Introducing Key People

Introducing Key People

2 October, 2023

Earlier this year, publishing professionals Lou Johnson and Jeanne Ryckmans set up a new literary agency, Key People Literary Management. With a connection going back to their time as colleagues at Penguin Random House in 2000, Johnson and Ryckmans have worked across a wide range of publishing roles, and Ryckmans is also author of the recently released book Trust: A fractured fable (Upswell). The duo tells Think Australian the story behind their new agency—and a little of their plans for the future.

Tell us about your individual careers before you created Key People.

Jeanne: I have had a varied career as an on-air television presenter and reporter fronting Masterpiece, TV World, and Imagine arts programs on SBS television (this will carbon-date me); director of two documentaries; features magazine editor; book publisher for two multinationals (Random House/ HarperCollins) and one independent (Black Inc.); and artistic director of the Canberra Writers Festival (2019–2022)—the latter whilst working simultaneously as a literary agent. Essentially it’s been a long vocation of storytelling from both sides of the publishing fence, with plenty of author wrangling.

I’ve been fortunate to work with authors including dual Miles Franklin Award winner Christopher Koch, feminist icon Gloria Steinem, Socceroos legend Johnny Warren, Margaret Whitlam, 2019 Stella Prize winner Vicki Laveau-Harvie and many others. Last month, Upswell Publishing released my hybrid memoir/detective story called Trust: A fractured fable. I feel grateful to those publishing colleagues and authors who have stayed the course.

Lou: I was lucky enough to be born into publishing. My father was sent from the UK to Australia by Penguin Books in 1968, and my mother was a publicist, literary agent and publisher, so I grew up surrounded by authors and books.

Publishing gets under your skin, and although I toyed with other careers, it was publishing that won my heart. The power of storytelling to connect us has always been the driver of that.

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Originally published by Books and Publishing (Read More)