Fizzy Fangirling – An Interview with Jenny Bent

Hello my loves!

Today, it is my genuine pleasure to bring you a chat with the incomparable Jenny Bent of…wait for it…The Bent Agency!

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Jenny Bent is one of those agents that everyone knows and when she’s discussed it’s with the awed tones of, “It’s Jenny freaking BENT.”

The honor is well earned. Aside from being a brilliant literary agent, she runs an agency full of other brilliant literary agents. All the while being known for her friendliness and knowledge on social media. Dude. The skills. I mean, damn.

Let’s get to know her better, shall we?

1. Let’s start with the basics: How long have you been an agent, and what made you dive into this wacky business in the first place, and compelled you to start your own agency?

Well, I knew even before college that I wanted to work in publishing because I was always such a reader, to the exclusion of almost anything else, really. I started working as an assistant to a literary agent in 1992 and then started repping my own titles in about 1996. The goal was always to one day have my name on the door, so in 2009, when I felt that I had established myself enough, I left my position at Trident Media to found TBA.

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2. What genres do you rep?

I rep women’s fiction, crime/suspense, romance, YA, a tiny bit of literary fiction, memoir, very occasionally lifestyle if it has a fun or girly twist to it.

3. What sort of story do you pray to the literary gods will land on your desk?

Oh gosh, so many different kinds of stories make me happy. Right now I would love some really compelling suspense with an amazing hook, like the book THINK OF A NUMBER by John Verdon.

4. What is your very favorite part of agenting? And for the sake of balance, what makes you want to cry sad agenty tears?

Making that first sale for someone is just the best feeling in the world. It’s just a great thing to be able to work with writers in general and to be able to read for a living, which isn’t something I could have imagined when I was just a kid with my nose stuck in a book all the time. I do get frustrated at publishers in the current climate—I feel that at a time when they should be bending over backwards to keep writers, they tend to be making contract terms worse, not better.

5. Do you have any books that you passed on that you may or may not be smacking yourself over? How often does that sort of thing happen?

Oh, it always happens. The best you can do is move on and try not to let it get to you. We all make mistakes. When you are reading queries and manuscripts in such a hurry, it’s easy to miss things or react in the wrong way.

6. This business can feel a bit harsh at times, but you tend to stand out as a ray of positivity. Which is appreciated, by the by. Is this a conscious effort, or can we assume you are just that delightful a human?

Well, how about both? 🙂 It is certainly intentional. I think it’s important to be respectful of people and their efforts and not lose your humanity in this business.

7. Edging off my last question, your agency has a close-knit, GO TEAM kind of vibe. Seriously, it’s amazing to see you cheer everyone on. Is this the luck of a fantastic staff, or more of a deliberate goal?

It is definitely a goal that we are supportive of each other but I do think I am lucky to have such a collegial and friendly (and talented) group!

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8. Tell us something you are working on right now that’s giving you fluttery feelings?

Two very different and very compelling YA novels that I signed up after both had multiple offers of rep; and a wonderful adult novel, a suspenseful work of literary fiction about two women who are sleeping with the same man, by the novelist Chandra Hoffman. I also have a terrific memoir by journalist Amy Silverman out on submission as we speak.

9. As is customary on my blog, it is here I request an embarrassing or hilarious moment. Bonus points if industry related.

Does crashing my car last week while in the middle of an auction count? No one was hurt, if that makes it better, and the fence post was miraculously unharmed but my bumper and grille were completely trashed. And the whole thing was completely my fault because I am just a flat out lousy driver who cannot navigate past a perfectly innocent fence post.

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Fizzy again. Dude. A car accident while handling an auction is the most metal literary agent thing I’ve ever heard. Metal.

Although, in the version in my mind, the fence post totally comes out of nowhere.

That’s Jenny Bent, kids! In all of her delight and badassery-ness. That’s totally a word. Follow her on Twitter here, read her delightful blog here, and check The Bent Agency out here!

Leave her all love, questions, comments, and general moments of awe in the comments below!

I hope all is well in your wonderful worlds!

Until next time,

Peace, Love, and Renegade Fence Posts!

7 Comments

  1. Jenny Bent rocks. There’s just no two ways about it.

  2. I’m glad no one was hurt!

    Great post 🙂

  3. I love Jenny’s attitude of general niceness, positivity and respect combined with badassery-ness (of course that’s a word). Seems like the perfect combination for an agent! Great interview.

  4. The contract terms; I hear from a lot of authors further along than me that their agents are fighting hard for good contracts.

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