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Agent Spotlight: Kate McKean

This week's Agent Spotlight features Kate McKean of Howard Morhaim Literary Agency, Inc.
Status: Open to submissions.
About: "Kate McKean joined HMLA in 2006. She earned her master’s degree in fiction writing at the University of Southern Mississippi and began her publishing career at the University Press of Florida. She is proud to work with New York Times best selling authors in a wide variety of genres including Daniel Mallory Ortberg’s TEXTS FROM JANE EYRE, Madeleine Roux’s YA horror series ASYLUM, and Brittany Gibbons’ memoir FAT GIRL WALKING. In addition to working with clients, she is an adjunct professor at New York University.
"For adults, she is primarily interested in contemporary women's fiction, literary fiction, historical fiction set in the 20th Century, fantasy, magical realism, and science fiction. For children, she is looking for projects in middle grade and young adult in the areas of horror, romance, LGBTQ issues, contemporary fiction, sports, magical realism, fantasy, and science fiction, as well as picture books of all kinds, especially non-fiction picture books. In non-fiction, for adults or children/teens, she represents books by authors with demonstrable platforms in the areas of pop-culture, memoir, sports, food writing, humor, design, creativity, and craft. She is also interested in graphic novels and memoirs for all ages--adult and children." (Link)
You can read another bio on Ms. McKean's website.
About the agency:
"Howard Morhaim Literary Agency has been representing authors since 1979. Our aim is to match talented writers with skilled publishing professionals in order to bring quality fiction and non-fiction into the world. Howard Morhaim Literary Agency is known for representing authors working at the top of their fields and staunchly advocating for their rights. Our roster of clients includes New York Times Bestsellers, award-winning academics, and debut authors alike; we champion them all throughout their long publishing careers." (Link)
What She's Looking For:
From her Manuscript Wish List:
"Non-fiction for kids. Please send me your biography, history, science, technology, creativity, memoir, or narrative non-fiction for middle grade or YA readers. Please, no gross-out middle grade (i.e. The Best Farts in History, or the like).
Young Social Media Stars: If you are a young adult with a large following online, please reach out.
Graphic Novels: YA especially, but I'm looking for all ages. More love, less war.
Big-idea, big-hook YA. It should be hard to come up with comp titles for your YA, because there's nothing out there like it. I don't want "the next [huge YA novel] because that's already been done. Gimme something new.
Historical YA and MG, especially if it is NOT about WWII or other well-trod areas of historical fiction
Chapter books, espeically with girl protagonists. I'm especially interested in chapter books with a strong engine, which means a hook or catalyst in the story that spins off into many storylines, like The Babysitters Club. That set up spawned hundreds of books. I am not looking for one-off chapter books.
Middle grade of all stripes, except wacky, zany, gross out middle grade. If you're writing the MG version of Rick & Morty or Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy I DO NOT want it.
Picture books. I like them funny or heartfelt, but they must have a top notch read-aloud quality.
In all genres, I'm looking for authors from under-represented groups.
In general, I represent authors writing for children in the areas of thriller, horror, romance, LGBTQ issues, contemporary fiction, sports, magical realism, fantasy, and science fiction. In non-fiction, for adults or children/teens, I represent books by authors with demonstrable platforms in the areas of pop-culture, memoir, sports, food writing, humor, design, creativity, and craft.r 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."
What She Isn't Looking For:
Novellas, poetry, screenplays; "If your manuscript features dragons, vampires, angels/demons, werewolves, FBI agents or amateur sleuths, she is not likely the best agent for your work." (Link) (Link)
Editorial Agent?
Web Presence:
Howard Morhaim Literary Agency website.
Ms. McKean's website
Her #MSWL on Twitter.
Her Agents and Books newsletter.
AgentQuery, QueryTracker.
There's a list of some of the clients the agency represents on the agency website.
Clients include or have included: Daniel Lavery, Madeline Roux, Trung Le Nguyen, Jaya Saxena, Matt Lubchansky, Linette Moore. AC Esguerra, Alyson Gerber, Caela Carter, Jess Verdi, Alix E. Harrow, Michelle Rial, Dana Middleton, Nicole Kornher-Stace, Theresa Thorn, Erin Hahn, Hallie Bateman, @dog_rates, Ethan Sherwood Strauss, Terry Blas, Caroline Moss, Tim Herrera, Allison Hoffman, EJ Koh, Katie Kennedy, Nefertti Austin, Molly Pohlig, Cara McGee, among others.
Query Methods:
E-mail: Yes (only).
Snail-Mail: No.
Online-Form: No.
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.
Response Times:
Ms. McKean's response time seems to range from 8 to 12 weeks.
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:
Interviews and Posts:
Deez Interviews: Meet Kate McKean at Deez Links (11/2019)
Agent Spotlight: Kate McKean at PB Spotlight (06/2019)
SCBWI Exclusive Interview With Kate McKean (Date unknown).
An Interview With Literary Agent Kate McKean at Slice Magazine (07/2017).
Agent Kate McKean and Author Alyson Gerber Guest Post at Literary Rambles (03/2017).
Learn What Agent Kate McKean Is Seeking at Writer's Digest (02/2016).
Query Questions With Kate McKean at Michelle Hauck 08/2013).
LitChat Interview With Kate McKean at Lit Stack (08/2013)
Please see the Howard Morhaim Literary website for contact and query information.
Profile Details:
Last Updated: 5/17/2020
Agent Contacted for Review? Yes
Last Reviewed by Agent? 5/18/2020
Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at natalieiaguirre7(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.


Elana Johnson said...

Casey, you rule! Thanks for all the hard work you do putting these posts together. :)

Unknown said...

Thanks Casey - this is awesome!

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

this must take so much time. Thanks! I love learning about other agents.

Cheryl Reif said...

Thanks for the link, Casey. You do such a nice job with these profiles!

Sherrie Petersen said...

Wow, I had never heard of this agent. Thanks for all the info on somebody new to stalk, er, query.

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for sharing here today Kate. I really appreciate it.
Happy Holidays,

Thermocline said...

Thanks, Casey!

Casey Something said...

As of 01/26/10, Ms. McKean is no longer accepting snail-mail submissions. E-mail only!

Casey Something said...

Updated submission guidelines and sales 03/09/10.

Erin Edwards said...

Suzanne Selfors is listed on the Dystel and Goderich website as being repped by them - http://www.dystel.com/clientlist.html#s, and I have info that her agent is Michael Bourret. Kate's agencies web site does not list clients so I couldn't double check.

Aha! But in the front of my copy of TO CATCH A MERMAID, both Kate and Michael are named.

The plot thickens....

Casey McCormick said...

Hi Erin! You're right. It looks like Kate used to be with D&G, so I'm guessing Suzanne stayed with them when she left. Michael Bourret has done all her recent deals. Thanks! I'll update.

rispah said...

First, thank you SO MUCH for all the hard work that must have gone into these author profiles! I'm getting lazy because you've done all my research :P

Second, I just wanted to quickly point out that according to the website, Kate is now asking for "cover letter and first three chapters. Attachments are fine." for fiction queries.

Again, thanks so much!

Casey McCormick said...

Hi Rispah,

You're welcome! Glad you like the profiles.

Thank you for letting me know about Ms. Mckean's submission guidelines. I updated them. Hopefully I'll have time for a complete update soon.


Lacey J Edwards said...

Casey, I just wanted to thank you for these agent spotlight posts! Every time I go to research an agent, I find her/him here on this blog. You rock!