PACLA president and Transatlantic Agency literary agent Samantha Haywood

Thirty-eight Canadian literary agents from 13 agencies announced the formation of the Professional Association of Canadian Literary Agents on Jan. 23. The organization echoes similar long-standing international organizations, such as the Australian Literary Agents’ Association and the U.K.’s Association of Author’s Agents.

PACLA’s agents – led by president Samantha Haywood, of the Transatlantic Agency, and an executive committee comprising vice-president Jackie Kaiser (Westwood Creative Artists), treasurer Hilary McMahon (WCA), and secretary Marilyn Biderman – collectively represent more than 1,000 authors and illustrators.

Haywood says there has long been a need for such an organization in Canada, and its creation will result in better communication with other members of the publishing community both domestically and overseas.
“Many agents in Canada have been wanting to form an association for some time, and we need one that can concentrate on publishing issues that face Canadian authors in particular,” Haywood says. “Agents are the intermediaries between publishers and writers, and as a result we have a privileged perspective on the publishing ecosystem in Canada and abroad. … We hope to keep in regular communication with [other agent] organizations about our shared industry issues.”

PACLA’s main aim will be to advocate for authors, and also to provide professional development and standards of practice for agents. It will support endeavours like the Fair Contracts Initiative for equitable author contract terms, first launched by the U.S. Authors Guild in 2015.

“As the Writers’ Union and other organizations have pointed out, it’s never been more difficult to make a living as an author. While our association won’t be directly negotiating new terms with publishers, we will be actively advocating on behalf of what we feel is just and fair for authors in Canada,” Haywood says.