Rising Star Final Round Judges 2017

 Nalini Akolekar

Nalini joined Spencerhill Associates after a lengthy editorial career and several years in advertising sales. Agenting has provided the perfect opportunity to combine her editorial instincts with her sales, marketing, and business experience.
Nalini currently represents several bestselling authors, and has placed books with a wide range of publishers, from the Big Five to Amazon, Harlequin, indies and E-first. Nalini specializes in romance and women’s fiction in the adult market, but she also loves thrillers.


 Sandra O’Donnell

Sandra is a founding partner of RO Literary. Sandra has been involved in the writing community and the business of books for over twenty years.
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. 


 Laura Rothschild

Laura is a founding partner of RO Literary. Before becoming an agent, she worked with writers as a book coach and publishing consultant helping fiction and non-fiction clients develop their stories, polish their manuscripts, and create a book plan to guide them from representation to publication.

Laura brings her years of working in marketing and media to RO Literary. She was head of post-production for one of the largest editorial companies in Santa Monica. After leaving the editorial side of media, she went into the production and print side managing catalog and print shoots for one of the largest costume companies in the world. RO Literary is the culmination of Laura’s years of experience as an entrepreneur and creative. Her passion for the written word, the business of publishing, and the collaborative effort it takes to turn writers into authors is the reason she partnered with Sandra O’Donnell to create RO Literary.


 Elaine Spencer

Elaine entered the publishing industry after realizing she didn’t want to spend the rest of her life as an Economist. After studying Economics and Comparative Literature at The University of Georgia, she joined the The Knight Agency team in 2005 and assumed a variety of roles including submissions coordinator and sub rights manager before settling in her current position as VP of Operations and Associate Agent.

Elaine keeps a focused client list as it is most important to her to be able to work closely with her clients through each step of the publishing process, from a manuscript’s inception all the way through publication, promotion and beyond. Elaine is a member of RWA and AAR and is interested in a wide-variety of subgenres including but not limited to romance, women’s fiction, young adult and middle grade material. She loves stories that include dogs, cooking, fashion, secret societies or clubs, southern flair, wit and humor, heart-tugging conclusions that will bring her to tears and smart sassy characters that stay with you long after the final pages.



 Carly Watters

Carly is a VP and Senior Literary Agent at the P.S. Literary Agency. Carly began her publishing career in London at the Darley Anderson Literary, TV and Film Agency. She has a BA in English Literature from Queen’s University and a MA in Publishing Studies from City University London. Since joining PSLA in 2010 Carly has had great success launching new authors domestically and abroad.

Never without a book on hand, she reads across categories which is reflected in the genres she represents at PSLA. Representing debuts and bestsellers, Carly is drawn to: emotional, well-paced fiction, with a great voice and characters that readers can get invested in; and platform-driven non fiction.