Sebes & Bisseling Literary Agency opens first UK branch

Sebes & Bisseling Literary Agency opens first UK branch

The Sebes & Bisseling Literary Agency will open a London branch in 2022, marking its first UK presence. 

The new outlet, which follows branches in Amsterdam and Stockholm, will open on 1st January 2022 in response to the agency receiving a higher volume of fiction written in English. 

Agency founder Paul Sebes said: "After a branch in Amsterdam and a second in Stockholm, this is a logical step. Both the Dutch and Scandinavian branches are doing very well, and we have been getting so many manuscripts originally written in English – not just from English-language countries but also from other parts of the world – that starting a London branch made sense.  

“Scientists, journalists and other professionals from all over the world write virtually everything in English as it is, but we’re also receiving more and more fiction written in English. From now on, manuscripts composed in Dutch will be handled via Amsterdam, everything originally written in a Scandinavian language will go through Stockholm and all work originally written in English will be handled in London.” 

Sebes established the business in Amsterdam almost 25 years ago. Willem Bisseling, who has worked there for 15 years, became co-owner in 2016. Fourteen people now work in the Amsterdam office, which makes around 1,600 deals each year.  

The Amsterdam team represents Dutch and Flemish authors. Last Stop Auschwitz by Eddy de Wind is cited as a recent highlight with 34 foreign deals, including Meulenhoff in the Netherlands, Doubleday in the UK, Grand Central in the US, Rizzoli in Italy and Piper in Germany, as well as the Dutch and Scandinavian rights for dozens of North American, British, Australian and Italian agents and publishers. 

On 1st January of this year, Sebes opened Sebes & Bisseling Scandinavia (SBS) in Stockholm. Sebes' Dutch colleague Rik Kleuver and a number of Swedish and Danish colleagues quickly joined him to handle the high volume of work. SBS now represents about 60 Scandinavian authors.  

Haico Kaashoek, described by Sebes as a Dutch-American “publishing veteran” who lives in London, will assist Sebes in the UK branch. Kaashoek’s first job in the Netherlands was at Sebes & Bisseling, “where he learned to combine a literary sense with commercial understanding”. He later joined the foreign rights department at publishing house De Bezige Bij. Kaashoek also works as a Dutch-to-English literary translator.  

Sebes added: “The English-language market is incredibly competitive, but the same is true in the Netherlands and Sweden. Agents are fighting for clients there too, and you have to work hard to come out on top in a dynamic and aggressive market. However, if things have gone so well twice already, the same is sure to happen again. We are confident about the future of the London agency: we know the market, we know what we are doing and we look forward to reading English-language work by new writers.”