SCBWI Exclusive with... Jennie Kendrick, Agent. Red Fox Literary

Jennie Kendrick has been reading since she was three, is a former criminal defense attorney, and will forever be a history nerd. She has worked in the publishing industry since 2013, including reviewing for publications such as Kirkus, and part-time bookselling at a local independent bookstore. Jennie’s passions include gardening, law, politics, the criminal justice system, art, tarot, rock music, San Francisco history, and cooking. She loves well-researched character-driven fiction, narrative non-fiction, and is particularly looking for works from marginalized creators. You can find more about her taste at


What was your path to becoming an agent?

I went to law school and practiced criminal defense law for several years. At the same time, I was writing YA book/TV/film reviews for a popular blog (Forever Young Adult) and Kirkus in my free time, which took me to Book Expo and plenty of industry introductions. I also ran the San Francisco chapter of the international Forever Young Adult book club for 10 years.

When the effects of the 2008 recession made it difficult to find steady legal work, I moved into marketing, copywriting, and bookselling. I had no idea that this would lead to becoming an agent, but I use each of these skills and networks to support this work every day!

When you read a submission, what makes you offer representation?

It’s got to be the perfect storm: I need to love the manuscript enough to want to read it 20 times, I need to be confident that I can sell it (or at least that there’s nothing else out there quite like it), and I need to feel like the author/illustrator and I have similar realistic goals and expectations. 

Ultimately, however, I always go with my gut—and that’s led me to books that I never would have guessed I’d represent and sell when I first started out.

When an author signs with you, what can they expect?

I believe an agent’s primary duty is to be an advocate, whether that’s through editing and polishing manuscripts, negotiating for the best terms we can realistically get, making sure clients get paid, handling awkward conversations on their behalf, or being a cheerleader when things are tough. My fantastic Red Fox colleagues are an incredible source of collective knowledge and support, which in turn helps me support my clients.

My ultimate goal, however, is to be as transparent and collaborative as possible. I want my clients to have a say in how we approach their careers, ask questions, and have records of submissions and negotiations.

What's on your manuscript wish list?

This changes based on what the market currently supports. In YA/MG, I love mysteries, thrillers, paranormal (firmly grounded in the real world), and romance. In PB, I am especially looking for innovative approaches and subject matter. When it comes to illustrators, I’d love to work with someone who has a kid-friendly midcentury modern or spooky-but-cute style. Finally, I am always looking for children’s work from marginalized authors/illustrators.

My three favorite movies from 2023 were Saltburn, American Fiction, and Barbie, if that tells you anything about the kind of storytelling that I obsess over. Outside of kidlit, I also devour historical romance like Martha Waters’ and Virginia Heath’s books, anything Tana French and Susanna Kearsley write, and the Maisie Dobbs mystery series. I’d love to find comparable children’s manuscripts!

Jennie is open to SCBWI queries in JULY 2024