After Chetan Bhagat inspired the change in English literature in India, many have taken the plunge into writing. With authors now flooding the Indian literary circuit, one thing that was bound to come up was the rise of literary agencies. The job of a literary agent is to collect the author’s manuscript, make it ready to be shown to a publisher and finally, find a good publisher for the book.
There have been instances where agents have dismissed the manuscript of the author, questioned his or her writing abilities and been extremely mean to them. “These accusations are mostly made by authors who have not written anything substantial,” says Kanishka Gupta, founder of Writer’s Side.
Agents have also asked for advance commission or a certain amount of money to find a publisher. The practiced convention says that the author should pay 20 per cent as commission only after he or she has received the first payment from the publisher. “If an agent asks you to pay money in advance then you should just move on. This is the basic measure a writer should take when approaching an agent. I never faced any trouble when I approached my agent,” says Sudipto Das, author of The Ekkos Clan.
The major publishing houses in India bring out almost 10 to 15 books per month which increases the competition even more. “If a debutant author directly goes to a publisher, it is difficult to get a response from them. Many authors, who are desperate enough, fall for this trap,” says Ayaan Basu, author of The Storm in My Mind — Ami, Kolkata and Confessions.
Kanishka Gupta explains, “It is almost impossible to get replies from publishers directly these days because they rely on literary agencies to act as filters. You have to be really good to get a reply from a publisher.” With so many good books getting published every year, one also gets to hear inspiring stories about the publishing scenario. “Two years ago, I got a query from Anamika Mukherjee for her book. She had come to me after facing 11 rejections from publishers. We faced all the odds together and in the end Anamika got an offer of Rs, 1 lakh from Harper Collins within a month.”