Jeff Kleinman

About Me

I am one of the founders of Folio Literary Management, LLC. I wanted to establish an agency that is forward-thinking and able to offer services that “traditional” literary agents don’t provide, so in 2006 I joined with my partners to establish Folio. I represent projects with unique voices, strong characters, unusual premises, and books that offer up some new perspective on something I thought I already knew or never dreamed existed.

 

Over the course of my career I’ve represented many successful novels, including:


Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain (HarperCollins), the New York Times bestseller and international bestseller.

 

Eowyn Ivey’s The Snow Child (Little, Brown). Pulitzer Prize finalist. B&N’s Discover Great New Writers program, CostCo pick, ALA’s Winter Institute Selection Indie Next Pick. Christian Science Monitor’s #1 of 6 Books to Read in 2012. Norway bestseller. UK Red Pages Hot 100 List.

 

Robert Hicks’ The Widow of the South (Grand Central), a New York Times bestseller.

 


Ron McLarty’s The Memory of Running (Viking), a New York Times bestseller.

 


Jon Clinch’s Finn (Random House), an award-winning first novel.

 


Neil Abramson’s Unsaid (Center Street), a debut novel with film rights optioned by the producer of The Road and The Time Traveler’s Wife.

 

Some of the nonfiction I represent includes:


Elizabeth Lett’s The Eighty Dollar Champion (Ballantine), a #1 New York Times bestseller.

 


Charles Shields’ Mockingbird, a New York Times bestselling biography of Harper Lee, and And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut: A Life, the first authoritative biography of Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (Henry Holt).

 

Bob Tarte’s Enslaved by Ducks and Fowl Weather, incredible laugh-out-loud memoirs (Algonquin Books).

 


American College of Vetinary Behaviorist’s Decoding Your Dog (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). Booklist Starred Review.

 

Patience Bloom’s Romance Is My Day Job: A Memoir of Finding Love at Last (Dutton).

 


Jeff Deck and Benjamin Herson’s The Great Typo Hunt: Two Friends Changing the World, One Correction at a Time (Crown). Boston Globe bestseller. Indie Next List, “Great Reads from Booksellers You Trust”.

 

Neil White’s In the Sanctuary of Outcasts (William Morrow). Booklist Starred Review; Barnes & Noble Discover Award Finalist; SIBA Book Award Finalist.

 

 

I’ve spent a great deal of my life in an eclectic academic setting: I have a B.A. in Modern Studies from the University of Virginia, an M.A. in Italian from the University of Chicago, and a J.D. from the Case Western Reserve University School of Law. I serve as a member of the Advisory Council for the Writer House in Charlottesville, Virginia and the Advisory Board for the Southern New Hampshire University’s MFA program.

 

Why I Love Being an Agent

One of the most amazing feelings in the world is to feel that a story can make a difference: when it changes you, allows you to enter the thoughts and situations of others and, when you close the book with a sigh, leaves you feeling different: maybe a little more grateful, or a little kinder, or a little wiser. A book can contain lots of power – more than anything, I’d like the story to force me to become better, smarter, and more present. This has been the case with several of the books I’ve represented, and it’s one of the main things I look for in new work. I love books and believe that good writing and smart ideas can transform our world.

Everyone will tell you that one of the most important criteria for a good agent is that s/he is enthusiastic about your work. Believe it. You must find someone who loves the project, and will fight to get it published. So only send your material to me when you think it’s as good as you can get it.

 

Interviews

I’ve done interviews for several writers’ websites, including:

Video/Audio:

 

Where to find me:

I’ll be at the following conferences in 2014:

February 12-17: San Miguel Writers’ Conference, San Miguel, Mexico

February 24-March 10: Media Bistro’s “How To Get a Literary Agent” online seminar

March 22: The Virginia Festival of the Book, Charlottesville, VA

March 31–April 14: Media Bistro’s “How To Get a Literary Agent” online seminar

April 16-18: PubSmart Writers Conference, Charleston, SC

May 2-4: Grub Street’s The Muse and the Marketplace, Boston, MA

May 9-10: Hunt Country Writers Retreat, Middleburg, VA

August 7-10: Virginia Quarterly Review Writers’ Conference, Charlottesville, VA

October 20-25: Salt Cay Writers Retreat, Salt Cay, Bahamas

November 20-23: Words & Music Conference, New Orleans, LA

 

About the Projects I Represent

Whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, I’m particularly on the lookout for the following kinds of books:

