The slush pile is usually read by “slush/First readers” who may not be employed by the publisher but working contractually. They decide if your manuscript has any merit. If they think it's good they make the case for it, and so it goes. When times are tough, a few might get skipped over.
Enter, the Literary agent. This is the first part of what a literary agent does. A literary agent is someone a publisher trusts. The publisher holds her judgement in higher regard than a first reader.
It is almost unbelievable that most literary agencies do not charge you for this work. They include this in the commission they charge. So if your literary agent comes back with feedback or suggestions on your book, take her seriously.
Remember, your Literary agent’s and your interest are the same : making your book into a big success.
Most likely you will sign their contract as is. You will be just too delighted and indebted. At best you may change a clause or two, but most writers will make no changes.
Here the agent is a great asset. The agent is not some first-time author desperate for a deal. She comes from a position of knowledge and strength. The publisher knows that the agent will be able to find deals with other interested publishers.
Many Indian publishers are terrible when it comes to paying on time. We’ve come across horror stories of authors having published books but have received no royalty payments or even information from their publishers for years. This seems especially true of non-MNC publishers.
But either way, a Literary agent in India will ensure you get the information and money due to you. This is an important service offered by Literary agents relevant more in India than in the west.
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