Thursday, October 31, 2013

Congratulations to Felicia Chernesky on the publication of PICK A CIRCLE, GATHER SQUARES!

Today I want to share news about my client Felicia Chernesky’s first book: Pick a Circle, Gather Squares: A Fall Harvest of Shapes.  It was published in September and I’m so proud of this book and its author, Felicia!

Pick a Circle, Gather Squares is a concept picture book about shapes.  The action takes place on a brisk fall day, with a family on its annual trip to the pumpkin patch.  As they tour the farm, they find shapes everywhere – squares and circles of course, but diamonds and even hearts are featured.  Perhaps my favorite feature of this book is that it uses simple, straightforward language to highlight the shapes, and conveys such a warm feeling – a celebration of family trips and rituals is folded into this book, and it’s a pleasure to read.

 Here's a spread to enjoy:
It’s gotten great reviews too:

“Chicken wire hexagons, a triangular slice of apple pie, and scarecrows dressed in polka dots and plaid add to the homey, down-on-the-farm mood, and Chernesky’s bubbly rhymes keep the story moving swiftly.” – Publishers Weekly

“Felicia Sanzari Chernesky’s rhyming text and Susan Swan’s harvest-hued collages depict a delightful excursion as the youngsters point out circles, square-shaped bales of hay, ovals, hexagons, and more. Filled with splashes of bright color and appealing textures, the artwork depicts lively action, engaging details, and additional shapes to find.”  -- School Library Journal

Felicia has been a whirlwind of activity this fall, making appearances at farm stands, schools and bookstores, and there’s plenty planned for November!  To see where Felicia will be next, check out her site, or follow her on twitter at @FChernesky.

Stay tuned for more from Felicia.  The follow up to Pick a Circle is Cheers for a Dozen Ears: A Summer Crop of Counting, which comes out Spring 2014.  And Albert Whitman just bought her third concept book, Sap, Tap, Maple Syrup: Collecting Winter Colors, scheduled for Fall 2014!

You can buy a copy of Pick a Circle online at your local independent bookstore, or Barnes & Noble, or Amazon.  


Pick a Circle, Gather Squares 
by Felicia Chernesky
illustrated by Susan Swan
Albert Whitman & Company
ISBN 0807565385 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Deal Announcement: The United States of Gardening by Marta McDowell

I'm so happy to announce a new deal for Marta McDowell, the author of Beatrix Potter's Gardening Life and Emily Dickinson's Gardens. Her new book will be again with Timber Press, and it's a look at the history of the White House gardens, called THE UNITED STATES OF GARDENING. Marta is an amazing garden designer, educator, and writer, she also happens to be my aunt! We've blogged about her writing career in a post titled "Even Nepotism Isn't Enough," check it out, because it's a fun read and a nice illumination into how hard Marta had to work even though she had an inside track to getting an agent.

Here's the announcement from PM:

October 18, 2013 - THE UNITED STATES OF GARDENING by Marta McDowell
Non-fiction: History/Politics/Current Affairs
Author of Beatrix Potter's Gardening Life Marta McDowell's THE UNITED STATES OF GARDENING, a history of horticulture in America as seen through the lens of the White House gardens, 1790 to the present, again to Tom Fischer at Timber Press, by Jenny Bent at The Bent Agency (world).

You can check out Marta's website here, and please join me in congratulating her on twitter: @martamcdowell. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Getting Published Ask Me Anything-a post by Jenny--HAS CLOSED TO QUESTIONS

Hi guys,

A few weeks ago I did a query letter AMA (ask me anything) after my talk at SCBWI ran long and I ran out of time for questions.   It was a lot of fun and so I thought I'd revisit it today but open it up even wider--an AMA on getting published.    So if you have questions on anything related to getting published/finding an agent/etc., please go ahead and ask me in the comments.   I'll do my best to respond to everything for the rest of the day.


Hi guys,

I've closed the AMA for questions but never fear, I'll do another one soon.


Monday, October 21, 2013

Deal Announcement: U.S. deal for Robin Stevens's MURDER MOST UNLADYLIKE

I'm thrilled to announce a US deal for Robin Stevens's debut MURDER MOST UNLADYLIKE: A Wells and Wong Mystery. I'm so excited that US readers will get to fall in love with Hazel Wong and Daisy Wells, and follow them as they try to solve the murder of their teacher. 

It's been a fantastic time for this book, with the US deal coming after we already celebrated the UK sale to Random House Children's UK over the summer. Hazel and Daisy are going to take over the world! 

Massive congratulations Robin!

