Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Olga Filina of 5 Otter Literary

Olga Filina is a Literary Agent and Partner at 5 Otter Literary.

Olga brings over twenty years of book industry experience to her work as an agent. From bookseller and buyer at national and independent bookstore chains, to director of literary festivals, library board member, publishing consultant, independent editor, book reviewer, and founding member of the Professional Association of Canadian Literary Agents (PACLA), she has the specialized knowledge to find the best direction for her clients’ work.

She is currently looking for narrative and prescriptive non-fiction projects across all categories: literary and book club fiction, historical fiction, crime, mystery, suspense, and memoir with exceptional writing, focusing on underrepresented voices. In the children’s space, she is looking for middle grade fiction with memorable characters, contemporary YA, and nonfiction across all categories.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Laurel Symonds of The Bent Agency

Laurel Symonds is a literary agent with The Bent Agency.

“I began my publishing career in the editorial department of HarperCollins Children’s Books, where I worked with a number of award-winning and bestselling authors. I’ve also worked in the marketing department at a small publishing house, in a library, and as a bookseller at one of the nation’s best independent bookstores. What I love most about being an agent is being the author’s advocate through all the parts of the publication process.

“I represent young adult and middle-grade fiction, and I have a special interest in contemporary, historical fiction, and genre-blending fantasy. I look for engaging voices, commercial hooks, and immersive worlds. My YA tastes are pretty commercial but my middle-grade tastes can skew more literary, and I’m especially interested in middle-grade that might lend itself to illustration.

“I also represent picture books, graphic novels, and other illustrated work, and I am open to new clients who are both authors and illustrators. My tastes are diverse, ranging from sophisticated to quirky to gently humorous. I especially appreciate a smart use of color and perspective.

“Additionally, I represent select nonfiction for children and young adults, especially projects about STEM or history with age-appropriate hooks and series potential.

“In every category, I’m particularly seeking voices that have previously been underrepresented and stories that have been overlooked.

“On a personal note, when I’m not reading, I enjoy baking, hiking, and spending time with my dog, Sherlock. Raised in rural New England and having spent a decade in New York City, London, and Chicago, I’m thrilled to have settled in the Pacific Northwest.”

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Maria Napolitano of Book Case Literary Agency

Maria Napolitano is a literary agent with Book Case Literary Agency.

Maria is currently open to queries for adult fiction, especially commercial to upmarket women’s fiction, rom-coms, and suspense & thriller. Strong characters, especially women and underrepresented voices, and high-concept projects that beg to be read in a single sitting catch her attention best. She is also looking for select nonfiction: memoir/essay from a unique and immersive perspective; inclusive, wide-angle health and life advice from experts in their field; pop science (not pop culture) and narrative nonfiction that answers questions she didn’t know she had about things she didn’t know she cared about.

She is not looking for politics, religion, poetry, cookbooks, or diet books.

Maria comes to Bookcase from literary scouting, where she fell in love with the process of matchmaking books with just the right editors and publishers around the world. Her free time is largely spent reading or running—but none of that reading-on-the-treadmill nonsense. Maria is a born New Yorker who currently lives in Astoria, Queens with a sourdough starter named Ryeley.


Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Rachel Beck of Liza Dawson Associates

Rachel Beck is a literary agent with Liza Dawson Associates.

She joined in 2020 after working at a boutique literary agency for 4 years. She has been in the publishing industry since 2009 and worked at Harlequin editing romance novels for nearly 6 years before transitioning her skills to the agent world in order to be an advocate and champion for authors. She lives outside of Pittsburgh with her husband, two young sons, and endlessly entertaining cat.

Rachel believes that the right book can change or heal a life, and she wants to find those. But she’s also interested in lighter fiction that helps you escape or simply makes you laugh after a tough day. Or nonfiction that teaches you something about an obscure topic, thus opening up a new world.

Specifically, she’s looking for:

