“Aspiring writers can be megalomaniacs. A published book is a trophy in their hands, yet another achievement on their biodata.”
Most wannabe writers believe that if you have a literary agent, you have a publisher. This, of course, isn’t true. It’s very difficult to get books published. Most people don’t know what a literary agent is. Even when I explain to them that I sell and advocate books to publishers, they couldn’t care less.
Aspiring writers can be megalomaniacs. A published book is a trophy in their hands, yet another achievement on their biodata. Genuine passion for good writing is hard to come across. A guy once emailed me saying he has written a book that he wants to make an international bestseller. He assumed I would take it up without even reading it.
The majority of the works I receive are atrocious. They are in a language resembling English. People with famous backgrounds assume their work will be bestsellers. Indian publishing houses are unjustly accused of being biased. Their choices are largely based on merit. And if you think the books published are bad, you haven’t seen the ones rejected.
To be a good literary agent, you have to have good instincts. You need to understand various editors’ tastes and pitch books accordingly. You have to know the publishing environment. Indian literary agents are relatively new. They don’t make much money and get kicked around by big publishers.
Foreign agents enjoy a higher status in comparison. Most big Indian writers are either based in the US or UK, or their agents are based there. Some European publishers pick their entire author lists at the Jaipur literary festival, which is the biggest literary event in Asia.
Globally speaking, the UK is a big publishing market for Indian writers, although it is currently in recession, with bookshop chains and publishing houses closing. If you get published in the UK, you are eligible for the Booker Prize, a mania among Indians.