A New Type of Literary Agent

Jason Allen AshlockPitching and selling book projects to editors over lunch in Manhattan dining clubs. If that’s your picture of a literary agent’s life, it’s time for a make-over. A radical make-over, in fact.

Literary agents have long occupied a place on the edge of publishing; essential – somehow – yet rarely visible and only vaguely defined. Still thinking about literary agents in terms fixed by Hollywood in its golden age?  You’re forgiven. For a sharp picture of a 21-st century literary agent, CCC’s Chris Kenneally turned to a digital-first advocate of what he calls, “radical mediating.”

The co-founder and President of Movable Type ManagementJason Allen Ashlock says he feels, “the earth beneath our feet is shifting in publishing. Everyone’s roles are being redefined and that easy, linear nature of the publishing value chain – that moved a book from author to publisher to wholesaler to distributor to retailer and then finally to the end user, the consumer – that path is gone now.”

According to Ashlock, Movable Type is a literary management firm that fosters storytelling across platforms, devices, territories and generations.  Ashlock develops new books and digital properties with the company’s authors and media clients, and oversees new initiatives such as Movable Type Lab and The Rogue Reader, an online bookseller for suspense fiction. Jason sits on the advisory board of a number of technology start-ups in the publishing space, and teaches digital publishing at City University of New York, City College.

2 Responses to “A New Type of Literary Agent”

  1. tito perdue May 20, 2013 at 3:25 am #

    I have very considerable experience with literary agents. They are, by and large, a people who aspire to sell the greatest tonnage of trash possible while pretending to have one foot in the culture of intellect and beauty. Most of them would be far happier in real estate.
    Tito Perdue
    literary novelist

  2. Simon Cooper May 26, 2013 at 6:39 am #

    I have ‘gone through’ app. four agents in my career and I think I understand why no author is truly 100% satisfied with his/her agent. The agent wants to sell. The author wants to write. Sometimes these two aims are directly opposing ones. When the agent reads a new work, he/she suggest changes to make it more “sellable”. This was once called dumbing down, but the fact remains that there are certain rules for a novel if you want it to sell…. it should have a hero/heroine to root for, a happy ending, and it should be readable to the point of “wanting to turn the page” to see what happens.
    These rules have taken over and now outweigh so-called ‘literary’ rules.
    It helps too if the author is ethnic, female, a first-novelist, lives in Brick Lane, is attractive, etc etc etc.
    Hlary Mantel is the exception, but today, that is what getting fiction published is mostly about.

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