LeMOTif Reports on the Status of French Lit Agents

In Global Trade Talk by Olivia Snaije

By Olivia Snaije

PARIS: The presence of literary agents in France continues to be a hot topic, hot enough so that the regionally-funded French book “observatory”, Le MOTif, has just released an in-depth study entitled “The Literary Agent in France: realities and perspectives”. It follows the publication of numerous articles in the press and a 6-page summary on literary agents published three years ago by the French Publishers Association (SNE) in which the profession of literary agent was seemingly described as an illness that needed to be contained.

Research was carried out over the course of 4 months during which time 100 or so people in the industry, including high profile agents, publishers and journalists, were interviewed and 29 writers answered a questionnaire on the subjects of work habits, the volume of activity experienced between publishers and agents and an analysis of the editorial process.

The idea, explains Le MOTif, was to take the drama out of the subject and look at the issue at hand. The final product is an exhaustive study that will be both useful to writers, publishers and foreign publishers. It covers how literary agents work, how to benefit from them, how the profession in France compares to Spain, Germany and the US, digital rights and the role of agents and a very handy list of French agents, although it would have been helpful to provide their contact numbers.

In the end, concludes the study, although it is progressing, the establishment of literary agents in France remains comparatively slow and limited. (Agents still have no official status and no association representing them.) Le MOTif makes the point that the publishing world is changing rapidly and it is imperative to help authors make the most of their rights.

Le MOTif was launched in 2008 with the financial backing of the Ile de France region, which consists in large part of the city of Paris. It is an “observatory” for the book business. It aims to help publishing professionals and writers with the ultimate goal of keeping the industry alive. Le MOTif helps with networking, sets up debates and also carries out market studies and research on the industry.

Click here to download the study:

About the Author

Olivia Snaije

Olivia Snaije is a journalist and editor based in Paris who writes about translation, literature, graphic novels, the Middle East, and multiculturalism. She is the author of three books and has contributed to newspapers and magazines including The Guardian, The Global Post, and The New York Times.