Agent Update: Mary Kole of Movable Type Management

Mary visits a vineyard.

By Cynthia Leitich Smith

Welcome back to Cynsations! When you last visited in 2010, you were with Andrea Brown Literary Agency. What’s this we hear about your moving to a new position?

I’ve switched agencies, it’s true! I’ve been approached by agencies before but never really felt the work-chemistry until a chance meeting with Jason Ashlock of Movable Type Management.

I adore the Andrea Brown Literary Agency and had an amazing foundation there–I admire and respect all of my former colleagues deeply. But I wanted to learn more about digital publishing, packaging, and the possibilities available now to writers who may be a bit more entrepreneurial, because that’s my mode–I spent the first six years of my professional life at a Silicon Valley start-up that ended up selling to Google.

I love being small and nimble and in a leadership position. At MTM, I have the chance to head up the children’s department and that’s incredibly exciting to me.

Will your existing clients be moving with you or are you looking to rebuild from the ground up?

In an extremely humbling and gratifying move, my clients have elected to take the plunge with me at MTM. I couldn’t be more thrilled. Several clients who originally came to me from Andrea’s list ended up back with ABLA–though I was glad to shepherd them during my tenure there–but everyone I brought in came along for the ride.

That said, I am looking to very much build up my list and find fresh talent in my new role!

Has this change affected the types of manuscripts you’re seeking? What’s the scoop on your current interests?

Photo by Mary of Sacre Coeur in Paris.

Not at all. I’m still looking for picture book, middle grade, and young adult clients, with a specific emphasis on novels and author/illustrators.

For fiction, I really want projects that have a clear theme/story core, relate-able characters, strong plot, and great writing.

I’m coming out with a book this October from Writer’s Digest Books called Writing Irresistible Kidlit–it’s very craft-heavy. I will always be a rigorously editorial agent with high standards, but I also want premises that feel big and commercial, because that’s really a hot spot in the market right now.

I like to say, “Literary spark and commercial appeal.” I’d be especially curious to find mystery, thriller, fantasy, light sci-fi, adventure, horror, or contemporary realistic MG and YA novels with strong romantic elements throughout and stellar voice.

How about submissions procedures? What’s the scoop?

Submission guidelines are the same as they ever were for me, but we’re currently updating the MTM website, so I’m happy for the opportunity to reprint them here.

For picture books, I want the query and the full text (for writers) or a query, the text, and a link to an online illustration portfolio (for author/illustrators). If I want to see a dummy after that, I’ll ask.

For middle grade and young adult, please send a query and the first 10 pages of your prose. You must use the word “Query” in your email subject line, and my email is No snail mail and no attachments, please. Every personalized email that follows guidelines will get a response!

In addition to your wonderful blog at, you’re also at Kidlit Apps. Could you tell us a little about your approach to each?  

Mary eating offal and fermented tofu in Hong Kong.

Because of all the changes recently, my approach to the Apps blog has been, sadly, neglect more than anything! But digital books and the developments there have always been an interest of mine. Recently, I’ve been putting together articles and doing some analysis of the general marketplace.

Sometimes I do app reviews, because I love seeing what’s out there and thinking critically about digital books. This is a blog I hope to resurrect with gusto very soon…probably after BEA madness!

Anything you’d like to add?

I’m really excited to hit the ground running at Movable Type. In order to be successful and to help my clients grow, I have a lot to learn about the new landscape of publishing, and I really am looking to broaden my list, especially with novelists.

Before, I was one agent of nine, we all handled the same types of books, and potential clients had to choose one of us for their submission. Now, I’m the children’s person at a smaller agency. All that’s to say, basically, bring it on!

5 thoughts on “Agent Update: Mary Kole of Movable Type Management

  1. Thank you for posting such an informative post! Mary K's tremendous energy shines through!

  2. Awesome! SO great to follow Mary's career and new adventures in pubbing. Thanks for the great interview. It may've just motivated me to go ahead and query her (I never feel ready.) 😉

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