Meet Dani Segelbaum, Vice President, Literary Agent, and Subsidiary Rights Director at the Carol Mann Agency.
Dani Segelbaum was born and raised in Minneapolis and grew up as a voracious reader. She’s a graduate of Boston University’s College of Communication, where she studied journalism and political science.
Early in her career, she worked with established and debut authors as a literary assistant at New Leaf Literary and Media. Her career in publishing began when she became an editorial assistant at HarperCollins Publishers, where she focused primarily on highly designed non-fiction titles.
Now, Dani is Vice President, Literary Agent, and Subsidiary Rights Director at the Carol Mann Agency. And she’s stopping by the Mixed-Up Files to tell us a little bit about her journey, the work she currently represents, and the kind of manuscripts she wants to find in her inbox.
Hi Dani. Welcome to the Mixed Up Files!
Hi, Susan! It’s great to join you today.
Can you tell us a little about your path to becoming an agent?
I started my career as an editorial assistant at HarperCollins. After a few years, I realized I wanted to be an agent instead of an editor. From there, I went on to work at New Leaf Literary as an agent’s assistant and slowly started to build my list. I then joined Carol Mann in 2021 and am now Vice President, Subsidiary Rights Director, and Literary Agent for the agency.
Please give us a little background on the Carol Mann Agency.
The Carol Mann Agency was established in 1977 and has long been home to highly-regarded writers of fiction and non-fiction. We are a boutique agency that prides itself on giving individual attention to all our clients and regularly placing projects with leading publishers both in the United States and overseas. Our broad range of tastes, our experience guiding authors and their manuscripts through the publication process, and our industry relationships make us on of New York’s top literary agencies. We are privileged to work with a number of bestselling and award-winning authors.
It sounds like you’ve found your niche in the publishing world. Tell us what you find to be the best and worst parts about being an agent.
Best: I’m always learning something new from my authors! Each book teaches me something exciting and different.
Worst: Rejections! Although, it is a regular part of the publishing process.
Can you describe what you look for in a query?
I want to see that the author has done some initial research on what I’m looking for and that they followed my submission guidelines.
What are the top reasons you pass on a submission?
The number one reason is that the query is not in the genre I work on.
Here at MUF, we’re all about middle grade. Can you tell us what you love most about middle grade literature?
Stephen Colbert said, “As far as I can tell, a young adult novel is a regular novel that people actually read.” I feel the same applies for middle-grade novels. They take real-life issues and make them understandable for all ages!
What kind of middle grade books do you enjoy?
The middle-grade landscape has changed drastically since I was a kid. Now, there are all types of middle-grade books available that weren’t around when I was young. It’s really incredible to see.
My author Matt Eicheldinger’s book MATT SPROUTS AND THE CURSE OF THE TEN BROKEN TOES is such a delight. It’s funny, relatable, and entertaining. He’s fantastic to work with and has such a creative mind. Kids will absolutely love this book. I promise!
What types of queries would you like most to see in your inbox right now?
I’m interested in seeing both fiction and non-fiction. In fiction, I’d really like to see literary and upmarket adult fiction including debut, historical, rom-coms, and women’s fiction. In non-fiction, I’m looking for proposals with an emphasis on politics, women’s issues, popular culture, and current events. Oh, and I love memoir, narrative non-fiction, lifestyle, and cookbooks, too!
In both fiction and non-fiction, I hope to work with authors from diverse backgrounds to tell the stories that are important to them. Overall, I’m really drawn to compelling narrators and writing that is voice-driven, highly transporting, and features unique perspectives and marginalized voices.
Where can authors learn more about you?
You can follow me on Twitter (X) and Instagram at @danisegelbaum and check out my MSWL.
Now that we know all about Dani the agent, tell us what you like to do when you’re not at work.
When I’m not working, you’ll most likely find me baking, making homemade ice cream, or walking my dog!
Thanks again for joining us, Dani.
Thanks for having me!