This week's Agent Spotlight features Sean McCarthy of the Sheldon Fogelman Agency.
Status: Open to submissions, actively building his client list.
About: “Sean McCarthy came to the agency as an assistant after an editorial internship. He works on children’s books for all ages, and is actively looking to build his client list. His clients include Zachariah O’Hora, Hyewon Yum, Mark Fearing, Jamie Swenson, and Hillary Homzie. He is drawn to flawed, multi-faceted characters with devastatingly concise writing in YA, and boy-friendly mysteries or adventures in MG. In picture books, he looks more for unforgettable characters, off-beat humor, and especially clever endings. He is not currently interested in high fantasy, message-driven stories, or query letters that pose too many questions. Sean graduated from Macalester College with a degree in English-Creative Writing, and is grateful that he no longer has to spend his winters in Minnesota.” (Link)
About the Agency:
“Sheldon Fogelman Agency, Inc. is the first to specialize in representing authors and illustrators of children's books, recognizing the richness and duration of the literature created for this market as it passes from generation to generation. Since its inception, the agency's philosophy has been to represent people rather than merely the books they create. As a full service agency, Sheldon Fogelman Agency has the resources and accumulated knowledge to assist our clients in all aspects of their creative lives from contract negotiation and rights management to editorial input and long term career planning.
“It was as an attorney that Sheldon Fogelman first entered the world of children's publishing through his counsel to industry luminary, Maurice Sendak, who continues as a client today. In 1975, Sheldon Fogelman made the transition from attorney to agent to the growing number of children's book authors and illustrators seeking his advice on literary matters. Since that time, the agency has represented authors and illustrators recognized by almost every prestigious award in children's book publishing, including the Newbery, Caldecott and National Book Award.” (Link)
What He's Looking For:
Genres / Specialties:
Children’s picture books through young adult, illustrators.
From his Bio (above):
“He is drawn to flawed, multi-faceted characters with devastatingly concise writing in YA, and boy-friendly mysteries or adventures in MG. In picture books, he looks more for unforgettable characters, off-beat humor, and especially clever endings.” (Link)
From a Tweet (02/2012):
“I would love to see a sports-themed YA that uses concussions (and their effects) as a literary device.” (Link)
From an Interview (08/2010):
“I work on all genres within children's books, from picture books to middle grade to young adult (and anything in between). I also work with illustrators, although it's gotten much harder to find work if you're not an author-slash-illustrator, unfair as that may be.
“Generally speaking, I'm drawn to off-beat humor, quirky personalities, and sparse text in picture books; boy-friendly adventure/mysteries in middle-grade (especially if the reader can solve the puzzles along with the characters); and edgy, flawed protagonists w/ dry humor for young adult. I'm also on the lookout for dystopian stories, and I'd love to find a fractured young adult novel that features an athlete w/ a concussion.” (Link)
What He Isn't Looking For:
“These days, publishers expect a project to be near-perfect before it reaches them, so I like to take an active role in revising the work before it's sent out to editors. It's a significant (though exhilarating) commitment to start working with an author in terms of time and energy, so I expect my clients to be completely dedicated to their craft and professional in their approach.” (Link)
As of this posting, Mr. McCarthy is listed on Publisher’s Marketplace as having made 3 deals in the last 12 months and 7 overall. Recent deals include 3 pictures books.
NOTE: PM is usually not a complete representation of sales.
Submission Guidelines (always verify):
Please see the Sheldon Fogelman Agency website for detailed submission guidelines.
“For picture books, I'd like to see 3 manuscripts at once, assuming that they're all under 850 words. And then, if there was a connection to the work, I'd ask to see more.” (Link)
“I know it's hard to keep up and track queries, but a little personalization in the cover letter will go a long way with me. I'd much rather be addressed as ‘Dear Sean’ than ‘Dear Agent,’ and I'd also like to know why you think I'd be a good match for your work. Form query letters tend to get form rejections. (Link)
“In terms of pet peeves, I'm not a big fan of query letters that pose too many questions about the work (please just tell me what happens).” (Link)
The agency’s stated response time is up to six weeks for queries, longer for requested material.
Stats on the web are limited but show Mr. McCarthy responding to queries within 1-4 weeks and requested material within 1-3 months.
What's the Buzz?
Sean McCarthy has been with the Sheldon Fogelman Agency for six years where he began as an agent assistant. Prior to this, he was an editorial intern for Overlook Press. The agency specializes in children’s literature and has many well-known and award-winning clients. Mr. McCarthy is actively building his client list but is rather selective.
Worth Your Time:
Interview with an Agent: Sean McCarthy at Mother. Write. (Repeat.) (08/2010).
Around the Web:
Sean McCarthy, Assistant Agent, Sheldon Fogelman Agency at Kathleen Temean’s site (04/2009).
Agent Chat with Sean McCarthy (notes) at Writing for Kids While Raising Them (12/2008).
Please see the Sheldon Fogelman Agency website for contact and query information.
Last updated: 6/21/12.
Agent Contacted For Review? Yes.
Last Reviewed By Agent? 6/21/12.
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 and/or teen 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.