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Max Brockman, C’02

Literary Agent and CEO at Brockman, Inc.

New York, NY

Economics and History Major

I think agenting is a very personal thing. Your identity is wrapped up in your job when you’re pitching yourself to potential clients. A hard part of the job—and if you want to do it, you have to get over it—is that there is a certain degree of rejection. You’re rejected by publishers all the time, and you’re rejected by potential clients. And so you have to distance yourself to some degree from that part of the job. There’s a lot of no’s in the business and you just have to move on.

The hunt for new ideas is quite fun—trying to find new people to write new books is very gratifying. I think the best part about this job, and what hooked me eventually, was there’s a certain aspect that’s like a continuing education.

A big part of the job is reading newspapers and magazines, and these days maybe even Twitter, and finding what many of these great minds are talking about. The hunt for new ideas is quite fun—trying to find new people to write new books is very gratifying. I think the best part about this job, and what hooked me eventually, was there’s a certain aspect that’s like a continuing education. We’re looking for experts in various fields to write hopefully best-selling books about their work or their ideas, and through that you get these very interesting, deep dives into a whole variety of topics.

As an agency, we focus exclusively on serious non-fiction, with a particular emphasis on science. Hans Rosling was a very well-known statistician and an amazing presenter of facts about global development and health. I sold his book proposal for Factfulness, which he coauthored with his son and daughter-in-law, Ola and Anna Rosling, maybe four years ago. Tragically, Hans passed away while writing the book, but Ola and Anna did an incredible job ushering it through to completion. It was published in Spring 2018, and Bill Gates offered it as a free e-book to every graduating college senior that year. I think it’s the biggest book giveaway in history. It’s done very well too, with over a million copies sold worldwide and counting. It was a difficult and tragic process, but to have it work out so well was particularly gratifying. — October 19, 2018 • Photo by Brooke Sietinsons