The Blake Friedmann Agency has announced a new structure almost five months after the death of co-founder Carole Blake.
The changes were decided before Blake’s death in October but the agency's staff, which was created by Blake and Julian Friedmann in 1983, decided to wait until now to announce them.
Friedmann is now company chairman and will continue on the board, director Isobel Dixon is head of the book department and is joined by agent Juliet Pickering who has become vice head of the department. Film/ TV agent Conrad Williams has been appointed to head of the media department while the agency’s head of rights, Louise Brice, returns from parental leave in May and will join the board later in the year.
In the finance department Daisy Way has recently returned to Blake Friedmann (where she was formerly royalties and contracts associate) to take up the new role of joint finance manager. Samuel Hodder, who joined the company two years ago as royalties and contracts associate, has stepped up to joint finance manager alongside Way, while continuing in a contracts role as well.
Friedmann said: “When Carole and I merged our agencies over 30 years ago we had two other members of staff and around 40 clients between us. The agency now has 15 members of staff and more than 300 clients. The agency is well placed for the future, and Isobel, Conrad, Louise, Juliet and I will be working closely with the whole team to make it as fulfilling and dynamic as possible for our clients and colleagues. I know Carole would be very proud of them all. Carole added a quote to a press release draft before she died and I’d like to share some of her words now: ‘We have a fantastic team with some very established colleagues, gifted younger agents, a talented foreign rights department and strong support all round. The time seems ripe to put the management of the agency on a forward footing. Blake Friedmann Agency is a company with an exciting future and these changes reflect our commitment to our colleagues and that future’.”
Dixon said that Blake had left the team with a “rich legacy”. She said: “I’ve already had more than 20 happy years working with Julian, Conrad and Carole and though we all miss Carole greatly, we feel her spirit and enthusiasm in everything that we do here. She left us a rich legacy which we feel honoured to continue. The book department has an even wider range of clients and projects now that Juliet Pickering, Tom Witcomb and Hattie Grűnewald are building and consolidating their own lists and we are excited about sharing our authors’ great writing and helping them to thrive. I look forward to the adventures that lie ahead.”
Williams said: “The international boom in the book-into-film-and-TV market makes this the most exciting time to be a film and TV agent in the heart of a dynamic literary agency. The joint is jumping and our well harmonised team will make the most of it for all our clients – be they scriptwriters, playwrights, directors or authors.”
In November the company set up the Carole Blake Open Doors Project: a programme specifically aimed at encouraging candidates from a diverse range of backgrounds to enter the publishing industry.
A Blake Friedmann spokesperson said: “The response to the 31st December deadline for applications was so strong that instead of placing just one candidate in the first half of [this year], the agency has appointed one candidate to a full three-month paid internship and, with the support of the Book Trade Charity (BTBS) for accommodation, has awarded two places instead of one for its inaugural shadowing project in 2017. More details will follow in due course.”
The spokesperson added: “Everyone at Blake Friedmann would again like to extend their warmest gratitude for the many messages of condolence and support received in the wake of Carole Blake’s death.”
The agency revealed Blake’s sudden death on October 26th and paid tribute to the “incredible woman” who had spent more than 50 years working in the book trade. Dixon told The Bookseller she would be looking after most of Blake's clients.