Publishers Association logo
Literary Agent

Literary Agent

Photo of Ella Kahn, literary agent

Written by Ella Kahn, literary agent at DKW Literary Agency. Follow @elladkahn on Twitter.

Prior to co-launching DKW in 2012, Ella worked at Andrew Nurnberg Associates as an Assistant Literary Agent for three years. She loves the creative side of collaborating with authors, pitching exciting projects and handling negotiations. Ella represents upmarket contemporary and historical fiction, science fiction, and some non-fiction. She also represents a wide range of children’s fiction for the 9-12 and YA age groups.

She has an MA in Publishing from University College London and a BA in Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic from the University of Cambridge. She was Chair of the Society of Young Publishers in 2011, and has also volunteered as the SYP’s Events Officer and Treasurer. She became a Freeman of the Stationers’ Company in 2012. Ella was included in The Bookseller’s list of Rising Stars in 2013, and was a winner of the  London Book Fair Trailblazer Awards 2016.

What was the last book you read?

I’ve just been rereading some childhood favourites, The Sterkarm Handshake and A Sterkarm Kiss by Susan Price – fantastic historical/time travel adventures. I was really struck on rereading by how violent they are in places, but it just goes to show that the best teen fiction doesn’t shy away from gritty realities – recommended for fans of Game of Thrones!

What’s next on your reading list?

I’m really excited to read The Ballroom by Anna Hope. I absolutely loved her debut Wake, and from the sounds of it her second novel will be equally good. I’m only a few pages in but her writing is incredibly evocative, and the story and the setting are really intriguing – everything you could want from a good book, in my opinion!

What are you watching right now on TV?

I’m very happy that Call the Midwife is back. It’s so heartwarming, though it often makes me cry! And I’ve been watching Narcos on Netflix which is an absolutely fascinating docu-drama based on the true stories of the first Columbian drug cartels.

Tell us the one thing about your company/business that we need to know…

That we’re a dynamic, friendly and ambitious agency who have achieved a great deal of success in a short space of time – including winning the inaugural LBF Trailblazer Awards!

What do you like about your job?

The variety, both in the day-to-day tasks involved (from client edits and submitting projects to negotiating contracts and doing accounting) and in the range of projects I work on (from memoir to children’s fiction). And, of course, it’s the best thing in the world to be able to tell an author their book is going to be published.

What's one piece of advice you'd give to someone starting out in publishing?

Be creative and flexible about what roles to put yourself forwards for – there’s so much more to publishing than editorial. And be proactive about asking questions and getting involved in projects so that you gain responsibility and experience.

How does social media aid the Publishing industry?

It’s fantastic for networking, discovery (of books, news, interesting people) and promotion, of course. Being active on Twitter (and Tumblr, and Instagram) has definitely helped build our profile as a company and been a great platform to share news about our projects.

What was your first job?

I had a part-time job at Andrew Nurnberg Associates Literary Agency alongside my MA Publishing at UCL, which turned into a full-time job when I graduated. I learnt so much there about all aspects of publishing and agenting, so I couldn’t have had a better start.

Tell us about a passionate interest you have outside the business

Singing! I’m part of an amazing choir called Some Voices ( and we do incredible pop gigs three times a year – it’s so much fun. Our next gig theme (the week after the LBF) is space so expect lots of Bowie, Elton John, and Beastie Boys.

What do you love about LBF?

I always get a warm glow from the strong sense of community in publishing when wandering around the LBF, bumping into friends and colleagues from right across the industry, that feeling that we are all connected by our passion for books, and gathered together to celebrate it.

Originally posted on