Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Marilyn Biderman of Transatlantic Agency

Marilyn Biderman is a literary agent with Transatlantic Agency.

Areas of Interest: Literary fiction; sweet-spot fiction, that is, accessible but literary in intent (often found at book clubs); literary crime fiction; and women’s commercial and historical fiction. I love memoir with an utterly unique story and brilliant writing; narrative non-fiction on compelling and newsworthy topics that anticipate trends; expert non-fiction of wide appeal from authors with established social media platforms; and biographies of fascinating lives. I don’t handle children’s books, except for young adult novels with cross-over appeal (very selectively, and only by referral); or poetry, screenplays, science fiction, paranormal, and fantasy for adult readers.

Before joining the Transatlantic Agency, Marilyn worked at her own literary agency and consultancy practice for seven years, where she helped launch the careers of début and prize-winning authors. She had previously worked at McClelland & Stewart for twelve years, most recently as Vice President, Director, Rights and Contracts. At M&S, she handled the international rights for many renowned authors, including Leonard Cohen, Alistair MacLeod, and Madeleine Thien.

Marilyn is a member of the Law Society of Ontario, a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School, and also holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto in English Literature. She has guest-lectured at the publishing programs at Humber College, Ryerson University, Simon Fraser University, the University of British Columbia, and taught a course in the publishing program at Centennial College. She has also mentored many publishers under the auspices of the Association of Canadian Publishers and the Canada Council, and has acted as a juror in literary competitions. She has authored several papers on copyright law; served on the inaugural executive of the Professional Association of Canadian Literary Agents; and was a member for many years of the organizing committee for the International Visitors Program of the Toronto International Festival of Authors. She also, for many years, served as a member of the Professional Advisory Council for Sheridan College’s Creative Writing & Publishing Program, and as a board member, most recently as chair, of Canada’s dance magazine, The Dance Current. Marilyn is especially proud of her work with the St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog program.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Ali McDonald of 5 Otter Literary

Ali McDonald is a literary agent and partner with 5 Otter Literary.

In fourteen years as an international literary agent, Ali McDonald has represented many award-winning and bestselling authors and illustrators. Specializing in children’s and young adult literature, she works on projects ranging from concept and novelty books, board books, picture books, early readers, chapter books, and graphic novels, to middle grade, young adult, and new adult fiction and nonfiction.

Her select list of clients includes The New York Times bestselling author Laura Nowlin (If He Had Been With Me and This Song is (Not) For You), Hugo-award-winning Emily Pohl-Weary (Not Your Ordinary Wolf Girl), and Governor General’s Award and Crime Writers of Canada Award-nominated and Best Book-listed author Jo Treggiari (Blood Will Out, The Grey Sisters, and Heartbreak Homes), among select others.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Jes Trudel of The Rights Factory

Jes Trudel (she/her/mx) is a literary agent with The Rights Factory.

Jes has been devouring stories longer than she can remember. Her favourite childhood books were Jack London adventures (which she never really outgrew). Jes’ experience includes working as a freelance editor for 15+ years, teaching creative writing to people around the globe, and founding in 2020 when the whole world went digital. She’s been a guest presenter with SCBWI, the 12×12 Picture Book Challenge, Write For Kids, and TSNOTYAW podcast, and has contributed to BoldFace, Children’s Book Insider, and the SCBWI blog. She joined The Rights Factory in 2023 as an editorial assistant. She represents mainly authors of children’s literature, though her authors are multi-talented and interdisciplinary storytellers. As an editorial agent, Jes works with her clients to develop their manuscripts into the best version they can be.

At the moment, I’m accepting only children’s literature, including:
– Board books (BB)
– Picture books (PB)
– Chapter books (CB)
– Middle grade (MG)
– Young adult (YA)

In addition to traditional styles of storytelling, I also love graphic novels and novels in verse. I’m also open to short story and poetry collections for kids. I accept both illustrated and text-only manuscripts. If you are an illustrator only, I’m sorry, but I can’t represent you at this time (unless you create full-length wordless picture books).

