Publishing Industry in India and BTS of an Author

There are two types of publishing in India – self-publishing and traditional publishing. Some self-publishing firms are Notion Press, White Falcon Publishing, Partridge Publishing, Zorba Books, Power Publishers, Pothi, Educreation Publishing, 24×7 Publishing etc. Note that this list is not exhaustive and a simple Google search will reveal many more firms. Remember to do your fair bit of research before opting for a package under self-publishing. Like any other service, there are both satisfied and unsatisfied customers under each firm. Note that publishing and marketing are charged separately under self-publishing.

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In self-publishing, you need to pay your publisher under different packages for the services you need – such as cover designing, editing, proofreading, etc. But you earn higher royalty in case of self-publishing for each book sold as you are paying your publishers beforehand. Note that marketing is different from publishing and you need to invest yourself again for marketing the book or pay self-publishers to market your book in book fairs, Amazon deals etc. In short, you have more control over your book. However, some authors skip the editing and proofreading charges under self-publishing and hence the final product is full of grammatical errors. You need to be careful with the pros and cons of self-publishing.

In traditional publishing, the publisher takes all the risk for publishing and marketing your book. Top publishers like Penguin, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Bloomsbury, Wiley, Hachette, Rupa Publications, Juggernaut and Srishti Publishers fall under traditional publishing. You need not invest a dime if they accept your manuscript since they will edit, proofread and ask you to make changes to your plot to maintain their reputations. Naturally, you will get lower royalty for each copy sold but you will be eligible to take part in prestigious literary awards etc. But here comes the tricky part, if they accept your manuscript, and sometimes it may be around 6 months before you receive an acceptance mail or do not receive any mail at all in which case your manuscript did not get accepted.

Note that in a movie, no matter how much good the director, no matter how much talented the actor, no matter how much thrilling the script, it all counts to nothing if the producers do not produce and invest on the movie. Traditional publishers are like these producers. They mostly accept what sells. And what sells are two things – some specific genres and authors having a huge audience. Specific bestselling genres in India mostly include the cheesy college romance fiction or retelling of Indian mythology. Although, a country based on religion is a dangerous thing in the long run, still that’s what sells. And coming to individual specific genres like business or self-help books, if you are the CEO of a company, or the Principal of a multi-national school, or the Yoga guru of your region, then chances of your manuscript getting accepted are higher since once published a large number of people who follow you will buy the book. Therefore for younger writers who are not yet established in life ‘monetarily’ or having a ‘hold in society’, it is difficult to get your manuscript of a poetry collection, or short stories, or quotes, or some other serious stuff other than romance or mythology, accepted by traditional publishers.

If you look at the website of traditional publishers you will notice a submission window for manuscripts. But since traditional publishers get more than a hundred manuscripts each month, the rejection rate is pretty high. There comes the role of Literary Agents. Have you seen the movie ‘Rustom’ by Akshay Kumar? If you haven’t then do not worry, all I am saying is that you can fight any legal battle in India without hiring a lawyer. But nobody does that. Where people can, they always hire a lawyer. Similarly, submitting a manuscript to traditional publishers is like fighting a case alone. That is where Literary Agents come in. They may charge you a fee, or take a part of your royalty, or both and in return, you are assured that your manuscript will get read by an Editor of a traditional publisher. Note that it will get read, whether it will get accepted for publishing is not guaranteed. But the Literary Agents will guide you in such a manner so that accepting probabilities are increased. Few examples are Red Ink Literary Agency, Writer’s Side, Sherna Khambatta Literary Agency, Boxwallah Literary Agency. Again this list is not exhaustive and you may Google search for more.

Therefore, some people find self-publishing to be more convenient than traditional publishing since when you need to invest after all it is better to invest in sure shot self-publishing than wait for replies from traditional publishing or investing upon Literary Agents. However, it is also true that most of the bestselling authors are published under traditional publishers and to be eligible for prestigious literary awards one needs to be published under traditional publishers since the award jury does not accept self-published works. But there are separate awards for self-published works both in India and mostly abroad. So self-publishing and traditional publishing have separate bases and pinnacles. Many authors also decide to self publish their earlier works and create a well enough author bio before moving over to traditional publishing.

In conclusion, it’s all about what sells and how much profit everyone involved in the publishing behind books make in the beginning. Note that if the first book does not sell well even traditional publishers may refuse to publish future projects by the same author. Therefore, some authors who are published even under traditional publishers invest in marketing. In short, being a successful author requires time, money, and effort. There has to be patience and perseverance as most great authors are usually in their late 30s or over 40s. Many authors start their careers with a 9 to 5 job and keep writing as a hobby. It is only when the royalty cheque exceeds the monthly salary that they leave their day jobs and become a full-time author. So unless you have a powerful backing, or an exceptional plot, or some great luck, it is hard to become a successful author at a young age. But that does not deter great minds from pursuing their dreams and accepting new challenges. In the end, we all have our clocks ticking at different speeds, so there is a time for everyone which differs uniquely from others’ pace. Everyone has a different success story which is unlike anything that the rest may experience.

Disclaimer: All views expressed on this site are my own and do not represent the opinions of any entity whatsoever with which I have been, am now, or will be affiliated.

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