new bio

In high school, Jennifer read through the entire fiction section of the school library. Working as a bookseller at Waldenbooks and Forbidden Planet (London), and later joining the Donald Maass Literary Agency, ensured she’d continue to get her reading fix on a regular basis. After twelve years as an agent, she continues to build a diverse client list, which currently includes USA Today Bestseller Jim Butcher, Hugo Finalist Jay Lake, Campbell-nominee Elizabeth Bear, Romantic Times Lifetime Achievement Award-winner Donna Boyd, and RITA-finalist Shelley Bates, among others. She is somewhat indiscriminate when choosing a book by genre, but likes to believe herself particular when it comes to quality. Currently seeking both established and beginning authors of novel-length fiction, she enjoys being part of the evolution of individual books and a writer’s whole career, and is always open to exploring intriguing new directions. For more information see: or

Okay…. here’s what I’ve come up with based on the various comments received since yesterday. They actually give one precious little space for these bios, so I’m sure I didn’t hit every point raised. So, if this is what you saw in the conference brochure, what would your reaction be?

38 responses to “new bio

  1. wow
    That reads very nicely. Wish I had a manuscript to send you.

  2. what would your reaction be?
    That I need to get this novel done. πŸ™‚
    You worked in London? I didn’t know that.
    Reading that bio would make me think that you’d be open to novels that cross genre or can’t be classified into one genre easily.

    • Reading that bio would make me think that you’d be open to novels that cross genre or can’t be classified into one genre easily.
      Yeah… well, Jim Butcher gives that away anyway. Conversely, does it make you think I’m *not* open to more traditional novels that fall squarely into one genre?

      • Conversely, does it make you think I’m *not* open to more traditional novels that fall squarely into one genre?
        Good question. The answer is no. It makes you appear open to both traditional and experimental novels.
        That’s what you were aiming for, right? I think it works.

        • Yes. I like both. As is easy to tell from the pile of books I’ve been reading for pleasure but haven’t had time to post about. Heh.

  3. Depending on the level of confidence/ability of the aspiring writer who was reading this– it would either be excitement or sheer intimidation.
    For me, personally, reading something like this would excite me. Obviously, the list of your authors and their achievements backs up your claim that you’re particular when it comes to quality. I also love the part where you say you enjoy being part of the evolution of both the individual books and a writer’s whole career. It’s very reassuring. *g*

    • Intimidation? Am I overdoing it with the author list? I tried to pick clients who covered a wide spectrum to show my versatility when it comes to the things I represent.
      Okay…. well, maybe a *little* intimidation would be a good thing. *g*

      • A little intimidation is a good thing. *g* I don’t mean the client list so much as the fact that you’re so widely read and the level of experiences you’ve had within the industry. Does that make sense?

        • *nod* I see what you’re saying. Thanks for the feedback!

        • I’m in agreement with Barb on this one: and also with Jenn. I can see how it might be intimidating to the timid, but a soupcon of intimidation, well, not a bad thing to have in your arsenal.
          Hell, it’s a stock item in my bio.
          And if I read this as a newbie approaching you, I would think you were open to possibilities.
          One thing: you might want to mention that you don’t handle non-fiction. Or did I miss it in there?

  4. You sound very open and willing to work with new authors, which obviously is a plus, but it also sounds like you don’t accept crap, so it gives me something to work towards!
    Sounds good to me!!
    *runs away to finish manuscript*

  5. It’d get my attention regardless, since I used to work at Waldenbooks. *grin*
    Shouldn’t it be “ensured,” not “insured”?

  6. “Man, she sounds awesome.”

    • She is.
      I like the new bio a lot, Jenn (Sorry, I missed the question–it’s been a week) and I especially like the tone. It’s not too stiff, and hints at a sense of humor.

  7. I approve of the author list, but then…I would. Seriously, it sounds fine. It does read a bit long, but I believe you’re working to their length guidelines, right?

  8. I like the bio… the client list helps support your point about being open to different genres but valuing quality. I don’t see your bio as intimidating; if I don’t think my novel is high-quality, then it’s not ready to send out.

  9. Excellent bio!
    I’d think by reading that bio that you were a fun, enthusiastic, knowledgable, caring agent. And, since you *are* a fun, enthusiastic, knowledgable, caring agent, I’d say the bio works. πŸ™‚
    The beginning shows a love of books and a voracious reading habit (which most authors can probably sympathize with). The author list, in addition to showing different genres and supporting your quality claims, also supports your claim that you take people in all ranges of their careers — Campbell nominees are people whose first book has just come out in the past two years, and lifetime achievement award winners clearly have a large body of work spanning many years if not decades.
    And the final bit, about being part of the evolution of both book and career, tells the reader what kind of agent you’ll be.
    If I hadn’t already submitted stuff to you more times than I want to count, this would encourage me to think I should do so.

