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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: Stephen Barr

This week's Agent Spotlight features Stephen Barr of Writers House, LLC.
Status: Open to submissions.
Stephen Barr About: Stephen Barr is a literary agent at Writers House. Here's what he says that he is interested in: “I'm a pretty omnivorous agent. At the moment, I've got a particular hankering for...
- intricate, heart-on-its-sleeve, voice-abundant YA like King Dork or The Highest Tide (bonus points for unrequited love stories!)
- audacious, experimental YA mysteries or fantasies that handcuff humor and tragedy to the same radiator
- middle grade that takes on heavy themes with a light, optimistic, eccentric touch
- sweet and/or silly and/or heartbreaking picture books from adventurous author/illustrators
- unexpected memoirs with itchy voices
- narrative non-fiction that tackles hard-to-tackle issues
- and any fiction that rewards the reader line-by-line and gets to know at least one character really, really well (recent favorites include Fourth of July Creek, & Sons, Jeff In Venice, The Lazarus Project, Diary of a Bad Year, Horns, and Skippy Dies).
I'm also willing to be a sucker for...
- detective stories that bend reality
- ghost stories that blow reality to hell 
- Secret Book X (I don't know what Secret Book X is, but suffice it to say, I'm open to the occasional curveball).” (Link)
About the Agency:
"Writers House was founded in 1973 with a vision for a new kind of literary agency, one that would combine a passion for managing a writer's career with an integrated understanding of how storytelling works. With this two-pronged philosophy, Writers House has played a critical role in developing the careers of hundreds of novelists and non-fiction authors. We believe in offering our clients not only our expertise in negotiating contracts, but in contributing to all phases of the editorial and publishing processes. Our goal is to maximize the value of our clients' work by providing hands-on editorial and marketing advice, as well as leading the way in branding, licensing, and selling film/TV, foreign, audio, dramatic and serial rights." (Link)
"Al Zuckerman, a former novelist, TV writer, and teacher of playwriting at Yale, is the founder of Writers House. One of the largest literary agencies in the world, Writers House provides an extraordinary amount of individual client attention combined with the benefits of full service foreign rights, subsidiary rights, and contracts departments. We house an accounting department equipped to provide forensic royalty and financial analysis, as well as a digital department focusing on the ever changing technological landscape of contemporary publishing. Home to more than a dozen senior agents and several rising junior agents, we work individually as well as collectively and take full advantage of the unparalleled depth of experience we embody. Some of our agents started here as assistants, while others have joined us from other parts of the business, bringing editorial, bookselling, writing, and legal experience. We also pride ourselves on the stability of our firm. Many of our agents have been here together for more than 20 years, as have many of our clients. Writers House is a name which reflects our vision for our authors and ourselves. Our goals are long term, and the environment we strive to create is one that invites authors and agents to stay with us for the duration of their careers." (Link)
Web Presence:
Writers House website.
Publisher’s Marketplace page.
Manuscript Wishlist
What He's Looking For:
Genres / Specialties:
Literary fiction, Memoir, Narrative non-fiction, Middle grade, Picture books, Young adult, Graphic novels, Humor, Pop-culture, Food stuff, Weird stuff. (Link)
See His Bio (above)
What He Isn't Looking For:
Screenplays, poetry.
Editorial Agent?
John Corey Whaley, Maggie Thrash, Christopher Silas Neal, Brooke Shields.
E-mail: Yes (Faster Response).
Snail-Mail: Yes.
Online-Form: No.
Submission Guidelines (always verify):
Send a query by email or snail-mail with the first five or ten pages of your manuscript. Include a SASE envelope if you mail your query.
Response Times:
Do not query more than one agent at Writers House at a time. For complete, up-to-date submission guidelines see Mr. Barr’s Publisher’s Marketplace page and the agency website.
Mr. Barr has a stated response time of two weeks on his PM page.
What's the Buzz?
Stephen Barr has been with Writers House since 2008.  After a brief internship, he became assistant to Dan Conaway and Dan Lazar.  In 2010 he began signing his own clients.  He considers himself “freakishly ambitious” and is finding (creating?) success accordingly. Given that he’s actively building his list and has rather fast response times, he seems like the ideal Writers House agent to target first.  Good luck!
I recommend that you follow Stephen Barr on Twitter @yikeslouise for the latest.
Worth Your Time:
Interviews, Posts, and Podcasts:
Interview with Stephen Barr podcast at ATGthePodcast (03/2021),
Interview with Stephen Barr at Only Picture Books (02/2021).
Interview with Literary Agent Stephen Barr at Amy Newman (4/2014).
7 Questions for Literary Agent Stephen Barr at Middle Grade Ninja (7/2013).
A Book Worm Finds His True Calling, article at The New York Times (01/2011).
Please see Mr. Barr’s Publisher’s Marketplace page and the Writers House website for further contact and query information.
Profile Details:
Last updated: 12/30/2022.
Agent Contacted for Review? Yes.
Last Reviewed By Agent? 5/11/2020.
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.


Aurora Smith said...

OH, have I got a humours book for him!!!!

Thermocline said...

Another great Spotlight. Thanks, Casey!

Matthew MacNish said...

Writer's House is sort of like the Holy Grail.

Barbara Watson said...

These spotlights are so thorough. Thank you. And seeing the MG in 'what he/she is looking for' makes me smile.

Michael Di Gesu said...

I've been trying to get with Writer's House for three years. My first novel was an no... Maybe my second? It's worth a try .... right?

Thanks Casey.

Yamile said...

Thanks for this spotlight, Casey. Mr Barr sound like an amazing agent!

Unknown said...

These spotlights are awesome. And I wholheartedly agree with his thing about personal demons. In fact, I even think I blogged about it (check it out!)

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great spotlight Casey! And he likes middle grade too. Thanks.

The Pen and Ink Blogspot said...

he sounds perfect for my picture books. I'm not sure he'd like my mid grade or adult novels.
Thank you so much for the information.

Stina said...

I think Writers House is everyone's dream agency.

Thanks for the round up. Great job as always. So that's what Stephen looks like. He kind of reminds me of someone I knew in high school.

Casey McCormick said...

Thanks so much, everyone. Best to all who query! Let me know if you get good news. : )

Theresa Milstein said...

Too bad he doesn't take much paranormal.

Anonymous said...

Wow, he really does represent a variety of stuff!

Emily R. King said...

Thank you for doing the spotlight! I've never seen such an in depth, concise review of an agent, let alone one from Writers House. I'll keep him in mind when I query.

Sam Hundley said...

Thank you - I mean, one week response time? I already love this dude.