wondering whether this refers specifically to not querying the same projects simultaneously to multiple agents at BookEnds or whether it also refers to separate projects. For example, I have one book that would best fall under what you represent and another book that would fall under what a different agent in your agency represents. Should I still just do one at a time or is it okay to query both these projects within your agency? Thanks very much for clarifying this.

Aimlesswriter said...

Its always good to get an update like this one. I keep track of a few of my favorite agents and sometimes when its time to send out I have to go back and see who wanted what as I write in a few different genres.
I think the hardest part is finding which slot your book belongs in. A book about the end of the world that has a little girl who talks to the Virgin Mary fits in which genre? What if there are zombie type creatures in it? Does it automatically go in horror?
A book about a pychic who meets a serial killer- mystery? paranormal? And I still don't know where the woman reincarnated as a chihuahua goes! Inspirational?
Now I have to go polish that Creative Parenting book I shoved in the closet...
I'd like to see the rules for catagorizing books so I know how to tag them.
Jessica; It was nice to meet you at NJRWA. Your Polishing the Pitch seminar was great. (I met many writers there who wanted to pitch to you but you were booked up.)I think the hardest thing when facing an agent is not to get so nervous I sound like an idiot and start to ramble.
Thanks again! I'll be ready to pitch soon!

Unknown said...

Oooohh, a question? I love romantic suspense too, but I like the Suzanne Brockmann, Tara Janzen style of rs. I think you can still have dark adventure rs, but it seems to be a hard sell. Is there a certain kind that you think of when you think romantic suspense. Or is it simply called something else?


Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for the update! This is timely for me since I've just started shopping a romance.

However, much as I'd like to query BookEnds, I don't want to waste your time, either.

So, Jessica and Kim, are you open to science fiction romance? (meaning a very romantic tale that is accessible to readers who haven't read much or any SF.)


Anonymous said...

As a follow-on question to anonymous 9:25's:

Where you have cross-over interests (historical romance, for example), if one agent has rejected a requested partial, does that mean the agency has rejected it, or could I query another BookEnds agent about the same project?

Submissions etiquette seems to change from one agency to another, so it's hard to know what to do in special instances not spelled out in the guidelines :o)

I really appreciate all the insights you provide through this blog!

Melanie Hooyenga said...

I'm sad to see none of you represent what I'm writing (memoir) but I love this blog and have learned a lot of valuable information here. I'll keep reading and maybe by the time I'm ready to submit you'll open up to fish-out-of-water-type memoirs.


Sandra Cormier said...

You ladies are getting me so excited! I can't wait until my current WIP is ready to roll. It's nice to see detailed preferences rather than a grocery list of general genres.

Rianne said...


When you say historicals not overly light, can you give an example of what is too light for you?

BookEnds, A Literary Agency said...

It was good this posted on a holiday. Publishers are closed and I definitely have the time to check in and answer questions. Some of these I might do follow-up posts later on in the year--so no one misses them. But for now here's what I can tell you...

We prefer that if you query any BookEnds agent with a project you do not query anyone else within the agency with that same project. Even after it's been rejected. Many, many times I forward projects on to Kim and Jacky if I think they would be more appropriate for it. However, if you've queried me, been rejected by me, but on your next book feel that either Kim or Jacky would be a better fit go ahead and send that new book to one of them.

Aimless--there are no rules for categorizing books. Sometimes you just have to take a guess. My general guideline is if you aren't sure of the genre what author would you best compare yourself to or what author's readers would most be attracted to your book. Another question to ask is what are the prevailing elements. Is it primarily a romance with suspense elements (romantic suspense) or a suspense with romantic elements (suspense). And sometimes what you think it is will be corrected by an agent or editor.

Jodi--When I think romantic suspense I think everyone from Suzanne Brockman to Lisa Jackson to Karen Rose to... You get the picture. I want action, adventure, and suspense. Not necessarily all in one book. No matter what though I want to sit at the edge of my seat.

Heather: I am open to SF romance.

Great questions!


Phoenix Sullivan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Phoenix Sullivan said...

Thanks for answering our questions, Jessica!

Now go enjoy your holiday!

aka Anon 12:22 (didn't mean to post anon the first time...)

Anonymous said...

Great questions!

Heather - You're probably better off sending your SF romance to Jessica.

Rianee - I don't usually respond to historicals that are largely written in a tongue-in-cheek tone and more modern writing style. There's certainly a market for these faster-paced, frolicksome tales, but it's just not my cup of tea. That's not to say I like great big epic sagas either. I gravitate toward the more dramatic historicals that may have moments of witty banter between the hero and heroine, but eventually come to a very emotional, very complex conflict. And I like to feel as if I'm in the time period. Not necessarily reading about every detail of architecture, dress, etc., but steeped in the atmosphere of that time because of the writing style, the dialogue and the subtle period references throughout the book. As I mentioned before, I'm a fan of Elizabeth Hoyt and Samantha James.

Aimlesswriter said...

What about time travel? Woman of this time going back to pre-civil war era?
Is there any market for that stuff now? I don't see any agents requesting such things anymore.

Rianne said...

Thanks Kim,

I like to think mine are witty but very emotional and conflicted historical romances...oh, and hot too.

BookEnds, A Literary Agency said...


I think the straight old-fashioned time travel are tough. To work these days I think it has to have more of a supernatural element and be less about the confusion of being in another time. Since I know you were at my workshop this past weekend I think you'll know what I'm talking about when I mention the great time travel pitch I heard there and how different it was from anything else I've ever heard. For everyone else, the woman essentially traveled to the past at night, but lived her very contemporary life during the day. And of course there were other things happening.


Aimlesswriter said...

Yes, the time travel pitch at NJRWA was definately unique. It also sounded like it would be very complicated to write. Kudos to that writer for tackling such a concept. I would have to read that book just to see how she did it. Intriguing!

BT said...

Hmm - 2009 is here, and you did say to remind you about posting an updated "What We Represent".

I look forward to reading it.

Anonymous said...

I noticed your agency represents a few authors of Western fiction, yet in none of the agen bios did I see a mention of that genre. My most recent book is a Western and I was hoping to submit it to your agency, is this a genre your agency no longer accepts?

A. R. Braun said...

Can you update your interests as far as January 2011, please? I would greatly appreciate it.