Middle grade 

Robin Stevens's debut MURDER MOST UNLADYLIKE: A Wells and Wong Mystery, set in the 1930s and pitched as a middle-grade Agatha Christie featuring Hazel Wong and her best friend Daisy Wells, who find a body in their boarding school and set about investigating the murder, to Kristin Ostby at Simon & Schuster Children's, in a pre-empt, in a three-book deal, for publication in Spring 2015, by Gemma Cooper at The Bent Agency (NA).

You can follow Robin's progress on her blog or wish her congratulations on twitter!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Place Matters -- a post by Molly

When I was in New York last month, a canny editor asked me how I'd describe the projects I represent. Most agents don't set parameters that are too narrow: we all love to read, most of us love to read a variety of genres, and, not to be vulgar, but we have to represent a variety of projects to maximize our sales.

But you can tell a lot about a person than by asking what they like to read, right? It's the foundation of the agent-editor relationship: the agent needs to know what sorts of books the editor likes so that she can target her pitches accordingly, and the editor needs to know whether the agent's taste complements her own. Asking me to find the common thread in the projects I rep was a clever way of asking me what I value most in a book, and when I took a few seconds to think about it, I knew what my answer was.

If you read many interviews with agents, or look at their submission guidelines and wishlists, you'll see endless variations of phrases like "I love a strong voice and a story that I think about long after I've finished reading it." "I love heartstopping romance, really scary thrillers, and witty contemporary stories about real teenagers." "I want something that feels really fresh and surprising." Yeah? Get in line. We ALL want these projects. Cliches like this weren't going to tell this editor anything about me or what she can expect from my clients' work. 

So I told her: "Place--a really strong sense of place. I need my books' worlds to feel dimensional and real, like I'm right there with the characters, and the stories need to be so deeply rooted in their settings that they couldn't happen anywhere else." 

And it's true. My client roster is packed with talented authors who all have a gift for showing us around and making us feel at home. Michelle Madow's THE SECRET DIAMOND SISTERS (HarlequinTEEN, March 2014) gives us an insider's view of Las Vegas, a place I've never been and never knew I wanted to visit until I read her manuscript. (My notes were full of things like ??? Is this hotel for real? and Michelle's answer was always Yes! I've been there!) Simon Clark's EREN (Much-in-Little/Constable and Robinson, Fall 2014) is set in an unnamed little English country town, but having lived in a little English country town, I recognized it immediately: the weathered old house, the chilly summer night, the stars huge and clear over the dark, dark forest. And Kat Ellis's BLACKFIN SKY (Firefly Press (UK), Spring 2014/Running Press (USA), Fall 2014), which is set in a town that only exists in the author's imagination, but feels as real as Twin Peaks did--and just as spooky.

I don't get to travel as much as I'd like to, so I rely on books to make my world bigger. If you're an author, I want you to be part storyteller, part tour guide--show me everything I need to know about your setting without making me feel like you're lecturing me or rattling off facts. Need inspiration? Try P.G. Wodehouse or Jilly Cooper or Marilynne Robinson; Gabrielle Zevin's Birthright trilogy or Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain; Nancy Farmer's THE EAR, THE EYE, AND THE ARM; Jonathan Lethem's MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN; Jack Gantos's DEAD END IN NORVELT; Vikram Seth's A SUITABLE BOY. I want to feel as though you could drop me in the middle of your story's setting and I'd be able to find my way around.

Place matters. Your story won't feel real without it. What are some of your favorite books whose settings you've never forgotten?

Friday, October 11, 2013

Updated Wishlist -- a post by Gemma

While I was away in September a milestone passed — my first anniversary of starting with the Bent Agency! Over a year ago I wrote this post on what I wanted to find in my submissions, and actually I’ve been really lucky in checking off some of these:

  • I'd love to find fantastic chapter books (7+ fiction) with an obvious hook and a laugh on every page — and I found WITCH WARS by Sibéal Pounder, sold to Bloomsbury.
  • A YA or MG crime novel or some sort of heist would be great. My favourite detectives are Poirot and Sherlock Holmes, and I've love to read something with the same feel written for younger audiences — red herrings, opulent settings and gathering everyone in a room for the reveal! – I found MURDER MOST UNLADYLIKE by Robin Stevens, sold to Random House UK.

As you can tell from these successes, it seems that if I ask for something, I actually get it! So I thought now might be the time to make some more requests and see what you can do to make them happen... 

