5 minutes with Ella Kahn

5 minutes with Ella Kahn


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 Sterkam 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 1 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 is the one piece of advice you’d give to someone starting out in publishing today?
Be creative and flexible about what roles to put yourself forward 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, for discovery – of books, news, interesting people – and for 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 (www.somevoices.co.uk) and we do incredible pop gigs three times a year – it’s SO much fun. Our next gig theme (the week after the LBF! Come along!) 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!

How has winning the Trailblazers changed your life?
It definitely helped increase our profile and reputation within the industry, and it was quite surreal to see a huge banner with our faces on it on the balcony at LBF! It has also led to new business opportunities – for example, I was invited to judge the LBF’s The Write Stuff live pitch event as a Trailblazer winner, and I met and signed my client Natalie Hart as a result. Plus, the trophies really brighten up our office mantelpiece!

What one tip would you give to young publishers?
Be curious and open about the range of job roles you’re willing to consider, and be imaginative about creating opportunities to develop and showcase your skills. If you’re too single-mindedly determined to pursue a very traditional editorial career ladder, you may find it much harder to make yourself stand out than if you blaze your own trail!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.