The Agent Trap

The book industry in India has grown tremendously in the recent years. Like with any industry comes a lot of side businesses and one such business in publishing industry is that of literary agents.

We’ve seen so many authors get trapped and looted by people claiming to be the “best” literary agents in the country. Many of them are, in fact, what they claim to be, still they deceive authors (esp. the new ones) and prefer making big bucks over providing genuine support.

These literary agents ask for money in ways you can only imagine before even signing a contract with the author. They ask an upfront fees either in the name of “editing” or “polishing” your manuscript. Some of them stoop even lower and charge money under “reading fees.” Which is a real shame!

A recent case came to our notice where a renowned literary agent charged a first time author a sum of Rs. 40,000 ($600) for editing the author’s manuscript as it really needed polishing. The agent then went ahead and said that after editing the book she’ll decide wether or not she’s want to represent that author. And even if she’ll represent the author she’ll be charging some unspecified fee while signing a one year contract.

In another case, there’s a small scale literary agency that charges Rs. 15,000 as “representation fees” saying that, “We need to do a lot of work in getting your book to the publisher.”

All the upfront fees and charges are a SCAM!

So BEWARE and use your brains before stepping into such trap.

In today’s age when you can approach the publishers directly, there’s no urgent need for you to hire a literary agent. But if you’re new and want to go the traditional way through and through, then make sure to have atleast 2 beta readers read your book and using their constructive feedback try to edit and polish your story yourself. At least you’ll be sure that your manuscript is readable and good enough to be presented in front of the publishers.

If you’re careful while selecting and hiring a literary agent, then there’s no denying the fact that there’s a greater chance of your manuscript to get recognised by the big sharks.

Following are some points that an author should keep in mind while looking for a literary agent:

  1. A literary agent is not supposed to charge you anything before he/she gets you a publishing deal.
    Anyone who asks you to pay a fee under any disguise is a false agent.
  2. If the literary agent thinks that your book needs editing before submission to publishers, he/she will get the MS edited themselves without charging you a penny as ultimately it will help earn a higher commission if they get you a heavy deal.
  3. They are supposed to give their hundred percent in following up and recognising the prospective publishing houses that will be right for your genre.
  4. They should never criticise your work once they’ve signed a contract with you because they’ve already made a choice of representing you.
  5. They should be able to get you a deal, no matter even if it takes 2 years, but they should, because they accepted to represent you as they saw potential in your book.
  6. They should have strong contacts with the concerned people in major publishing houses, otherwise they’ll be wasting your time.

Make sure to read the contract carefully and take your sweet time to understand it.

Clear all your doubts before signing the contract with any agent as it can be a trap and, at the end. it’ll be you who’ll be loosing a lot of precious time and energy.

Last but not the least forget about everything after handing over the book to your agent and start working on your next project. Don’t let any bad news related to your manuscript from the agent affect your new work in progress as it’ll do you more harm than good.

All you need to do is be patient, stay positive and keep on writing and producing new stuff/manuscripts.

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