Saturday, August 19, 2006

Agents in India

Each issue of my newsletter, Doing It Write, has specific sections, such as Hot Topics, Contests, Events, Websites, etc. One section is called “In Case You Missed This” and quotes from an article on or about some aspect of writing or the publishing business. It’s sort of a “just the facts” section. I quote from the article and give the URL for subscribers to go read the whole thing if they want. No comments from me.

In my research, I came across this article which was, to my thinking, very interesting. It’s from the Hindustan Times. The article is called Write Matchmakers

Apparently, English publishing in India has become so huge they are now second in the world in terms of sales of books. That’s interesting enough. But what makes it more so is they have almost no literary agents.

A country as large as India, second in the world for book sales in English, and they have no middle man (or woman) to go between authors and publishers. And there’s not even a consensus agents are needed. Some publishers think they would be helpful. Others say agents could misguide authors or they’re not needed. One author and former agent said, “Agents are like a gynaecologist directing a pregnant woman.”

Imagine a world without agents in the United States. It might seem nice to bypass that step in the road to getting published. But would it completely slow down the process?

It used to be, not many years ago, authors could send manuscripts directly to almost all the major houses. Then things began to change. Houses merged and split and merged again. Imprints flourished. Editors moved and seemed to become less available to new writers. Agents became more important. They, in fact, became practically essential to getting published, at least at the big houses. Now, even agents are hard to get. There are some agencies that won’t even read queries unless you’re a celebrity or are referred by a client or a celebrity. Are we heading toward developing agents’ agents? A middle man between the author and the agent?

Are we headed toward more gridlock? Is India following right behind us? Or is the American system the best?

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