An NPR best book of the year!
Eddie Schneider (Twitter: @eddieschneider) is the Vice President of JABberwocky Literary Agency, which he joined in 2008. JABberwocky Literary Agency, established in 1994 by Joshua Bilmes, is the world's leading agency for fantasy and science fiction, and our interests extend beyond these to many areas of trade fiction and nonfiction.
Eddie is an Iowa graduate, where he studied fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. He has an M.S. in Publishing from New York University, and his client list includes National Book Award winner Nancy Farmer, #1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson, fellow NYT bestsellers Daniel José Older and Alison Wilgus, and many award-winning and bestselling authors of fiction and nonfiction.
When he isn’t agenting, reading, or editing, he has been known to run ultramarathons, and is technically an award-winner himself, although his form wouldn’t necessarily get rave reviews.
How to query me
Email queries to queryeddie [at] awfulagent.com. Please include the first five pages of your manuscript, and paste them below your query letter, in the body of your email. 1-3 page synopses may also be included at the very bottom, but aren’t mandatory.
When querying, please don’t send any attachments, as these queries are deleted, unread.
What I’m looking for
Major changes are underway here in the US, both in terms of reading technology and demographics, and any time something comes along to disrupt the status quo, it presents huge artistic and economic opportunities. This dovetails nicely with what I desire most — books that are groundbreaking, genre-defining, and reflect the whole spectrum of human experience.
No matter the genre, I have a strong interest in working with authors who bring fresh and diverse voices to the literary conversation, especially those who come from historically marginalized groups. All people should be able to see themselves reflected in the stories they read, as well as in those who pen them.
The genres I represent, and the types of books that most interest me within a given genre, follow.
Literary fiction – I’m an avid reader of literary fiction, and what lights up my cerebral cortex here are more plot-driven novels with a strong emotional core, which engage in areas beyond and outside the middle-class concerns endemic to a large swath of books published in this genre. Two examples of (non-client) novels I particularly enjoyed are Ruth Ozeki’s A TALE FOR THE TIME BEING and Junot Díaz’s THE BRIEF WONDROUS LIFE OF OSCAR WAO.
Science fiction - I love science fiction, and what I particularly enjoy are novels in which the characters and writing show the same level of thoughtful attention as the -ologies being explored. Two examples of (non-client) novels that I enjoyed in this vein are Ursula K. Le Guin’s classic THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS and David Mitchell’s CLOUD ATLAS. I am very much interested in SF written from non-Western cultural perspectives, and one good non-client example of that is G. Willow Wilson’s ALIF THE UNSEEN.
Fantasy – With fantasy, my favorite novels have tended to be those that toe both the real world and the fantastic. In any case, I go for stories with intricate, imaginative settings that are internally consistent, address political and social concerns, and have often found myself preferring tight writing to florid. Two examples of (non-client) novels that I particularly enjoyed like this are Octavia Butler’s KINDRED and Susanna Clarke’s JONATHAN STRANGE & MR. NORRELL. I’m especially interested in fantasy novels set outside the Northern European milieu from which the genre originated.
Young Adult – My favorite YA novels have sophisticated characters and concepts, while embracing the intensity of emotion that characterizes a lot of the best YA fiction. Within YA, my tastes range from the speculative (e.g. Paolo Bacigalupi’s SHIP BREAKER) to contemporary (e.g. Sherman Alexie’s THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN) to thriller. Maureen Johnson’s THE NAME OF THE STAR is a recent favorite of mine.
Middle Grade – Middle grade novels have a special resonance for me, because the genre has such breadth. Here, I’m also interested in both realistic/contemporary and sf/fantasy. Two examples of novels that I really enjoyed are Nancy Farmer (now a client!)’s THE EAR, THE EYE, AND THE ARM, and (non-client) Rebecca Stead’s WHEN YOU REACH ME.
Science – I have wide-ranging interests here that include the physical, earth, life, medical, and social sciences. Science books most likely to appeal to me tend to deal with specific topics, and sometimes unlikely ones. Example of (non-client) books in this vein that I enjoyed are Rebecca Skloot’s THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS, and especially Mary Roach’s STIFF.
History – I am interested in histories that focus on a single subject, rather than wide-ranging works about a time or place. I particularly enjoy historical biographies, including those where the biography’s subject is an artifact or commodity. An example of a book in this vein that I enjoyed is Jack Weatherford’s GENGHIS KHAN AND THE MAKING OF THE MODERN WORLD.
Narrative nonfiction – Here, I’m interested in memoirs that take on issues that extend beyond those in the author’s own life (two non-client examples I enjoyed being Rory Stewart’s THE PLACES IN BETWEEN and Christopher McDougall’s BORN TO RUN), travel narratives that are socially engaged and possess an individual stamp (one great non-client example being Bill Bryson’s A WALK IN THE WOODS), and in ‘nonfiction novels’ (one non-client example I was disturbed by being Dave Eggers’ ZEITOUN).
Graphic novels and comics:
Note: When querying with a graphic novel or comic, please feel free to include 2-3 images representative of your art, pasted in the body of your email below your query letter. A link to your online portfolio is also good.
Graphic novels – Few things are better than a truly great graphic novel, where the writing and the art flow together, but are each strong enough to stand alone. I’m looking for work that’s both awe-inspiring and totally engrossing, and am only interested in author/artists, or an established author-artist team. I’m would like to see both fiction and non-fiction, realistic or speculative, for adult, YA or middle grade. A couple non-client examples of graphic novels I really enjoyed are Marjane Satrapi’s PERSEPOLIS and David Mazzuchelli’s ASTERIOS POLYP.
Comics – What I’m after here are projects that either are, or are influenced by, comic strips and webcomics. What will most catch my eye are comics that are both humorous and incisive. Some examples are Nicholas Gurewitch’s THE TRIAL OF COLONEL SWEETO, and Allie Brosh’s HYPERBOLE AND A HALF (though a more polished art style will generally get further with me).
Since it still needs (and may always need) to be spelled out, please note I am eager to consider queries by persons, or featuring protagonists, of any race, color, creed, religion, national citizenship/origin, gender or sexual orientation, disability, age, or physical appearance. Further, I will not attempt to editorially limit the presence of characters in any of the above in order to sell a project, and will support any client who has been discriminated against by a publisher or editor because of such status, in the hopefully unlikely event that this might occur.