Joanna MacKenzie

I owe my love of books to the librarian of my childhood bookmobile, who, after I had worked my way through The Baby-Sitters Club and Sweet Valley High, lifted the velvet rope and let me in to the grown-up section, where I discovered V.C. Andrews. And to my father, who gifted me Cat’s Cradle, Wuthering Heights, and One Hundred Years of Solitude for my 15th birthday.

In 2002, I began my career at a Chicago-based literary agency, moving to NLA in 2017 although I’m still Chicago-based. Originally from Poland, and by way of Canada, I’m all about narratives that deal with the themes of identity and the immigrant experience as well as those that delve into all aspects of the relationships that make us who we are – parents, siblings, best friends, and first love.

I’m looking for that epic adult or YA read that, at its center, beats with a universal heart. You can also visit me at Publishers Marketplace and follow me @joannamackenzie.



  • Anything set on a creepy island
  • mysteries/thrillers set in close-knit communities (if those communities happen to be in the Midwest, all the better)
  • high concept stories with a strong voice in the areas of women’s fiction, mystery/thriller, and speculative (think Before I Go To Sleep by S.J Watson or Dark Matter by Blake Crouch)
  • anything featuring fierce female heroines who will do whatever it takes to protect their brood
  •  Smart and timely women’s fiction where the personal intersects with the world at large (think This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel or All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin)
  •  Narratives about reinvention or the second and third acts of women’s lives
  • Stories about the immigrant experience both adult and YA (like The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri)
  • Anything dealing with the relationships that make us who we are for both the YA and adult market

Currently closed to queries.

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Joanna’s Recent News

Kate Baer’s collection of poetry What Kind of Woman was featured in the goop Book Club.

Katrina Monroe’s The Drowning Girls, a feminist horror about a woman untangling a generations-old curse after returning to the village of her youth, to Mary Altman at Sourcebooks.

Gillian Libby’s debut novel Something Real, following three twenty-something friends finding love as they leave New York City, in a 3-book series deal to Rachel Gilmer at Sourcebooks.

Kate Baer’s collection of poetry What Kind of Woman is an instant #1 New York Times Bestseller.

STARRED review: Galligan’s outstanding sequel to 2019’s Bad Axe County puts Wisconsin sheriff Heidi Kick, his all-too-human lead, through the wringer.

After a 72-hour exclusive, Berkley’s Jen Monroe pre-empts the debut novel The Other Me by Web developer Sarah Zachrich Jeng.

John Galligan’s FROM HELL HOLLOW, the next two books in the Bad Axe County series, set in Wisconsin’s Driftless Area and featuring Sheriff Heidi Kick, to Sean Delone at Atria

Kathleen West’s OVERTIME, exploring competitive parenting in youth sports and bad adult behavior, set again in Minneapolis, to Kerry Donovan at Berkley.

Cyma Zarghami’s MiMO Studio has acquired award-winning kids serialized kids podcast The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian to develop into multiple, animated TV-length movies.

Skydance Television, via Jerry Klajian at IPG, options John Galligan’s Bad Axe County and Dead Man Dancing 

Liza Kaplan at Philomel has bought, in a preempt, in a two-book deal, The Memory House by debut author Stacy Stokes.

Joanna’s Film/TV Options

Currently Under Option

Optioned to:
MiMo Studio

Currently Under Option

Joanna’s Featured Books