License to Success
October 09th, 2009
By Tiina Kristoffersson (Stilton Finland)

In Finland where independent literary agents form a relatively new profession, I am often asked to explain what my agent’s work actually entails. It is not that surprising considering that five years ago, even I had not heard of literary agents. An agent, to me, referred to James Bond. When you type the word “agent” in Google, you are forwarded to Wikipedia, where "agent" can mean many other things, such as a person who is “employed by the police or other entity to act undercover to entice or provoke another person to commit an illegal act.”

Each agent naturally has his or her own personal way of working, but the work of a literary agent is not quite as provocative as this. A literary agent’s job is to safeguard the interests of the author that they represent: it involves negotiating the best contracts for the author, ensuring their visibility and marketing them comprehensively. My own role model among agents is Monica Antunes, the agent to author Paulo Coelho. I was lucky to observe Monica’s work first hand a few years ago when I worked as Paulo Coelho’s publisher in Finland. Everyone can think what they like about the work of this best-selling author, but the results speak for themselves. Coelho’s books have to date been translated into 67 languages, and sold in more than 150 countries. Finland is one of the smallest countries, but even Coelho’s latest novel, The Winner Stands Alone became No. 1 in September’s What Finland Reads book sales list.

Paulo Coelho’s books may be interesting and charming, but I also think that his agent, Monica Antunes, has had a part to play in the author’s success. I have never met an agent who so passionately and unyieldingly spurs the publishers to achieve bigger and better results on behalf of her author. I have never met an agent who keeps thinking up so eagerly new marketing campaigns in order to market the books that she so admires. I have rarely met a person who is so totally committed to the promotion of an author’s career as Monica Antunes is. If you want to find out how Monica became Paulo Coelho’s agent, you can read the story at the website of Coelho's official fanclub at:

Success requires hard work, faith and passion, and Monica has shown all of these in her work as Paulo Coelho’s agent. It is not an exaggeration to conclude the story of Monica and Paulo with these words:

”Thanks to perseverance, enthusiasm, her love for Paulo Coelho’s work and, most of all, to her belief that his work was good enough to become known worldwide, she has helped him become the world’s Best Seller. Today Coelho’s books have turned into an editorial phenomenon and are published in (67) languages and in 150 countries with enormous success. Monica and Paulo Coelho are still great friends and they share a fidelity pact of exclusivity over his work.”