Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Jess Regel of Helm Literary

Jess Regel is a literary agent and founder of Helm Literary.

Jess represents novels for all age groups (adult, young adult, and middle grade), but with a focus on upmarket fiction with characters who jump off the page and thought-provoking storylines. She wants books that are conversation starters. She represents books for a general commercial audience, but she loves a genre twist. LGBTQIA+ and #OwnVoices very much welcome. She’s usually closed to unsolicited queries, but for the 2024 Carolina Writing Workshop she is open! You can find her client list at

“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!”

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