Meet the Conference Faculty: Kim Lionetti

I’ve been dying for a story that focuses on the sibling relationships there: the complicated feelings of obligation, love, responsibility, etc.

-Kim Lionetti

Every year, the Writers’ League of Texas brings a faculty of close to thirty agents, editors, and other industry professionals to Austin for its Agents & Editors Conference. As we look ahead to the 26th Annual A&E Conference, taking place June 28–June 30, 2019, we’re happy to share Q&As with some of our faculty here.

An Interview with Kim Lionetti

Kim Lionetti is a senior literary agent at BookEnds. Having started her twenty-five-year career in the industry as an editor at Berkley Publishing, she enjoys helping authors shape their works into books their readers will love. Kim’s client list includes women’s fiction, suspense, young adult and romance, and she’s looking for new talent in all of these genres, but she’s especially eager to represent more diverse voices. As an autism mom, she’s most passionate about stories featuring neurodiverse characters, and those with special needs.

 Scribe: What is your approach to the author/agent relationship?

Kim Lionetti: I view it as a partnership and have a collaborative relationship with all of my clients. I advise based on my 20+ years in the business, with the benefit of having worked on both the publisher and agent side, but at the end of the day I also respect that this is their book and their career. They need to feel comfortable and satisfied with every decision. Because of my past experience as an editor, I also tend to be pretty hands on. I still enjoy the revision process and helping authors bring their books to their fullest potential.  

Scribe: Are there specific elements draw you to a project?

KL: I’m eager to find more #ownvoices in women’s fiction, suspense, contemporary romance and YA.  I’d most especially like to see more Latinx and African-American adult romcom and women’s fiction. I’d also like to see more special needs families represented in women’s fiction and YA. I’ve been dying for a story that focuses on the sibling relationships there: the complicated feelings of obligation, love, responsibility, etc.  

Scribe: Tell us about a recent project you’re excited about!

KL: Oh wow, it’s hard to narrow it down! I’m excited for USA Today bestseller Rochelle Weinstein’s This Is Not How It Ends that’s coming soon from Lake Union. It’s an emotional women’s fiction novel about love and friendship that is both heart-stopping and timeless. Also, it’s set in the Florida Keys, and I just felt swept away there as I was reading. And Nicola Marsh’s domestic suspense novel, The Scandal, will be released from Bookouture in July. Nicola is a USA Today bestselling author and has written dozens of novels, but this is her first foray into suspense. I love the complicated relationships between the women in this book and the way each of their POVs reveals another part of the mystery.

Scribe: And also, in your bio, you mentioned that you’re passionate about books featuring neurodiverse characters. Is there a recent novel that features neurodiversity that you loved?

KL: Yes, my son’s on the autism spectrum, so it’s important to me to see voices like his represented. Obviously I’m biased, but I’m really excited about what my client Helen Hoang has accomplished in the adult romance market. The Kiss Quotient and The Bride Test are emotional, sexy, unputdownable reads that just happen to feature neurodiverse protagonists. And I love that readers are finding just how relatable these characters are. I’m also a big fan of Cammie McGovern, who writes YA and MG novels featuring special needs and neurodiverse characters. Her book, A Step Toward Falling, is about an attack on a developmentally disabled teen and illustrates various perspectives about how we all relate to one another and how complicated, but important, it is to do the right thing. I think it should be required reading for every high-schooler. I’ve read that she’s currently working on a nonfiction project about her autistic son’s journey aging out of the school system, the wider issue of the population losing access to the resources when that happens, and also about the limitations we put on them based on our own assumptions and expectations of their potential. I’m eagerly awaiting the opportunity to preorder!

Thanks, Kim!

Click here to read our 2019 A&E Conference agent bios.

Click here for more information on the 2019 Agents & Editors Conference, a weekend long event in Austin, TX (June 28-June 30) that focuses on the craft of writing, the business of publishing, and building a literary community.

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