Monday, July 25, 2016

7 Questions For: Literary Agent Emily Mitchell

Emily Mitchell lives in Massachusetts because of Anastasia Krupnik: after reading the eponymous classic dozens of times as a child, she got it in her head that going to college in Massachusetts was something she should do, so she did. 

Emily began her career at Sheldon Fogelman Agency, handling submissions, subsidiary rights, and coffee. She then spent eleven years at Charlesbridge Publishing as senior editor, contracts manager, and director of corporate strategy. 

At Wernick and Pratt, Emily represents authors and illustrators from picture books to YA, including Caron Levis, author of IDA, ALWAYS (Atheneum); Ryan O’Rourke, illustrator of MOUSELING’S WORDS (coming from Clarion); and Frank Dormer, author/illustrator of THE SWORD IN THE STOVE (Atheneum). At Charlesbridge her books included A Mother’s Journey by Sandra Markle, illustrated by Alan Marks (a Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor Book); Music Was IT: Young Leonard Bernstein by Susan Goldman Rubin (a YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction finalist and winner of the Sydney Taylor Jewish Book Award); the Aggie and Ben series of early readers by Lori Ries, illustrated by Frank W. Dormer; and Flying the Dragon, a debut middle-grade novel by Natalie Dias Lorenzi. 

Emily holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Harvard, a master’s in secondary English education from Syracuse, and an MBA from Babson. She lives outside Boston.
And now Emily Mitchell faces the 7 Questions:

Question Seven: What are your top three favorite books?


Question Six: What are your top three favorite movies and television shows?


BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (the Ron Moore/reimagined series)
Baseball (particularly my Red Sox and Cubbies)

Question Five: What are the qualities of your ideal client?

I like working with people who are patient, flexible, and positive: all are qualities necessary for survival in this business. If we happen to share a common interest (Musical theatre! Baseball! Shakespeare!), even better – but I love learning about new things from my clients as well.

Question Four: What sort of project(s) would you most like to receive a query for?

I work in all children’s genres, so I’m looking for everything from picture books to YA. I’m drawn to humor and friendship stories; less so high-fantasy or heavy action/adventure. I’m especially looking for voices and visions that are different from my own: 85% of the publishing industry looks like me (white, female, cisgender/straight, upper-middle-class), and the onus is on us to broaden our reach and amplify the voices of writers from other backgrounds who are already doing great work.

Question Three: What is your favorite thing about being an agent? What is your least favorite thing?

My favorite thing is the flexibility: the chance to work with all different kinds of people on all different kinds of projects, from the comfort of my own home office, with a team of terrific, knowledgeable colleagues backing me up.

My least favorite thing is rejection.

Question Two: What one bit of wisdom would you impart to an aspiring writer? (feel free to include as many other bits of wisdom as you like)

Figure out how to take feedback and make it useful for you. This business is FILLED with rejection. Nobody likes it, including me (see above) – but the sooner you’re able to take criticism and evaluate it professionally (i.e., use what resonates, set aside the rest, and be thoughtful about what you share online), the better off you’ll be.

Question One: If you could have lunch with any writer, living or dead, who would it be? Why?

Right now it would be Lin-Manuel Miranda. #hamiltrash


  1. Great interview. It's reconfirmed why I've always liked you.
    7. The Westing Game
    6. Dirty Dancing
    5. Flexible and positive
    4. Humor and friendship
    3. Home office - but today I wrote in a coffee shop. The District House, if you ever come back to OKC.
    2. Sheldon Fogelman - I met him at ALA 2016 at Jerry Pinkney's reception & he was just as I imagined him. Knows how to work a room.
    1. Hats!

  2. It was great to read the interview. I often wonder how often an agent has to turn down a writer because s/he's not easy to work with.


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