Chelsey Emmelhainz

Copps Literary Services

My Manuscript Wish List®

I became an agent with Copps Literary Services after a decade as an editor of upmarket fiction and nonfiction at NYC publishing houses big and small. I cut my teeth in editorial at HarperCollins with William Morrow and Avon Books and was most recently a senior editor at Crooked Lane Books.

That breadth of experience means that I have a pretty good idea of what works, what doesn’t, and how to elevate projects to meet the discerning tastes of editors and publishers. As an editorial agent, I can help authors reach that next level–through a collaborative process and thoughtful feedback. I believe strongly in building partnerships that last, treating others fairly, and being transparent throughout the process.

Though I am looking for new clients, I’m building a highly selective list, focused mainly on adult fiction and nonfiction. Regardless of genre, I am always looking for authentic storytelling and to elevate diverse voices.

Fun facts about me:

  • I love: high-concept narratives that combine or draw from existing stories and tropes to create something fresh and new and are elevated by complex conflicts and a fast-paced plot.
  • I’m not a fan of: stories featuring literal demons, faeries, zombies, ghosts, etc.; “wise-cracking” characters; female characters used only as motivation for and to further the plot of a male character; and sexual assault as a plot device. In commercial fiction, I’m not interested in narratives featuring Hollywood, celebrities, reality TV, divas, etc. 
  • I will devour: any narrative featuring The Donner Party.
  • I need comps: For best results, include 3-5 realistic, recent, and relevant (RRR) comparative titles in your pitch.

Submission Guidelines

Fiction: I love high-concept adult fiction that expertly weaves complex, layered conflicts into a fast-paced narrative. While character-focused stories can appeal to me if the voice is strong, I generally prefer plot-driven narratives and those that force characters into positions of high stress. I want to see what your characters do when pushed to their limits.

  • Horror, especially creeping dread, unusual haunted places and families, cults, supernatural suspense, and all manner of psychological horror. Horror that unites a well-known era or event with a supernatural twist (a la Alma Katsu’s The Fervor or The Deep) is of special interest to me. Additionally, contemporary horror set in the non-Western world. 
  • Cozy mysteries with series potential, especially those featuring diverse protagonists. Give me your queer millennials solving mysteries alongside a cute cat!
  • Fresh, upmarket and high-concept psychological suspense/thrillers, exploring themes and twists we haven’t yet seen in the market (i.e. Just Like Mother by Anne Hetzel)
  • Magical realism (not fantasy) brought into our world, elevated through family drama or strained relationships (i.e. Zoje Stage’s Wonderland).
  • Dark, upmarket crime and mystery with series potential, especially those featuring traditionally underrepresented protagonists (no noir, political thrillers, or spy novels, please).
  • Commercial fiction and romance projects featuring fresh, high-concept hooks and multifaceted, layered conflicts, strong female characters, and unique takes on modern relationships—be they romantic, platonic, or familial.

Nonfiction: I look for strong storytelling and author voice across nonfiction genres as well as projects that aim to entertain while they educate. Additionally, I hope to see thoughtfully crafted proposals that explain clearly why you are the right person to be telling this story. Be sure to share your credentials as well as how your platform will contribute to the marketing and publicity for your book.

  • Narrative nonfiction that brings American history to life through an engaging narrative (a la The Indifferent Stars Above by Daniel James Brown, Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer, or The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan).
  • Platform-driven nonfiction in the social sciences, especially concerning topics under the umbrellas of politics, feminism, and social justice.
  • Voice-driven memoirs with a platform.
  • True crime, especially those with a personal twist (such as I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara or If You Tell by Gregg Olsen)
  • Hidden history, especially stories about unique or relatively unknown figures the world should know about (think: The Radium Girls, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, or Hidden Figures)
  • Deep dives into specific subjects with a prescriptive approach, aiming to help the reader live a better life, such as Johann Hari’s Stolen Focus.

Themes of interest, in both fiction and nonfiction: complex family dynamics, being child-free (this does not refer to a lack of children in the narrative, but rather choices and complications related to the decision to forgo becoming a parent, especially as it pertains to women, i.e. financial implications), sexuality across the spectrum with special interest in ace/asexual experiences.

I am NOT the right agent for:

  • “Quiet” or “character driven” literary novels
  • fantasy and it’s subgenres
  • political thrillers
  • military fiction
  • noir mysteries
  • short stories collections
  • science fiction
  • young adult
  • children’s books
  • middle grade
  • poetry
  • graphic novels
  • erotica

Please visit our website for full submission guidelines and policies.

For Fiction:

  • Submit only finished, polished novels.
  • Include an attention-grabbing query letter that includes word count, genre, comparative titles, and writing credentials.

For Non-Fiction:

  • Submit a complete non-fiction proposal including a chapter outline, author credentials, positioning and market considerations, comparative titles, and 2-4 sample chapters.

For All Submissions:

  • Remember: first impressions matter! Take the time to proofread your work and make sure your submission materials are properly formatted (Times New Roman, 12pt, double-spaced).
  • Please only submit one project at a time.
  • Please only submit to one agent at a time. If we love your work but don’t feel it is a fit for us, we’ll share it with colleagues.

Submit to me here.

Guidelines & Details