What are some upcoming trends for the next year?
I think novels with unorthodox narrative structures and unusual characters will continue to rise in popularity. Think the creepy unfurling of events from the unreliable narrator in The Girl on the Train, the sinister and yet hilarious frenemy in Luckiest Girl Alive, and the fragile and bizarrely absurd characters in The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty.
I think indie publishing is facing stagnation as readers are continuously inundated with an unprecedented amount of self-published material. It is becoming increasingly difficult for debut indie writers to break out simply because of discoverability. Writers are now challenged not only with producing gripping, memorable books, but also with creating professional covers, well-edited, polished material, and robust marketing and publicity plans.
I do think the hybrid model will continue to be effective for many authors who are able to utilize both the tools and expertise of traditional publishing and flexibility and creativity of indie publishing.
What book/genre/topic would you like to see cross your transom?
I love books set in the South. I love the beach. I love strong heroines, smart men, and people with relatable problems.
Cristina Nehring’s A Vindication of Love is a really unorthodox look at modern romance and the emotional angst of passion in society. I don’t personally agree with the majority of her arguments, but this book is ripe with inspiration: love stories that are complicated and messy and passionate and obsessive and dark and tumultuous and don’t always have happy endings (but sometimes can!).
I also would love to see more racial, gender, and sexuality diversity in submissions.
What topic don’t you ever want to see again?
I am not into serial killers. Witches, warlocks, demons, and their supernatural friends generally don’t do it for me, unless your book is the equivalent of Harry Potter. (I love Harry Potter.)
What’s unique about your corner of the publishing industry?
My experience in traditional publishing allows me to bring an unusually transparent perspective to my clients—I know what’s going on at editorial board meetings, how P&Ls [profits and losses] are run, what your editor is thinking about all these questions, what to expect from the publicity and marketing departments, what your publisher really thinks of your sales, and more.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I sincerely, fervently enjoy reading queries, and I request a lot of manuscripts; often, it’s the story or concept that speaks to me, but I’m also drawn to queries that reference other writers that I like (in a way that makes sense). If you follow me on Twitter (@mackenzie_b), you’ll get a good idea of what I like both professionally and personally. If you connect with something about me, send me a query. And I promise I’ll read that query start to finish!
Mackenzie Fraser-Bub is an agent at Howard Morhaim Literary Agency. Her interests are wide-ranging and include women’s fiction, fiction, romance, new adult, memoir, cooking, sci-fi, and lifestyle, and she is seeking new clients in all areas.