The Association of American Literary Agents (AALA) has expanded its membership criteria in an effort to create, as it explained, a "more equitable, participatory, diverse, and inclusive publishing community." The organization, which was previously known as the AAR, has also updated its canon of ethics.
After a demographic survey of its membership In April, AALA has lowered its requirement for membership; moving forward anyone working in the field of "author care" at a literary agency can join the organization. Previously, membership was limited to literary agents and required sales of at least 10 books in an 18-month period.
The broadening of its membership requirements was done, the organization said in a press release, in the wake of an anti-racism workshop and a retreat taken by the board of directors. Taken into consideration were "the barriers to entry [in the agent-ing field], and the challenges of making a living as a literary agent."
In addition to changing its membership model, the organization has updated its canon of ethics, allowing for members to do paid work for authors who are not their clients. Speaking to this shift, the organization said the change was made to address the financial realities of the business.
"While AALA continues to advocate for a future where commissions on royalties and advances will sustain an agent," the organization said, "many literary agents currently struggle to support themselves by agenting alone." The change in the canon should, the AALA went on, "allow for better retention and support of literary agents without compromising the ethics and integrity of the organization or its individual members."