  • I’d really like a dual-POV YA, ideally in a contemporary setting. Something like DASH AND LILY’S BOOK OF DARES would be perfect. Or a third-person dual-POV like ELEANOR AND PARK. I’d really love a good YA romance, and an authentic boy perspective on this would be fantastic. 
  • Author/illustrators – for any age. I have re-opened to picture books recently, but I’m not open to illustrators who don’t also write. I signed an amazing author/illustrator this year, and I’ll like some more please, especially in the 5-12 age range. I’m also open to graphic novels.
  • Paranormal for MG (ghosts, witches, even vampires) — things with a slightly quirky and yet commercial hook. Think Frankenweenie, the movie by Tim Burton. Ideally set in mostly the real world or a twisted version of it. Can be funny or action/adventure. Or a bit of both, like The Goonies!
  • For picture books, I prefer quirk over sentimentality. I love a big bold character, and books that have a message without being too didactic. I prefer sparse texts, with 700 words being a max for me – less is more. I also enjoy clever novelty or concept books. Author/illustrators writing picture books will get immediate attention.
  • Strong friendships – for all ages. I love books where the best friend isn’t just a clichéd minor character, but a really important part of the main character’s life. In both of my clients’ books mentioned above, friendship is the key to why the books work and have so much heart.
  • Funny chapter book (5-8 age) series with an obvious hook. I’ll never stop requesting these as they are such fun to read and work on. They have to be different from the books I already have, though. I’ve been getting a lot of evil pet submissions, but these are a bit similar to MY BIG FAT ZOMBIE GOLDFISH. Maybe something girlier or not set in the real world. Surprise me with something different for this age range. 
  • I’m still looking for my diary-feeling historical in the vein of Morris Gleitzman’s ONCE, THEN, AFTER series. I don’t really mind what the historical period is as long as the voice grabs me. 
  • Non-fiction for kids and teens – interesting topics, told ideally in a narrative. I love science and history especially, but would be keen to see any boy-focused non-fiction.
  • All the MG – action/adventure, magic, historical, mystery/crime, issues, fantasy, horror, literary, anything really. Just keep sending them all.
  • For YA, I’d still really love a crime thriller or murder/mystery. I’m also quite keen on finding a cult novel, or something with real page-turning suspense. Oh, and a ghost story would be great. I always love a good fright!

Below is a list of books I’ve loved this year:

  • FANGIRL – Rainbow Rowell
  • EVERY DAY – David Levithan
  • DEAD ENDS – Erin Lange
  • THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN – Katherine Applegate

I’m sure as soon as I post this blog, I’ll remember a ton of other books I’ve loved and things I want in submissions. Remember, this is just the wishlist I can think of right now; maybe you have a book that is nothing like the above, but it’s well-written, with a great voice and a big hook – send it! I’ve signed a few projects this year that I never imagined I’d fall in love with.

You can send submissions to with your title and genre in the subject line, and your first 10 pages pasted under your query letter.   Submissions guidelines can be found here. I love finding gold in my submissions – so please keep sending them!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Deal Announcement: Three Book Deal for Katie Delahanty

As a long time editor at HarperCollins gone freelance in Los Angeles, I adore playing Emma and creative matchmaking debut authors with their agents. But when I read Katie Delahanty’s IN BLOOM, I discovered a new voice, a story, and a world that I loved so madly that I realized that I wanted to represent a project for the first time.

I was completely captivated by IN BLOOM’s protagonist and how fearless she was in following both her vision and her heart. And more so I was in awe of former fashion designer Katie Delahanty and her astonishing gifts as a writer. Take a minute to visit Katie’s website as I think that you will be inspired to learn that it was the economic downturn that lead Katie to begin to publish her story in blog format in 2011 when her role at her company unexpectedly shifted from fashion design to e-commerce.

I know that you guys are going to love the Brightside series and we can’t wait to share it with you. Here is a glimpse at the first book in the series IN BLOOM:

My name is Olivia Bloom and I. Am. Free.

Turning up Berkeley and the Brightside's "I’ve Got a Chance" so she doesn’t have to hear the predictions her self-proclaimed “psychic” Mom is calling after her, Olivia Bloom pulls out of her parents’ driveway. Swallowing fear, she vows to be brave--to leave her safety net behind; to forget her broken heart--and drives cross country from Pittsburgh to pursue her dream of becoming a Hollywood costume designer.

When Liv arrives in LA, her plans go awry, and she is grateful when her fabulous neighbors, Parker and Blair, take her under their Hollywood-insider wings. Blair offers her a freelance position as a dresser at a star studded fashion show on the condition that Liv follows a set of unspoken celebrity rules that Parker and Blair lay out for her. Nervous, but desperate to find work, Liv accepts. At the fashion show Liv has an unfortunate run-in with the lead singer of her favorite band, Berkeley Dalton. 

