Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Sandra O’Donnell of RO Literary

Screen Shot 2018-11-21 at 5.49.11 PM.pngSandra O’Donnell, Ph.D. is a literary agent & founding partner of RO Literary.

In fiction, she’s looking for stories with compelling characters that jump off the page — historical fiction, courtroom dramas, upmarket fiction and historically-based conspiracy thrillers that keep her up all night.

For nonfiction, she seeks narrative nonfiction, memoir, cultural studies, popular culture, history, and religion/spiritual.

Currently, she is not accepting submissions for poetry, science-fiction, fantasy fiction and non-fiction titles on the topics of military and political science, or books on business.

Sandra has been involved in the writing community and the business of books for over twenty years. “A Walk on the Moon is one of my favorite movies,” she says. “And not just because there is an incredible scene in it that involves Viggo Mortensen and a waterfall. I love this movie primarily because of the last scene where Marty, Pearl’s husband asks her the quintessential question that we will all ask ourselves someday if we don’t write the book that is begging to be written, ‘Who stopped you?’ ”

She studied writing at the graduate level at the University of Utah while working on her master’s. While there, she taught writing in the Writing Program and learned as much from teaching as she did from her classes. After her Master’s Sandra went on to ghostwrite, edit and co-author a number of books for the academic market. She also earned her Ph.D. in History from Arizona State.

In 1996, Sandra and a partner formed Snowgoose Cove a boutique publishing company. As a publisher, Sandra learned what it takes to make a title successful by guiding authors through the editing, launch, and marketing of their books. For Food Talk: A Man’s Guide to Cooking and Conversation Sandra and her team arranged a 12 state book/PR tour, selling out of the first edition of the book within six months.

For the past few years, Sandra has been working with authors to take them from draft to polished manuscript. Many of the authors she’s worked with have gone on to find excellent agents, editors, and publishers. However, many projects have languished once they have left her charge. Frustrated authors asked her time and again why she couldn’t be their agent. Why Sandra couldn’t guide them through the next stage with the love and care she’d used shown during the development phase of their books. After much consideration and discussion with her partner Laura Rothschild, RO Literary was formed.

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