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 into the grown-up section, where I discovered V.C. Andrews. And to my father, who gave me Cat’s Cradle, Wuthering Heights, and One Hundred Years of Solitude for my fifteenth birthday.

A seasoned publishing professional with nearly twenty years on the agenting side, I’m driven by the stories my authors tell, both with the novels they write and with the careers they build. I represent New York Times bestsellers, Edgar and Anthony Award nominees, and critically acclaimed storytellers writing in all areas of adult and young adult fiction.

Visit me at Publishers Marketplace and follow me @joannamackenzie.



  • High-concept, twisty, unputdownable stories with a strong voice in the areas of women’s fiction, thriller, and speculative. (Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam, Before I Go To Sleep by S.J Watson, Dark Matter by Blake Crouch)
  • Timely commercial fiction in which the personal intersects with the world at large, and/or that explores toxic friendships and complex, challenging family dynamics. (Luster by Raven Leilani, This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel)
  • Heartfelt and timeless stories that you want to re-read about identity, unlikely friendships, reinvention, second acts, and women finding their voices and power, especially with touches of magic or speculative or time slips. (The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow, This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub)
  • Voicey, confident, atmospheric mysteries set in close-knit communities; creepy islands and Midwest-set are a plus. (The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman, Only Murders In The Building, the Shetland series by Ann Cleeves)
  • Because I came to Chicago by way of Poland and Canada, I’m always looking for stories about the immigrant experience. (The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri is a longtime favorite.)
  • Diverse take on Kids On Bikes narratives—if they happen to be set in the Midwest or Canadian prairies, all the better.
  • Elin Hilderbrand and/or Louise Penny for the Third Coast—I’d love to see something set in a resort town in Michigan.

Recent binges: The Summer of Bitter and Sweet by Jen Ferguson; Never Have I Ever; Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan; The Partner Track

I am closed to queries for a bit of summer vacation. I hope to see your query when I reopen later this summer!

  Query Joanna

Joanna’s Recent News

Lina Chern‘s debut mystery, Play the Fool (Bantam, March 2023), received a starred review from Library Journal.

Kerry Donovan at Berkley bought North American rights to Camp People and a second untitled book by Ali Brady (Alison Hammer and Bradleigh Godfrey, The Beach Trap) in an exclusive submission.

And Yet by Kate Baer is a 2022 Goodreads Choice Awards Nominee in the poetry category.

Kate Baer‘s third book of poetry, And Yet, is an instant New York Times Bestseller.

Whitney Frick at Dial preempted North American rights to Joy Sullivan’s debut poetry collection, Instructions for Traveling West.

Mary Gaule at Harper Perennial has acquired North American rights to How About Now by Kate Baer in a significant, two-book deal.

John Galligan received a starred review from PW for Bad Day Breaking (August 30).

The Beach Trap by Ali Brady, released June 14, 2022, was a #1 New Release on Amazon.

Ali Brady’s The Beach Trap receives a starred Booklist review

In an interview with Publishers Weekly, Katrina Monroe talks about identity, memory, and homecomings in her debut novel, They Drown Our Daughters.

Jenny Chen at Bantam Dell has acquired North American rights to Firebirds and a second book in the series by Lina Chern.

Ali Fisher at Tor Teen has acquired world rights to Find Him Where You Left Him and a second book in the series by Kristen Simmons.

Joanna’s Film/TV Options

Currently Under Option

Optioned to:
MiMo Studio

Currently Under Option