Top 11 Literary Agents in India

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top 11 literary agents in india - featured graphic

 

There are many reputable book publishers in India who will be glad to take a look at your manuscript and work with you directly.

But if you want to maximize the chances of your manuscript getting approved and published (while getting a sizable advance on your books), you should be serious about finding the best literary agent who will represent your work. You can use different writing tools to help polish your manuscript, but finding a proper agent is a different story altogether.

 

The literary agent landscape in India

 

The position of a literary agent is actually quite new in India because most of the publishers work directly with authors.

According to Shruti Debi, a senior agent at Aitken Alexander Associates India, “Relations between authors and publishers were intimate. But from 2010 to 2011, it wasn’t so easy to have a direct relationship with the author, and literary agents became popular.”

Yet the rate of change is still quite slow. Premanka Goswami, an editor in Penguin Random House India (one of the biggest publishing houses in the country) said: “I haven’t acquired any book from an agent to date…”

That’s all good, but in fact, the role of an agent is important because many first-time authors aren’t sure what to do with their new manuscript and how to pitch a book to a publisher.

 

Important note: Make sure you do a background check on an agency before proceeding. There have been instances of minor frauds where the agent would take 20k – 80k Rs. from you and then disappear or simply not provide a proper service.

 

The potential benefits of working with agents

 

Agents know exactly what publishers are looking for, and they’ll help you to structure your book proposal in a way that makes it more attractive and compelling.

It’s great to use their services, especially if you’re a first-time author and you are still learning the ins and outs of the publishing business. They will help you to negotiate the contract, hook you up only with reputable publishers, and guarantee that you will get your royalties.

In return, you’ll need to pay them a fixed percentage on the foreign and domestic sales of your book (10% to 20%) and a percentage of the advance (usually 15%). But the advances for first-time fiction writers in India can reach even Rs 1 lakh.

In 2013, Red Ink agency (see below) secured a $1 million advance for Amish Tripathi which was the highest payout ever by an Indian publishing house. So things are happening. Here’s a great article if you want to learn more about how this business works in India.

 

11 Best Literary Agents in India

 

book seller in india

Nope, he’s not an agent, but I thought this picture was amazing 🙂 

 

1. Red Ink Literary Agency

 

This is one of the most established literary agencies in the country. It all began with the Legendary Bahrisons Bookstore in New Delhi in 1953, which then transformed into something much larger. As mentioned before, the company has been responsible for securing the biggest advance to a single author to this date ($1 million).

The great thing about them is that they work not only in India but also cooperate closely with publishers in other countries. This enables the books to spread in the United Kingdom, USA, Italy, France, Germany, as well as Japan and Korea.

 

Contact:

Email: [email protected]

Phone: not provided

Address: Flat 6, Khan Market, New Delhi – 110003, India.

 

2. Siyahi

 

This company started in April of 2007 by Mita Kapur, who’s been already providing feedback to would-be writers for many years and decided to turn her passion into a business.

Siyahi is one of the first literary agencies in India and remains one of the most trustworthy ones. They offer a variety of different services including the editing of the manuscript, securing a contract with a publisher, and promoting the book to increase sales.

With a network of international publishers, they are also able to get the book translated into several different languages and help it spread around the world.

 

Contact:

Email: [email protected]

Phone: not provided

 

3. Kanishka Gupta (Writer’s Side)

 

Writer’s Side is a pioneering literary agency that started in 2010 when most people were still doubting that opening it was a viable idea in India. The founder, Kanishka Gupta has been featured in many international publications and now represents a number of well-established authors.

The great thing about them is their transparency and the lack of hidden costs. They have really uncomplicated contracts which make it easier for authors to move forward. The fee is 20% commission on advances and sales. That’s it!

But note that they will only accept the highest quality prose and they reject over 90% of the manuscripts received.

 

Contact:

Email: [email protected]

Phone: not provided

Address: 8 Chanan Singh Park, Delhi Cantt, New Delhi – 110010, India

 

4. Sherna Khambatta

 

After finishing her Msc. Publishing (an intensive publishing program) in 2007 in the UK, Sherna came back to India and decided she needed to fill the void in the market. She’s a well-educated person with diplomas in creative writing and publishing. She knows exactly what publishers are looking for in new books.

She will usually respond to the email with your manuscript within 7 days. You’ll need to provide a synopsis and a few sample chapters of your work.

