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.
Emily represents both 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 with her husband, daughter, and son—known to her legions of social-media fans as Cabana Boy, La Munch, and the Boy, respectively. Emily is accepting new clients in all genres for children.
A Couple of Interview Questions:
What kind of manuscripts do you typically like? Are there types of manuscripts/genres that aren’t the best match for you?
I have a soft spot for funny middle-grade fiction and chapter books (think Ramona, Clementine, Louis Sachar, e.g.). I like contemporary stories and historical stories, and I’m a sucker for good nonfiction. I’m not a great fan of high fantasy. I also have a pet peeve for extra-long books: in recent years we’ve seen an epidemic of 300-, 400-, 700-page books for young readers that don’t need to be that long. Precise and concise language is, to me, more impressive than a sprawling epic.
What is the most single most important element in a manuscript or illustration in attracting your attention?
Far and away, it’s voice: something that makes a story distinctive and recognizable, without crossing the line into gimmicky. E. L. Konigsburg has voice; so does Dav Pilkey. Emily Jenkins/E. Lockhart has it in spades, in multiple genres. Voice isn’t just a text thing, either—artists have voice, through their line, use of color, and choice of medium. Think of Peter Reynolds and Tricia Tusa: they have similar styles, but you’d never mistake one’s work for the other’s. That’s voice, too.
What are your particular preferences or pet peeves regarding submissions? Is there anything that might make a query irresistible to you?
Pet peeves: spelling errors, grammatical errors, punctuation errors, typos. Everyone makes them—I certainly do—but queries and manuscripts with obvious errors are harder for me to take seriously. On the flip side, if you can make me laugh, you have a leg up.
What excites you about the industry at present?
Digital publishing has thrown monkey wrenches into almost every part of the publishing ecosystem—how we acquire, how we distribute, how we account, how we discover, and how we consume. It hasn’t changed the essential character of storytelling, however, or the timeless equation of story + reader + moment. The ongoing evolution of, and interactions between, story and format make for exciting times in the industry.
I’m also continually amazed by the human capacity to find and tell new stories. The anonymous, grouchy author of Ecclesiastes may believe “there is nothing new under the sun,” but I see new things every day.
Wernick & Pratt Agency specializes in children’s books of all genres, from picture books through young adult literature and everything in between. We represent both authors and illustrators. We do not represent authors of adult books.
While we are dedicated to our established list of clients, we are always looking to find new talent to nurture. We are interested in both published and unpublished people who are seriously committed to a long-term career in the children’s book industry and the work involved in achieving this. We are able to take on only a limited number of new clients each year.
In light of the current market for children’s books, please be aware of our general submission preferences:
We are most interested in the following:
- people who both write and illustrate in the picture book genre;
- humorous young chapter books with strong voice, and which are unique and compelling;
- middle grade/YA novels, both literary and commercial.
We are not interested in the following:
- picture book manuscripts of more than 750 words, or mood pieces;
- work specifically targeted to the educational market;
- fiction about the American Revolution, Civil War, or World War II unless it is told from a unique perspective.
We receive hundreds of submissions each month, and while we would like to respond to every submission received, we unfortunately cannot reply to each one. You will receive an automatically generated email confirming receipt of your submission. Submissions will only be responded to further if we are interested in them. If you do not hear from us within six (6) weeks of your submission, it should be considered declined.
We are accepting submissions via email only. If you are interested in submitting, please follow these guidelines:
- Please send us your contact information, including your email address, your mailing address, and your telephone number. Please indicate if you were referred to us, and if so, by whom.
- Please indicate if this is an exclusive or non-exclusive submission. We prefer exclusive submissions for at least one month, but it is not a requirement for submission.
- Please include your background, including any publishing history, and if you have any other work available for consideration.
- If you are a novelist, please send as an attachment the first three (3) chapters of the work and a very brief synopsis; please do not submit the entire work or include chapters from more than one work unless specifically requested.
- If you are a picture book writer, please send as an attachment two (2) different manuscripts (NOT two versions of the same manuscript); please do not submit any additional manuscripts unless specifically requested.
- If you are an illustrator, please send as an attachment PDF samples of your work, as well as a link to your website or to a portfolio of your work. Please do not mail any original artwork, as we do not assume any responsibility for original artwork that is submitted.
- Please send all submissions to email@example.com. Please indicate if you are submitting to Marcia Wernick, Linda Pratt, or Emily Mitchell, and please do not send the same submission to all of us simultaneously. A rejection from one of us should be considered a pass from the agency. Please do not resubmit that same project to another agent. We do not accept submissions via snail mail or social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.). Any submissions sent this way will not be responded to.
Hope this helps in your search for an agent.