SCBWI Exclusive with... Emelie Burl, Associate Agent, Susan Schulman Literary Agency

Emelie joined Susan Schulman in 2021 after fourteen years of working as an independent bookseller. She is looking for books for all ages. She loves stories with hope and humor, strong female leads, LGBT+ and/or BIPOC Joy, and magic of all sorts. She does not love stories centered around murder, suicide, or sexual assault. Some of her recent favorite books include The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V.E. Schwab, Foxheart by Claire Legrand, and Broken (In the Best Possible Way) by Jenny Lawson.


What was your path to becoming an agent?

I was an indie bookseller for nearly 15 years before transitioning into agenting, and I honestly thought that’s what I would do for the rest of my life. When my husband and I decided we were ready for a change, we moved across the country to resettle in Montana and I decided to take a break from bookselling for a bit. A former customer, Susan Schulman, reached out to me and said “Hey, you were a really good bookseller. Interested in helping me field some queries?” The rest is history. 

What qualities does a manuscript have to have for you to fight to represent it?

I have to want to crawl inside that book and live there. If I’m mad that those characters, those places, those magic systems, etc. don’t exist in real life, that’s the perfect book. 

Once you sign a client, what can they expect from you?

A lot of phone calls and enthusiasm! I am a highly editorial agent who loves to get into the weeds of a story with the author, as well as involving them in the submission process along the way. I try my best to be communicative and supportive in any way I can so that my clients feel they have a teammate who has their back while we navigate the very strange waters of the publishing world together. 

What is on your manuscript wishlist? 

I’m open to fiction and non-fiction for all ages, and I love anything with a bit of magic and a sense of coziness. I love slice-of-life stories about everyday people, and I’m not terribly interested in the lives of royalty or the elite. Show me the magic of everyday moments. Themes exploring folklore and nature are always a plus. And humor with a little edge to it (think Jon Klassen, Neil Gaiman, etc). I tend to steer away from anything too sickly sweet, and thrillers aren’t my jam either. You can see my full mswl here

 SCBWI members who have a manuscript that might be a match can query Emelie for the month of February!