Lit Match
Lit Match
Apr 1, 2022
Tanya McKinnon ON: What Makes Great Nonfiction, Why Stories Encourage Empathy, and How She Helps Clients Craft a Powerful Proposal
Play • 38 min

"Every time you pick up a good book, you enter someone else's mind, you see the world through their lens. And that's deeply exciting for me. I also think it allows for empathy, and empathy and kindness are the core components of a successful civilization.” – Tanya McKinnon, McKinnon Literary Agency 

Abigail K. Perry sits down with Tanya McKinnon to discuss her career and expertise with serious nonfiction, literary fiction, children’s books, and graphic novels. They discuss how books work as vehicles to understanding human motivation, and why they encourage us to become empathetic. 

Tanya also shares why she pushes her clients with a rigorous in-house editorial process before going to market. She talks about how she fights for her clients, why serious nonfiction isn’t as different from fiction as some people think, and what literary fiction allows readers to do in comparison to plot-driven fiction.  

Tanya is looking for books that push her beyond the boundaries of where she currently is. She has a special interest in multicultural and African-American work, and work about the American experience. She believes that women of all races are central to these stories.   


About Tanya:

Tanya McKinnon is the principal literary agent and founder of McKinnon Literary Agency. Since establishing the agency in 2014, she has seen the publication of numerous New York Times bestsellers as well as numerous award winners and commercial successes.

Tanya has worked various roles in publishing, including time as an editor, which deepened her love of accessible idea-driven nonfiction with the power to transform culture. Tanya’s various sides of the industry have led her to view the agent-author relationship holistically, and she works closely with clients as an editorial agent. 

Tanya has an MA in cultural anthropology and teaches a course on writing for children in the Publishing Certificate Program at City College. 


Tanya’s MSWL:

  • Serious nonfiction
  • Literary fiction
  • Children’s books
  • Graphic novels 

Special Interests:

  • Particular interest in multicultural and African-American work
  • Writers who confront the chaos of reality
  • Work that takes her beyond the boundaries of where she currently is
  • Nonfiction categories: history, sociology, psychology, anthropology, medicine, cultural criticism, popular culture, journalism, and sheer whimsy 
  • Literary fiction: character-driven and an engrossing, strong voice


Find us: 

Twitter: @abigailkperry @TanyaMcKinnon1

Instagram: @abigailkperry @tanyamckinnon

Website:  |


Read the books discussed in this episode:





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