Q: Describe yourself as a literary agent.
I’m an editorial hands-on agent. I will work with each of my clients on what we perceive to be his or her strengths and weaknesses, whether that means revising the manuscript, broadening one’s platform or working on craft, more generally. The term “mid-wife” gets tossed around a lot and I think it’s apt, because bringing a book into the world is a process from conception to birth and beyond. I am committed to each of my client’s in terms of securing and negotiating the best book deal and continuing to champion the book and author beyond publication.
Q: What are you looking for in an author-client?
There are several qualities I look for. Most important is the quality of the writing. Second, is professionalism. This means understanding boundaries and knowing how to conduct oneself as a good literary citizen. Also important is goal-orientation: I look for authors that have a sense of direction and know where they want to take their writing next. I also appreciate baked goods and a sense of humor.
Q: Why Fuse Literary?
Fuse Literary has attracted my attention for some time. I appreciate that it is a very progressive and future-oriented agency that looks beyond the box of traditional publishing to create opportunities for writers. I also greatly admire Laurie and Gordon as literary agents, they have very different yet interesting lists and are bastions of wisdom and knowledge. Being part of a team environment is something that I was looking for and I’m glad to say that I truly feel like I am part of a great team, Team FUSE!
Q: Why should a writer query you to be his/her agent?
A writer should query me to be his or her agent because I understand the market and what has been selling but more importantly, I try to respect each writer’s artistic vision while finding pockets of opportunity to improve each client’s writing. I will work with the writer to improve his or her sales proposal and his or her author persona, both online and offline. I will always be my client’s biggest champion I negotiate hard to retain rights and contractual clauses that are important to the author.
The great thing about this business is that it is ideally, a mutually positive and enriching relationship: we build each other up in a very competitive and challenging industry and we work with each other to ensure success over the long-haul.
Q: What are your favorite pop culture activities, shows, books, etc.?
I’m very big into geek culture and love to read non-fiction that reveals these underground worlds, whether that be anything from Silicon Valley culture or the world of competitive Scrabble (Stefan Fastis’s book Word Freak is a personal favorite). I enjoy a range of TV shows and series, from high to low, like Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad to The Bachelor and Bachelorette. I also love watching documentaries, Jiro Dreams of Sushi is one of my favorites. As for books, my taste ranges from memoirs like Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking, to adventure non-fiction (anything Jon Krakauer), to commercial and literary fiction, both adult and YA (e.g. Rainbow Rowell, Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You, and Julia Fierro’s Cutting Teeth). You can also find me reading magazines like Fast Company, The New Yorker, The Atlantic and Entrepreneur.
Q: Where can someone stalk you on social media?
You can follow me on Twitter @jenchentran or at my personal agent website. I am also on LinkedIn. But please don’t add me on Facebook unless I’ve actually met you in person.
Q: What have we missed?
I’m a two-time school spelling bee champion and former reality TV contestant (though I won’t tell you which show) and cheesecake is the way to my heart.