  10. I like the new bio. It has your voice- conveying intelligene and a sense of humor. The client list is well chosen in that it gives an idea of the range of genres that you represent, as well as mixing established with new authors. And if I were a first time author I’d be reassured by your experience as well as your being open to beginning authors.

  11. Reading this would make me confused about whether which genre you wanted to represent. Having “indiscriminate” taste in genre would warn me away for a couple of reasons:
    1. I wouldn’t be sure if you were a jack-of-all-trades and a master-of-none; and
    2. I’d wonder if you’d be spending 95% of your time reading and turning away manuscripts because everyone with a book proposal, from a country Western to a modern chick lit book, would be mailing you things. πŸ™‚
    I don’t mean to sound harsh! But there is such a thing as inviting too many possibilities. And though there’s always talk about whether it’s useful to have genres, they’re still a reality of the industry… so one of the first things I used to check in an agent’s bio was “does she even represent my genre… and if she does, how many others is she representing, so I can tell how much time and energy she has to spend on me.”

    • there is such a thing as inviting too many possibilities
      I’m not entirely sure I agree with you. And your #1 reason would be countered by my list of successful clients in a variety of genres. And if you think focusing on one genre (as in #2) means that I’d get less material on submission, you’d likely be surprised. I know a couple of agents who do so and still get a deluge of mail. We all spend a fair amount of time scouting for new material. It’s part of the job. I don’t measure time and energy devoted to each author by what genre my client is writing in; I measure it by what they need and/or request and make my best effort to provide it. Frankly, I think working in more then one genre keeps me fresh as a reader, which is something I decidely value. (And then there’s that whole part where having things in more baskets makes for more surety — and more income! Heh.)

  12. You sound like someone I’d like to have as my agent. How’s that?

  13. I like it a lot. I like that it opens with a personal tidbit that I can relate to. I like knowing you worked in London (makes you sound cosmopolitan), and I like the diversity of your interests. The comment about quality gives us something to aspire to, and I like the list of clients – particularly because I personally recognize one. πŸ™‚
    Basically, it makes you sound open-minded and like an agent who truly works *with* her clients. The only thing I would suggest trying to squish in is a ball park for how long it usually takes you to answer queries – unless you already mention that on your web site. I think a sentence could be squished in between the last two sentences and could also be used to showcase more of your personality (do double-duty). Ie. She answers most queries within XXXX time frame, but blippety-bloppety fill-in whatever witty thing you want (eg. don’t hold her to it; or unless you’re an axe murderer *without* an interesting to story to tell – that sort of thing).
    Cindy Procter-King

  14. Hiya from Australia,
    You’ve presented a good snapshot. I like the sense of humor in the blurb, and the open statement that you are willing to consider new writers. The level of involvement you provide interests me and the author list gives me an idea of your genre presentation. I also know where to look for more information.
    So humor, genres, openness, more information – it reads well and tells me who I should put on the top of my list for querying when I finish polishing my fantasy novel.

  15. I like it. πŸ™‚ Very polished and professional, yet not stiff.
    Although to be honest my first reaction was something like she worked at Forbidden Planet? *turns green with envy*
    But once I got past that…good. *g*

  16. what would your reaction be?
    ‘May I send you my mss/outline and portion’ ?
    (Which is only half joking. It’s sitting on my desk, looking at me accusingly. “I wanna go out,” it says.)
    – You love books
    – You know the genre (I don’t think anyone could last long in Forbidden Planet and stay ignorant)
    – You’re working for a respectable agency. You’re not just playing at/fancying yourself as an agent. (Not saying that every self-employed agent does that; but this tells me that someone whose opinion I value believes in your engagement/skills; it’s an additional reference in your favour)
    – You’re getting results: your clients are doing well and are getting recognition beyond their circle of friends.
    – You’re having people as your clients that I know/have heard of; I could see myself as part of that group
    I like the ‘part of the evolution’ part of your statement; it gives me the impression that you aren’t in the job for a quick cut of the advance without followup.
    As for interpretation of what ‘quality’ and ‘intriguing’ mean to you, that’s something which you simply can’t put in a short bio; but I’d be interested in finding out whether my ideas would qualify. It has a touch of ‘I know what’s good when I see it’ which is, IMHO, entirely reasonable – and at the same time different for every writer/agent/editor/reader.

  17. I think you overestimate the importance of your bio and underestimate your fame. You already have an excellent reputation with the unpubbed writers I know. Here’s all you’d need to get their attention at a conference:
    I’m Jennifer Jackson, damnit!
    It is a good bio though ;^)

  18. After looking at some of the authors on your homepage, it appears that your client list is much broader than I originally thought. Perhaps I will be sending you a query letter as well.

  19. I think it’s nicely done.

  20. I like it. It tells the reader just about everything they need to know without going into minutia. I don’t know if most of the folks reading the bio are writers looking for an agent, but the bio does give them much of the necessary info. they would be scoping out for an agent.
    How long were you at Waldens? I paid my way through college working there. Five years. Retail book selling is an interesting arena, to say the least.

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