Meet the Agents: Hannah Brattesani (The Friedrich Agency)

“Everything you write – from emails to epics – is the product of all that you have read before it.”  Hannah Brattesani, The Friedrich Agency

Every other year, the Writers’ League of Texas brings 20-25 literary agents and book editors to Austin for its Agents & Editors Conference. As we look ahead to the 30th A&E Conference, taking place June 21 – 23, 2024, we’re happy to share Q&As with some of our visiting agents and editors here.

An Interview with Hannah Brattesani

Hannah Brattesani is a literary agent and the Director of International Rights at The Friedrich Agency. She represents literary and upmarket fiction, and voice-driven nonfiction. Hannah emigrated from Scotland to New York after graduating from the University of St Andrews, where she was awarded the Douglas Dunn Award for Writing. She began her career at Emma Sweeney Agency and speakers bureau Blue Flower Arts, later joining Folio as interim Director of International Rights. Outside of agenting, Hannah currently supports the St Nell’s Humor Writing Residency and serves as a consulting editor for Fountain House’s ROAR Journal, a publication created in partnership with the global clubhouse community to further innovate the field of Social Practice. Hannah has been with Friedrich since 2019 and is privileged to work with many bestselling and celebrated authors.

Scribe: How would you describe your personal approach to working with an author? 

Hannah Brattesani: I don’t think an agent can have a single approach to working with an author because there is no single approach to writing a book. Every author has a different creative process and needs support at different junctures of their publication. A hands-on approach can be stifling for one writer, and vital for another. Part of my job is figuring out what kind of partnership serves you best.

I will, however, say that every decision I make is in service of building an author’s career. I want to be there from your first book through your last (yes, even that unexpected fourth novel where you decide to kill off the main character and change genres halfway through). 

Scribe: What do you look for in a debut author? 

HB: On the page, voice is paramount. Plot is what grabs me. Voice is what holds me.

Off the page, I love working with authors who are staunch advocates for their work but know when to accept counsel.

Scribe: What’s one piece of advice you find yourself giving to others time and time again?

HB: Read. It really is as simple as that. Read current. Read often. Read wide. Everything you write – from emails to epics – is the product of all that you have read before it.

Scribe: What excites you the most about the publishing industry today?

HB: The growing interest in titles from international voices. While the percentage of books published in America translated from languages other than English remains at 3% (a stat unmoved from the noughties), we have seen a significant increase in coverage for translated fiction over the last couple of years, both in trade and general audience outlets. We won’t see a toppling of the anglophone cultural monolith any time soon, but I think we can get that 3% to rise to a healthier, fuller 5%.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention the progress made over the past decade to balance the gender disparity in translated works published in the US. Between 2008 and 2013, about a quarter of all translated fiction was written by women. Today, that percentage is close to 50%. 

A market that embraces translation is a market that embraces homegrown literature that looks beyond the United States. In an increasingly insular world, that can only be a good thing.

Scribe: Tell us about a recent book/project that you worked on that excited you and you want everyone to know about? 

HB: I may be preaching to the choir here but if you haven’t read Leg: The Story of a Limb & the Boy Who Grew from It by Austin’s very own Greg Marshall, then get on it!

Thanks, Hannah!

Click here for more information on the 2024 Agents & Editors Conference, a weekend long event in Austin, TX (June 21-23) that focuses on the craft of writing, the business of publishing, and building a literary community.