Kate McKean


#SLWC17: Meet the Speakers: An Interview with Literary Agent Kate McKean

by Maria Gagliano

Every year the book world changes all around us. The Big Six shrink to the Big Five, while indie presses claim a bigger stake in the industry. Editors come and go; print books peak, drop, and then make a comeback. Lit trends cycle through the marketplace. But what does it all mean for writers trying to get their work noticed by editors and agents?

Literary agent Kate McKean chatted with us about how she’s seen the business change since she started well over a decade ago, for better or worse. Kate will share more of her wisdom at the Slice Literary Writers’ Conference in Brooklyn on September 10, when she joins us for our panel, “Welcome to the 2017 Book World.” Conference attendees can also sign up to pitch their work to Kate in person at a one-on-one meeting. But note: Kate is not the agent for you if you’re writing about dragons. Don’t even try her, no matter how good your writing may be.

I imagine you have an especially sharp sense of how things have changed over the years since you have a long history of helping people make the leap from online personality (i.e., many bloggers) to published author. Whether online or off, what stands out to you the most in terms of how the industry has changed in recent years?


#40: An Interview Kate McKean, by Maria Gagliano

Pitching an agent can seem like mysterious work. Like most creative endeavors, all responses are subjective—what doesn’t make one person tick can read like a bestseller to someone else. And the hard truth is, in some way, everyone’s response is right. If one agent doesn’t see the potential in a book, it’s not the project for them, and they should pass. The challenge is in finding an agent with just the right taste, at just the right point in her career, and with just the right eye to help bring your project to its fullest potential. Not easy. In this interview agent Kate McKean shares her process of finding and working with projects that gel with her.

Kate is moderating one of the Slice Literary Writers’ Conference’s most buzzed-about panels: Art vs. Commerce: It’s Not All About the Writing. This panel debuted at our 2013 conference to a packed room, and we’re bringing it back this year with much excitement. Here Kate shares a little about her take on the friction between art and commerce in book publishing. The conversation will unfold in full force on September 7.