SCBWI Exclusive with... Jenissa Graham

Jenissa Graham's publishing career started at Writers House, first as an intern and then full time in the subrights department as the Global Licensing and Media Rights Assistant. After missing the developmental side of publishing, she transitioned to BookEnds Literary in 2022 where she is an Associate Agent and Subsidiary Rights Manager, actively building her client list while simultaneously supporting the agency in Film/TV, Merchandise, and Audio. As a first-generation Jamaican American, Jenissa is passionate about increasing the BIPOC space in publishing and is always on the lookout for new underrepresented authors. She currently lives in New York, and when she’s not reading submissions, writing, or adding books to her "maybe one day I’ll read" pile, you will most likely find her binging reruns of her favorite shows, fiddling with her tarot decks, or stressing over her plant, Teddy.

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What was your path to becoming an agent? 

My path to becoming an agent started off as an intern at Writers House. When it ended, I applied for a full time position in the Subrights Department where I supported the agency in Film/TV, Theater, Merchandise, Permissions, and UK/Comm. After a year and a half, I realized how much I missed the querying, packaging, and editing side of publishing, then transitioned to BookEnds Literary Agency when I saw an opening for the dual role of Associate Agent and Subrights Manager.

When you are reading a submission, what makes you say YES, I have to rep this author?

It's what I call the "ooo" moment. When I'm reading a query, there's a part that literally makes my mouth drop and want to read more. That could be different: setting, plotline, retelling element, structure, etc.

When you represent an author, what can they expect from you? 

A partner. At the end of the day, this relationship will require compromise, trust, taking chances, and knowing someone is willing to go to bat for you should be of the utmost importance. Editorially, I take a more developmental approach to really break down arcs, plots, and worlds. 

What's on your manuscript wish list?

Right now, I'm actively seeking more Adult genre (SFF, Romcom, Psychological Thrillers) and Literary. I also represent MG and YA across the board, but I am more selective with those categories getting into the Fall season.

If you think your manuscript is a match for Jenissa, you can query her, starting September 15, at Submissions will be open for 30 days.