 

Contact:

Email: [email protected]

Phone: Not provided

 

5. Osian’s Literary Agency

 

Founded by Renuka Chatterjee, this is one of the oldest agencies in the market. They represent authors who want to publish books in adult fiction (novels, short stories) and general non-fiction (biography, memoir, narrative travel, current affairs).

Osian’s started as an auction house, but they saw a good opportunity in the growing literary market in South Asia and decided to branch out into an agency and a design firm.

In an interview with Live Mind, Chatterjee said: “We realized that the time is right for a professional literary agency given the ever-increasing interest in Indian writing and the way publishing in India has grown from strength to strength”.

 

Contact:

Email: Not provided

Phone: +91 (0)11/417 43, 15, -58, -66

Address: c/o Osian’s Connoisseurs of Art Pvt Ltd, B-35 Qutub Institutional Area, New Delhi, India, 110016

 

6. Leadstart

 

Leadstart is a well-established publishing house that also now functions as a literary agency. It serves as an arbiter between authors, publishers, and digital content distribution platforms.

Over the years they were able to build up a large network of media outlets and content providers. Now they are representing authors and redistribute their literary works across various geographies. They will be more than happy to help you book spread with the help of other media houses and networks.

 

Contact:

Email: [email protected]

Phone: +91 9699933000

Address: Unit – 25-26, Building A/1, Near Wadala R.T.O., Wadala (E), Mumbai – 400 037.

 

7.Shruti Debi (The Debi Agency)

 

Shruti Debi has a lot of experience in the publishing business. She worked in Picador India for over 7 years where she helped with editing and publishing a long list of best selling works including the internationally acclaimed White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. She also worked with Vivek Shanbhag whose works have been translated from Kannada to other languages.

Now she’s working on her own as well as with Aitken Alexanders Delhi, Which is a branch of a well-established literary agency from the UK.

In her work, Debi focuses on both fiction and non-fiction. She’s doing her best to translate published works into different languages and spread them across various mediums.

 

Contact:

Email: [email protected]

Phone: Not Provided

 

8. Jacaranda

 

Jacaranda is a small literary agency having offices both in Singapore and Bangalore. They specialize in working with fiction and nonfiction writers from South East Asia including Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Taiwan.

Even though they are a small organization, they receive hundreds of emails with submissions every single month. So you will probably need to allow up to 6 weeks to hear back from them. If you write fiction you will need to submit your completed work, but if you’re into non-fiction then 50 pages is enough.

 

Contact:

Email: Not provided (contact form available on the website)

Phone: Not provided

 

9. HMA Literary Agency

 

This is an international literary agency representing authors not only from India but also from other parts of the world. Their primary focus is on establishing a close partnership between their company and new and established authors.

They will be happy to provide you with editorial support and prepare the proposals and manuscripts so that they fit with the requirements of publishers and editors.

The company is a run by Mike Bryan, who was the CEO of Penguin Books India, and Heather Adams, who’s both an author and a literary agent with many years of experience in the industry.

 

Contact:

Email: [email protected]

Phone: Not Provided

 

10. The Labyrinth Literary Agency

 

The company was started by Anish Chandy, who was a Senior Commissioning Editor at Penguin Random House and then worked in the business development department at the Juggernaut Books.

He founded the Labyrinth Literary Agency in 2014 which makes it one of the youngest organizations of this type in India. He works not only with fiction and non-fiction writers but with screenwriters as well.

 

Contact:

Email: Not provided

Phone: [email protected]

Address: 2nd Floor, 141A, Shahpur Jat, Siri Fort, Delhi 110049

 

11. Word Famous Literary Agents

 

Based in Mumbai, this is a young literary agency that started with two young professionals with a lot of experience in writing, editorial advice, book publishing, as well as marketing and communication.

You can feel free to send your manuscript to one of the emails provided on their website. You should receive a response within a couple of days maximum.

 

Contact:

Email: [email protected]

Phone: 098700 53150

 

Conclusion

 

The role of a literary agent is still in the process of development on the Indian subcontinent. It’s hard to compare these agents to a well-established organization functioning in the UK and the US at this moment.

But something is going on and the authors should pay attention. By sharing some of the royalties with an agent you can take the guesswork out of the publishing and get your book into the market much faster.

I only expect this industry to grow and become more important in the future.