  • Books with a distinctive, special voice. (For some examples of books that I think have a great voice, click here.)
  • Books with a very unique, special, “I haven’t seen this before” premise that can be summed up in a sentence or two, but also doesn’t sound totally crazy. Try telling your book idea to someone who doesn’t know you – if, after you do, the person says, “Wow!” that’s the kind of thing I’d love to see.
  • Upmarket / literary suspense / thrillers. I’d love to find upmarket, literary psychological suspense stories – again something voice-driven, with a unique concept and really strong writing.
  • Escape stories that take us totally out of our world and into another. (But keep in mind that I don’t represent science fiction or fantasy.)
  • Upbeat subjects. I avoid “misery memoirs” and books about terrorists bent on destroying civilization.
  • Inspiring (but not inspirational!) stories. Books that celebrate some aspect of life, or inspire people to try harder and work more. This doesn’t mean “inspirational books” (which tend to have a more religious slant, and would be better suited to other agents at Folio) – but I do like well-written, solid stories that inspire and charm me to try to do better and be a better person.
  • History has always been a passion, so I’m on the lookout for something that brings the past to life and makes it relevant.
  • Animals are another interest: I grew up in a house that had a lot of animals underfoot, so not surprisingly I find myself doing a lot of animal-oriented books today.

 

Fiction: Have you written a novel?

There’s no doubt about it – fiction is definitely harder to sell. I love novels, and do represent fiction. I’m looking for extremely well-written, character-driven books that make me absolutely fall in love with the characters and their world.

For fiction, I represent the following areas:

  • Upmarket commercial (but not genre commercial, like mysteries or romances)
  • Literary; including thriller, suspense, legal, and historical.

Your novel should be between 70,000 and 120,000 words in length.

 

Nonfiction: Do you have a nonfiction idea and/or proposal?

For nonfiction, my interests are divided into two areas: “narrative” (a nonfiction story) and “prescriptive” (“how-to”):

Narrative: I’m particularly interested in narrative nonfiction, and have sold projects in a wide variety of subjects. Some of my areas of particular interest include, listed alphabetically:

  • animals (especially equestrian, but certainly dogs and exotics, too)
  • art
  • biography
  • business
  • crime
  • espionage
  • health
  • history
  • humor
  • memoir
  • military
  • nature

Prescriptive: I’m particularly interested in parenting (for instance, I’ve done books about dealing with your kids in cyberspace, toddlers, pregnancy, Alzheimer’s, overweight kids, and a bunch of others) health and fitness, psychology, pop-culture, self-help, celebrity books, pets, some business, and other unique, intriguing subjects.

If it looks like your project may be the kind of material that I’d represent, you should have:

  • A proposal, or at least an outline and a sample excerpt; and
  • Information (your platform, connections, experience in the field, etc.) on why you’re the best person to write the book.

 

What I’m Not Looking For:

I do not represent Children’s, Young Adult, Christian, Poetry, or genre commercial fiction (Science Fiction and/or Fantasy, Westerns, Mysteries, and/or romances), or Prescriptive (“How to”) Travel books; nor do I represent original plays, teleplays, or screenplays.

Other agents in the firm do represent some of these areas, so be sure to check out their bio pages.

There are also some subject matter areas that I also avoid. For example, I don’t read books – published or not-yet-published – about serial killers, children in peril (kidnapped, murdered, victimized, and so forth), or those dealing with the events of September 11, 2001. I also avoid subjects like rape, suicide, and manic-depression; and thrillers in which there’s some terrorist organization bent on destroying America or the world. You may have a super novel (or nonfiction subject) that deals with those kinds of issues, and that’s great – but I can tell you that I’m generally not the guy who will ask to represent it.

 

Sending Queries:

Please use the following form:

I typically respond to email queries from within a couple of seconds to a couple of days. If you’ve sent me a query and haven’t heard back in a couple of weeks, though, drop me an email – I always try to respond, so if you’re not hearing from me, it’s possible that you’re getting trapped in spam. If you’re writing to follow up, please include a copy of your original query.

If I’ve requested material from you, I respond within a couple of weeks for partials or non-fiction proposals, or a month for full manuscripts. If you haven’t heard from me by then, by all means, please follow up.

 

If I ask for your manuscript:

If I have your manuscript exclusively, and if I am enthusiastic about it, I’ll often line-edit as I go along, just to give you an idea of what your manuscript may need in order to work out some of the kinks. Because I do not require exclusivity, please don’t expect me to type comments directly in your solicited manuscript – unless, after I ask for it, you do provide it to me on an exclusive basis (say, for six to eight weeks).

 

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