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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:

“Since 1998, Pippin Properties, Inc. has been an integrated publishing and entertainment representation agency. Located in New York City, it is a diverse agency dedicated to maximizing the creative and commercial potential of all its properties. Pippin represents the works of these writers and artists to a wide range of publishing, animation, motion picture, television, and licensing companies. Because Pippin both develops and represents its projects, it is a unique, full-service company that prides itself on attention to detail. Small and discerning in choosing its clientele, Pippin is 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)

From an Interview (04/2011):

“I tend to gravitate to classic literature—but it’s always personal. When I read The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson, I cried for myself as a teenager, wishing I had had that incredible book to read as a 17-year-old who was going through some very difficult times, wishing a book had shown me that the other side of despair is joy.

“With William Steig’s work, there is always honesty and unconditional love, and his characters inevitably learn an essential truth about the world. So I look for books that give something back, books that make me think or speak to my spirit. Commercial fiction can do this too, and good writing is simply that: good writing.

“Whether commercial or literary, I look for books that help us grapple with the complicated emotions of this world, books that don’t diminish the challenges of being human, books that help us make sense of things. Kate DiCamillo, whom I represent, is a fitting example—in her beautiful stories, I always find something for myself, some connection to my own sadness and ultimately to my own hope for the world as well. I think everybody who reads her does—I guess that’s what they call universal appeal. Timeless for its truthfulness.” (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 blog.

Pippin Properties on Facebook.

Pippin Properties on YouTube.

Publisher's Marketplace page.




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, your background and/or publishing history, and anything else relevant.

Illustrators:  Send a query letter detailing your background in publishing or illustration and any other pertinent information. 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.

See the Pippin Properties website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines.

Query Tips:

There are a few submission tips on the submission page of the website.

See Ms. McGhee’s interview at Mother. Write. (Repeat.) for pet-peeves to avoid.

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:

"Unfortunately, we are not a large enough agency to respond to each query individually. If you don't hear from us within three weeks, please understand that we have read and considered your query, and have concluded that we are not the right agency to represent your work at this time. If we do request additional material, we would appreciate the exclusive opportunity to review it for one month." (Link)

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:

Interview with an Agent: Holly McGhee at Mother. Write. (Repeat.) (11/2012).

Interview: Holly McGhee and Elena Mechlin of Pippin Properties Literary Agency at Writer Unboxed (10/2012).

Literary Agent Interview: Holly McGhee of Pippin Properties, Inc. at Guide to Literary Agents (04/2011).

7 Questions For: Literary Agent Holly McGhee at Middle Grade Ninja (01/2011).

Live Chat with Elena Mechlin, Joan Slattery, and Holly McGhee from Pippin! at WriteOnCon (01/2011).

Interview with Holly McGhee of Pippin Properties by Brenda Sturgis at Suite 101 (09/2010).

Pippin: a conversation with Holly M. McGhee and Emily Van Beek at Hunger Mountain (02/2010).

Around the Web:

Holly McGhee at P&EPippin Properties at P&E.  

Pippin Properties thread at AbsoluteWrite.

Keep an eye on the Pippin Properties NEWS page for updates and happenings.

Follow the Pippin Properties blog for inspiring and heartwarming client stories.

The Pippin Properties Facebook page has great "behind the scenes" pictures and coverage.

In addition to literary agent, Ms. McGhee is the author of JUST DESSERTS, DESSERT FIRST, and other upcoming titles under the pen name Hallie Durand.


Please see the Pippin Properties website for contact and query information.

Profile Details:

Last updated: 5/24/13.

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 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.


  1. Thanks. Always love these when researching!

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


  3. Thank you Chris, Martina, and Ishta!

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

    Best to all who query!

  4. Thank you for this Spotlight, Casey!

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

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

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

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

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

  10. This does sound really good, thanks Casey!

  11. I was waiting for this one! Thanks Casey!

  12. 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

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

    Paula M

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