US literary Agents Voice Support for strike Action at HarperCollins

More than 150 literary agents in the US have signed an open letter to HarperCollins management voicing their support for the HCPUnion which has organised a series of strikes by HarperCollins staff.  The agents say they will not submit titles to the publisher until the dispute is resolved.  It is believed to be the first time that literary agents have supported strike action by a publisher in such a coordinated way. 

The letter has been organised by Chelsea Hensley, associate agent at KT Literary which is based in Denver, Colorado.  Hensley is a bookseller in St Louis Missouri with a particular interest in black authors and those from backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in publishing. 

Signatories of the letter include KT Literary’s founder and senior literary agent Kate Testerman, a number of Aevitas Creative Management staff, including director of foreign rights Erin Files and senior agent Jen Marshall and several people from Janklow & Nesbit, including agents Melissa Flashman and Mina Hamedi.

The letter reads: ‘We and our clients have benefited greatly from the passion and expertise of HarperCollins’ staff, and we stand with them in their demands for a living wage, a more equitable and diverse workplace, and stronger union protections. Until an agreement is reached and the strike ends, we will not be submitting new projects to HarperCollins beyond those already under contract.’

It continues: ‘While many consider publishing to be a labour of love, we agents know how quickly that labour can lead to burnout, tension, missed opportunities for advancement, and mistakes. It is time our industry acknowledges the climate in which entry and junior-level employees now work and live. This generation of rising publishing professionals must contend with student loan debt, the rising cost of living, and the barriers inherent in working long hours without adequate compensation. These employees, many of whom bring with them the diverse viewpoints our industry lacks, have been essential to the production of the books we are so proud of. A successful HarperCollins, and a successful publishing industry, relies on our friends on the picket line, and so we stand in solidarity with them and ask that HarperCollins return to the bargaining table and grant them a fair contract. In the meantime, we will omit HarperCollins editors from our submission lists.’


As Nasher went to press, there was no comment from HarperCollins US.