A native of Los Angeles, California, Kirby Kim attended Pomona College and got his JD at UC Hastings College of the Law. Kim got his first job in publishing working for Charlotte Sheedy Literary, at that time an affiliate of Sterling Lord Literistic, then moved to Vigliano Associates and WME before joining Janklow & Nesbit Associates.
Kim represents both literary and commercial authors. He’s most interested in receiving manuscripts that straddle the fence a bit, with upmarket expression combined with a genre element or plot device. When it comes to straight literary work, he’s alternatively drawn to rich, sweeping stories that try to encompass a time or a place or tightly written, narratively innovative stories or voices with award potential. His commercial interests include thrillers and mysteries, speculative fiction, and young adult. He also represents a range of nonfiction working with leaders and journalists in the areas of science, culture and current affairs.
Kim is currently a board member of the Asian American Writers Workshop. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona with his wife and two kids.
For industry newcomers, the process of getting your book agented and working with that agent to get it edited and picked up can be mysterious and daunting. What are agents looking for and what do they want from a client? What do you want from your agent, once you get one? And what should your working relationship look like? In this session, particiants explore the process of landing an agent and working with them once you have an agent.
Join literary agent Kirby Kim, founder of rinky dink press and The Revolution (Relaunch), Rosemarie Dombrowski, and Associate Director of Four Way Books, Sally Ball, in a discussion about the intricate dimensions of publishing including acquiring an agent, working with small presses, and what to expect once your manuscript has been selected for publication. Panelists will demystify the submission process, advise on how to best research what types of writing and manuscripts publishers are looking for, and how to submit to local presses or presses with specific genre focuses.
Q: What are some surprising, yet common, mistakes that writers make when pitching their work to you?
A: Typos in the query letter. That’s always surprising because agents are looking for any reason to say no and reduce their workload. The other thing is sending work out too early. I’ll ask for a manuscript then a couple weeks later the writer will send a revised manuscript saying they tweaked it or found some mistakes or what have you. I can’t help but check out at that point.
"One would hope the floodgates are about to open," said Kirby Kim, Chiang's literary agent. "Maybe this is his moment, just like Philip Dick has every story of his made into a movie. This is someone who is something of a god in one world, but so unknown here amongst general readership."
Q: Is there still a market for serious, intelligently written horror fiction, in the same vein as Stephen King or William Peter Blatty, or should a writer focus on a smaller publishing house? --Kevin from Phoenix
A: Putting aside the question of what constitutes “serious, intelligently written horror fiction,” I think there’s a market for anything if it’s done really well. But horror is a tricky category.
At the time, authors such as John Green ("Paper Towns" and later "The Fault in Our Stars") and Suzanne Collins ("The Hunger Games") were garnering strong sales and reviews, not to mention pop cultural buzz, with young adult novels. Fishman's agent, Kirby Kim, then with William Morris Endeavor, suggested he try a book aimed at teens. Fishman's voice was suited to the genre, said Kim, who also thought that young adult editors were eager for new material and might buy an unfinished manuscript, something unlikely in the adult market.