2020 RISING STAR Award Final Round Agent Judges

NALINI AKOLEKAR, Vice President joined Spencerhill Associates after a lengthy editorial career and several years in advertising sales. Being an agent 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, horror and true crime. “I like to develop strong relationships with my clients. I see the author/agent relationship as a true collaboration.”

Follow her on Twitter@NaliniAkolekar and at her agency website www.spencerhillassociates.com. 


HELEN BREITWIESER founded Cornerstone Literary in 1998, then one of the few Los Angeles-based literary agencies, after working as a literary agent at the William Morris Agency in New York.  She began her publishing career as an assistant in the literary department in New York, where she was very lucky to have two genuine menschen as mentors, Mel Berger and Owen Laster.  Over the past 15 years, she has represented acclaimed and bestselling authors of both fiction and nonfiction, including Katherine Center, film producer Robert Evans, Beth Fantaskey, Rachael Johns, C.S. Harris, T. Kingfisher, Rachel Lee, Kayla Perrin, Ursula Vernon, Maisey Yates, Tracy Anne Warren, and Ahmet Zappa.

Her clients have been honored with the Hugo, Nebula, Ursa Major, RITA, Sequoyah, and National Readers’ Choice Awards, and have appeared on The New York Times, Publishers Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, and USA Today bestseller lists.  She is a member of The Association of Authors’ Representatives, PEN, the Authors Guild, and SCWBI. She lives with her husband and son in Los Angeles. She is a magna cum laude graduate of Barnard College with a BA in English and German.

Follow her on Twitter @HelenBreit and at her agency website www.cornerstoneliterary.com.


RACHEL EKSTROM COURAGE is an agent at Folio Literary Management representing fiction and select nonfiction, with a particular focus on women’s fiction, book club fiction, thrillers, young adult, and middle grade. Some of her clients include Nina Laurin, Ann Garvin, and Amy E. Reichert.

Previously an agent at the Irene Goodman Literary Agency, Rachel spent over a decade as a book publicist, first working on mysteries and thrillers for Minotaur, then holding managerial and directorial roles at Penguin’s Dutton and Gotham imprints and St. Martin’s Press. She’s also the founder of Littsburgh, a literary community, and is on the advisory board of Write Pittsburgh.

Over the course of her career, she’s worked with a range of bestselling and award-winning authors, and she’s eagerly looking for new voices and projects, particularly upmarket fiction with an immediate, commercially appealing voice, with a unique or vivid setting.

Her website is:https://rachelekstromcourage.com

About the agency: Folio Literary Management, LLC is a full-service literary management company dedicated to providing authors and literary estates with comprehensive representation and career management.

We represent more than a thousand authors, placing their works with publishers throughout the U.S. and around the world. Our agents work with the best talents in both fiction and non-fiction, from New York Times bestselling authors to Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners; to winners of the Newbery, Caldecott, Edgar, PEN/New England, PEN/Faulkner, and James Beard Awards; to celebrities. We have also established a major footprint in the field of children’s and young adult publishing with Folio Jr., a list devoted to picture books, middle-grade, and young adult fiction.

In 2018, Folio acquired Harold Ober Associates, a legacy New York City literary agency representing some of the most iconic writers of the 20th century. Founded in 1929, Harold Ober Associates played a vital role in the careers of such literary legends such as Agatha Christie, William Faulkner, James Herriot, J.D. Salinger, Langston Hughes, Pearl S. Buck, Dylan Thomas, Ford Madox Ford, Richard Adams, Lois Lowry, and Ira Levin, among many, many others. Ober authors have seen their works adapted into major motion pictures like “Mary Poppins,” “Rosemary’s Baby,” “Rebel Without A Cause,” and many more.

Follow her on Twitter @EkstromRachel and at her agency website www.foliolit.com.


ELAINE SPENCER is an agent at the Knight Agency where she started her career in 2005. Over the last fifteen years she has represented a dynamic client list of bestselling and award-winning authors, and has sold the rights to over 1,000 projects in a wide range of categories. Elaine is currently looking for new women’s fiction stories, historical (20th century) fiction with a focus on female relationships (family, friends, romantic), unique cozy mysteries, and light-hearted, commercial, cross-over contemporary romances. She loves individually-imagined characters who reflect unexpected and diverse life experiences, along with sharp and witty voices that make the reader feel intimately acquainted with their day-to-day existence. Elaine also represents narrative and platform-driven nonfiction.

Follow her on Twitter @ElaineSpencer and at her agency website www.knightagency.net.


ANN LESLIE TUTTLE joined Dystel, Goderich & Bourret in 2017 after working for 20 years at Harlequin Books where she most recently was a Senior Editor. She is actively acquiring narrative nonfiction, books on parenting and women’s issues, women’s fiction, contemporary romance, rom coms, romantic suspense, Southern Gothics, thrillers, mysteries, and Middle Grade. She received her B.A. degree from the College of William and Mary and an M.A. from the University of Virginia.

Follow her on Twitter @Annleslietuttle and at her agency website www.dystel.com.