acquiring LGBTQ-themed books, while Europe is still not as
on board. And we’re excited to have something for everyone.
We’re seeing what’s happening in the news trickling down to
YA and also noticing hard issues that would normally be in YA
getting tackled in middle grade. It will be interesting to see
how these issues that are such sensitive topics here in the U.S.
fare in the global market. We’re also having more conversations
than ever before about our picture book list—both backlist and
frontlist—which is exciting.
Happily, I’m continuing to sell picture
books. Many editors are still asking for
the smart, funny Klassen-esque story,
as they were last year. Chapter books
seem to be in a bit of a rut. Is there
still room for a sweet tale well told at
this level, or do they all have to be a bit
shouty? In fiction, the sick-lit wave has
passed. I’m getting asked for magical realism—something I
think few writers can actually carry off well. And indeed, I get
sent a lot of things that are called magical realism that are just
good old low fantasy. I’m excited about the commitment to
diversity and diverse voices. I do hope that this is a fundamental
change, not a passing trend.
On the YA side, I’m seeing a lot of fantasy that feels very accessible to readers
who are not dedicated to fantasy. The
setting is similar to somewhere on our
planet (like China, or Scotland, or
Mexico), usually with a female lead. I’ve
also seen an increase in leads who are not
straight white teenagers, which is heartening. On the middle
grade side, I’ve seen—and sold—more books that have a family
or sibling story at their hearts. I’ve also seen a bit more middle
grade fantasy and science fiction than in previous years.
Globally, I’m seeing a lot more interest in YA fantasy. I’ve
also had some good contemporary YA sell recently. And there
are a couple of territories that have asked about dystopia, which
is interesting, but there’s not a huge demand for it like there
was five years ago. Spanish-language sales are recovering, which
Ink Well Management
There’s definitely a move towards
more diverse stories and authors. The
exciting trend for me is that publishers are actively acquiring debut
authors from around the world, rather
than just thinking locally. Teenagers are
politically engaged and understand that the world is intercon-nected, and fortunately authors no longer have to be local to
generate a following. The best literary YA or middle grade can
come from anywhere in the world, and initiatives such as the
new Simon & Schuster imprint Salaam are a great step forward.
I’m also seeing some wonderful magical realism in both YA and
middle grade that will work well in global markets.
Last year was groundbreaking for the graphic novel. Noelle
Stevenson, Brooke Allen, and their cocreators won two Eisner
Awards for their popular Lumberjanes series, and Stevenson was
the youngest finalist for the National Book Award for Nimona.
Graphic novels won Caldecott, Printz, and Newbery Honors.
And the current National Ambassador for Young People’s
Literature is Gene Luen Yang, an acclaimed cartoonist. It’s a
good time for sequential storytellers and their readers—you
have more choices, more variety of stories than ever before.
Greenhouse Literary Agency
In YA, I’m seeing a ton of fantasy, but the
bar is set high, with so much already
published (and some big bestsellers),
though there still seem to be deals to
be done if the writing, the hook, is different and wonderful enough. And real
world meets magic/fantasy—the two
combining in some way—still has scope.
Also, anything with diverse characters, cultures, backgrounds,
or by diverse authors is hugely interesting. Generally, YA feels
quite tough, and other agents have said the same. We’re all
wondering what the next big thing is and trying to find those
special manuscripts that sliver between the cracks of the vast
amount already out there.
I seem to be seeing more that feels fresh and different in MG,
though it doesn’t always cross cultures—again, with some
touch of diversity, authors from different backgrounds. I’m
doing well with layered stories that have great voice and charm,
but also deeper meaning. I think there’s also a good market for
We’re seeing what’s happening in the news trickling down to YA,
and also noticing hard issues that would normally be in YA getting
tackled in MG. —Szilvia Molnar, Sterling Lord Literistic