Monday, January 11, 2010

Meet literary agent Michelle Humphrey

A little more than what you’ll find in her bio at the Write Stuff conference website.

While the links below will give you a sense of literary agent Michelle Humphrey’s personality, much of what you’ll find on the web about Michelle is outdated, because last month Michelle moved from Sterling Lord Literistic to the Martha Kaplan Agency. Michelle told us she is interested in representing writers of young adult fiction (historical, contemporary, literary), middle-grade fiction, literary fiction, and narrative non-fiction (history, psychology, women's studies). Before Sterling Lord Literistic she was at Anderson Literary and, prior to agencies, she worked as an English teacher and freelance writer.

Literary agents are notoriously overworked—their submission response times tell all—but Michelle did take the time to answer a few questions for us.

While you state that you are looking for a range of genres, your list has grown to be predominantly young adult. Was this by happenstance, or design? 

Yes, my list is mostly YA. Hmm, I think it's part happenstance, part design. As an assistant at Anderson Literary, I read a lot of YA slush there — a lot of good slush too — and started to name YA as my primary interest in my online profiles.

In your opinion, what is the current state of the YA market, as compared to other genres?
I think YA books continue to sell, with a strong trend right now in paranormal and Gossip Girl types of books. Compared to other genres? Perhaps romance books are selling similarly — historical and paranormal romance especially.

What I'm looking for in YA: character-driven young adult fiction—mostly contemporary and historical. I'll consider paranormal—I do get several queries a week pitching supernatural stories, but I haven't found the right project yet. I'd love to work on a "futuristic dystopia" novel—something with very empathetic characters. I'd also be into a steam-punk novel, or some quirky new take on avatars. (That said: I'm not a sci-fi fan per se, but I like the occasional sci-fi element.) 

As for memoir, I like coming of age/humorous memoir. Something geared to a young female audience.

For more from Michelle, check out this October 2009 interview with Chuck Sambuchino and this February 2009 interview with client Denise Jaden.

What might it be like to work with Michelle? Here's one client's take, at a December 2009 blog by her client Caroline Starr Rose.

Write Stuff registration opens in 4 days! Members, watch your mail: the brochures and registration forms were mailed separately. You should have them both in another day or two. Or you can always download a registration form when the links go live on Thursday evening.


  1. I just have to say Michelle is fabulous. She's smart, professional, upbeat, and fun. I'm so honored to work with her.

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Caroline! Always helps to put a human face on these publishing pros.