  • Upmarket/book club women’s fiction—Think of authors such as Emily Giffin, Jodi Picoult, Jennifer Weiner, Amy Hatvany, Liane Moriarty, and Diane Chamberlain, who explore sensitive, controversial, or morally gray areas in a complex, sympathetic way. Material that reminds us how difficult it is to be a modern woman, but also how rich and rewarding. Books that explore motherhood, fertility issues, addiction, sexism or sexual assault, and messy family dynamics are good examples—but with a fresh eye that brings something new to the conversations.
  • Light-hearted millennial fiction or contemporary romance—Authors like Kristan Higgins and Sophie Kinsella. A beach read, but with plenty of heart that might make you go from laughing to crying in an instant. Books that address the struggles of your twenties and early thirties, such as dating woes, career fulfillment/advancement, deciding whether to have kids or not, social media pressures, etc.
  • Domestic suspense—Character-driven, psychologically intense reads. This genre is saturated at the moment, so she’s very picky and will only entertain something that feels fresh from page one, with characters who are mind-blowingly insane or compelling or extreme or fascinating. Unlikeable characters are most welcome; she’d love to see a good classic antihero. Just give her characters and plots she won’t be able to stop thinking about. Please avoid clichéd plot-lines, twists for the sake of twists, predictable endings, or telling her that the story is the next Gone Girl or Girl on the Train.
  • Contemporary young adult—no fantasy, but apocalyptic, cyberpunk, etc., okay. She’s primarily drawn to heavy, issue-driven YA that goes after topics such as mental health, sexual assault, eating disorders, abuse, trauma, suicide, LGBTQ issues, dealing with death/grief, etc. She loves YA authors such as Courtney Summers, Amber Smith, Jennifer Niven, John Green, Ann Brashares, Kathleen Glasgow, Robin Talley and Jandy Nelson. She would love to find a book about a trans character going through the experience, or a book that highlights the importance of a movement, much like The Hate U Give did—perhaps for the MeToo movement or mass shootings.
  • Select nonfiction—feminist material; career/business/personal growth books with new focus points; extreme underdog, survival, accomplishment, or rising-from-poverty type stories; select health and wellness books (especially mental health, eating disorders, any rare or underrepresented conditions, Alzheimer’s/memory—she’s especially interested in the condition known as HSAM, Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory); books about football/the NFL; marathoner/triathlete memoirs; parenting books that bring something new to the conversation; books that explore cult life or extreme religion; 9/11 survival stories; anything about Anne Frank
    Anything featuring odd, eccentric, quirky or perhaps on-the-spectrum characters, treated authentically and with compassion (think Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, The Rosie Project)
  • Anything exploring complex sibling relationships, particularly sisters
  • Anything set in the South, particularly New Orleans/the Cajun region of southern Louisiana
    Retellings of classics such as A Tale of Two Cities, To Kill a Mockingbird, Pride and Prejudice, As I Lay Dying, The Old Man and the Sea, The Tell-Tale Heart

Please do NOT send her: middle grade, picture books, epic/high fantasy, erotic romance, short stories, or poetry.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Dan Milaschewski of United Talent Agency

Dan Milaschewski is a literary agent with United Talent Agency.

Dan works in the publishing department at UTA and is actively building out his own list. UTA represents a wide array of books including recent bestsellers from Chip and Joanna Gaines, Mary Trump, Emmanuel Acho, Guy Raz, My Favorite Murder, Patricia Cornwell, Rachel Bloom, and Tiffany Haddish, among others. Before coming to UTA, Dan grew up in Massachusetts and majored in English at Harvard University. He now lives in Brooklyn.

Dan is looking for: “mostly fiction — thrillers, horror, speculative fiction, mystery, comedy, coming-of-age stories, commercial, upmarket, but I’m what I’m always looking for is just good writing.” For nonfiction, he is only looking for history, true crime, and comedy.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Rach Crawford of Wolf Literary Services

Rach Crawford is a literary agent with Wolf Literary Services.

Rach Crawford joined Wolf Literary Services as an agent in 2015. She represents authors in both the U.S. and Australia, and represents U.S. rights on behalf of select Australian publishers and agents. Previously, she was MacKenzie Wolf’s foreign rights manager. Before moving to Wolf, Rach worked in rights at Fletcher and Company, at Sterling Lord Literistic, and as a publicist for a small press. Rach’s clients have won Walkley Awards, are Fulbright Scholars, have been shortlisted for the Stella Prize, the Commonwealth Writers Prize, a Lambda Literary Award, nominated for Pushcart Prizes, and appeared in Best American Short Stories.

Rach represents: literary fiction and narrative nonfiction, with a particular interest in LGBTQ+ perspectives across topics. In nonfiction she is drawn above all else to lyrical writing and rigorous thinking, and is interested in climate change, nature, geopolitics, migration, pop culture, tech, and in works that might be defined as cultural anthropology—books that help us understand the world we live in now. In fiction, as well as work that engages with the above topics, she has a particular soft spot for social horror, literary fiction that flirts with genre, working class characters, and intimate novels that burrow deep into the brain of one captivating weirdo.

She is not seeking any YA or children’s books of any kind.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Denise Barone of Barone Literary Agency

Denise Barone is a literary agent and the founder of Barone Literary Agency.

“I am a lawyer, licensed to practice law in Ohio and in Kentucky, and a lawyer in good standing in both states. I am also a published writer. I love working with my writers. I am also a member of Romance Writers of America.”

She is seeking: General fiction, Mystery, Romance, Suspense/thriller, Fantasy/science fiction, Juvenile fiction