What are some upcoming trends for the next year?
Honestly, I think it’s a mistake to pay a lot of attention to trends. They’re too fleeting. By the time you finish writing the final line of a book that seems perfect for the current market, the publishers’ schedules are already saturated with books just like it.
At the end of the day, I just want an un-put-down-able read. That’s always trendy.
What book/genre/topic would you like to see cross your transom?
I’m probably most hungry for women’s fiction right now. I’d love to find something with the complexity and darkness of Liane Moriarty, but I also enjoy more romantic storylines like Jojo Moyes. If it’s set at the beach or a rocky coastline, all the better. I’d be thrilled to find the next Elin Hilderbrand.
To get even more specific, I’d love to see more women’s fiction and contemporary young-adult novels (á la Cammie McGovern) featuring characters and their families and friends dealing with physical and/or developmental challenges. My son is on the autism spectrum, so I’m naturally pulled toward books that authentically portray what that family life is like. Too often, these stories are either whitewashed or grimly overdramatized.
There’s a sitcom premiering this fall titled Speechless, about a family dealing with the ups and downs of having a teenager with special needs (in his case, cerebral palsy). I’ve only seen the trailer thus far, but it’s motivated me to find a book that similarly depicts the humor that comes out of these unique situations as well as the heartache.
What topic don’t you ever want to see again?
I’ve said this a lot, but I’m sick to death of women’s fiction that opens with a cheating husband. I think the betrayed-wife-whose-journey-to-self-discovery-begins-with-divorce story just isn’t all that interesting. Frankly, I’m a little turned off by man-hating angst in women’s fiction, period.
What is unique about your corner of the publishing industry?
I spent the first part of my career on the other side of the industry as an editor at Berkley Publishing. I learned so much there, and as a result I’m a very hands-on agent. I love to brainstorm with my clients and help them shape their work to its very best potential. And when we’re finished, I still get as giddy with excitement as I did when I started in this industry 20 years ago.
Anything else you’d like to add?
My best advice is “know your audience.” I think it’s important to always keep your reader in mind while you’re writing. Don’t write in a bubble. What will keep him/her turning the pages?
Go to the bookstore and read as much as you can. Not so that you can copy trends but to identify whom you’re writing to. Be able to answer: “Fans of ____ would also enjoy my work.” That’s something I ask in every pitch.
After eight years at Berkley Publishing, Kim Lionetti left her position as senior editor to join BookEnds Literary Agency in March 2004. A member of the Association of Authors’ Representatives, she is looking for fresh voices and compelling storytelling, particularly in women’s fiction, historical and contemporary romance, and young-adult fiction (except fantasy or sci-fi). Originally from Pennsylvania, she currently resides in New Jersey with her son, daughter, cat, and very patient husband, who puts up with her crushes on Mr. Darcy, Eric Northman, and Ryan Gosling.