What are some upcoming trends for the next year?
The market is speaking, and there is an obsession among readers—psychological suspense/thrillers. Gillian Flynn started it, and we are now seeing suspense from all angles coming out, such as The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond, J.T. Ellison’s Lie to Me, and one [by] my very own client, Kaira Rouda’s Best Day Ever. That heart-pounding, page-turning, might-need-to-peek-out-the-window, will-lose-sleep type of novel is what I’m finding to be in demand today. And it is even crossing over into the YA market as well. I am also seeing a trend in wartime stories.In today’s era, I guess it might just be more comforting to dive into someone else’s worries for moment.
What book/genre/topic would you like to see cross your transom?
I love books that present a strong hook from Page 1. Twisty plots. Flawed characters and voices of main characters that suggest self-awareness. I’m always looking for stories that connect to our current modern world—the current mood of today. I want real, raw emotion and in-depth narratives that tear at our heartstrings and keep our hearts pumping to the very end.
What topic don’t you ever want to see again?
I could never say one thing I would never want to see again. It all remains in the delivery of the storyline.
What is unique about your corner of the publishing industry?
I am looking for commercial projects. So I tend to look for stories that will present a universal approach—a mainstream outlook. In regard to the writing, it must be accessible—strong and beautiful but accessible. (I’m not a fan of dense writing.) And the overall message needs to be able to have a wide outreach to be able to cross over into different genre-readers. For instance, [titles in] a recent book deal of mine, Missing at 17, Pregnant at 17, and Murdered at 17 by Christine Conradt, are original Lifetime TV movies but now novelizations published by Harper Teen (Summer 2018). While our main focus is on teens, we all can agree that these books will clearly have crossover potential.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I want authors to be inspired by what they see in the market—not copy it. Great books come when the story feels natural on the page. If it’s not feeling natural, don’t fight it. The right story will come along. Keep your ideas flowing and always be open-ended.
I consider myself an agent of artists. I am here to guide you with my knowledge from my end of the literary business and believe in your work full-heartedly. Representing literary talent is a dream career—being there from the beginning is the most rewarding challenge. I feel exhilarated every day for the chance to discover new voices and powerful storylines that will make an impact [on] our human existence.
Katie Shea Boutillier joined the Donald Maass Literary Agency in 2011. She is the agency’s rights director while also focusing on her own client list of commercial fiction and young-adult. Katie is a cum laude graduate of Marist College. She lives in the Jersey suburbs with her husband, son, and daughter. She can be found on Twitter at @AgentShea. Check out her agency page for submission guidelines.