KV: How long have you been agenting, and how did you get into it?
JG: I have been agenting full-time since July. I have been involved in the publishing industry for more than a decade, as a trade book marketing manager, editor and finally as fiction publisher. After the fiction line was shut down at my previous publisher, I began working freelance to help edit, consult and manage authors and their projects. My transition to agenting seemed to happen organically from the consulting business.
KV: How would you summarize your personal agenting philosophy? What do you expect from an agent-author relationship?
JG: My agenting philosophy is a holistic approach. Since my background encompasses marketing, editing and publishing, I like to work with the author on marketing, developing their platform, content development and ultimately, evaluating their options (digital and print) as they enter into a publishing agreement.
I expect open and honest communication and setting clear expectations at the onset of the working relationship.
KV: What client work do you have coming out soon? What drew you to those writers and/or projects?
JG: Author Pepper Basham has a fiction novel coming out next year titled Twist of Faith that is contemporary women's fiction. I have known Pepper for three years when she pitched to me at a writer's conference. I saw a great writing style, an openness to learn and an eagerness to self-promote. Her novels are funny, witty, engaging and very romantic.
Three non-fiction books by author and professional ballerina Sarah Marr are also coming out next year and use her life in professional dance as a metaphor for life lessons. I've known Sarah for a while as well and love her voice and freshness as she speaks into the busyness of life.
KV: What genres do you represent? What genres do you definitely NOT represent?
JG: I represent all romance (contemporary and historical and romantic suspense), speculative, fantasy, straight suspense, true crime, YA and NA and some non-fiction.
I do not represent horror as this is not a genre I read and so I'm not familiar with what makes a great horror novel.
KV: What query pet peeves and/or pitfalls should writers avoid when querying you?
JG: Pet peeves are typos or bad grammar; having a synopsis that does not match the content; queries before the manuscript is complete; saying the novel will appeal to everyone.
KV: What are you looking for in a manuscript right now? What are you tired of seeing at the moment?
JG: I would love to see great romance with smart, witty banter (either contemporary or historical). I would like to see smart suspense that leaves me questioning 'who dun it' until the end. Cozy mysteries. Sports romance. Military. Unique ideas or plots with twists.
I've seen a lot of dystopian, angels and demons, novels where the protagonist suffers from multiple issues (alcoholism, bulimia, abuse, homelessness).
KV: What's the best way to query you?
JG: E-mail email@example.com.
Thank you, Ms. Gwinn, for these responses. The genres you listed are some of my favorites, too, so I hope you find a bunch of new clients shortly.
And now for the main event! If you have a question for Ms. Gwinn, feel free to leave it in the comments of this post. She'll drop in periodically and respond to those questions, leaving her answers in the comments also. We'll wrap everything up at 5:00 p.m. EDT (or 2:00 p.m. PDT), but until then, ask away!