Name: Jess K Hardy
What you Write: Romance (contemporary and SFF)
Agent: Kim Lionetti
Why BookEnds? BookEnds has a fantastic reputation, and Kim completely won me over with her excitement about my book as well as her editorial expertise.
What book do you wish you had written, and why? Sinner by Sierra Simone. To me it is the perfect mixture of steam and sweet, and Sierra Simone’s prose is insultingly good. I am a lifetime member of the Bells-only Book Club.
If you’re not reading or writing, what would we catch you doing? Mostly working, unfortunately. I work a lot. Otherwise I’m playing Street Fighter with my husband and son, hiking, camping, skiing, singing along to Orville Peck in my kitchen, or taking a bath while watching bad TV on my laptop which I have perched precariously on the edge of the tub.
Where can readers find you on the web and social media? My website is jesskhardy.com. I’m also on Twitter, Facebook, and Insta. My son won’t let me anywhere near TikTok.
What’s the last book you read? I read a lot, like most authors do, so I have a few. My most recent read (and I’m unforgivably late to this party) was The Hating Game by Sally Thorne. I immediately re-read it and will likely obsess over it for months. Before that I read This Is How You Lose The Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. I loved the creativity and unique structure of this story. Before that I read The Intimacy Experiment by Rosie Danan. I would commit murder for Naomi Grant. I highly recommend all of these books.
If money were no object, what would be your dream writing location? At a hot springs in Iceland that I own with my family. Here I will write while we’ll serve breakfast all day from a swim up restaurant we will call Toasty Soaks.
What’s your favorite quote about reading or writing? This is a quote attributed to Mark Twain, and I will present it as such with the caveat that this is likely something Mark Twain never actually said. However, I can’t spell and this quote has always resonated with me: “Anyone who can only think of one way to spell a word obviously lacks imagination.” I keep this quote in my back pocket at all times.
What’s your favorite piece of writing advice you’ve received? The best advice on writing I’ve ever heard is to leave your book a lone for a bit after you’ve typed ‘the end’ on your first draft. This is also advice I have never once followed.
What advice would you give to other authors in the query trenches? There are probably many writers who feel differently, but I was not a fan of querying. I’m impatient and have feeble willpower, character traits which predispose me to alarming email refreshing habits when I’m waiting for news. I’ve queried five books and racked up hundreds of rejections. Each one hurt. My advice to other authors is that it’s perfectly fine to not like querying. It’s perfectly fine to cry or scream obscenities at your rejections, or even print them out to burn them or use them as a dart board. It’s okay to disagree with opinions about your book. It’s okay to keep loving your book even if it seems like nobody else does. It’s all okay. The only thing that ever helped me deal with querying one story was falling in love with another. So my ultimate advice is to just keep writing.
What was the most important question you asked when interviewing agents? I was so shocked agents wanted to talk to me at all that I came completely unprepared to each conversation. I think I was googling “questions to ask a literary agent” while I was on the phone. Don’t do what I did.
How did you know your book was ready to submit? I have a wonderful crew of critique partners and beta readers. Once they tell me a story is ready, I start querying. It takes a village to query a book successfully, and I have a phenomenal village. I am immensely grateful for them.