a haven for books that matter

Our Team

Emily Louise Smith

Founder and Publisher

Emily Louise Smith is an associate professor of publishing at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, where she also directs the Publishing Laboratory. In 2009, she co-founded Lookout as a haven for emerging and historically underrepresented voices, and has spent the past fifteen years building platforms for authors. She currently leads the imprint’s acquisitions and advancement strategies, sales and marketing, publicity, and book design. Under her leadership, Lookout titles have won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Paterson Fiction Prize, and have been named finalists for the National Book Award, the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize, and the Young Lions Fiction Award.

Smith’s courses, including the practicum that powers Lookout Books, demystify publishing processes and afford students opportunities to engage in decision-making as they examine and reimagine the field. Her research areas range from the history and practice of independent publishing to explorations of family.

Smith earned a BA in English with a concentration in gender studies from Davidson College and an MFA in Poetry from UNCW. She has been named a YWCA Woman of Achievement in the Arts, a recipient of UNCW’s Innovation in Teaching Award, and a finalist for Wilma magazine’s Women to Watch Awards. She was awarded a 2023 Artist Support Grant from the Arts Council of Wilmington and a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prize.

KaToya Ellis Fleming


KaToya Ellis Fleming is an assistant professor of publishing at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. In her role at Lookout, she acquires and lead edits the literary works of emerging and historically underrepresented authors. Her first acquisition for the imprint, Bigger Than Bravery: Black Resilience and Reclamation in a Time of Pandemic, edited by the late Valerie Boyd, won the Georgia Author of the Year Award for specialty book and took home silver in anthology from the Foreword INDIES. 

As a teacher, Fleming brings her editorial philosophy to her courses, providing students with a foundation for practicing social and cultural literacy and responsibility in the field of publishing.

Fleming currently serves on the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame Board of Judges. She was a 2023 Sewanee Writers’ Scholar and the recipient of a 2021 American Copy Editors Society Richard S. Holden Diversity Fellowship. Prior to her role at Lookout, she was awarded the 2019–2020 Oxford American Jeff Baskin Writers Fellowship.

She holds a BA in English from Spelman College and an MFA in Narrative Nonfiction from the University of Georgia. Her work focuses on race and culture in the American South.