Writers prefer agents instead of publishers

When Ernest Hemmingway set out to get his first novel The Torrents of Spring printed it was rejected a number of times by many publishers, including his first US publisher Boni and Liveright. But he never gave up and finally found a publisher — Scribner’s — in 1926.

One of the most important thing that most people would like to do is get down to write their own book and see it in print. It is believed that publishing your book is one of the most desirable things for most human beings that they want to do in their lifetime. But making a book into a reality also happens to be one of the most difficult tasks for writers across the world.

Today the writers are preferring agents instead of directly approaching the publishers. Budding writers opine that they can do their best as writers. But they do not know how they can find a publisher who would be interested in their work. They find that publishing is getting complex and they are not capable of dealing with the publishers on their own. They also need to think in global context. They need an agent who will allow them to concentrate on their creative strengths than do all the paperwork.

Agents feel that it is probably the best time to be a literary agent as the industry is on a growth path. Literary agents have worked with publishers before they went on their own. These are the people that can give the best deals to their authors. Most authors that have made it big in the international markets have done it through agents.

Karthika, a publisher and editor of Harper Collins, feels the emergence of agents in India is a new phenomenon and is helping the publishing industry. More importantly, she feels that most of the agents have a publishing background and they understand the needs of the publisher as well as the author.” Agents have existed before in India. But they were handful. Today the emergence of literary agencies actually shows us that the potential for this market is huge.” She is publishing Land Of The Well by Sampoorna Chatterjee.

Though literary agencies are new to the Indian publishing market, the entire industry as such feels that it is the one missing link between authors and publishers in India.

The estimated market for popular books (fiction and non-fiction) is put at around Rs 1,000 crore and this market is expected to double in seven years. Since the industry operates like a cottage industry, publishers do not like to share information with each other. Thus any kind of numbers about the publishing industry are always debated.
Organised retail is estimated to be around 15% of the total sales and the rest of the data for the industry is not tracked or not shared by publishers. The emergence of literary agents is expected to change all that as this is one tribe that is expected to build discipline in the industry.

But more than getting new authors, agents are busy capturing the local flavors. They feel that there is huge potential for the market for translations. Though the translation market from regional language to English has much potential, there are some who want to translate English books into regional languages as well.

Today, the market for Indian books is dominated by imports. In any major bookstore, about 65-75% of the stock is imported. Local publishing has tremendous scope and this is demonstrated by books like Five Point Someone by Chetan Bhagat. Most publishers are looking for books in a similar genre before they jump into the translation bandwagon. But growing the local market is a challenge.

Since agents are becoming an important part of the publishing world, everything from finding the right authors for a particular genre to the pricing of books is expected to change. Initially, this tribe is concentrating on servicing the authors than anything else.

(Source: The Economic Times)

One Response to “Writers prefer agents instead of publishers”

  1. SV Says:

    Nice, informative post. Thank you for sharing.

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