Prior to agenting, Kirby Kim had been considering a career as a lawyer, but found he didn't have a passion for the law the way his fellow classmates did. Then 'literary agent' popped up on his radar as a possible job that could use his degree but with more creativity and advocacy than found in courtroom roles. He interned with an agency in California briefly before moving to New York and working with various agencies there (including his NY start with superstar agent Charlotte Sheedy) before joining Janklow & Nesbit.
What is Kirby looking for?
He likes high concept, high stakes, mostly contemporary fiction and does do a fair amount of crossover for adult/YA.
What's a good example book or client from his list?
Kirby also shares Peter Bognanni's This Book Is Not Yet Rated, which Kirby was drawn to initially because it occupies that 'indie movie sad/funny space'. Kirby wants to represent books that make him feel moved or changed or surprised in some way.
How many clients?
He currently represents 50-60 clients. Active projects balanced with natural lulls in production cycles mean not all clients are needing the same type or level of attention at the same time.
Kirby's career advice:
There're a lot of different roads to the same place. Comparing yourself to fellow writers is not helpful. Kirby shares a client's Edgar award winner who started writing in his 50s. There's an unhealthy obsession with youth, go by your compass not your clock. And be gentle on yourselves and try to define success by what you can control—the quality of your work and the people you work with.