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Agent Spotlight & Agent Spotlight Updates

  • Agent Spotlights & Interviews have been updated through the letter "K" as of 3/28/2024 and many have been reviewed by the agents. Look for more information as I find the time to update more agent spotlights.

Agent Spotlight: Stephen Barbara

This week's Agent Spotlight features Stephen Barbara of InkWell Management.  

Status: Open to submissions.

About: "Stephen was born and raised in New Haven, Connecticut, and graduated from the University of Chicago with a B.A. in English language and literature. He began his publishing career in 2005 as an editorial assistant at HarperCollins, and then worked for three years as the Contracts Director of the Donald Maass Agency. Following six years as a literary agent at Foundry Media, he joined InkWell at the start of 2015.

Stephen works with writers, storytellers, thinkers, and entertainers of talent and ambition. A sampling of his clients includes New York Times and international bestseller Lauren Oliver, USA Today bestseller and British Fantasy Award winner Paul Tremblay, Newbery Medal winner and New York Times bestseller Laura Amy Schlitz, National Book Award nominee Lisa Graff, USA Today bestseller Zoje Stage, bestselling fantasy graphic novelist Ethan Aldridge, and children’s author Minh Lê, whose picture book Drawn Together appeared on more than 20 “Best Of” Lists at the end of 2018; he also represents nonfiction authors Meghan Cox Gurdon, Eleanor Herman, and Tom Venuto. In his capacity as agent for media and content company Glasstown Entertainment, Stephen has worked with actress Krysten Ritter, activist Dylan Farrow, novelist Alma Katsu, singer and actress Jessica Jung, and bestselling fantasy author Sara Holland, among others. While selective in taking on new clients, he is always drawn to compelling stories that marry quality writing to bold, imaginative concepts."." (Link)
About the Agency:

"InkWell is one of the world’s leading literary agencies, proudly representing major literary prize winners as well as many of the world’s bestselling and best-loved authors. We enjoy a considerable international reputation as a significant and innovative player in the industry.
“In addition to its full-time agents and their assistants, the InkWell team includes a tireless foreign rights department, a dedicated social media, marketing and publicity expert, and a meticulous contracts manager. We also join forces with leading literary agencies in every foreign market and have agents based in Australia, Boston, and Dallas. We continue to be excited by—and on the lookout for—original ideas, riveting stories and great writing.” (Link)

Web Presence:

Mr. Barbara’s Twitter.

Publisher’s Marketplace page.

InkWell Management website.

InkWell Management Facebook.

InkWell Management Twitter.

AgentQuery, QueryTracker.

What He's Looking For:


Children’s books and select adult projects (commercial, literary; non-fiction).

What He Isn't Looking For:

Screenplays, Romance, Westerns.  


“I think the basic theme of my career so far has been discovering – and launching – debut authors, particularly first novelists. I haven’t inherited any clients but have been open to taking on clients mid-career.” (via e-mail)

Editorial Agent?



There is a page of clients on the InkWell website. Mr. Barbara's clients include Atia Abawi, Ethan Aldridge, Lenore Appelhans, Kamilla Benko, Betsy Bird, Matt Bird, Julie Danielson, Glasstown Entertainment, Lisa Graff, Amy Guglielmo, Meghan Cox Gurdon, Eleanor Herman, Lexa Hillyer, Lynne Jonell, Travis Jonker, Minh Lê, Lauren Oliver, Jess Rothenberg, Leila Sales, Laura Amy Schlitz, Vivian Shaw, Zoje Stage, Lindsey Stoddard, Todd Strasser, Paul Tremblay, Kerry Winfrey, Trish Lundy, Clemence Michallon, and Allen Zadoff.
Query Methods:

E-mail: Yes (only)

Snail-Mail: No.

Online-Form: No.

Submission Guidelines (always verify):

Send a brief query letter and the first five pages in the body of an e-mail.
Please see the Inkwell Management website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines and terms of agreement.

Response Times:

The agency has a stated response time of up to two months (link). Mr. Barbara tries to respond to all queries but does not guarantee a response due to the volume of submissions. (Link)

Stats on the web show Mr. Barbara responding to most queries within hours to a week. Requested material usually gets a response within days to a couple weeks.

What's the Buzz?

Stephen Barbara is a favorite among aspiring authors, well-respected for his lightning fast response times and wit.  He has a strong list of clients and sales and his clients seem very happy with his representation.  Conference goers report him as being rather funny and gracious.

I recommend following him on Twitter @Stephen_Barbara.

Worth Your Time:

Articles and Interviews:

Interview With Stephen Barbara at Presenting Lenore (01/2013)

Around the Web:

Literary Agent Stephen Barbara joins InkWell Management (12/2014).


Please see the InkWell Management website for contact and query information.

Profile Details:

Last updated: 12/30/2022.

Agent Contacted for Review? Yes.

Last Reviewed By Agent? 2/3/2023.


Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at natalieiaguirre7(at)gmail(dot)com 

Note: These agent profiles focus on agents who accept children's and/or young adult fiction. They are not interviews. Please take the time to verify anything you might use here before querying an agent. The information found herein is subject to change.


PJ Hoover said...

What a great fountain of information, Casey!

PurpleClover said...

Wow. This is awesome! He's one of my fav agents! I have queried (and been rejected) by him but he's still a phenom!

I'd give him 15%...maybe even 20% if it meant he'd take me on now. lol.

Corey Schwartz said...

I'd love to have an agent like him!

Christina Farley said...

Excellent lowdown here. He does seem like a catch. :)

Casey McCormick said...

Thanks all!

Mr. Barbara has reviewed and updated his profile.

Ishta Mercurio said...

Thanks for the heads-up about the spotlight update, Casey.

Unknown said...

Stephen Barbara has actually now at the InkWell agency. Thought, I should let ya'll know.

Casey McCormick said...

Thank you, Anthony! I've updated to reflect the move.