What are some upcoming trends for the next year?
It’s so hard to tell what will work and what won’t. Of course agents and editors want something that is well-written and something they can connect to (as do readers, of course), but so many times it’s difficult to guess what the trends will be. I will say that diverse books are so important, and it’s wonderful to see more of them selling.
What book/genre/topic would you like to see cross your transom?
For YA, I would love a book like [Angie Thomas’] The Hate U Give. I read it right after it came out and felt inspired. It’s been seven months, and I still think about it on an almost daily basis. If it involves social issues or activist movements that are happening in our current day, I would love to see it. I’m also interested in either a high school or college novel that deals with sexual assault. Not the assault itself but the aftermath. Women are so often not believed, and they really have to fight to get justice. I advocate for survivors and would love to see a novel that shines a light on it and brings awareness to people.
For adult, I’m looking for a serial-killer book, especially [about] a serial killer who can maintain a “normal” life. The psychology of how a person can be seemingly normal and have such a dark secret is fascinating to me. If it could be found in an episode of Criminal Minds, then I’m here for it. I’d also love to see a novel like [Liane Moriarty’s] Big Little Lies that involves a murder, a mystery, but focuses so much on female relationships.
What topic don’t you ever want to see again?
No cancer books. I’m not entirely opposed to sick-lit, although I would be very particular in signing one. I would like to see the subject of organ donation explored. Or if a parent has a disease (that isn’t cancer), I’d like to see how that’s handled. But I don’t think I’d ever take on a cancer story unless there was something radically different about it.
What is unique about your corner of the publishing industry?
As an agent, everything is from the inception. You read a query and a first chapter, read a full manuscript, sign it, edit it quite a few times (if needed), go out on submission, and watch it become a book that ends up in stores. There’s something magical about knowing where something has begun and seeing where it ends up—how much hard work has gone into it from all sides.
Having grown up with the same name as her favorite Sweet Valley High twin, Jess Dallow has always had a love for books, especially those that feature well-developed, strong female characters. She is fascinated with complex characters (especially serial killers), stories that evoke a strong emotional reaction, and a book that she can’t put down no matter what time it is or what rerun of SVU is on. She has a bachelor’s degree in fine arts in writing for film and television from the University of the Arts and worked in entertainment for eight years before returning to her home state of New York, where she worked at a literary agency for two years before joining Brower Literary & Management.