Outside Frankfurt’s LitAG: A New Report on Agenting
publishingperspectives.com – Thursday October 19, 2023
A new survey on American literary agents’ experience surfaces concerns about the business model’s viability, diversity, and burnout in a demanding job.
‘An Industry in Flux’
This year’s Literary Agents and Scouts Center has been a quick success, with all 584 tables sold out long before the fair opened.
With its tables and chairs turning quickly between rights meetings, a lot of lore—almost a romanticism—has made itself part of the mystique of Frankfurter Buchmesse.
Easily one of the biggest smiles in the LitAg this year will be on the face of Gina Winje, the literary agent whose Winge Agency in Porsgrunn, Norway, represents Jon Fosse, who recently won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Winje was touched, she said, to be hearing from co-agents, scouts, co-publishers and others in the industry: “I’m overwhelmed by the warmth and happiness,” she told Publishing Perspectives.
But as much as the industry understands and appreciates the LitAg as “the beating heart” of the world’s largest international book fair, a report that arrived early this month indicates that many literary agents may be struggling in their work as the industry evolves, many markets’ economies go into flux, and making ends meet gets harder.
Literary agents—so critical to the international industry’s viability and health—could use some attention, as members of the profession report they’re experiencing more burnout than before, not least because the job entails so much “invisible labor,” for which agents aren’t paid.
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