L to R: Adriana Dominguez, Molly O'Neill,
Beth Phelan, Jennifer Rofé and
Literary agents Adriana Dominguez, Jennifer Rofé, and Alex Slater started out discussing trends (what is popular in a given timeframe), evergreens (universal, timeless feel) and how to sell your book in today's market. Jen cited Merci Suarez Changes Gears as an evergreen book with its focus on a child claiming agency and changing family dynamics.
Concerning trends, Jen warned that "you have to be careful with trends because you'll never catch one. Those deals, those books were sold years and years before they come out on the market."
Alex shared that he recently sold a middle grade horror novel, but he knows that by the time he tries to do another one the trend will be elsewhere.
When asked about nonfiction, the panel offered a number of noteworthy responses.
Adriana says she is not a trend chaser and sees nonfiction is an evergreen. The subject, the way the story is told is more important. We're in a moment of reckoning in the country. Fresh perspectives get us looking at things in new ways. There's less resistance now to stories about people and events that have not been as well known compared to five or six years ago.
Alex responded to the question about diverse books and how they "unearth little known points of history" is a privileged view. He attended the SCBWI OK conference this spring and learned about Tulsa Race Massacre. There are many stories that people know and have been impacted by these events, so there needs to be a focus on these stories.
Jen shared that We Need Diverse Books is less a movement, but a correction. It's what should have always been happening.
Adriana said that some of us (agents) have always been focused on this and the numbers are increasing. But it's still so small compared to books being published with characters who are animals and inanimate objects. She does feel that editors are doing better at listening to diverse authors and illustrators as they bring their stories and art to books.
The agents also offered stories of how they help manage their clients' work and when it's best to submit. As business partners with creators, they are committed to helping the creators best position themselves in the market.
For more information about Adriana, visit her website and follow her on Twitter.
To find out more about Jen Rofé, head over to her agency website or Twitter.
Learn about Alex by visiting his website and Twitter.