This week's Agent Spotlight features Kate McKean of Howard Morhaim Literary Agency, Inc.
About: "After earning a Masters in Fiction Writing from the University of Southern Mississippi, Kate McKean set out to start her publishing career as an agent in New York City. She joined Howard Morhaim Literary Agency [in 2006] after working previously with Dystel & Goderich Literary Management and Brick House Literary Agents. Her interests lie in contemporary women's fiction, paranormal romance, urban fantasy, literary fiction, narrative non-fiction, sports related books, pop culture, and health and wellness. She is primarily interested in people and the strange, wonderful, surprising, and heartbreaking stories they tell. She's most happy immersed in a good book, especially Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Carver, and Chabon." (Link)
You can read another bio on Ms. McKean's website, Writing, et al.
Status: Open to submissions.
What She's Looking For:
"Her interests lie in literary fiction, contemporary women's fiction, paranormal romance, urban fantasy, mystery, young adult and middle grade fiction, narrative non-fiction, sports related books, food writing, pop culture, and craft." (Link)
"I'm looking for a novel to fall in love with. I'm looking for excellent writing, with a plot that keeps me turning pages. I'm looking for the diamond in the rough. I know that that's not a helpful answer to writers looking to query me, but I find that if there's a certain topic I'm looking for, I know how to go out and find it. I'm now just looking for that serendipitous connection of a great story and impeccable writing---just like every other age nt and editor on the planet." (Link)
In 2008 she was reported to be looking for paranormal westerns, YA romance, issue-drive YA (with the caveat of needing a great, convincing voice), middle grade fantasy that isn't trying to be Harry Potter ("Fantasy that's perhaps a little more serious, not cartoonish"), and lots more urban fantasy. (Link)
What She Isn't Looking For:
"She is not accepting any epic fantasy, science fiction, or children's picture books." (Link)
"She does NOT want space odyssey science fiction, high fantasy, or sword and sorcery fantasy. She also doesn't like serious and dark fiction." (Link)
Her Advice to Writers:
"I believe that all writers who hope to be published should remind themselves daily that they're writing for their readers, not for themselves. Writing is definitely a personally gratifying experience and can have wonderful therapeutic and self-esteem building results--but if your reader isn't compelled to turn the page because of something the writer is *trying* to do with the narration or theme, then what good does it do? ..." (Link with a bit more)
About the agency:
"The Howard Morhaim Literary Agency is a boutique agency in the heart of Brooklyn Heights, New York. With over twenty-five years experience, Howard Morhaim has successfully represented clients in many literary areas, with a focus on history, biography, social issues, environmental issues, science, architecture, and self-help in non-fiction as well as a variety of literary and commercial novels." (Link)
There's a list on Amazon of some books Ms. McKean has represented.
Clients include or have included: Noah Scalin, Richelle K. Mead, Deborah Grabien, Alison Lewis, Alicia Paulson, Brett Perkins, Diane Gilleland, Bunny Crumpacker, Patricia Zapata, Debbie Nelson, Carey Wallace, Josh Wilker, Carla Breeze, Bunny Crumpacker and J.S. Picariello, Alan Beard and Alec McNayr, Bethany Keeley, Ellen Luckett Baker, among others.
As of 03/10, Ms. McKean is listed on Publisher's Marketplace as having made 11 deals in the last 12 months, 34 overall, and 3 six-figure+ deals. Recent sales include 11 non-fiction books (no children's). Past sales include 2 children's fiction.
Note: PM is usually not a complete representation of sales.
E-mail: Yes (only).
Submission Guidelines (always verify):
"Please send a cover letter and the first three chapters of your novel, or the full nonfiction proposal. Attachments are fine."
See the website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines.
Ms. McKean's response time seems to range 4-8 weeks with an average around 6 weeks and occasional instances of no response.
What's the Buzz?
Great buzz. I don't think Ms. Mckean is especially well known in the kidlit community since she doesn't rep a lot of children's authors, but she seems to be a pretty big deal among the non-fiction set. Particularly, there's a lot of buzz out there regarding the fact that she has approached and signed several clients through either a website or Twitter feed, and then gone on to sell their proposals.
Worth Your Time:
Agent Advice Interview with Kate McKean on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog (2009).
A query letter success story (for a non-fic) featuring Ms. McKean and one of her clients on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog.
Short video of Kate McKean regarding a valentine's day present she received (cute!).
Take-Home Notes on Kate McKean on Cheryl's Musings.
Will Tweet For Book Deal, an article about Ms. McKlean finding two clients via Twitter, as well as other related instances, at Fast Company.
A podcast interview with Kate McKlean and Christina Loff regarding publishing a non-fic craft book at CrafyPod.
Please see the Howard Morhaim Literary website for contact and query information.
Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail.com
Note: These agent profiles presently focus on agents who accept children's 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.