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Literary agents and writers – how to find the right mix for your genre and industry

Sanchit Khera
19th Jul 2017
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Finding the perfect partner for your publishing requirements is key when you’re trying to succeed in the print/online mix. With multiple tiers of literary agent services, rounding up on the perfect fit does amount to plenty of contemplation and even soul-searching - you did put your heart and soul into those hallowed pages.

Mumbai, Bangalore, Jaipur, Delhi and Chennai - being the hub of all things publishing - is where you can expect to find the best literary agents. Some start from the basic packages; offering networking and finessing your books for around 15K per title, while a premium deal could be of upwards of 50K-1L and a % cut from the success - these include marketing, financing and bankrolling your venture.

Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

Ideally, you need to find an agent who likes your genre and your style, most importantly your vision should match with that of the agent. Like a fiction writer should stay away from an agent who specializes in non-fiction. You need to have one synchronous message, i.e. a single message, a single value chain and a single communications strategy while selling it to the publisher. Therefore, finding the right literary agent is paramount when it comes to getting your first book published.

Some of the premier literary agencies are listed here, including Siyahi, Sherna and Jacaranda, which are going quite well known in the author circles. If your submission is widely accepted as feasible then it will be covered by a lot of agencies. If however, you have faced challenges in getting a “yes” from an agent then either your material wasn’t appealing enough, or you as a writer have to improve, considerably even. But never refrain sending your drafts to as many agencies as possible. Remember that rejection is a part of the game and can't keep a good story from surfacing.

“You will be rejected—a lot. Sometimes the rejection will come at a query stage, sometimes after a partial manuscript request, sometimes after a full request. Don’t be fazed.” voices out seasoned author Karan Bajaj.

A pioneering literary agent, if impressed by your work, will go above and beyond what’s needed to ensure that your book is published and has the right chops to succeed in the market.

HarperCollins India CEO Ananth Padmanabhan agrees that a good literary agent needs to have good relationships with both the writers and the publishers – “I think agenting in India came at the right moment when both publishing and the quality and diversity of content from authors began to grow both in depth and breadth. Submissions have changed as agents better understand publishers and the kind of books they seek”

Milee Ashwarya, editor-in-chief at Penguin Random House India, also recommends finding a literary agent that you are happy with, and someone who has a track record - “It definitely makes the selection process easier for us. It can also be useful to get an agent when you are just starting out. Your agent can guide you through the whole process of submitting manuscripts to publishers or getting a book deal.”

In conclusion, a literary agent is like a friend. Some friends have your best interest in mind, and others might see you as a number or a statistic. While there are some great literary agents in India, you must choose one with whom you bond with instantly and with someone who can see your vision through.

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