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26 May 2019, 08:49 HRS IST
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  • PTI
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    • Bookworm
  • Literary agents: Emerging as key ancillary of publishing
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  • Established and celebrity writers are increasingly opting to go through agents, says Gupta. "This was not the case earlier. Barring one or two local publishers, most handle agented submissions with a lot of care and attention."

    At present, around 50 per cent of business in publishing is controlled by agents, he says, adding 5-10 years ago, it wasn't even 10 per cent.

    Gupta says many a time, he approaches authors with an idea he has developed. "It could be something urgent, topical or one that addresses a huge gap in the market."

    As a publisher, Chatterjee prefers to look for new talent herself, and deal directly with an author in developing a manuscript.

    "It is in the long run, more satisfying. Also, some agents are not realistic about advances, they expect much more than the book is going to earn back in terms of sales, so the author ends up with a publisher who is able to pay more, but will not nurture the book as much as another publisher who may have offered less, but would give the work much more attention.

    "I also think agents need to be more discerning in the work they take on, so that a publisher knows that a work that has come from a particular agent will be worth the time spent on reading it," she says.

    The whole process of agenting is similar to the process of submitting a book to publisher.

    "We usually sign fiction on the basis of a full manuscript and non-fiction on full manuscript, a partial, and sometimes only a concept note. Agents usually send manuscripts to all the publishing houses simultaneously. An auction is conducted if there are multiple offers for a single book. These days the deciding factor for an agent and his author is not just the signing advance but also the marketing commitments and matching editorial sensibilities," Gupta says.

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