Agent Spotlight: Kate McKean

Agent Spotlight: Kate McKean

Happy Tuesday and welcome back to Picture Book Spotlight!

I say welcome back assuming of course you have previously perused the flowing waters of this serene yet silly corner of the internet. If you are a fellow kidlit warrior in the thick of the query battle, on an epic quest for traditional publication and picture book glory, you're in the right place. Picture Book Spotlight celebrates picture books, their creators, and all who champion them.

We feature author and illustrator interviews. Agent interviews. And basically everything in between. Sometimes there are giveaways. Sometimes there are not. But there is always something relevant to picture books...and hopefully something entertaining along the way. If that sounds like your jam, subscribe here.

On with our Agent Spotlight.

Kate McKean is the Vice President of the Howard Morhaim Literary Agency and is currently accepting picture book submissions. If you haven't queried her yet, consider adding her to your list.

Kate probably doesn't remember this, but I had the privilege of attending her workshop on writing effective query letters at the SCBWI Middle of the Map Conference in Kansas City back in 2016. I asked a dumb question about yetis and if puns were appropriate in queries. I made her laugh. She said some puns are okay...but don't try to be too cute.

Oh, 2016 much you had to learn.

Here's Kate!

The internet, my notebook with my to do lists, a laptop stand (ouch my neck).

What’s something you absolutely must have in your refrigerator or pantry?


Where do you feel most inspired and why?

Walking the streets of Brooklyn and New York. Even when it's crowded, there's still a certain amount of anonymity, and that gives me time and space to think.

HMLA is unique because there's practically nothing we haven't seen. Howard started the agency almost 40 years ago, and publishing has changed so much since then. We've handled it all.

If you aren’t crazy about a particular project and you decide to pass, do you encourage authors and illustrators to resubmit after significant revision? If so, how much time is appropriate before a re-submission?

If I have specific revision thoughts and want to see a project again, I will specifically tell the author that. Otherwise, I don't accept revised submissions. It usually takes a couple months for an author to revise their work, but it varies from project to project.

If authors and illustrators have multiple projects that they want to share with you, what is a respectful amount of time in between submissions?

There isn't a specific time frame here, but I do think it's annoying to get another submission right after sending out a rejection. This doesn't mean it's bad or I'm going to auto-reject another submission. It just means my slush pile never gets smaller and I never get "caught up." :)

I want to read through the text without stumbling over the rhyme or meter. I don't think all picture book must rhyme but I don't want to stumble over words as I'm reading it out loud.

What types of picture books would you like to see more of?