Enriching the literature zone

Filed on August 15, 2016 | Last updated on August 15, 2016 at 12.14 pm
Enriching the  literature zone

As the trend of literary agencies grows, Writer's Side scouts new talented authors and brings them to your list

A literary agency assists authors to navigate through the publishing industry. The idea is to stand by clients as they consider media options, publication offers, contract negotiations, and platform improvements. When I first gravitated towards writing, I started looking for publishing possibilities for my novel. At that time, there was a single Bangalore-based agency and a Delhi-based representative of a major foreign publishing agent in the country. In short, access to publishers in India was near impossible.

Several years later I joined an agency as an evaluator. Thereafter, I started working for Namita Gokhale, Director, Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) as an assistant. It is she who sowed the idea of entrepreneurship in my head. At that time branching out on my own seemed inconceivable because I considered myself as a non-entity in publishing. A few months later I started my own agency and editorial consultancy but found my first writer Anees Salim after more than one year.

Today, Writer's Side is one of the largest and most successful literary agencies in South Asia. According to Publishers Marketplace, a publication's essential daily read, I am currently the highest individual book dealmaker in the world. In my six-year-long agency career, we have sold more than 500 books to mainstream publishers. Writer's Side has represented authors who have won awards such as The Emmy, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan, Padma Shri, Commonwealth Prize, Karachi Peace Prize, National Awards and top Indian literary prizes such as the Sahitya Akademi Award, Crossword Book Prize, Hindu Literary Prize, Tata Lit Live First Book Award, Muse India Young Writer Award, etc.

Being one of the youngest literary agents in the subcontinent, I am open to all genres as long as the writing is good. This partially explains the huge numbers. I find it laughable when some agents say that they do only 'literary' books. In my opinion that makes little sense. I am sometimes accused of doing too many books. If that's the case, then publishers should not be publishing 200 or even 250 books a year but just 20 to 30 books. If publishing houses are looking at profitability and growth, so are literary agencies.

Literary agents have made a big impact and are the unsung heroes of Indian publishing. Why else would Hachette India and some top publishers stop entertaining direct submissions? I have no fear of Western agents. How many Meena Kandasamys, Kanishk Tharoors, Aman Sethis, etc. can be found in one year? Very few I believe. We are poised to capture the huge local fiction and non-fiction market and occasionally the literary fiction and non-fiction writer, who can breakthrough globally.

Personally, I act like a commissioning editor, approaching people with ideas and developing books with them. This is fairly risky because one more round of approval is involved and that's why the author has to be chosen after due consideration. As an agency, Writer's Side is dedicated to building long-term relationships, resulting in best-selling books and award-winning titles.

The writer is the Founder and CEO of Writer's Side, one of India's leading literary agencies.

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