What are some upcoming trends for the next year?

Although it is good to be aware of trends, it is also important not to give them too much weight. When I’m considering new clients, I’m looking for unique voices that contribute something new to a genre. Someone who takes, for example, literary mystery or upmarket women’s fiction and writes in that lane but in a way that I have not read before. If I must pinpoint a trend, there seems to be an elevated interested in genre fiction that has a more literary bent. Readers who haven’t traditionally read mystery or science fiction are discovering the appeal of thought-provoking themes, engaging characters, and vivid prose, while still being pulled through the pages by an unpredictable, genre-based plot—books such as Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven or Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series are great examples. Overall, I do think it is valuable to pay attention to market saturation and to be mindful of major trends coming to an end, but there is almost always a home for top-notch work.

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

In addition to a page-turning plot and emotionally engaging characters, I’m always looking for a strong sense of place. I want to learn something new when I read. So whether the book has scenes in a Hitler Youth academy, like in Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See, or dives into the state of mental health care in the 1930s, like in Mimi Baird’s He Wanted the Moon, or takes the reader on a chase through the freezing cold Minnesota winter, like in Allen Eskens’ The Life We Bury, I want to feel like I have been there and experienced that time or place.

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

I think the quality of a book is measured by how it is written much more than what it is written about, so this question is tough to answer. I will say that I am really selective about memoir and always look for three solid components—an interesting backdrop where readers feel they have experienced or learned something new about a culture or environment, an emotional connection to the author’s personal story, and a universal truth that readers can relate to their own lives. That’s the magic. Too often I see memoir submissions that are a linear retelling of the author’s personal story without the other components—that just doesn’t work for me.

What’s unique about your corner of the publishing industry?

I am so fortunate to be able to read a wide variety of projects every week and have the luxury of working on the manuscripts that I am really passionate about. Although I understand the challenges that many new authors are up against when breaking into book publishing, I can honestly say that I am always on the lookout for a new voice. Having a hand in bringing these new voices to the world (and helping authors achieve their, often, lifelong dreams) is exhilarating and rewarding.

Amy Cloughley is a literary agent with Kimberley Cameron & Associates. She worked in editorial and marketing roles in magazine publishing and corporate business before shifting her professional focus to her lifelong love of books. She also coaches writers via a Writer’s Digest course designed to help authors craft and strengthen their submission materials. She leverages her background in both words and business to benefit her clients and is actively building her client list with adult fiction and narrative nonfiction.