“Above all I look for talent, a unique and compelling voice and story, a way with words, humor, authority, and insight into the human condition.”
Every year, the Writers’ League of Texas brings a faculty of close to thirty agents, editors, and other industry professionals to Austin for its Agents & Editors Conference. As we look ahead to the 23rd Annual A&E Conference in June, we’re happy to share Q&As with some of our faculty here.
An Interview with Jenni Ferrari-Adler
Jenni Ferrari-Adler is an agent at Union Literary. Jenni represents exciting novelists including Mo Daviau (Every Anxious Wave), and Brittani Sonnenberg (Home Leave); the agency’s award-winning food writers and food shops; YA and Middle Grade; Narrative Nonfiction, and other categories. She holds an MFA in Fiction from the University of Michigan and a BA from Oberlin. She edited the anthology Alone in the Kitchen With an Eggplant: Confessions of Cooking for One and Dining Alone. She has taught Fiction at the University of Michigan and the Gotham Writers’ Workshop, and worked as a reader for The Paris Review and as a bookseller at Housing Works. Jenni is on the contracts committee of the AAR and is a member of The IACP. Follow her on twitter: @jenferrariadler or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scribe: How would you describe your personal approach to working with an author?
Jenni Ferrari-Adler: I work differently with different authors, depending on their needs and preferences, but I love to work closely and collaboratively. I like to edit and to work with the author to figure out how to best position their project. I’m transparent about the submission process.
Scribe: What do you look for in a debut author?
JFA: Above all I look for talent, a unique and compelling voice and story, a way with words, humor, authority, and insight into the human condition. I also appreciate drive, the ability to revise, and kindness.
Scribe: Do you think social media presence is critical for a successful writing career?
JFA: I’m going to say no … despite the many advantages it does give to writers who use it well.
Scribe: If you could give writers one piece of advice, what would it be?
JFA: Be relentless about the work and patient too. Read widely.
Scribe: Tell us about a project you took on because there was something special or unique about it, even though it wasn’t like projects you usually take on; or tell us about an exciting or proud moment in your career as an editor.
JFA: A lot of projects feel like this; it’s part of the fun. I recently took on my first graphic work, Amy Kurzweil’s Flying Couch, and it will be published this October by Black Balloon. It’s a memoir, and the story and voice were up my alley but the format was new for me, so figuring out who to submit to, and how to talk about it, and even how to get the file not to be too unwieldy for editors was all new. Amy has recently gotten two comics accepted to The New Yorker; I am very proud.
Click here and here to read our 2016 A&E Conference agent & editor bios.
Click here for more information on the 2016 Agents & Editors Conference, a weekend long event in Austin, TX (June 24-26) that focuses on the craft of writing, the business of publishing, and building a literary community.