29 thoughts on “Top 11 Literary Agents in India”

    1. Bhupinder Singh Bhaikhel

      Well informative. Thankyou Rafal Reyzer for providing such info on one platform.
      Regards,
      Bhupinder Singh Bhaikhel

  1. Pradipta Borgohain

    It was nice to read your write-up. Let me just share one little experience with an apparently reputed literary agent. (Thankfully not listed here) This lady who had a stint in academic publishing in Penguin started her own literary agency — probably she is still around. I submitted a fiction proposal and she said that while she liked what she saw, she’d need 40 000 rupees to really polish it up. I submitted the amount and after she had some editor run it over (this person had positive things to say about the ms) she submitted it (or she said) to various publishing houses without changing a comma! And that was that — my manuscript never metamorphosed into a novel!
    I have had some success with non-fiction and translations but not with fiction yet.

    1. Hello Pradipta, Thank you for your comment. Yes, unfortunately, these kinds of situations still take place in India. It’s always best to triple-check an agent before moving forward. But these mishaps turn into positive learning experiences in the long run. I’m sure that if you persist enough, you’ll get your novel published. Good luck!

  2. Hello Rafal Reyzer, I am writing my first book, and learning the ropes of publishing industry. I came across your blog and found it very interesting. It provides a valuable information, to the point, and in a simple way which is easy to follow. I am researching for a right agent and a right publisher to have my book ‘The Forbidden Letters’ published either in India, UK or the U.S. (I reside in the U.S.). The book is a Narrative Non Fiction, a true story that took place in 1920’s in India during the British Raj. I thank you for this resource making availble online. If you have a minute please visit my page:

    https://www.facebook.com/theforbiddenletters/

    © Hemu Aggarwal, 2019

  3. Chandra Tatvaraj

    Very helpful. Thank you. I published my first book through SELF PUBLISHING and was a real waste of my money and efforts. Written to a couple above,FINGERS CROSSED.

  4. Many of the main literary agents take money and won’t communicate after that. Three of them took Rs 80000 in total from me offering positive chances and stopped communication. One fellow signed agreement also. “your bio is great.so it is easy” he said.
    They have coterie, mainly women, whose thrash they are ready to consider. A friend sent them his novel in a girl’s name and got published.( He had said this to the press also. Since 20 years he was trying to get it published in own name) But the agents did not respond then.
    Not at all professional and never based on merit or quality- that’s the Indian literary agency field.

  5. Thank You Mr Rafal, for the list, I am going to mail synopsis of my novel to all of them asking for help, you can mail some tips on it
    Rgds George

  6. Thanks Mr. Rafal for the information you provide. Some information from your readers made me think twice, yet I will send send them the synopsis.
    With regards Habib

  7. Thank you for the information Rafal. It would be good for writers share their feedback on this platform to alert others about deficient service or fraud.

  8. Hi Rafal, so far I have not been able to cross the barricade of literary agents and get published with a big publishing house. I have published 3 novels and won 2 prestigious awards. Once an agent found fault with the plot, language and characterization of my novel Still She Cried. I published it with a smaller publishing house as it was and this book has won a state level Sahitya Akademi Best Book of the Year award. My only regret is its lack of distribution and publicity. The comments above are very discouraging… what should I do next?

  9. Hi,
    MY name is Nadeem Ali
    I m writing a Book for children
    But I don’t know how to publish my work
    I need help

  10. Hello Mr. Rafal,
    Your blog is very informative and useful for the debut writers. I got my novel – The Last Dawn self-published, but I do not have any good experience about its publication and its marketing as was promised by the publishers.
    I have written some short stories in Hindi and want them published. But I am in a fix how to get it done.
    I will appreciate for your advice and guidance in this regard.
    Thanks and regards.
    Shyam Kumar

  11. Just completed a novel , looking for a literary agent to get introduced, any one right now is looking for a scintillating village story of 1950’s

  12. I use to work for a small scale publishing house and small publishers can also be horrible. However, I would suggest if you are published already there is still some chances of turning the sale around. you can contact digital marketing group for marketing your book over social media like insta, facebook and twitter. you can also approach audiobooks companies and see if they take any interest. Another way to go about it approach a few bookstagrammers on Instagram app and hire them for paid publicity of the book along with the review. they will provide honest reviews and they have a huge impact on the reader’s community. this way you can revive your book pretty easily. All the best!

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