We are not currently accepting submissions.

If we ask for a proposal or sample writing from your novel:

We generally expect a two-to-three week period of exclusivity when we ask for lengthier submissions, after which you can either submit your work elsewhere, or continue to work exclusively with us.

Suggested nonfiction proposal contents:

We appreciate proposals that contain expanded sections mirroring the things you have highlighted in your query letter: who you are, what your book idea is, why you are qualified to write this book, and why there is a market for the book. In addition, we need a clear positioning of your book vis a vis other similar books, a detailed table of contents and sample writing (at least one chapter).

We don’t accept telephone queries.

When we are open to submission, please email your queries to: [email protected].


JRB Books

Narrative nonfiction: Compelling tales of true events in history, science or adventure. Think Perfect Storm or Unbroken or The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. These are difficult books to write, requiring the skill of a novelist and the tenacity of a New Yorker fact-checker. But they can be great reads.

Commercial nonfiction: We represent exciting, fresh and responsible new ideas in the fields of business, health, psychology, inspiration, parenting, science, relationships, history and sociology.  Think On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes or Assassination Vacation.

Memoir: Only if it’s rare and wonderful. The bar is high—when it comes to a memoir, it’s more important to be a great writer than to have a great story, although of course the story matters.

Literary fiction: Our tastes lie solidly in what is now called the “literary commercial” category. We love novels that tell a great story—and give you something to think about when you close the book. As Jody recently said at the San Francisco Writers Conference, she’s looking for “books that make her think but don’t confuse her.”

Commercial fiction/historical fiction: We’re looking for big books—big plots, memorable characters and impossible-to-put-down page-turners. We don’t handle genre fiction (no romance, no boy books, no Westerns, no horror, no true crime). We’re somewhat open to mysteries and thrillers, and learning more about the category. Nothing too bloody; Jody has strong feelings about putting more violence out there in this world, even for art’s sake.

We occasionally partner with other agencies when our enthusiasm exceeds our expertise.

Exceptions: Jody’s sensibility is personal and quirky. We’re not actively seeking humor, for example, but she loved Bruce Cameron’s work and therefore took on 8 Simple Rules. If you truly have a fresh and qualified voice, a reachable market and the means to reach it, give us a try.


Notwithstanding the above, please do not send: poetry, romance, horror, children’s books, science fiction or fantasy.


1. Can an agent outside of New York be a good representative for me? There are good agents all over the country now; with technological communication so easy, the necessity of Being There has diminished considerably. But what is very important, in our view, is that your agent knows New York. Publishing is above all a very personal business, and it is crucial that your agent has met the players, and keeps up day-to-day on corporate changes, which are constant. Wherever your agent is, he or she should have either worked in New York publishing at some point, or been in the business long enough, and traveled there frequently enough, to be the true insider a good agent must be.

2. What makes you turn something down? Queries are initially screened out if they meet any of the “negative requirements” above; in other words, if they are blatantly inappropriate or unprofessional. Beyond that, Jody’s decisions are very personal. That is why she strongly advises you to keep trying—she takes on very few new clients, and only those she feels on an instinctive level (after those 4 legs of that table have been evaluated) will sell.

3. I sent a submission to an agent and nothing came back; what do I do?  Agents  can get between 10,000 and 20,000 emailed queries a year. Many go unanswered, especially if an agency list is full. You can, of course, write again if you haven’t heard in a few months—note in your letter that this is your second try just in case you are remembered. But if nothing happens to a blind query sent out to many people, take another look at your query. You may need to revamp. If the material you sent was requested, and it has been several weeks, we suggest you send a note to the agent telling him or her, politely, that you will be submitting the material to other agents as you have not heard back from that agent. We would also suggest that you let the deliquent agent know you would still be happy to hear from him or her—you don’t want to let a week or two get in the way of your finding representation!

4. Can I submit to several agents at once? Agents assume query letters are multiple submissions. Different agents feel differently about lengthier packages. At JRB, we do expect exclusivity on requested submissions for a short period of time. The important thing is that you find out whether the agent who wants to review the longer submission expects exclusivity or not; that way, you avoid any miscommunications and sticky situations.

5. Why can’t I call you? Phone calls, in Jody’s view, are generally a waste of both your time and hers, because if your book doesn’t fly on the page, she can’t sell it. She has to see how you express yourself on paper, because it is on paper that she will be selling your work to publishers.

6. What should a book proposal contain? We like to see the following sections: a 3 to 5 page Overview, a Review of Competitive and Comparable Books, an Assessment of the Market, an Author Biography including an up-to-date Platform (what is your current public profile? Your website, your speaking engagements, your social media presence?), a Detailed Table of Contents, and one or two Sample Chapters.

7. Do I need to write the whole book? If you are writing a novel, the answer is pretty much “yes.” While this is changing, most publishers still need to see an entire novel before making a publishing commitment.  Memoirs often need to be completed as well, although this can vary. You may be able to secure an agent with sample writing and a great synopsis, though.

8. What in the world is happening in publishing these days? The focus in major companies is definitely more on the Big Hit than on the slowly developing author. Yet, everyone in the business is here pretty much out of love for the written word; by and large, it is not and never will be a big money business—despite the stories you read about millionaire authors, these are few and far between. Nothing excites an agent or editor more than finding that gem—a fresh and wonderfully written book. What all this means to you is this: you must be more thorough and diligent than ever in researching and presenting your idea, fiction or nonfiction. But if you are, and if you are talented, there are agents out there who will want to represent you enthusiastically, and publishers who may well take a chance on your work.