What are some upcoming trends for the next year?
Since I do a lot of work in the romance industry, I’ll focus on that market. Right now, contemporary romance (vs. paranormal or historical) is in demand, and I see that continuing. Classic tropes like billionaires, everyday heroes, and Fifty Shades spinoffs are still popular. The new-adult subgenre is shrinking, but I believe women’s fiction—commercial books that address a woman’s whole life more completely—will become more prevalent in the romance industry. In regards to microtrends, I think dark, brooding romance will remain popular, but comedy and lighter stories are also on the rise, as is romantic suspense. Readers seek relatable heroines that are easy to love and “alpha” heroes who take care of the heroine but also allow her to follow her own dreams. In my job, I see a lot of happily-ever-afters, and I hope that never ends!
What book/genre/topic would you like to see cross your transom?
Currently, I am looking for books in the romance, women’s-fiction, commercial-fiction and young-adult genres. I would love to see more multicultural stories. I love diving into something I’ve never known about before or I thought didn’t interest me before. Knights of the Hill Country by Tim Tharp is a great example. I had to convince several editors to take a look because they thought they were not interested in football. However, the book went to auction because everyone fell in love. This is certainly not exclusive, but some topics that I’d like to see include books about interior decorating, hairdressing, musical themes, cheerleading, the college Greek system, any type of sports, teen pregnancy, and anything to do with the military.
What topic don’t you ever want to see again?
I really can’t think of any topic I’d want to avoid. In the right hands, absolutely any topic or theme can become a gripping page-turner. For me, voice is the most important element of a story, and I am always looking for unique, arresting characters.
What’s unique about your corner of the publishing industry?
What I love about working in the romance and young-adult industries are the strong communities that develop between authors. It is really amazing to witness the network and encouragement the authors offer each other, support that often translates into serious assistance in launching new careers. The book industry is strongest when we stand together, not compete with each other, and it is exciting to see that the romance community really understands that.
Anything else you’d like to add?
One of the trends that is definitely going to continue is the rise of digital reading. I suggest that authors don’t see digital as second-best but rather seek out publishers who see the digital sphere as absolutely essential to success and target their programs toward that sphere. I’d like to see authors and publishers use the flexibility that the digital format provides to their advantage to reach more readers. Be flexible with pricing, try new formats, and most of all, continue to insist on the strongest, most well-crafted stories possible.
Emily Sylvan Kim is the president of Prospect Agency. She represents such New York Times bestselling authors as Tracy Wolff, Kristen Ashley, Ruthie Knox, and Claudia Connor. Her clients have been National Book Award finalists, Junior Library Guild selections, and Target Emerging Authors and are beloved by fans all around the world. Emily started her career at the literary agency Writers House and founded Prospect Agency in 2005. Since that time, the agency has grown to include six agents and represents genres ranging from picture books to romance.