What are some upcoming trends for the next year?
For children’s, there is definitely a demand for books featuring diversity, whether it’s in terms of race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. But what seems to be different from the past is that those books no longer need to be about diversity. The protagonist’s ethnicity or sexual identity can be secondary to the plot. I’m also still seeing a strong demand for middle-grade and YA fantasy, perhaps in part because of the continued success of Leigh Bardugo and her latest, Six of Crows, as well as Sarah J. Maas and Queen of Shadows. Last spring, I sold a debut middle-grade fantasy series at auction that we’re all really excited about, beginning with Ruth Lauren’s Prisoner of Ice and Stone, that is set to launch in spring 2017.
On the adult side, I think that the success of The Martian is renewing interest in sci-fi, and I think elevated thrillers will remain strong for a while. I also think that this is the year of funny women. I hope that Amy Schumer’s recent book sale and the success of Jenny Lawson’s Furiously Happy will pave the way for more books by female humorists.
What book/genre/topic would you like to see cross your transom?
I’m always on the lookout for books that tackle complex issues having to do with relationships and family. I recently sold a novel, Kim Hooper’s People Who Knew Me, that explores the responsibilities and guilt that come along with caring for a sick parent and a memoir, Jennifer Noonan’s No Map to This Country, about a mother’s journey into the latest science and treatments to help her kids with autism. I would love to see some parenting titles—they’re a personal obsession of mine. And I’m always on the lookout for any book that looks at the world in a new and unique way.
For children’s, I would love to see more fantasy, both for YA and middle-grade. For middle-grade, I would also welcome funny adventure novels or heartbreaking contemporaries—either end of the spectrum would be great.
What topic don’t you ever want to see again?
I actually have a tough time answering this question. I think anything done in the right way can be compelling. I have such a wide range of interests and I’m constantly surprised by what I’m drawn to. What I can say, though, is that it is next to impossible to sell anything dystopian or apocalyptic these days unless the author is able to transcend the genre.
What’s unique about your corner of the publishing industry?
I represent a wide range of genres—Julie Sondra Decker’s Lambda-nominated The Invisible Orientation, Sarah Beth Durst’s middle-grade The Girl Who Could Not Dream, Alison Bliss’ funny, sexy romances in the Tangled in Texas series, Chelsea Bobulski’s atmospheric and haunting YA The Wood, and humor books by Kathryn and Ross Petras are just a sampling of some of my recent titles. I think my list is unique in its diversity—something that I’ve consciously cultivated, both for my benefit and that of my clients. Many of my authors wish to write in a variety of genres and, fortunately, I am able to guide them in whatever path they choose to pursue.
Andrea Somberg has been a literary agent for more than 15 years, representing a wide range of fiction and nonfiction for the adult and children’s markets. Previously an agent at the Donald Maass Literary Agency and Vigliano Associates, she joined Harvey Klinger, Inc. in spring 2005. She teaches courses for Mediabistro and Writer’s Digest, and her clients’ books have been New York Times and USA Today bestsellers as well as nominated for The Governor General’s Award, the Lambda Award, and the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award.