Literary Agent Q&A: Claudia Wittman, Germany

In Global Trade Talk by Hannah Johnson

As part of our ongoing series of Q&A’s with the world’s leading literary agents, scouts and rights managers, Publishing Perspectives talks to Claudia Wittman, founder of The Wittman Agency in Germany.
Claudia Wittman, founder of The Wittmann Agency (photo by Sabine Münch)

Claudia Wittman, founder of The Wittmann Agency (photo by Sabine Münch)

What is the greatest challenge you face in selling rights?

As what’s often called an “external rights department,” the Wittmann Agency is and always has been heavily involved in all aspects of the publishing process, from author consultancy to manuscript reading, from contracting and program strategy to marketing and sales activities. As change is the only constant in life, today’s challenge is that everyone in the industry – authors, publishers, booksellers and agencies, to name but a few – has to reinvent themselves. “It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” (Charles Darwin)

What specific advice or “best practices” do you implement in various territories?

Being accessible to everybody all over the world through the Internet is an incredible opportunity for us. The Wittmann Agency enables its partners to work in a manner which is reliable, environmentally-friendly, saves on resources and is largely digital. We offer our partners their own server and personal, password-protected, cloud mailboxes. This makes cooperation flexible for both licensers and licensees in all four corners of the globe, practically regardless of time and location.

Over the last five to ten years, how has the digital revolution changed the rights business?

The international rights and licensing business has very quickly adopted and adapted to the benefits of the digital revolution and incorporated them in its everyday activities. Presentations and negotiations are made with the help of a laptop or tablet. Data can be provided for approval digitally and in real time while negotiations are still taking place; data and archives can be maintained on networks and accessed by app at any location; phoning on Skype enables you to actually see the person you’re talking to. Staff can work flexibly wherever they are in the world. This is all made possible by the virtual workplace. What could be more exciting?

Agency founder Claudia Wittmann has been successfully active in the field of national and international publishing rights and licensing since 1998. From 1998 to 2011, she worked at several German and international publishing houses, in the rights and sales departments. She then founded The Wittmann Agency, which provides consulting and rights services to publishers and other literary agencies.

About the Author

Hannah Johnson

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Hannah Johnson is the Publisher of Publishing Perspectives. Before joining PP in 2009, she worked as Project Manager at the German Book Office New York.