I have no idea how I got so lucky. Kate McKean took me on back in 2009, after a query for a novel about party-hearty teens, who get in way over their heads. At that point, I had already lost two agents, and I was as gun-shy about repeating the process as you’d expect. But after THE CALL, I knew I was in good hands. Kate is down-to-earth and relaxed, and managed to guide me through the disappointment of not selling the novel I had queried, toward answering the question, “What else are you working on?”That answer was Tap Out, but it wasn’t in the glorious condition it exists in today. It was a mess, but Kate had no problem digging in and beating the story and me into shape. That process was one of the most difficult of my life, but also the most rewarding. I learned the two most important mantras from Kate for my writing: 1. The stakesmust be high from the start, and they must stay that way. 2. The clock hasto be ticking from page one.Clearly this advice is not advisable for all forms of literature, but for the kind of high-octane YA lit I write, it is quintessential. And now, whenever I write, I have those two constants running through my head, and they have proven worthwhile: Dare Me and Press Play are evidence.
I know many agents aren’t as hands on, aren’t as involved with the editorial process. I don’t know if Kate is this way with her other clients, but she was with me, because I needed it. And I am forever grateful, because Kate’s career has vaulted since she took me on. I couldn’t even query her today if I wanted to. She’s closed for submissions. Yeah, she’s that awesome. Howard Morhaim Literary Agency is as lucky as I am to have her.
And in addition to being an awesome agent and champion of my work, she is also a writer. She is currently finalizing a YA novel and has had multiple articles published, including this beautifully nostalgic memorial to her father for The Toast.
Do I gush? Yes. As I should. And I hope for all writers that you find an agent with whom you can believe in as much as she or he believes in you. Kate is the person you hope for in an agent, and I don’t ever want to disappoint her. And that, right there, is the sign of a beautiful working relationship.
Want to know more about this rock-star agent? Links are below.