My favourite BB/PB/CB categories are:
– Concept books with a strong hook
– Expository nonfiction
– High-concept fiction
– Low-concept or “quiet” fiction
– Nonfiction related to mental health, DEI, social justice, community building, and/or entrepreneurship
– I prefer lyrical over rhyming texts, but if you do have a rhyming story, please make sure the meter is perfect and the rhymes are not cliche/forced

My favourite MG/YA genres are:
– action/adventure
– contemporary
– mystery
– romance
– speculative
– suspense/thriller
– Nonfiction related to mental health, DEI, social justice, community building, and/or entrepreneurship

Thematically speaking, I especially like:
– complex adult/child relationships
– complex friendships
– non-traditional and found families
– anti-heroes
– unreliable narrators
– love triangles (romantic or platonic)
– slow burns and friends or enemies to lovers
– forced proximity (romantic or platonic)
– stories that verge on “too dark” for kidlit, but not in a graphic/gory way

I’m not a good fit for:
– horror
– paranormal
– historical fiction
– hard scifi
– epic fantasy
– books for the Christian market
– nonfiction related to food and beverages, politics, pop culture, religion, spirituality, sports, or finance

I’m looking to represent authors across their careers, through multiple age categories and genres. So if you’re interested in writing books for adults and are thinking representation by me might limit your options, I absolutely plan to represent adults books in the future, especially those of my existing clients.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Bridgette Kam of Westwood Creative Artists

Bridgette Kam is a literary agent with Westwood Creative Artists.

In fiction, I’d love to represent more literary fiction in the vein of Nancy Jooyoun Kim’s The Last Story of Mina Lee and Asha Lemmie’s Fifty Words for Rain.

In children’s literature, I’m especially interested in fiction and nonfiction picture book texts, middle grade fiction, and illustration.

In narrative nonfiction, I’m drawn to fresh, unique, diverse, and well-informed voices, especially pop culture, social issues, popular history, big ideas, current affairs, and popular science. Books that I’ve been excited by are Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s Tightrope, Ada Calhoun’s Why We Can’t Sleep, and Priya Parker’s The Art of Gathering, and a few of my go-to podcasts are NPR’s Throughline, Wondery’s Business Wars, and Ringer Dish (especially their series Every Single Album: Taylor Swift). I’m also interested in practical nonfiction: self-improvement, health, and lifestyle.

I joined WCA in 2019, working in the rights department and helping to bring our wonderful clients’ books to an international audience. Currently, as a literary associate working with Jackie Kaiser and Hilary McMahon, I’m delighted to continue to champion the clients I share with Jackie and Hilary, and look forward to discovering and nurturing new voices.

My career in publishing began when I interned at McClelland & Stewart while pursuing Ryerson’s publishing program. Before entering the publishing world, I worked in the arts, communications, education, and legal industries in Toronto and Hong Kong. I earned my BA in English and Art History in Hong Kong and an MA in Medieval and Renaissance literature in Durham, UK. I grew up watching TVB dramas and immersed in Cantopop culture, and I’m proud to be fluent in Cantonese and to be able to speak Mandarin conversationally.


Meet a Literary Scout in Attendance: Tayler Hill of The Purcell Agency

Tayler Hill is an intern and literary scout at The Purcell Agency. At the 2024 Toronto event, she is taking pitches on behalf of her entire agency.

She is open to taking pitches on behalf of The Purcell Agency for the following genres:

  • middle grade
  • young adult
  • new adult
  • women’s fiction
  • book club fiction
  • speculative fiction (fantasy & sci-fi)
  • romantasy
  • children’s picture books
  • memoir
  • mystery
  • crime
  • thriller
  • contemporary/realistic fiction
  • dystopian
  • suspense
  • horror
  • romance
  • #ownvoices and LGBTQIA+

Tayler is a Canadian student and author based out of Toronto, Ontario. She holds a double degree in publishing and creative writing and has utilized her knowledge to make her dream of entering the publishing industry come true.

“I have been drawn to books for as long as I can remember. The closest thing to magic is words. If you think about it, only twenty-six letters rearranged in multiple ways can open endless doors to lands of love, fantasy, history, other galaxies, dimensions and more. There is so much rearranging these letters can do. Words can make our wounds feel seen; words can let us time travel; words can let us live thousands of different lives within one lifetime. As publishers, we have the power to open these doors for people with the books we put into the world, and what an influential gift that is.”