Mentorship Program

This mentorship program was founded to serve historically underrepresented groups, particularly people of color, in the agenting community and seeks to increase retention and promotion.

The approach we take provides a rich opportunity for both established agents and rising agents to learn from each other and co-create the future of the business. Mentors draw on years of experience to offer their expertise, insight, and inspiration to up-and-coming agent mentees, who, in turn, offer fresh concepts, approaches, and perspective on the present challenges facing aspiring and new agents from diverse backgrounds, and ideas for change in the business.

This rigorous year-long program matches mentees from historically underrepresented backgrounds who are currently employed at a literary agency with two agent mentors, each of whom provide at least one hour each month of mentoring. Topics will be determined by the participants but might include: industry overview and guidance on client management, strategy and technique, and leadership development in the business. Participants are matched based on shared interests when possible (such as adult / children’s / YA and fiction / nonfiction), but also to provide exposure to other agency cultures and models, and business approaches.

Our first mentorship cycle began in 2021 with twenty-eight mentors and fourteen mentees. Our second cycle, with the same number of participants, began in January 2022 and will conclude in December 2022.


The 2023 Mentorship Program will run from March 2023-March 2024. Applications for both mentees and mentors will be accepted starting in January 2023.

Requirements for mentors:

  • Mentors must be active literary agents with three+ years of experience representing creators
  • Mentors must be members of AALA in good standing

Requirements for mentees:

  • Mentees must self-identify as members of an underrepresented community
  • Mentees are literary agents who are already building or managing a list of clients or have concrete plans to build their list during the term of the mentorship
  • Mentees do not need to be existing members of the AALA. A year of membership will be included in the mentorship program

Our Core Values Guide Our Work

Support agents to support authors

BIPOC and marginalized voices enrich the publishing industry

Mentorship is grassroots change, impacting the culture of the publishing industry at large through one-on-one relationships

How it works:

  • For one year each mentee will be paired with two mentors, both of whom will provide at least one hour of mentoring each month. (Mentors provide one hour of mentoring each month to one mentee; Mentees receive one hour of mentoring each month from each of their two mentees for a total of two hours)
  • The program is mentee-driven with mentees directing questions and discussion
  • All participants will attend an introductory virtual orientation
  • All mentors will attend the AALA sponsored DEI workshop during the year they are participating in the mentorship program
  • Mentees will participate in monthly programming focused on networking and career development
  • Program directors will keep in touch through the year with a monthly newsletter as well as periodic check-ins with all participants
  • Participants are expected to prioritize communication with their mentor/mentee and the program directors (responses within 48 hours)
  • All participants will provide year-end feedback
  • This program is free of cost and will provide mentees one year of free AALA membership
  • Participation in the program is at the full discretion of the program co-directors

We  hope this program will help mentees:

  • Gain a stronger sense of awareness as it pertains to their potential as a literary agent
  • Achieve a greater sense of clarity about themselves and their work environment
  • Develop an increased support system, consisting of both their mentors and fellow mentees, to aid in career growth and business development (including career mobility and self-advocacy)


We hope this program will help mentors:

  • Achieve a greater awareness of today’s agenting landscape
  • Cultivate an attitude of mutual learning and growth
  • Develop tools for addressing the biases, practices and policies that prevent equitable access to careers as literary agents
  • Learn more about creating change and transformation within our industry and individual agencies, especially related to DEI

Mentorship Program Directors

Kurestin Armada * Root Literary

Cecile Barendsma * Cecile B Literary Agency

Tamara Kawar * DeFiore & Company

Maeve MacLysaght * Copps Literary Services

Kelly Sonnack * Andrea Brown Literary Agency