Dipti Patel is the founder of WordFamous Literary Agents (www.wordfamous.in). She helps CEOs, film makers, journalists, start-up founders, political leaders, academicians and even first time & budding writers. She takes great interest in manuscripts across genres like literary fiction, mythological fiction, business books, children books, current affairs and self-help among others. She is passionate about promoting the regional writers and gets the classics and other great works in vernacular languages like Telugu and Tamil translated and published in English. She has assisted authors from countries like Israel, Germany, USA and New Zealand.
In an exclusive interaction with The Policy Times, Literary Agent Dipti Patel talks about role of literary agents, struggle and success of budding writers, role of literary agents in improving standards of Indian literature and many more.
Q.There has been a lot of confusion amongst aspiring authors and they don’t know the right channel to reach out to right people. Who exactly are literary agents?
DP: Literary agents in simple words are the bridge connecting the publishers and the authors. To elaborate, the literary agent is a guide, a motivator, a critic, reviewer, and a professional who is willing to share his knowledge on the subject and make the author’s work presentable and gives her a continuous update and reach to the right publishing houses. There is a great relationship between an author and an agent, who is the first to handhold her in her journey of publishing.
Q. Why are literary agents not so popular in India compared to US and other countries?
DP: We can see that both the publishing houses as well as the authors are now realising the importance of the agents. In recent years, there has been a rise in the role and importance of literary agents in India. Of course, in countries like US, most of the publishing houses go through the agents. And its considered an achievement if you are able to get an agent to represent you. There are a few exceptions however.
Q. There have been always a constant complain about the quality of Indian fiction in the international scenario. What role the literary agents can play in improving the quality?
DP: That’s true. The non-fiction fares better. The literary agents certainly can help the authors to take it to the international standards. There are many areas which needs to be worked. The language, the plot, the idea, the presentation and the ability to market it.
Q. Literary agents in India are still restricted to a few big names. What steps are necessary for making it an organized sector?
DP: First of all, the mind-set of the authors that the agents are here to help them bring out a fine book.
Lack of awareness I must say. I doubt how many would know the term literary agent. I was surprised when I had to explain my role to one of the publishing professional. In many cases, the authors reach out to the publishers and when they do not get any response or get a negative response, approach the literary agents. The fact is if he approaches the literary agents, the agent will be able to tell him, where his MS stands, and whether it was in a good shape to be presented to the publishing houses. Not necessarily every MS needs to be edited. This is a wrong notion and many authors think that going to the literary agents means paying them the editing charges.
Q. The work of literary agents are highly intellectual in nature but some people have made it a business. Do you agree? Is it harming the literary world?
DP: I can’t deny that there are a few instances wherein the authors have been disappointed by some of the literary agencies. Of course, the literary agents are highly intellectual professionals and work so hard in reading every manuscript that comes their way. Considering, the knowledge they possess, there are so many areas that the agent looks after. He is somebody who is there to answer all your questions, your doubts, in fact boosts your morale untill you find your publisher. And even after that , he is the one who updates you on your distribution, marketing, payments. And of course, gets you the best deal. I have been lucky to have such wonderful authors, who would want to work with me again and again.
Q. There have always a constant debate of Indian authors getting pretty low advances for their brain-child. How can literary agents help?
DP: We need to look at the root cause of the problem. Just look at the readership. If the readership increases, the publishers are happy to give high advances. So, very important, churn out the books which will attract readership, the literary agents can definitely understand the market trends and guide the authors and get better advances. The authors need to understand, the book has to do well, which will get them royalty ultimately and not make advance as the prestige issue.
Q. Most of the literary agents take more than enough time to evaluate the manuscript. Is it a marketing strategy?
DP: Yes, most take more time to evaluate. Of course, not a marketing strategy at all. There are genuinely too many manuscripts to be evaluated. Its evaluated considering many aspects to it. Care is taken to not be unjust to anyone, hence the delay.
Q. How is Word Famous contributing to the literary world?
DP: WordFamous has helped CEOs, film makers, journalists, corporate execs, politicians and start-up founders publish their books.
It also gives me great pleasure to introduce almost all the debut authors and yet all doing so well.
Being a corporate professional or any other professional is very different than being an author. There is a special guidance and skill required in turning these knowledge houses in the form of book.
The corporate professionals, the media professionals, the film industry professionals have so much knowledge in their areas of workplace. I have assisted them to put these ideas and knowledge in the form of book and they have all gained with my association.
Q. Since its incorporation how much WordFamous have been successful in changing the perception of literary agencies?
DP: WordFamous works towards helping authors in improving the quality of the manuscript, which is of prime importance to both the authors and publishers. The authors would be provided with the correct review of their manuscripts. We have guided authors who have just begun and helped them in translations, editing and also in the contracts. We have made the authors realise that it’s just not enough to find the publisher but also how authors can contribute to their own success. This is a big change.
Q. What would be the Word Famous message to young aspiring authors?
DP: There are many parameters to the success of the book. Follow your passion; I am so happy to see so many people writing. Writing is an art and art has no defined boundaries. Make it as beautiful as you can, you will be recognised.