Meet Agent James McGowan

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McGowan, James

Since interning at BookEnds as an undergrad in the summer of 2015, James has (basically) never left. He’s just continuously leveled-up inside of BookEnds. Now he is an associate agent and the social media manager for the team, actively building his own list in picture books, middle grade fiction and nonfiction, and adult fiction.

James is a Staten Island native and holds a master’s degree in English from the College of Staten Island. He’s been a reader since his mom gave him the first A Series of Unfortunate Events book and ordered the sequels regularly through Scholastic book orders. He only recently learned he could be a writer, too—his debut picture book, GOOD NIGHT, OPPY, publishes in fall 2021 from Boyds Mills Kane Press.

When James is not reading/working/writing, he can usually be found watching an unhealthy amount of sitcoms.

James is currently open to submissions in picture book fiction and nonfiction, middle grade
fiction and nonfiction, and adult fiction. Find out more by visiting his website and following him on Twitter.

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How long have you been an agent, and what did your career path look like?

I've been with BookEnds for going on five years but have been building my own list for two. My career path has been pretty much a one-stop-shop. I interned at BookEnds in 2015, and then I never left. It's actually a running joke with the team.

What's your favorite part of your job?

I have two favorite parts: 1) The call-a-client and tell them there's an offer. There's something so exciting about their reaction that makes me feel like everything has been worth it. 2) Brainstorming! I could brainstorm all day with a client. I love talking new ideas or new ways to fix a work-in-progress. I always come away from those phone calls feeling inspired.

What do you look for in an author to potentially represent?

There are a few things I look for in an author to potentially represent, but the two most important to me are 1) someone who is open to new things, be it trying new revisions, a strategy they might not have thought of, new platforms; and 2) good communication, which I think is the foundation of every author/agent relationship. Being able to effectively communicate your vision for your book, or any concerns/issues you're having, will help me be a more effective agent. Those are qualities I try to give back to my clients as well.

What do you look for in a project to potentially represent?

Is it a cop-out to say that really unique feeling of excitement and "I-got-to-have-this"? Every time I offer representation, I want to have the type of reaction where I don't shut up about the project and I'm holding my breath in anticipation for "the call" or the author's response.

Register for Wordsmith for a chance to meet with James! Already registered but not yet scheduled for a pitch or consultation? Sign up here.