Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Jared Johnson of Olswanger Literary

Jared Johnson is a literary agent with Olswanger Literary.

Jared is a recovering academic. After several years of academic research in the humanities and teaching writing and history, he turned his efforts toward pursuing a career in publishing. In 2021 he joined Olswanger Literary as a Literary Associate.

Most of his time is spent reading good books, editing, and trying to claw his way out from under a mountain of emails. In his downtime, he can be found outdoors with his dogs, building a fantasy team for the Overwatch League, or playing Magic: The Gathering with his nephews.

“In addition to mystery and thriller, and sci-fi and fantasy, I am actively seeking upmarket fiction, particularly horror. I am also currently working on some historical fiction. In addition to fiction, I am also looking for trade nonfiction, especially books on popular cultural and academic topics.”

My manuscript wishlist:

  • I am interested in science fiction, fantasy (high, historical, or contemporary), magical realism and speculative fiction, mystery, and thriller. I’m also hoping to add some thought-provoking upmarket horror to my list.
  • In nonfiction, I am looking for narrative-driven books, and I am drawn to accessible scholarship that engages with current social issues. In particular, I am interested in works that challenge long-held cultural narratives.
  • With both, I am actively searching for writers who identify as being from marginalized communities.

What I like:

“In fiction, I love encountering new, vibrant worlds that feel like they extend beyond the borders of the page. I am drawn into a story by parent/child relationships, themes of reconciliation and redemption, strong non-romance relationships (especially where you would expect romance), and misunderstood rivals. Really, I am taken in by stories that push characters to find out who they are in relation to themselves and to one another. Also heists… I want to read all the heists.

​”In nonfiction, I love books that address the origins of cultural values, especially in matters of race, religion, and language. I am always on the search for books that call into question cultural myths or the continuity of ideas. I want to read works that make me view an old concept in a new way. More recently, I find myself being drawn strongly to narratives about people who have caused a positive impact or left a positive legacy in the world or their community.”

What I don’t want:

“While I love reading YA, I do not represent it. I would love to include it in my list, but I don’t have infinite free time, and there are other agents who will be much better champions of your YA works. (This also includes NA and MG.)

​”Scripts, poetry collections, and cookbooks. While I think they’re each wonderful forms of writing, I would have no idea what to do with them.

“Stories centered around sexual violence. I will very seldom respond favorably to stories that incorporate rape or sexual assault into narratives, especially if those sorts of inclusions are simply meant to “heighten the stakes” or show how villainous an individual is.

​”Fiction that employs violence against women characters for the sake of moving a plot or to propel male character arcs. (Looking at you, Wheel of Time adaptation.)

​”Fiction that tokenizes marginalized characters.

​”Nonfiction that sides with neo-conservative or alt-right viewpoints.

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