Having broken all of Parker and Blair's rules, she is certain she is doomed to fail in Los Angeles. But, driven by the knowledge that a superstar like Berkeley talked to a “nobody” like Liv, Parker and Blair think otherwise and vow to turn her into Los Angeles’ My Fair Lady. They get to work on “the spin” and several months later pass her off as an It girl at Elton John’s annual Oscar Party.

Having learned to be her bravest self under Parker and Blair’s tutelage, Liv’s Old Hollywood dreams begin to unfold in ways she never could have imagined, and she struggles to remain grounded. Even as a second chance meeting with Berkeley Dalton ignites a whirlwind romance and Psychic Mom sends prophecies swirling with possibility, Liv never truly believes that an “every” girl from Pittsburgh could end up living this magical behind-the-scenes existence. She is determined to remain rooted in reality and focused on her new career as a lingerie designer, but just when it seems the fairy tale may crumble, Berkeley proves to Liv that maybe magic exists after all…

And here’s her deal announcement:

Katie Delahanty's IN BLOOM, the first book in the Brightside series, in which a recent college graduate moves west from Pittsburgh to pursue her dream of becoming a costume designer, is spun by her Hollywood insider neighbors into Los Angeles' My Fair Lady, and who has a chance encounter with a rock star that ignites a whirlwind romance, to Karen Grove at Entangled Embrace, in a three-book deal, by Jennifer Pooley at The Bent Agency (world).

Please join me in congratulating Katie on twitter at @ktdelahanty and please "like" her Facebook page.

- Jennifer Pooley

Friday, October 4, 2013

TBA is looking for a new Young Adult/New Adult intern!

We are looking for another Young Adult/New Adult fiction intern. You do not need to have any kind of publishing experience. You should love to read and be familiar with contemporary fiction in this genre, particularly with Young Adult and New Adult books on the New York Times bestseller list.  Familiarity with Middle Grade books is also a plus.

You do not need to live in New York—this is a remote internship. We ask for a ten-hours-a-week commitment. Please note that it is unpaid. 
Interested? Send an email to and put "YA intern" in the subject line. Tell us why you want the internship and something about yourself, or include a resume if you have one (but it's not necessary). Include two lists: the last ten YA/NA books you've read and your top ten favorite YA/NA books of all time. 

If you've applied in the past, you're welcome to apply again. We usually get a great many applicants and the application period will close fairly quickly; watch this space for details.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Some Query Tips -- a post by Victoria

As I make my daily trek into the slush pile, I’m often quite surprised at just how many authors make the same easily-corrected mistakes. So here are a few tips for those of you currently looking for representation to go over before you hit the send button.

1. Always follow the submission guidelines.
I’m always a little shocked at how many authors ignore our submission guidelines — like not including sample pages, or attaching them rather than embedding them. (You can find our submission guidelines here.) Each agent has her own preferences and you should make the necessary tweaks to your query to meet their guidelines. While it’s policy here at the Bent Agency to respond by asking the author to correct their mistake, for some agents, it means an automatic form rejection.

2. Make sure you get the agent’s name right and skip the mass email.
While you should certainly query multiple agents simultaneously, take a second to be sure that you’ve gotten the agent’s name correct. We won’t be insulted or take it personally, but you don’t want to come off as careless. Also, skip the To whom it may concern and opt for addressing each agent personally.

3. Proofread.
One or two spelling/grammar mistakes won’t prove fatal for your query (we’ve all done it), but more than a few will be sure to raise a red flag with an agent.

4. Do your research.
Be sure to research the agent and what she’s currently looking for to make sure your project fits the bill.

5.  Be specific.
If you’ve been published before, we definitely want to hear about it. However, if you say that you have publishing credentials, be sure to include the details!

      6. Don’t over self-promote.
It’s great to be enthusiastic and passionate about your work, but try to avoid going overboard tooting your own horn. If your project is that good—and it may very well be—we’ll be able to tell. You should use that space to give the agent a better sense of what your project’s about.

      7. Keep it short and sweet.
You should be able to tell the agent what your book’s about, the hook and why you’re the author to write it in less than a page. And while you should always include a bio, try to keep it brief and only include relevant facts, like publishing credentials or what makes you the ideal person to write your novel.

      8. Finish your book before querying.
While you may be anxious to find representation, avoid querying before you’ve finished your novel. Agents want to see full manuscripts that have gone through one or two rounds of edits first.

     9.  Start your query off right.
It’s best to start your query off with your hook or synopsis, rather than your bio.

    10.  Be creative.
Try to avoid starting your query with rhetorical questions like “What would you do if…” and “Have you ever wondered what it would be like if…” Be creative with your hook! You want your query to grab the agent’s attention right away.