Why a BIPOC Mentorship Program?

The publishing world can be a difficult inner circle to penetrate, and this can be especially difficult for those who have been traditionally excluded. When I (Chelene Knight) joined Transatlantic as an Associate Agent, it was important for me to look back at my incredibly unique journey into publishing, and to seek out new entry points for those who may not otherwise have industry exposure. Because I’ve always had to build space for myself in publishing, I was thrilled to have been welcomed into the Transatlantic family, and I wanted to create a sustainable space for other BIPOC publishing professionals interested in agenting. Transparency is key, and it is essential to learn more about the role of agenting to make sure that it is the right fit. In working with fellow agent Amanda Orozco, we decided to team up and try our hand at creating a unique entry point into the world of agenting for BIPOC folks. 

There are so many barriers of entry in publishing, especially for BIPOC, that our hope was to forge the first stone in a path for those who have a passion for books and a desire to learn more about and possibly begin a career in publishing.  When I (Amanda Orozco) first learned about the publishing industry, I had no idea what questions to ask and where to start. This program is meant to be a starting point, where BIPOC publishing professionals–or potentials–can ask and learn and discover more about publishing in a safe, sustainable space and begin to create connections with other BIPOC in the industry. 

How is the Transatlantic BIPOC mentorship program different from other programs? 

The Transatlantic BIPOC Agent Mentorship Program was initiated by BIPOC agents. The program is run by BIPOC Agents and aims to remove the initial barrier of entry into the job. This program is a bridge to the potential internship program at Transatlantic Agency and aims to offer an alternate route for those keen on becoming a literary agent. This mostly self-paced program will give would-be agents a look into the role while indirectly providing industry/role transparency, resources, and an initial network to build upon. The program will be an opportunity to learn without the pressure to perform.

The program is meant to prioritize tentative agents who have not taken the publishing school route, or do not have the option to do so. This can be used to fast-track this person into a potential internship within Transatlantic should this next step suit both parties, or be a stepping stone in the mentee’s incipient career in publishing.

Is this program for you? You are a BIPOC individual who: 

  • is interested in the world of agenting but not sure what the role entails
  • has some experience in publishing or a similar field and wants to utilize their existing skills if they transfer into agenting, or 
  • is looking to make a career change and has been interested in the publishing industry or has been trying to break into the industry
  • has a keen editorial eye
  • is a relationships person
  • is incredibly organized
  • LOVES books

At the end of the mentorship the successful mentee will receive: 

  • A reference letter 
  • Job search support
  • Introductions to contacts in publishing
  • Assistance building or restructuring your CV

It is our hope that this program, although intentionally small to start, will grow into something bigger. We believe that discussion and conversation can foster empowering transformations in a way not possible or comparable to traditional education. We also believe that making mistakes is inevitable and that through curated support we can explore solution-based community building in our intimate group. And it is through this program that we hope to not only call in a stellar group of people who may not otherwise find their way to agenting, but that we support them and help to create healthy, sustainable positions for BIPOC folks in publishing for a long time.

The program was initiated by Chelene Knight and Amanda Orozco with the support of the entire Transatlantic team.  We would like to give a special thanks to our committee: Fiona Kenshole, Andrea Cascardi, Carolyn Forde, and Marilyn Biderman.

The BIPOC Mentorship program is on hiatus in 2023. We are looking forward to letting you know about some exciting initiatives that we are working on for 2024.