On Friday November 13th, 2015, took place an interesting one-day conference about “Literary agents and copyright management in France”, organized by the Centre Régional des Lettres (CRL) Midi-Pyrénées, in Toulouse. Anna Soler-Pont was one of the panelists on behalf of the Pontas Agency, together with Emmanuelle Urien (French author represented by Pontas). Marc de Gouvenain also attended the conference and participated in a long Q&A session.
In the pictures below: the three of them (left) and writer Frédérique Martin (right), speaking on behalf of hundreds of French authors.
France is probably the only Western country where the figure of the literary agent is rare. Very few French authors are represented (they usually sell all rights to their French publishers, be it original language rights, translation and audiovisual rights). Also, the existence of literary agencies is quite new (Laure Pécher was also a speaker on behalf of Parisian Astier-Pécher Agence Littéraire). The two well-known publishers who participated at one of the panels, Colette Olive (at Éditions Verdier) and Sylvie Gracia (at Éditions Rouergue) admitted that they had never negotiated a contract for a French author with an agency in their entire careers.
At the conference, however, the main idea was that times are also changing in the French publishing industry and that French authors are finally beginning to ask themselves why do they have to negotiate their own contracts when they’re not specialists when authors in the rest of the world don’t do it; why do they have to put a price to their literary work when the only thing they want is to be published and read; and why they shouldn’t also have a company handling their rights globally, teaming-up with them, and for a less higher commission than the ones taken by their French publishing houses…