Meet the Agents: Caitlin Mahony (WME)

“Don’t worry about trends. If the writing, the story, the heartbeat of the book is alive then everything else is window dressing.”  Caitlin Mahony, WME

Every other year, the Writers’ League of Texas brings 20-25 literary agents and book editors to Austin for its Agents & Editors Conference. As we look ahead to the 30th A&E Conference, taking place June 21 – 23, 2024, we’re happy to share Q&As with some of our visiting agents and editors here.

An Interview with Caitlin Mahony

Caitlin Mahony has been at WME since 2016. She represents romance, genre, and commercial fiction. Caitlin’s clients include bestselling romance authors Chloe Walsh, Ivy Fairbanks, and Peyton Corinne, as well as fantasy writers SenLinYu, Sarah A Parker, and Scarlett St. Clair, among others. Caitlin is passionate about working with authors who originate from non-traditional spaces and bringing new opportunities their way. Caitlin is looking for books that offer a total escape and full immersion, in either this world or an imagined one. She loves a hard-won, epic love story (historical and contemporary), a transporting fantasy or sci-fi novel that helps parse earthly questions, a delightful beach read, or a pulse-pounding thriller; and is always looking to get swept up in something that you can’t put down.

Scribe: How would you describe your personal approach to working with an author? 

Caitlin Mahony: I’m really hands on! And I’m focused on an author’s career and not a single book. I love to work with authors editorially. I always say we have one shot to make a first impression, so I do a lot of editorial work with authors early on. Beyond that, my goal for every author I work with is to help craft their global publishing profile. Anyone who knows me knows that I am obsessed with translation. When I start working with an author I am of course very focused on her lead market, but I am equally invested in finding publishing homes around the world. I aim to be someone who really partners with my authors from the outset and helps craft the trajectory of their career. I’m really intentional and sometimes a bit of an over-planner (though I am trying to chill).

Scribe: What do you look for in a debut author? 

CM: I look for someone who is actively adding to the genre that she is writing in. This goes for debut authors as well as people who have written many books. I look for an author who is contributing to the category, challenging my expectations, and always, always compelling me to keep turning the page. I have commercial taste and instincts (and a commercial list), so I’m really looking for authors with a keen sense of pacing, plot, and dialogue. I love books with effortless humor. I love rom-coms and romance of all genres and subgenres. I am sucker for all the tropes, but I especially love when they are subverted.

Scribe: What’s one piece of advice you find yourself giving to others time and time again?

CM: Don’t worry about trends. If the writing, the story, the heartbeat of the book is alive then everything else is window dressing.

Scribe: What excites you the most about the publishing industry today?

CM: I cannot overstate how meaningful it is to me personally that the publishing industry is taking romance and people who write and read romance seriously. I’ve been a romance reader for my entire life, and I am so happy to see these books finally available outside of just grocery stores. I think a big part of that is the impact that self-publishing has had on traditional publishing. I’m here for it. I think readers are finding community through books in a way that feels more out-in-the-open than ever before, and I love that.

Scribe: Tell us about a recent book/project that you worked on that excited you and you want everyone to know about? 

CM: I am truly excited about every single one of my authors, and all their projects and books. An author very near and dear to my heart is Chloe Walsh, author of the Boys of Tommen series. Chloe is an Irish writer who had been self-publishing with a ton of organic success for years. She took a huge chance on me last year and came over to WME. We did deals for Chloe with Bloom in the US, Piatkus in the UK, and a dozen publishers around the world. Since going “trad” (as they say) Chloe has become a New York Times bestseller, a Sunday Times bestseller, a Der Spiegel bestseller, a Spanish bestseller and even more. Her series is set up with Temple Hill and Wiip TV. And there is even more on the horizon for her. Her books mean a lot to me as well as her many, many readers around the world. And it is my joy and honor to represent her.

Thanks, Caitlin!

Click here for more information on the 2024 Agents & Editors Conference, a weekend long event in Austin, TX (June 21-23) that focuses on the craft of writing, the business of publishing, and building a literary community.