Tracy Marchini Wants to Build Careers

  • By: Tracy Marchini | Date: Aug 18 2022

This week, we’re doing a meet-the-agent interview with senior literary agent Tracy Marchini! Come check out what her agenting superpower is, and get to know her along the way!


What is your agenting superpower?

I’ve always felt like a pretty resourceful person, and I think as an agent that comes across in career planning and finding new talent. I love trying to figure out what we can do with a book project beyond the initial print rights, and finding those projects that you might not expect on a children’s bookshelf that are funny and heartfelt and push some boundaries. I also strive to be a tough but fair negotiator – someone that’s supporting my clients for that particular project and long term career growth.  


What do people often get wrong about you/what would they be surprised to know? 

It feels like every decade I learn a new part of the “jack of all trades” quote. In my twenties, I aspired to be a jack of all trades, and so I was constantly trying to learn everything I could about as much as possible. “Jack of all trades” sounded like a compliment – like a renaissance woman – and that’s what I wanted to be.

Then in my thirties I learned the second part – “a jack of all trades is a master of none” and I decided it was time to specialize. So I have given up the idea of learning how to crochet, or sewing all my own clothes (besides Halloween costumes) and I’ve taken that same approach with my list building, in cultivating a list of talented authors and illustrators for children’s work even though I do have professional experience outside of the genres I’ve decided to specialize in.

And just last week, I learned that the full quote is, “A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.” I suppose that brings me back around to my twenties again, but perhaps in a more focused way? I’ve accepted that I cannot possibly learn everything there is to know, but I can always branch out from my roots as a children’s agent and author to explore and try new things within or building from the framework that I do specialize in.

After reading all that, you’d probably be surprised to know that I have anxiety and would feel very anxious about sharing that much about myself in front of a crowd and/or face to face.


What are 5 songs on your playlist (that represent you, that you always recommend, that you listen to on repeat, etc.)?

Lately, I’ve been listening to Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814 on repeat. Maybe it’s part nostalgia, or the way you have the angst of “Livin’ in a World (They Didn’t Make)”, the rallying cry of “Rhythm Nation” alongside the escapism of “Escapade” – but there’s something about that album right now that is hitting all the feels. 


What are 5 books on your reading list (that represent you, that you always recommend, that you would read over and over again, etc.) and why?

Of course I would recommend all of my client books and the books of all my writer friends, but if I’m not allowed to do that… Then I would say, CREEPY CARROTS by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Peter Brown is a perennial favorite for its gentle horror and humor, and fantastic cinematic illustrations. In middle grade, I love the work of Rebecca Stead, Meg Medina, Rita Williams-Garcia and Erin Entrada Kelly. For board books, Lucy Cousins’ HOORAY FOR FISH is one of my favorite read alouds and of course the ending is lovely. 

I also read a lot of adult non-fiction, particularly about the sciences, history or contemporary social justice issues. (Also time management and productivity – things that are written with an entrepreneurial mindset.) 


What does your reading list say about you? What does it say about your MSWL? 

Well, for one thing it says that the scariest things I can read are written for people under twelve! But also that I’m looking for illustration that grabs me or stands out in a way that is unexpected (Peter Brown’s work on the CREEPY books appears heavily influenced by Alfred Hitchcock, who was influenced by German expressionism – and I love that these things are being incorporated into work for children.) In middle grade, I love books that tackle difficult but common middle grade issues with humor and heart. And in board books, while I’m not looking for them specifically unless it’s an author-illustrator project – I love the ones where the language just sings/bounces as you read. 


What would you like querying authors to know about you?

I don’t want to miss out on something great and am equally open to debut and established creators, so if it’s on my MSWL (which you can also find on the BookEnds website and my agent/author website at: then I would love to see your work!





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