Agent Advice: Janet Benrey of Benrey Literary

This installment features Janet Benrey, founder of Benrey Literary in New Bern, N.C. Janet founded Benrey Literary in 2006. Previously with Hartline Literary Agency, Janet worked several jobs that have had two common themes: marketing and publishing. A published novelist, she's co-written seven cozy mysteries with her husband. She is seeking: For fiction, she is currently seeking contemporary women’s fiction for both markets, romance for both markets, and suspense/thriller for the secular market. She does not handle science fiction, fantasy or erotica. For nonfiction, she's looking for Christian Living books and self-help books for both markets. She's also keeping her eyes open for a unique project that captures her interest.
Author:
Publish date:

“Agent Advice”(this installment featuring agent Janet Benrey of Benrey Literary) is a series of quick interviews with literary agents and script agents who talk with Guide to Literary Agents about their thoughts on writing, publishing, and just about anything else. This series has more than 170 interviews so far with reps from great literary agencies. This collection of interviews is a great place to start if you are just starting your research on literary agents.

This installment features Janet Benrey, founder of Benrey Literary in New Bern, N.C. Janet founded Benrey Literary in 2006. Previously with Hartline Literary Agency, Janet worked several jobs that have had two common themes: marketing and publishing. A published novelist, she's co-written seven cozy mysteries with her husband.

She is seeking: For fiction, she is currently seeking contemporary women’s fiction for both markets, romance for both markets, and suspense/thriller for the secular market. She does not handle science fiction, fantasy or erotica. For nonfiction, she's looking for Christian Living books and self-help books for both markets. She's also keeping her eyes open for a unique project that captures her interest.

Image placeholder title


GLA: What’s the most recent thing you’ve sold?

JB: Just this week, my client, Brenda Minton, received an offer from Harlequin's Steeple Hill Love Inspired for her second book, Making It Right.

GLA: When writers send you a nonfiction book proposal, what are the most common things you see lacking?

JB: Nonfiction proposals should be fairly easy to write. There's a lot of information available to writers on how to write the greatest, the most compelling, the "no-fail" nonfiction proposal, so I'm often surprised when authors fail to mention their reasons and credentials for writing the work. Like publishers, I often jump to the credentials section of the proposal before getting to the meat of the proposal. I need to know why an author is qualified to write what they're writing and how their work differs from what has already been published on the topic they've chosen.

GLA: One of your specialties is "Christian Living." Can you help define this and give a few book examples?

JB: The Christian Living category of books represents a huge umbrella that covers a multitude of topics. Christian Living works can include books on issues of importance to women, men and teenagers; Christian Living books can be about parenting, marriage, family life, divorce, breast cancer, healing, health, faith journies, spiritual challenges, leadership and devotionals. (One) series that I've contracted is for three books with a theme of taking faith to the next level. These were written by a pastor of a large church and the audience will be members of churches across the country who are interested in working through a study program that deals with parenting and other topics.

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 2.57.50 PM

The biggest literary agent database anywhere
is the Guide to Literary Agents. Pick up the
most recent updated edition online at a discount.

GLA: You handle different genre work—mystery, romance, Christian. When an author queries you, should they say their submission is simply a "mystery" or a "romance"? Or do they need to be more specific, saying it's a "cozy" or a "Christian romance" or a "sensuous contemporary"?

JB: Please tell me in which genre you're writing. An amazing number of authors fail to do this, leaving me to scratch my head. Please be specific. For example: This is a (insert word count) cozy mystery written for the Christian market. This is a (insert word count) contemporary/historical Christian romance. This does two things. It tells me that you read in your chosen genre and that you have a grasp of the requirements of the marketplace.

GLA: Bottom line—what attracts you to a work? 

JB: Voice. Ain't got voice, ain't gonna sell. Voice is craft. Voice is dialogue. Voice is creating a fictional dream. Voice is the narrator you chose for your story. Voice is doing everything well. Voice is point of view. Voice is the sound of the novel

Image placeholder title

Check Out These Great Upcoming Writers Conferences:

Other writing/publishing articles and links for you:

Image placeholder title

Want to build your visibility and sell more books?
Create Your Writer Platform shows you how to
promote yourself and your books through social
media, public speaking, article writing, branding,
and more. 
Order the book from WD at a discount.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: Magazine Cover Reveal, Literary Agent Boot Camp Announced, and More!

This week, we’re excited to reveal the cover for our upcoming July/August issue of Writer’s Digest, a Literary Agent Boot Camp, and more!

Camille Aubray: Understanding the Nuances of Human Nature

Camille Aubray: Understanding the Nuances of Human Nature

Author Camille Aubray discusses her recent novel The Godmothers, including what prompted the book, why writers should write everything down, the importance of understanding the nuances of human nature, and more.

How Personal Writing and Journaling Is Good for the Soul and Why Your Journal Is Your Soul Mate

How Personal Writing and Journaling Is Good for the Soul and Why Your Journal Is Your Soulmate

Bestselling author Laura Munson shares how journaling lead to a breakthrough in her fiction writing and how you can use journaling to do the same.

From Script

A Fond Farewell to Netflix’s Lucifer, Writing Video Games, and Do Experts Stand in the Way of Your Writing Goals?: From Script

In this week’s round up brought to us by ScriptMag.com, exclusive interviews with Lucifer TV writer Chris Rafferty and video game writer Ian Ryan. Plus, learn about screenwriting trailblazer France Goodrich Hacket, who co-wrote It’s a Wonderful Life, and advice on when and when not to approach a writing expert to reach your writing goals.

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Misusing Dialogue Tags

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Misusing Dialogue Tags

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake writers make is misusing dialogue tags.

Poetic Forms

Boketto: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, Walter J. Wojtanik shares his relatively new form, the boketto.

Paul Neilan: On Implementing Dark Humor

Paul Neilan: On Implementing Dark Humor

In this article, author Paul Neilan explains how he came up with the idea for his mystery and dark comedy novel The Hollywood Spiral.

WD-Poetry-2020-WinnerGraphic

Deborah Hall, 2020 Writer's Digest Poetry Awards Winner

The winner of the 2020 Writer’s Digest Poetry Awards discusses the inspiration behind her first-place poem, “The Loneliest Whale."

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Split Up

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Split Up

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have your characters split up.