What are some trends you’ve noticed throughout 2014?

“Dystopian” is a genre that some say is a trend (The Hunger Games, Divergent, Gone). But I feel it is its own genre that is here to stay. The debate on that is open.

Also, regarding middle-grade books especially, the age-old adage of “Boys don’t read because there aren’t enough boy books,” and “We don’t want ‘boy books’ because enough boys don’t read,” is like the chicken-and-the-egg quandary. I represent several boy books, but editors seem reluctant to sign on to them, initially. Books like the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series is popular for boys, but how does an author break into that category? By writing something completely new and unique, such as Wonder (2012).

What are you anticipating for 2015?

Fantasy is superhot, but unfortunately, it is a genre I do not represent. (However, I’d say around 50 percent of the submissions I receive are for this genre.) I think coming-of-age books are the quickest sellers for me and what I gravitate toward, as well. I sold two books that I’d consider “coming-of-age” last year. One was about a wealthy Vietnamese girl in the 1970s who left her family and country, per her family’s urging, to come to America on a fishing trawler. She spent time in a refugee camp and overcame many harsh circumstances to find love and freedom. The second book was edgy realistic fiction dealing with one parent’s mental illness and trust issues with the other parent, who ended up in jail on child pornography charges. The protagonist must learn to let go, to trust and to find her own way in the world.

What book/genre/topic would you like to see cross your transom?

Realistic fiction is my favorite. I like coming-of-age stories where you can really see a character grow and evolve! The teen years, in a person’s life, are so exciting and difficult. That transition from kid to adult is full of emotions, struggles, good times and bad, just tons of feelings bubbling up to the surface. It’s thrilling to be able to feel like you, as a reader, are a part of someone’s life at that time.

What topic don’t you ever want to see again?

I don’t particularly care for vampires, personally.

What is unique about your corner of the industry?

I represent mainly middle-grade and young-adult literature. Young adult is so hot, as a market, with the trend of making books into movies. I saw a poster at my local Barnes & Noble that had approximately eight to 10 titles of books being made into movies. It’s pretty exciting! 

Anything else you’d like to add?

A note for authors: Books with new, fresh concepts are a rare treat but ones that succeed most often. If a writer has a new idea, or a fresh take on a traditional idea, get it down on paper, and get it out there in the marketplace! Don’t worry that you think it’s too “out there”: It might be just what readers need and are thirsting for. (A great example is a book called Every Day (2013) by David Levithan!)

Tina P. Schwartz is both an author and a literary agent. A Columbia College (Chicago) graduate with a marketing communications degree, she spent her early adult years in advertising, mainly in radio sales. After writing 10 books and helping several others get published, she turned to her true passion, selling manuscripts. In July 2012, she opened The Purcell Agency, LLC. You can find out more about her at www.ThePurcellAgency.com or www.tinaPschwartz.com.