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  • 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: Holly McGhee

This week's Agent Spotlight features Holly McGhee of Pippin Properties, Inc.
Status: Accepting submissions.
Holly head shotAbout: "Holly M. McGhee still carried MADELINE around in 3rd grade -- until Mrs. Carrier, her school librarian, tricked her into reading longer books by giving her one with her name on it, HOLLY IN THE SNOW. After college, Holly headed straight into the book world of New York City, where she has enjoyed being a secretary, an advertising manager, a sales rep (for one month), and in the six years prior to opening the doors at Pippin, an executive editor at HarperCollins. Now, as the President and Creative Director of Pippin she is dedicated to shepherding books that make a difference into the world. Someone once told her, ‘If you love what you do, you never work a day in your life,’ and that has proven true for her. " (Link)
About the Agency:
“Pippin Properties, Inc. opened its doors in 1998, and for the past twenty-one years we have been privileged to help build careers for authors and artists whose work stands the test of time, many of whom have become household names in their own right.
"We have the editorial expertise required to help bring each project to its full potential, prior to submission, and we place nearly every project we submit. We'll work as hard as you do, and we are avid caretakers of our clients' projects, marketing plans, and careers, be it picture books, middle-grade, young adult, graphic novels, novelty, and adult trade projects. We grow as you grow, and are devoted to maintaining a standard of excellence in content unmatched in the industry.” (Link)
What She's Looking For:
Children’s picture books, middle grade, and young adult fiction.
From an Interview (01/2013):
“A story that breaks my heart and then glues it back together again, even if the glue job isn’t perfect, or a story that gives me those great big belly laughs that make me snort and make my eyes run.” (Link)
From an Interview (11/2012):
“I’d like to see a story that is as funny as Conan O’Brien, or as riveting as The Secret Life of Bees, or as honest as Mary Karr’s LIT. My son, who’s seven, can’t get through a day without reading Tin Tin, Bone, or Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Something like that would be just fine too--I love graphics. Most important, I’d like to see a book that matters.” (Link)
From an Interview (10/2012):
“I don’t read to be entertained—I read authors who require me to think, who make me laugh or cry, who help me understand the world and my emotions better. I don’t think about whether people in general will buy or read the book—I focus on how I feel—can I put it down, or not? I always figure that if I feel really strongly about a book, somebody else will too. Capture me with your voice—then take me on a journey.” (Link)
What She Isn't Looking For:
The agency specializes in children's and teen books and is not actively seeking adult projects. 
Editorial Agent? 
"Get ready to roll up your sleeves and start working—Holly loves editing and brainstorming.  She will ask for draft after draft until the project is ready to be submitted.  Patience and perseverance are very important qualities at Pippin.  As David Small wrote in his acknowledgments at the end of STITCHES: 'to my agent, Holly McGhee, who was the first to see the possibilities in Stitches and who worked tirelessly with me on its first dozen drafts...'" (via e-mail 2010)
Web Presence:
Pippin Properties website.
Pippin Properties on Facebook.
Pippin Properties on YouTube.
Publisher's Marketplace page.
Ms. McGhee's personal website (She's also an author).
Ms. McGhee's personal blog.
There is a page of authors and illustrators on the website as well as a page for current and upcoming titles
Clients include: Kathi Appelt, Doreen Cronin, Kate Dicamillo, Tony Fucile, Jenny Han, Pascal Lemaitre, Alison McGhee, James McMullan, Kate McMullan, Jandy Nelson, Peter H. Reynolds, David Small, William Steig, among others.
Query Methods:
E-mail: Yes (only).
Snail-Mail: No.
Online-Form: No.
Submission Guidelines (always verify):
Writers: E-mail a query letter that includes a synopsis of the work and the first chapter pasted into the e-mail or the entire picture book text.
Illustrators:  Send a query letter detailing your background in publishing or illustration and include a link to a website with examples of your work, if possible.  The agency will request digital files or hard copies if they're interested in seeing more.
Ms. McGhee only considers queries where she is given an exclusive submission with four weeks to consider it.
See the Pippin Properties website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines.
Query Tips:
"If the writer has carefully researched our agency and my personal taste, and it’s clear why she or he is submitting to me, the project moves near the top of my always-tall pile of manuscripts. If the writer offers me an exclusive look for six weeks, the manuscript goes straight to the top because I appreciate the trust in me and the careful research the writer has done." (Link)Response Times:
The agency only responds if interested. If you do not hear back within three weeks, assume rejection. Requested material is four weeks. See below:
What's the Buzz?
Holly McGhee is a lovely, well-respected agent.  She is known for choosing timeless, classic works and representing a fabulous list of talented artists.  The agency specializes in children's and teen literature but also represents the occasional adult title. They have a great philosophy and are devoted to building author careers. Ms. McGhee's clients really seem to love and appreciate her. 
Worth Your Time:
Agent Interviews:
Holly McGhee Podcast at Middle Grade Ninja (05/2021)
4x4 Agent Panel: Insights and Inspiration at Katrina Moore Books (10/2018)
Five Questions (Plus One) Interview with Holly McGhee on YouTube at Candlewick Press (06/2017).
April Feature Agent: Holly McGhee Interview Part 1 and Part 2 at Writing and Illustrating (04/2017).
Interview with Holly McGhee at Writer Writer Pants on Fire (03/2017).
Interview with Holly McGhee at Writer's Digest (11/2012).
Interview: Holly McGhee and Elena Mechlin of Pippin Properties Literary Agency at Writer Unboxed (10/2012).
7 Questions For: Literary Agent Holly McGhee at Middle Grade Ninja (01/2011).
Please see the Pippin Properties website for contact and query information.
Profile Details:
Last updated: 5/17/2020.
Agent Contacted for Review? Yes.
Last Reviewed By Agent? 10/08/10.
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 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.


Chris Phillips said...

Thanks. Always love these when researching!

Martina Boone said...

Another fantastic spotlight. Thanks, Casey, for all your hard work!


Ishta Mercurio said...

Great spotlight! Thanks!

Casey McCormick said...

Thank you Chris, Martina, and Ishta!

Ms. McGhee has reviewed her profile and added a couple new quotes.

Best to all who query!

Thermocline said...

Thank you for this Spotlight, Casey!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great spotlight. I'll have to check out her interviews to see if she's interested in high fantasy. She sounds really good.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

This was great! Pippin has been my dream agency since I began work on my MS. :-)

Carolina M. Valdez Schneider said...

Looks like a fantastic agency, Casey. What an amazing list of clients.

Morgan said...

Thanks for another amazing agent profile! These are the best part of your site. I always read them!

Amie Kaufman said...

She represents Kate DiCamillo, she's on my list for sure. Thanks for the wonderful (as always) profile!

Dana said...

Again, great spotlight!

Anonymous said...

This does sound really good, thanks Casey!

Anonymous said...

I was waiting for this one! Thanks Casey!

Leigh said...

Thanks Casey. Your posts are so informative. I actually used your blog for my research when I was looking for an agent and hey presto... I bagged myself one from your list. Thank you so much!

Leigh Fallon

Philippines properties for sale said...

Thanks for the great read. Great Pippin Properties website too.

Paula M

Dana Elmendorf said...

The Middle Grade Ninja interview was from Jan 2011. Just thought you'd want to correct that. Again thanks for all your tireless work

Casey McCormick said...

Thank you, Dana. I fixed the date!