Elizabeth Agyemang

Associate Editor

Clarion Books

Growing up in New Jersey after emigrating from Ghana when she was three, Elizabeth Agyemang lived with her four siblings and her parents in a cramped two-bedroom apartment. So her parents began to send the kids to the local public library, where they could spread out on the spacious tables. “We would just read all the time and do our homework in the last 30 minutes,” she says. That’s when she fell in love with books.

In college Agyemang joined the Representation Matters mentorship program that connects people of color to publishing professionals who can help them learn about, and get a foothold in, the industry. She began her career as an intern at Clarion and quickly moved up the ranks her current position. Her mission is “to open a door for the story that I didn’t get to see growing up.”

One such book is The Secret of the Ravens by Joanna Cacao, a middle grade graphic fantasy that is Cacao’s debut as both author and illustrator. It tells the tale of two twins who, after their parents die, live in a fantasy world inspired by the author’s Filipino culture.

On the nonfiction side, Agyemang signed Natural Me, a picture book by MzVee, a Ghanian singer and BET nominee for best international new artist. The book grew out of MzVee’s song “Natural Girl,” which Agyemang listened to in high school. The song and the book tackle the theme of people feeling that they can’t be themselves without changing the way they look, a problem particularly prevalent among Black women, Agyemang says.

One as-yet-unannounced acquisition is speculative fiction set in Brooklyn that includes real history and depicts gentrification. “History is something that has always helped me get a sense of place, culture, and community,” Agyemang says. “There’s so much history that we haven’t seen through the perspective of the marginalized. I have a mission to show that history.”

In June Razorbill published Agyemang’s first graphic novel, Fibbed, which she wrote and illustrated. PW praised this reimagination of Ghanian folklore, saying her “highly stylized, vibrantly hued illustrations handily convey this lush tale.”

All that and she is a team player. Emilia Rhodes, her supervisor, calls her “creative, professional, and a personal delight of a publishing partner.”

Ruoxi Chen


Tordotcom Publishing

“Award” could be Ruoxi Chen’s middle name. An impressive number of her authors are multiple award winners, and Chen herself recently received the Hugo Award for Best Editor, Long Form. Books she has acquired have won Alex, Crawford, Hugo, Ignyte, Locus, and World Fantasy awards, among others.

Among these lauded titles is Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi, which Chen is particularly eager to showcase. Familiar with the Nigerian American’s work in the YA world, Chen reached out, and over coffee the novella was conceived. It came roaring out of the gate with a blurb from Marlon James and never slowed. Riot Baby won the World Fantasy Award and the ALA Alex Award, and was a finalist for the NAACP Image Award, a Hugo, and a Nebula.

Onyebuchi followed that up with Goliath, a novel that PW called “an urgent, gorgeous work, a harrowing and visionary sci-fi novel.” More than the accolades, what Chen relishes is being able to grow with an author. “We brought Tochi into the adult arena,” she says, “and now he is writing for Marvel and others and has this amazing profile that wasn’t quite there when we first talked about this book.”

Another author whom Chen has helped grow is Nghi Vo, whose first novella, The Empress of Salt and Fortune, was pulled from the slush pile and went on to win a Hugo Award. Chen was astounded. “It was this perfectly crafted jewel,” she says. “I wondered if witchcraft was at hand.” That turned out to be the first of a trilogy of novellas, plus two acclaimed novels, Siren Queen and The Chosen and the Beautiful.

Chen strives to broaden the popular understanding of what sci-fi and fantasy can include. “There’s a really big tent for what we call genre, and I love reading authors and publishing people who are pushing those boundaries,” she says.

Renata Sweeney, Tordotcom’s assistant director for marketing, says working with Chen is an inspiration. “When she pitches authors, everyone’s head turns. As a marketer I have had dozens of booksellers tell me they will read and blurb anything Ruoxi Chen edits—a phenomenon I have experienced with no other editor I’ve ever worked with.”

Fanta Diallo

Associate Publicist

Little, Brown

While she was pursuing her BS in business marketing and strategic communications at the University of Minnesota, Fanta Diallo didn’t know what her dream job was, but she knew she wanted to earn enough to help support her family. She planned to eventually find work as a consultant. That plan changed when she was studying abroad and an advisor pointed her to the publishing industry as a way satisfy her love of books.

After graduating in 2020, Diallo landed a part-time job at Little, Brown and moved from Minneapolis to New York City. In order to both work with books and help her family, she also held a full-time job as an account coordinator for Jonesworks, a public relations firm, beginning her days at 5 a.m.

