HEADWATER LITERARY MANAGEMENT

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Publishing is changing, and so is what it means to work as a writer.


As costs of living in major cities rise, stable writing jobs are disappearing, book advances are shrinking, and independent artists and creators, particularly those that don’t come from privileged backgrounds, are being asked to take on more and more risk just to keep pursuing their craft.

 

We’ve been there. We’ve seen friends and colleagues get laid off, we’ve nervously waited for freelance checks to arrive in order to pay rent, and we’ve seen talented people forced out of the industry due to its latent bigotries. Like writers, we’ve had to forge our own professional path in response to publishing as it actually exists.

 

If you’re here, you know that conditions under late capitalism are not reasons to stop being an artist. Instead, they make art all the more essential. You’re looking for an agency that sees all this too, an agency built under these conditions and designed with the express purpose of helping writers respond to changing times.

 

Welcome to Headwater Literary Management.

 

HLM is a full-service literary agency designed to do far more than help authors negotiate book deals. Our mission is to support our clients in the moments when writers otherwise feel most isolated in their careers—whether it is developing a concept or proposal from scratch, finding
short-form opportunities between books, or applying for that MFA program or grant. We are advocates who will work to build your career from the ground up, because we believe that together we can not only open the usual doors but also knock down some drywall, too.

 

As agents, it is the core of our job to help authors build as sustainable a career as possible in the long term. We represent clients with diverse identities from diverse socio-economic backgrounds, across a wide range of publishing categories. Our authors publish with Big-5 imprints and indie presses, secure foreign-rights agreements and IP deals. At every step of the way, we are responsive, transparent, honest, and hands-on.

 

Headwater Literary Management is a boutique agency with big-firm reach, founded by agents with a clear vision of what modern writers need and the experience to get the job done. 
 

It’s nice to meet you. We can’t wait to hear about your book.

ABOUT US

ABOUT OUR NAME

Headwater Literary Management was founded in Minnesota, where the Mississippi River begins. Spanning just eighteen feet across at the headwaters, this river, the fourth longest in the world, travels through ten states on its way to the Gulf of Mexico. On its journey, it swells to over eleven miles wide and grows as deep as a twenty-story building. 

 

We believe that the creation of a book and a writing career very much mirrors this journey. From small beginnings come mighty successes.

 

The headwater is just the beginning.

 

ABOUT OUR ETHICS

This agency operates fully within the guidelines set forth by the Association of Author’s Representatives’ canon
of ethics, save for a portion of paragraph 8, which states that an agent is only allowed to perform editorial work provided that “any payment therefor is made directly to a charity qualified under Section 501(c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code or to an established educational institution” and that “the member does not in any way benefit financially from the activity.”

 

In an industry that far too often requires unpaid apprenticeships and multi-year investments of time and labor before receiving livable compensation, we believe that disallowing agents from ethically using their professional editorial skills to stay afloat as they build their career is reinforcing institutionalized racism, sexism, classism, and ableism already present within our community. Therefore, Headwater Literary Management has chosen not to become a member of the Association of Author’s Representatives. 

 

Here is Headwater’s version of paragraph 8:

  • A Headwater agent will never charge an author a reading fee.

  • A Headwater agent will never charge current clients for editing or submitting their works. Money will always flow to the author.

  • If an author hires a Headwater agent for editorial work, they will do so with the agreement that this work disqualifies the agency from representing them. All work as independent contractors shall remain wholly separate from work performed as agents for Headwater.

  • No author will ever get preferential treatment for being a listener or patron of Print Run, attending a class or workshop, hiring a Headwater agent for separate work as an independent contractor, or attending any other event taught by Headwater agents.