There are mixed reactions from Indian publishers.
Says Pramod Kapoor of Roli Books, “Literary agents look after the authors’ interests better as they help establish communication as well as understanding between a publisher and an author.” Adds Kapish G Mehra of Rupa & Co., “On any given day, we receive a minimum of six manuscripts. Agents help get only copies that deserve publication.” However, there are also those who don’t feel we need of such agents. Says writer and editor of Manohar Publishers & Distributors, Siddharth Chowdhary, “Too much of dependence on literary agents is bad as they might misguide new authors.” Ravi Singh of Penguin Group (India) evinces, “We don’t need agents in India as publishers are doing pretty well without them.”From my perspective (of an Indian language publisher currently publishing in Tamil), literary agents for indian language writers would be welcome. Literary agents can add value enormously to the writers they represent as well as to the publishers they pitch the writers to, but there seem to be very few of their ilk even in English, let alone in the Indian languages. Vijay Nagaswami, an author, claims
Alka Raghuvanshi, author, art curator and a former agent, elucidates, “Agents are like a gynaecologist directing a pregnant woman.” She feels that literary agents extend not only necessary guidance but also emotional support in a “lonely” job.
Anuj Bahri of Bahri Sons, who has recently donned the cap of literary agent himself, thinks that most publishers here don’t understand their job. “The publishers are hostile as they don’t acknowledge the role of the agents who are here not just to sell a few copies of an author’s work but the author himself to the world,” he says.
Says Tushar Raheja, writer of Anything For You Ma’am, “The book shall be left to the writer to write. The agent should focus on spotting the right publisher.” DN Chaudhuri, writer of Delhi, adds, “Unfortunately, we’ve very few literary agents who are also quite unorganised; the profession has not taken up well.”
However, despite evincing a need for literary agents, most publishers add at the same time that they don’t have too bright a future here in India as there’s not much money in the profession. Writing on the wall, is it?
I have been able to locate only one literary agent in India [Ms Jayapriya Vasudevan, Jacaranda Press, Bangalore] who consistently responds to authors. There may be more, but I've not yet come across them. Writers Net lists 27 India-based literary agents; you could check them out and see if any work out. If any do, please let me know, I'd be delighted to add to my list.