Founder & Agent
Founder & Agent
Hi! I’m Jess. I started Helm Literary with the goal of helping writers take control of their careers. I believe my job as a literary agent is to help writers steer that ship (couldn’t resist at least one sea-faring pun!) First and foremost, I work to make sure my writers are compensated for their incredible work, but I’m also their guide to navigating the industry as a whole. No nonsense, no smoke and mirrors. Just the pure magic of publishing books.
What’s my story? As a flashlight under the covers, tripping over curbs while read-walking, never leave home without a book, lifetime reader, I thought I’d found my dream job when I started working at my local library in Iowa. Then one day, I stumbled upon the inciting incident of my professional life: I shelved The Writer’s Digest’s Guide to Literary Agents.
The summer of 2002, I moved to New York City to intern at the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency. Over the next decade, I worked my way through each department: royalties, contracts, audio, foreign, film, and domestic. I also began taking on my own clients (most of whom I still represent to this day.) In 2013, I moved to Foundry Literary + Media where I continued to grow my list of award winning, bestselling writers. (And truly just wonderful people.)
Today, Helm is a full-service literary agency, representing fiction, nonfiction, and children’s book authors. I've hired a team of industry veterans to support me in my back office and in my subsidiary rights department, that way I can focus on selling books. Because the truth is, nearly two decades into my career, I still get giddy every time I call an author with an offer from a publisher. Dream job!
Helm is currently closed to unsolicited submissions.
If we truly want to see change, we need to fund change. That is why Helm donates 2% of net earnings to Haven, a non-profit collective of BIWOC and non-binary identifying folks rooted towards abolition, liberation and healing, through art and storytelling.