Meet Bieke Van Aggelen, the founder of the African Literary Agency, passionate about promoting African voices in literature
September 20, 2023
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Bieke van Aggelen is the founder of the African Literary Agency. Together with a team of scouts and editors, the agency works to empower African voices in literature by bringing the best voices from all over the continent to publishers worldwide. Bieke has over 30 years of experience as a literary agent, specializing in selling rights in adult fiction, speculative fiction, and children's books by authors and publishers from the African continent.

Insights from Bieke

“I lead a trio responsible for scouting, editing, and providing advisory support. Each day, my tasks involve staying updated on emerging voices from Africa, engaging with my network via email and virtual meetings (including publishers, co-agents, film/TV producers, and audio professionals), presenting new manuscripts to specific clients, and managing contracts, from negotiation to finalization.”

At the Nairobi International Book Fair in September, I would like to meet publishing professionals, literary festival organizers, publishers, literary agents, and authors in Nairobi and all over the African continent. I am excited to discover and exchange information about the African market, the goals of African publishers, the future of African publishing, and my possible role in how I can empower all talents from the African continent to make their books travel and have the most significant opportunities for the publishing communities in Africa and the rest of the world to collaborate by connecting, fostering relationships, facilitating rights sales, comprehending contracts, empowerment, and generating income for all involved parties.”

“Over the next five years, the critical trends for publishing will be the challenging fiction market. The economic circumstances and how to find your readers. For publishers participating in the book fair for the first time, take your time to build a network and when you have a deal, dig into the contracts carefully. Always ask for a second opinion or team up with someone you trust.”

“I love all writings from my own talented authors. Futhi Ntsingila, Wole Talabi, Dare Segun Falowo, Nuzo Onoh, Vernon Head, Uvile Ximba, Jason Staggie. I’m very selective in attending Book Fairs but I never skip The Frankfurt Book Fair, the London Book Fair, Sharjah Book Fair, and now Nairobi International Book Fair since they give added value to my mission.

“If I meet my younger self at the beginning of their publishing career I’ll advise them to be patient, believe in their work and mission, and build their network in all possible ways. This way they get the information they need, and meet the people who can bring more life to their work.”

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