Diallo was eventually hired full-time at Little, Brown as an editorial assistant (and quit her PR job), and then moved to publicity, which had been her goal. She says her experience in editorial proved to be an asset. While still in that department, her talent for garnering attention for books was already evident. Among her projects was Tricia Hersey’s Rest Is Resistance: A Manifesto, which resonated deeply with belief that Black and brown people carry a burden that others don’t. “I was so attached to this book, and it was so important that people read this book, I wrote an essay to be circulated in-house,” she recalls. That piece, “Mental Health Awareness Month and Amplifying Black Voices Year-Round,” caught the attention of Hachette Book Group CEO Michael Pietsch who, in his weekly newsletter, urged everyone to read it.

If Nietzsche Were a Narwhal by Justin Gregg was the first book that Diallo took the publicity lead on, and she knocked it out of the park with only five months of publicity experience. It received stellar reviews in
the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.

Juliana Horvachevsky, associate director of publicity at Little, Brown, to whom Diallo reports, calls her “the kindest, most resilient, and driven person I know. She is a passionate, young, and exceptional person. This is just the start of her career and I can’t wait to see all else that she accomplishes.”

Amy Fitzgerald

Editorial Director


When Amy Fitzgerald joined Lerner as an intern 10 years ago, she stood out. She took on every challenge and demonstrated skills beyond her age and experience, according to executive v-p and editor-in-chief Andrew Cummings. In 2018, she was tasked with managing young and middle grade fiction and a year later was promoted to editorial director, overseeing the lists for Carolrhoda Books and Carolrhoda Lab, Lerner’s trade fiction imprints.

“In children’s publishing, we’re living in a time when many people are determined to prevent their children and other people’s children from accessing stories that reflect the vast variety of human experience,” Fitzgerald says. “I believe there is no appeasing that—no meeting it halfway.” This, she adds, has imbued her with a particular sense of urgency to use her privilege to hold the gate open for as many underrepresented creators as she can.

Cummings says that her leadership, vision, and approach have resulted in “the transformation of the fiction program into a purpose-driven, meticulously curated list.”

In the upcoming Carolrhoda Books middle grade novel Indigo and Ida by Heather Murphy Capps, an eighth grader investigates an unfair and possibly racist school policy, but gets pushback from friends and adults. The book captures the “fierceness, fearlessness, and openness about the frustration, anger, and exhaustion that can come with standing up for what
you believe in,” Fitzgerald says.

Last fall, Carolrhoda Lab published the Pura Belpré Award winner Where I Belong, a YA novel by Marcia Argueta Mickelson that features a Guatemalan American high school senior who finds herself in the middle of the debate over immigration. The book illustrates the kind of authors Fitzgerald wants on her lists—the kind who “seemingly take an ordinary slice of life of a teenager and turn it into a touchstone of so many emotions and bigger questions.”

Others on Fitzgerald’s lists include Amber Lough’s Open Fire, which follows a girl in Russia’s first women’s battalion during World War I, and Betty G. Yee’s Gold Mountain, in which a girl joins the Chinese workforce building the Transcontinental Railroad. Fitzgerald says these titles reflect her vision of publishing books that “don’t sugarcoat how messy and scary being alive can be” but empower and invigorate readers, rather than depleting them.

Ashley Marie Mireles

Director of Sales and Marketing


In her six years there, Ashley Marie Mireles has paid equal attention to growing Familius, and to making it—and all of publishing—a more inclusive and welcoming place. She has an advantage in creating new opportunities for the press, because her responsibilities go beyond what is typically thought of as sales and marketing. She’s also involved in inventory and acquisitions.

Mireles has found success with creators of inspirational art on Instragram, recruiting them to produce a series of paper-over-board mini books priced at $9.99. “Most of these people are creating content that is monetizied in the form of stickers or digital art,” she explains. “They didn’t have a way of creating something physical on their own. The mini books give them an opportunity to make a buck now that they have a tangible object to sell.”

The first of these was Yes You Can by well-followed Instagrammer Olivia Herrick, which combines meditations and reflections and is now in its third printing. A children’s book adaptation and flashcards from Herrick are upcoming.

Mireles identifies as Mexican American and Indigenous, and she is eager to make the publishing world more inclusive and welcoming. She was instrumental in acquiring two cookbooks by Ericka Sanchez of the popular website Nibbles & Feasts: Aquas Frescas & Paletas and ¡Buen Provecho! A second-generation Mexican American, Sanchez offers accessible, easier, and healthier twists on traditional recipes.

The books were released during the pandemic, but Mireles didn’t let that hamper marketing plans. She worked with Sanchez to create TikTok reels, quite a few of which went viral, and they partnered with the California supermarket chain Vallarta.

Mireles has also contributed to Familius’s list by authoring a series of children’s board books, including 100 First Words for Little Californians.

Outside of Familius, Mireles is very active in the Independent Book Publishers Association, where she’s chair of the DEI committee and serves on the board.

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