This week's Agent Spotlight features Michelle Humphrey of the Martha Kaplan Agency.
Status: CLOSED to submissions as of 12/12/12.
About: Before returning to the Martha Kaplan Agency where she was an agent 2009-2010, Michelle Humphrey was with International Creative Talent and Sterling Lord Literistic. Prior to these stints, she worked as an assistant for Renee Zuckerbrot Agency then Anderson Literary. She has also worked as an English Teacher, proofreader, and Freelance Book Reviewer. Her reviews have been published in Bitch, Bust, and The Women's Review of Books.
What She's Looking For:
Fiction: Picture Books, Middle Grade, Young Adult, Literary, Commercial.
From a Conference Bio (2012):
“Represents picture books and middle grade and young adult fiction. She is particularly interested in historical middle grade / YA and multicultural stories, and would love a teen noir or an edgy murder mystery for teens.” (Link)
From an Interview (02/2011):
“I'd love a middle grade or YA that takes place in turn-of-the-century France. I'd love an alternate history, or a steampunk. I'd really dig a retelling of Shakespeare.” (Link)
From an Interview (01/2010):
"What I'm looking for in YA: character-driven young adult fiction—mostly contemporary and historical. I'll consider paranormal—I do get several queries a week pitching supernatural stories, but I haven't found the right project yet. I'd love to work on a "futuristic dystopia" novel—something with very empathetic characters. I'd also be into a steam-punk novel, or some quirky new take on avatars. (That said: I'm not a sci-fi fan per se, but I like the occasional sci-fi element.) As for memoir, I like coming of age/humorous memoir. Something geared to a young female audience." (Link)
From an Interview (10/2009):
"I'm drawn to teen heroines. It seems like all the great battles happen for them: girl versus family, girl versus boy, girl versus best friend from childhood, girl versus popular crowd, girl versus Evil Creature of the Night. Who can resist?" (Link)
"I especially love World War II history and 20th-century history in general. If characters are likeable and dimensional, I could get into any kind of historical context, but 20th-century history is probably my favorite." (Link)
"I'm open to anything [middle grade], especially stories that are character-driven." (Link)
From an Interview (02/2009):
"I’m looking for YA (contemporary, historical, romance, quirky – not really genre fantasy, but I’m open to fantasy elements) – anything with a distinct voice. I am especially fond of subversive heroines – characters who break the rules and aren’t afraid to set themselves apart from the crowd." (Link)
What She Isn't Looking For:
High fantasy or sci-fi, poetry, dramatic works, short story collections, adult fiction and non-fiction that do not fall into the above specifics.
"Embrace rejection! Wink at it, laugh, maybe bake a rejection pie. You'll get there -- why not have fun along the way?" (Link)
"The most common problem is that the writing feels a little clichéd (i.e., it's something I've heard before, and it's not particularly vivid). Or, I just don't get a sense of a story happening. Even character-driven stories, I think, need a clue of the drama right from the beginning." (Link)
Yes, as needed. "If I love the voice, the plot, the characters, or the concept of the story, then I’ll talk to the author on the phone, and if I feel we could be a good match together – if we’re sharing the same vision for the work – then, yes, I’ll work with the author in revising." (Link)
As of 3/2012, Ms. Humphrey is listed on Publisher's Marketplace as having made 3 deals in the last 12 months and 8 overall. Recent deals include 1 middle grade, 1 picture book, 1 young adult.
NOTE: PM is usually not a complete representation of sales.
E-mail: Yes (only).
Submission Guidelines (always verify):
Please note, as of 12/2012, Ms. Humphrey is no longer considering queries.
“I like them short and sweet: a quick teaser, a quick bio. I like queries that give me a sense of the writer's personality and style. I think it's a great idea for writers to workshop queries with their writer groups.” (Link)
"I am drawn to very concisely written queries – query letters shouldn’t include a synopsis, but rather a description of the story that resembles the blurb on the back of a book – and there should be a certain amount of personality in that description – it should demonstrate that the author has really studied her craft, and knows how to write." (Link)
"I am pro-synopsis - no more than three pages, though. Not a fan of synopses in the query." (Link)
Fast! Ms. Humphrey has a stated response time of three weeks on queries and 2-4 months on requested material. She often responds within days. If you do not hear back after the stated timeframe, you're welcome to check in with her (info via e-mail).
What's the Buzz?
Ms. Humphrey is developing a list of clients and sales with a focus in YA lit. The clients I’ve spoken to absolutely love working with her. She recently went back to working at the Martha Kaplan Agency after a year at ICM.
Worth Your Time:
Agent Spotlight on: Michelle Humphrey at Write About Now (02/2011).
Agent Perspective: Michelle Humphrey of ICM at Class of 2K10 (09/02/2010).
Meet Literary Agent Michelle Humphrey at All the Write Stuff (01/2010).
Agent Advice Interview with Michelle Humphrey at the Guide to Literary Agents blog (10/2009).
Agent Interview: Michelle Humphrey at Denise Jaden's blog (02/2009).
Around the Web:
Successful Queries: Michelle Humphrey and Losing Faith at the Guide to Literary Agents Blog (09/2010).
How I Got My Agent: Caroline Starr Rose at the Guide to Literary Agent's blog (05/2010).
Agent Appreciation Day post on Michelle Humphrey by client Denise Jaden (12/2009).
Agent Appreciation Day post on Michelle Humphrey by client Caroline Starr Rose (12/2009).
Client Denise Jaden's agent story on her blog (11/2008).
Please see the submission guidelines above for contact and query information.
Last updated: 3/19/12.
Reviewed By Agent? 8/30/10.
Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)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.