Jeff Kleinman

Folio Literary Management

My Manuscript Wish List

About Me:
I’m on the hunt: I want projects that can make a difference. I love unique voices, magnificently strong characters, unusual premises, and books that offer up some new perspective on something I thought I already knew something about (like Alaskan exploration) or never even dreamed existed (a racecar-loving dog, for instance). I’m always interested in learning (I spent a lot of time in the classroom, with a B.A. in English / 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. Yeah, that was definitely enough schooling for anybody), and I love it when someone can teach me something organically so it doesn’t feel like I’m even learning.

While I’m hunting for that next amazing book, I’m also a founding partner at Folio, a Manhattan-based agency – we pride ourselves on nurturing new talent and developing a strong, supportive, professional relationship with our clients. (You won’t get shunted off to an assistant, for instance.)

Types of Projects I'm on the Lookout For:
* Books that make a difference. I really love books that make me realize something new about the world, or myself – books that will change me for the better. Maybe they celebrate some aspect of life, or inspire the reader to try harder. This doesn’t mean “inspirational books” (which tend to have a more religious slant, and would be better suited to other agents at Folio) as much as inspiring books – I like well-written, solid stories that charm me to try to do better and be a better person.

* Books with a distinctive, special voice. (Not sure what I mean? Pick up The Art of Racing in the Rain today!)

* 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 that don’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 psychological suspense stories with unique concepts and really strong writing.

* Escape stories that take us totally out of our world and into another – for instance, The Snow Child, set in the far reaches of 1920s Alaska. (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.

* 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.

For a peek at what agents look for:
Here is a video from a talk that Folio agents Erin Harris, Dado Derviskadic and I gave at Columbia University's Fiction Foundry.

I’m not looking for:
* Children’s, middle grade, young adult.
* Christian.
* Prescriptive (“how to”) travel books.
* Genre commercial fiction (science fiction and/or fantasy, westerns, mysteries, and/or romances).
* Poetry
* Plays, teleplays, or screenplays.
* Novels less than 60,000 words.
* Books on serial killers, children in peril (kidnapped, murdered, victimized, and so forth), or books 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.
* Books that deal, positively or negatively, with the present political climate - this includes fiction and nonfiction.

Podcast Series:
I was  part of a  podcast series which is a partnership between Folio and the Salt Cay Writers Retreat. Really cool interviews, including my chance to interview Lee Child, bestselling author of the Jack Reacher Series. Sign up and listen here.

To sum up:
A great story can allow you to enter other people’s thoughts and lives – and, when you close the book with a sigh, transform you: maybe you’re a little more grateful, or a little kinder, or a little wiser. I love books that inspire me to become better, smarter, more present. This has been the case with many of the books I’ve represented, and it’s something I seek in new projects. I believe strongly that books can make a difference. Good writing and smart ideas can change our world.

Submission Guidelines

Submissions should be emailed to

Please Note: I won't be accepting any unsolicited queries until May 2018. Until then, I'll just be deleting them unread.

If you're writing me from Manuscript Wish List, use the above email address ONLY (you'll find other email addresses floating around the web). In your subject line, make it clear this is a submission from Manuscript Wish List. Like everybody else these days, I'm besieged with spam and junk email - a lot of which I delete unopened, or it gets sucked into the spam filter without me even seeing it first. I don't want to delete your email by mistake, so try to make it clear that you're contacting me requesting that I review your project.

Please email your cover letter and paste in the first page or so of your material at the bottom of the letter (no attachments, please). Let's repeat that again: first page of your manuscript. Not a synopsis. First page. Please.

I generally try to respond to all my email within 1 minute to a couple of weeks, so if you haven't heard from me within a couple of weeks, please send a follow-up email.

Guidelines & Details


Upcoming Events:

Vital Info

Fiction: Action/Adventure, Commercial, Family Saga, General, Historical, Humor, LGBTQ, Literary, Military, New Adult, Thriller, Women’s Fiction
Non-Fiction: Biography, History, Humor, Journalism, LGBTQ, Memoir, Pop Culture, Psychology, Science, True Crime

Favorite sub-genres: Domestic Suspense, Humor, Magical Realism, Multicultural, Multiple POV, Narrative Nonfiction, Neo-Victorian, Noir, Pop Psychology, Psychological Thrillers, Romantic Suspense, Social Issues, Soft Fantasy, Speculative Fiction, Steampunk, Suspense, Upmarket Women's Fiction, WWI, WWII, upmarket genre fiction
I'd like the next...

The Paris Wife or The Widow of the South.

I have several book ideas - mostly novels - that I'd love to find writers for. That said, everything for me depends on voice. So if you have a distinctive, smooth, upmarket commercial / literary voice, AND have the expertise I'm looking for, please reach out.

When you reach out, please provide (either in the body of the email or as a Word/PDF attachment):
- A single page of sample writing that showcases your voice, ability to write dialogue, and ability to create believable characters;
- A brief bio (resume or paragraph description) showcasing your expertise in the area.

Book Ideas Looking For Writers:

  • Novel for someone with an art history background, with expertise ideally in the 19th Century and Europe;
  • Novel for someone with a U.S. Civil War background.

My favorites include...

Here are some of the books I've recently represented which are being published in 2017:

Check them out - they're wonderful reads, and will definitely give you a sense of the kind of book I gravitate towards.

My Upcoming Events:

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