Working with a literary agent can be an amazing experience if they choose to work with you. I am talking about genuine and league A literary agents who would never demand money from you directly to get your book published rather a commission which usually ranges from 10-20% from your royality or advance once they successfully placed your book to a publishing house. If you are first time author or even a published author in quest of a right literary agent this one post is for you. Please go through it carefully before you decide to mail your manuscript to your dream literary agent.
What is a literary agency
A literary agency is a literary firm which act as a mediator between the author and publisher. The agency will represent your book and pitch your manuscript to the right publishing house. The Indian literary agencies usually offer other services like manuscript editing, provide you editorial insight, even provide you advice on the potential of the book and evaluate its worth. These services have nothing to do with the book representation and are paid services but if you are a first time author or an aspiring one I would suggest you to discuss the terms with your literary agency and invest in one of the services they suggest for your particular manuscript. I highly recommend editing of your manuscript before they pitch it to publishers. Many literary agencies also handle post book publishing events like marketing, media management, book launches etc. too
Who are literary agents
Literary agents are the ones usually in constant quest of finding and acquiring good quality books which they could pitch proudly before various publishing houses. All the top literary agents enjoy a good repo with various publishing houses and they usually know about various editors associated with Publishing houses like Penguin, Westland, Harper, Rupa etc and they are aware about which genre a particular editor is looking for at the particular time or even which story would be best suited to be pitched to a particular editor. Call them book managers of authors who will handle his book on his behalf and trust me it is so much less headache for the authors but point here is it is when they choose to work on you. Literary agents don’t usually work with the authors whose story and most importantly sales potential they don’t believe in. Because remember it is not the agent but publishing house which would publish the book so they have their limitations.
How much does it cost to hire a literary agent
Well, nothing initially if they acquire your manuscript. A good and authentic literary agent will charge once the book is pitched to a publishing house. There could be fixed commissioning rates ranging from 10 % to 20 % which an agents charges the author with which he extracts from the author’s royalty and advance. these days the literary agents also has stake in digital rights, film and TV rights, even translation rights depending upon what kind of contract have you signed with your agent when he accepts your proposal. You don’t really have to pay actually arrangements are made as such that when the publishing house transfers your money he will transfer a part of it as agreed during publishing contract to your agent directly. It is fair and convenient.
Why should you sign with a literary agent
Many benefits really. Literary agents will handle your book professionally. They always know the right place for your book and try hard to get it placed. The top literary agents also work with reputable publishers only and that increases the chances of getting your book finding the most suitable publication. Trust me, it is not easy to get published especially for debut authors, almost impossible but if you somehow convince an agent and a good agent (most agents would be fraud or an aspiring literary agent themselves) than your book will eventually find the best possible publication with more reach to market and masses. They also provide lot of inputs for the improvement of your book which is essential. Also once your book is with the right agent you really can use your energies in writing your next book rather than getting involved with book representation, pitching, mailing sort of stuff which is a headache.
Things you should be careful about while associating with an agent
First and foremost confirm that the agent is really a reputable and professional literary agent who has actually pitched several books in the market. Go through their website Every reputable literary agent had a good website featuring the books and authors they have worked with. Some must be famous books and famous authors. There should be a great pitching up of books with reputable publishing houses like Penguin Random House, Westland Amazon, Hachette, Rupa ,Harper Collins. Simon and Schuster, Macmillan and more. The kind of publishing houses they had been associated with will tell you about their credibility with these publishing houses and whether he is a reputable agent. Traditional publishing houses with great list of fiction and non fiction books and some of the famous authors should be your criteria to go after an agent.
The alarming things about your literary agent
If the agent insist on pitching your book to self publishing houses like Notion press or Partridge you must straight run away and do it yourself. If the literary agent asks you money beforehand before pitching your book, he might not just be as credible as he is imposing. Many of the literary agents especially the best literary agents might have a temperament but as an author you should never judge them based on their temperament, you should strictly stick to their profile and the pace they are pitching your manuscript with. Some agents might be soft polite and giving you false hopes but they would never get your work done eventually. So keep this fact in your head right. Trust me it is hard to find a good literary agent but if you found them your book will find a suitable publishing house.
Where can you find a literary agent in India
Here, I simplify it for you and mention the top five literary agents who work with young aspiring authors as well as with published reputed authors. What they really look forward is the author’s potential to market and sell the book and then comes the uniqueness of the story plot. Here are the top five literary agents and literary agencies of India
JACARANDA Literary agency
Jacaranda is like a boutique literary agency where they pitch high profile classics award winning authors to publishers all across the globe. Their list of authors include from many countries like Pakistan Malaysia, Srilanka etc in South Asia and western and European countries like UK, USA etc. This feature make them a global literary agency. For a first time author frankly they are tough to crack until and unless you are a social worker from Afghanistan or an activist from Singapore debuting with your first book. Jayapriya Vasudevan and Helen run the company.
Labyrinth Literary agency
I have personally worked with Labyrinth and it was wonderful working with them. The agency is owned by Anish Chandy who is an expert in his job. I don’t know about other authors but he acquired my manuscript and we signed the contract within 15 days simply because he believed in the potential of the author and also the manuscript. He did not demand any money etc and receives a fixed commission after he pitched my third book to publishing house like Penguin Random House. if Anish Chandy acquires your book chances are your book will find a suitable platform. He has a small team of editors to assist him as well. They are very ethical agency. They offer many other services too from book editing to book polishing and more. But these services don’t guarantee that they will pitch your book. Though I would personally recommend their editing services which have standard market rates. Labyrinth also represent books to screen adaptation with changing times. They have successfully placed a few books to Bollywood production houses.
Siyahi is a well reputed literary agency in India. CEO Mita Kapur founded Siyahi in the April of 2007 and till then it has survived test of times. It itself speaks volumes about the reputation and credibility of the literary agency. Mita Kapur is also well respected amongst various publishing houses and most importantly their editors. Your book has high chances of getting placed with a publishing house. Siyahi again offers various editorial services. And you can avail them for sure.
Writer’s side is another literary agency which you can rely upon getting your books placed. the founder Kanishka Gupta is a well known literary agent and his name is associated with several best selling books and authors. Writer’s Side again offer editorial services which are good and you can go for it. But editorial services don’t mean they will accept your manuscript for representation. They have a fixed commission of 15% which is a genuine standard industry rate.
Red Ink Literary Agency
How about a literary agency with a bookstore and that too a legendary one of its own? Red Ink Literary agency run by Anuj Bahari along with a small team. It was started as a subsidiary of the iconic Bahrisons Bookstore in New Delhi, India but soon carved a niche for itself. They have represented several best selling books and also secure huge advances and royalty for their authors which eventually result in more number of books getting printed and distributed all acorss the nation eventually.
All these literary agents are league A or top 5 literary agencies of India. There are several others too but as I said beware of frauds. If any of these literary agents acquire your book it shall find a publication but working with these agents can be tough on personal level too. They are highly professional and they might sometimes get on to your nerves as an author. You might lose patience many a times or feel drained. Many a times they might not even be polite and be hard on authors but if you are a professional you will understand that it is all business and only the book should be your priority than ego. This article on literary agents of India is well researched and based on personal experiences too. It is latest and I hope it will help.