Sunday, February 4, 2018

Agent Panel: Molly O'Neill

Molly O'Neill is an agent with Root Literary (founded last year by veteran agent Holly Root). She's been in the publishing industry for the past fifteen years in various roles like marketing and editing. She represents authors and illustrators from picture book to YA. The Root agency is very future focused as a new agency and excited to build longterm careers for their clients.

Lin asks the panel, "How's business?' Are they noticing any changes or do they want the audience to be aware of anything? For Molly, business is booming. She's got a lot of debut clients and is at the early point of their careers. YA is a bit tricky, it may be going into a new incarnation, what's the next Hunger Games, that isn't the Hunger games at all but something groundbreaking and new.

Molly's assistant Captain von Smooch
There's probably a lot less trilogies happening as deals right now, publishers are being more cautious across the business.

Middle grade is a tremendously exciting place right now. WONDER for example is still doing amazing things. These are books that aren't just in library markets, but finding their way into bestseller lists and movies. Maybe not the same crossover to adults as YA, but bigger audiences than previously for the markets. The interplay of text and art in middle grade is a big thing. Innovative picture book formats and styles, too, are things publishers are interested in.

Teenagers are comfortable being in a place of grappling with hard questions in a way that earlier generations had more black and white/right and wrong ideals in their lives and in the books available to them. Molly reminds us of those tv afterschool specials. Readers today are looking to recognize the same questions they are struggling with in a book they want to read, and seeing how a character does or does not deal with that question. They don't want to be told what to think, they want to be respected, so portray sensitive social issues in your books authentically.

To see Molly's submission policy, see her website here.

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