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Piles of Books

Our Team

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Phoenix Media & Books, LLC is an independent publisher founded by award-winning author, Katie Otey. We are dedicated to publishing a variety of quality media and books that accurately reflect the diverse nature of the world we all share. 


Whether for children or adults, humorous or heartwarming, thrilling or soothing, every Phoenix Media & Books story is authentic and relatable. We explore:

Joy and grief.

Laughter and learning.
Perseverance and triumph.


Every story reflects the resilience of the human spirit, while highlighting the importance of community.

Subscribe to our email list and/or follow us on social media to stay in the loop.

Please check our submissions page for accurate information about whether our editors are open for submissions. Please read more to find the best fit for your book. 

A photo of Phoenix Media & Books' founder, CEO, and author, Katie Otey

Katie Otey
Founder & Acquisitions Editor

Katie Otey has spent well over a decade as part of the children's book writing community. She spent eight years volunteering as a Network Representative for the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. She won several writing contests and scholarships and finally landed a traditional publishing deal for her debut picture book, Every Other Christmas. Katie then shifted her focus to publishing, joining the Independent Book Publishers Association, the St Louis Publishers Association, and Pub West. Her desire to expand opportunities for other content creators prompted her to start Phoenix Media & Books where she offers a traditional yet collaborative publishing experience. Katie's very first publication, Sister, received the honor of Best New Voice in Children's/YA from the 2024 IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards. She attributes this award to the hard work and collaboration of the entire team and intends on continuing to produce highly competitive books that every creator can be proud of. Katie is very selectively looking for: Children's fiction and non-fiction picture books. She will accept rhyming picture books and is especially interested in multicultural stories. Middle Grade humor Contemporary Romance Women's Fiction Self-Help Poetry Please do not submit horror stories or stories that rely on stereotypes and not lived experiences as those usually fall flat and lack authenticity.

A photo of Phoenix Media & Books' Chief Operations Officer and Author, Leia M. Johnson

Leia M. Johnson
Senior Editor

Leia M. Johnson has worked as an editor for over 20 years. As a freelancer, she has done everything from line editing technical manuals and website content to completing developmental edits for books across genres. Leia holds a BA in English Secondary Education and an MA in English/Creative Writing and enjoys guiding other writers through the creative process with a nurturing eye for where manuscripts can be improved and a keen sense of what readers want. Leia believes that good writing requires good reading, so she reads between 150 and 200 middle grade, YA, and adult books a year (plus countless picture books).

 What Leia is looking for: contemporary middle grade, YA, and adult books that strike a balance between happy and sad; unique memoir; cozy mysteries with series potential; books with some element of surprise; MG/YA research-based nonfiction about lesser known topics with broad appeal; literary leaning fiction that highlights cultures/perspectives that have been overlooked by traditional publishing. Do not send Leia: romance (love stories welcome!); books with overly complicated world building; books with simple, cheesy happy endings; research-based nonfiction about a topic that has already been written about a million times.

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Urania Smith

Urania Smith has been in the children's book community for over 20 years and has helped many authors pursue their dreams. From sponsoring conference scholarships for writers of color to co-editing Phoenix Media and Books’ award winning, debut title, Sister, Urania has remained committed to helping authors flourish. As a writer herself she knows how difficult this industry is and has worked to break barriers for herself and other marginalized writers. Urania has a BA in English. She is the winner of the 2017 We Need Diverse Books Mentorship in the Picture Book category and a founding member of SCBWI-IL's Diversity and Inclusion Committee. She is also a team member at KidLitGN which hosts a yearly graphic novel pitch contest in October. When Urania is not writing and helping other authors, you can find her using her creativity designing homes for her real estate investment business and cooking fabulous meals. She is convinced there’s 78-year-old southern woman living deep inside her, guiding her as she bakes. Urania lives in Chicago with her family and a rather rambunctious golden doodle, Cinnamon Toast, who was a pit bull in her former life. Urania is looking for: Picture Books: humorous, subversive, comic style, lyrical (but no rhyming), and creative non-fiction. Middle Grade: humor, mystery, realistic fiction, action and adventure, and fantasy, sci-fi. YA and Adult: humor, mystery, romantic comedy, horror, suspense/ thriller, fantasy, and sci-fi.

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