Happy Agent Monday, everyone! Is it Monday? Time has truly been a fuzzy thing these days. I hope everyone is keeping well and cool. Well, here’s some happy news: The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency recently welcomed new Associate Agent Megan Barnard to its staff. And Megan has popped by here to answer a few questions so we can get to know her better. So let’s get right to it!
Welcome Megan! Thanks so much for stopping by here.
Can you tell us how you got into agenting?
Megan: I’d always been interested in working in publishing but wasn’t sure how to get into it, because I couldn’t afford to move to NYC to work as an intern. I was lucky enough to find a remote internship and I interned remotely for three years at several wonderful agencies, including P.S. Literary and Folio Literary Management. In 2020 I began working with The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency as an Associate Agent. I love it, and can’t imagine being anywhere else!
What types of projects are you representing? Anything you are especially hoping to find in your inbox?
Megan: I only represent adult fiction and nonfiction. I particularly love historical fiction, upmarket, literary, and book-club fiction. I would LOVE to find the next Circe or The Snow Child, as I adore historical fantasy. Do you have something that is lush and atmospheric with a wonderful story like Kate Morton or Kate Atkinson? Send it my way! In terms of nonfiction, I’m open to narrative nonfiction, and would specifically love to find a memoir that combines nature writing with a lyrical style, like The Outrun or The Salt Path. I love that these books combine real problems (alcoholism, homelessness) with gorgeous and moving prose.
To help folks understand your point of view, what are some of your favorite TV shows and movies?
- The Office
- The Crown
- About Time
- Pride and Prejudice-Keira Knightley version
- Parks and Rec
- New Girl
- Anne of Green Gables
- Knives Out
- La La Land
- Top Chef
- Downton Abbey
What’s in your reading pile?
Megan: I generally read a mix of fiction and nonfiction. In terms of nonfiction, I’m reading H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald (I know, I’m behind!), Mudlark by Lara Maiklem, and How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. For fiction, I’m reading The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry, The Book of V. by Anna Solomon, and The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton.
What makes a successful query to you?
Megan: The most successful queries for me are the ones that are clear and to the point. Who are your characters, what is the problem they have to overcome, and what will happen if they don’t overcome it? I also love a fabulous comp. Chances are if you comp (honestly!) to one of my favorite books, I’ll ask for a partial.
What are some common query mistakes that will result in an immediate rejection?
Megan: I understand how difficult querying is, so please don’t worry if you have a typo or spell my name wrong (though do try your best). The things that would make a query an automatic rejection are genres/categories I don’t represent, anything racist, sexist, or insulting me, or a query that doesn’t follow my guidelines (I don’t mind a mistake here or there, but don’t just send me your pages or synopsis and no actual query!).
Are you a very editorial agent? What does that mean to you?
Megan: I am! I would never try to sell a book without it being in the best shape possible, so my clients and I edit manuscripts until they really shine. Most of the time I won’t be line editing, but I will work with my clients on structural edits (character development, stakes, tension, pacing, and so forth).
What is your idea of an ideal client?
Megan: Someone who wants a long-term writing career with many great ideas and stories in them! I also prefer you to tell me how you work best: do you want to communicate only by phone? By email? Do you want daily submission updates, monthly, or not at all? Just let me know! Communication is key in this relationship, and I want to know any issues or problems you’re having with your book, your editor, or anything! You’re my client, you’re never bothering me!
Where can folks go to follow you online?
Megan: You can follow me on Twitter @meganebarnard and Instagram @meganwbarnard.
Your link for submission guidelines?
Megan: You can find my submission guidelines at https://www.jdlit.com/megan-barnard.
Anything else you’d like people to know about you or what you are looking for?
Megan: As a young agent, I’m hungry to get my hands on a lot of different books. Above all, I’m interested in character-driven novels that are lyrical and give me a book hangover.
Also, querying is difficult and can be scary, and you are courageous each time you hit the send button! So please send me your queries. I am SO excited to read your wonderful stories.
Thanks again, Megan! We’re so happy to have you on board. 🙂
*Marie is an author of YA novels and of picture books, and she’s a Literary Agent at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency in New York City. To keep up with all her posts, subscribe to her site.