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Self Publishing Is The DIY Of The Book World

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When author Siddhartha Gigoo first self-published, it wasn’t really a planned decision. Gigoo went through the traditional publishing route (his book in January of this year went through a publishing house), and although it took him a good year and a half, he self-published Love in the Time of Quarantine in 21 days. It took technology, Kindle Press, and determination. It’s a conversation with self-published authors, platforms that enable self-publishing, the pros and cons of both forms of publishing, and India’s largest literary agent . Prepare yourselves.

Kindle Press has a lot to do with how self-publishing has become even more accessible. In 2008, the launch of Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) meant that writing is now open to everyone. KDP has provided authors with tools that can help them make a book from head to toe on their own: writing, editing, formatting, designing a cover, and creating an eBook. Gigoo’s experience with self-publishing has been good, as he’s sick of people asking him, “Who’s the publisher?” Who cares is the publisher, he retorts. “When a movie is announced, does anyone ask who the studio is? I find this question extremely baffling, as if the publishing house decides whether the author’s work is good. People have this mindset, ”he adds.

One of the limitations of traditional publishing is the huge delays. Gigoo explains that traditional publishers receive many book proposals. “When I wrote my first book in 2011, it took me 18 months to get a response from a publisher. This is just the beginning – a yes or a no. Then comes the planning of the book. Their line-up is so busy that your book will be scheduled for next year, or the year after. By the time the process is complete and the book is released, five years have already passed, ”he says. “When it comes to traditional publishing, there isn’t even a budget to market your book, you have to pay for it. They’re also strapped for cash, they’re in the business, so other than the first step of a quick sale, they’re not invested in marketing your book. If you publish yourself, you market it yourself. You also have complete creative control. In terms of costs, there are no self-publishing costs and no royalty issues, ”he adds.

The Amish author – yes – the one who made mythology cool, self-published his first book, Meluha’s Much Welcomed Immortals in 2010, after being rejected by every publisher he spoke to. “It was a necessity,” he says. According to him, self-publishing has now become easier, compared to the last two decades. “At the time, the biggest problem was the minimum number of prints because you had to print a minimum of 3,000 copies. Printing was also much more expensive. Now you have print-on-demand for as few as five copies. You can reasonably sell online, whereas previously you only had offline models, and bookstores didn’t accept books from a self-published author, ”he recalls. Even though he fought all the odds, Amish finds publishing through traditional publishers much easier. “The publishers give you proper distribution, which is difficult for an individual. So, if there is a choice, we would obviously prefer to be published by a mainstream publisher. Self-publishing is one path you take if there is no option, ”he says clearly.

So, will self-publishing gain momentum after the pandemic? “For the moment, physical libraries are not fully open. So the distribution is much more online, which works for authors who are at the top. People go to an app looking for a specific author. Digital can be difficult for the average author – the middle one – who sold between 5,000 and 15,000 copies. These perpetrators were normally discovered in physical stores. The average author, who is the heart of any industry, faces these challenges in the online space. This is how I even was discovered, through bookstores, because if no one had heard of me, how would they find out about my work? The diligent reader visits bookstores, sees the book displayed there and picks it up. Then they start talking about it, ”Amish says.

Tarun Grover, a new author, recently wrote The Tale Of A Will-Be Father. He self-published the book with AuthorsUpFront, a self-publishing platform. He has already worked with publishers and a publishing house. “Although the traditional route gives you some advantages, now self-publishing as a concept is growing, and apart from small writers like us, some great writers have also taken this route,” he adds. he. Grover says the number one reason behind publishing company affiliation is, as Amish also pointed out, distribution and sales. But it is very difficult for new authors to be heard by publishing houses. “Given the effort put into getting your first book out, small authors sometimes don’t have the bandwidth,” he adds. There are other self-publishing platforms, one called Buuks and one called Zorba. Shalini Gupta created Zorba eight years ago. Zorba offers packages with different prices, so authors can decide what is right for them. “Our costs range from Rs. 6000 to Rs. 90,000, so it’s a pretty wide range, and you are paying for people’s skills,” she advises.


Manish Purohit is the co-founder of Authors Upfront, a self-publishing platform. With him and co-founder Arpita Das from decades of experience in traditional publishing, the idea was to bring quality to self-publishing. “We are not a CreateSpace, we believe that if anyone can post you need some level of intervention in the form of editorial quality or marketing and design support. The process is this: people write to us and we look at the manuscript to decide if we can work with the author, ”he explains. So what makes a self-publishing platform different from a traditional publishing house? “Traditional publishers have to look at it from a business perspective whether the book sells or not, because they are the ones who invest in the book. But in our case, since the author invests, we can look at the quality. That is the difference, ”says Purohit. While the common misconception is that the authors publish themselves because they are rejected by mainstream publishers, Purohit sees the opposite trend, he says. “Authors are very sure that they don’t want to go through traditional editing because it would take a long time. In addition, the benefits that traditional publishers brought to the table of widespread marketing and distribution are now diminishing because of Amazon and online shopping, ”he says. Explaining the monetary module, Purohit explains that in the traditional publishing model, the author gets 10% of the MRP, at best. In self-publishing, its yield is not 10%, it would be greater than 10. It could be between 20 and 25, depending on the price. “Commercially too, a publisher would pay royalties to authors on an annual or semi-annual basis. In self-publishing configurations, the credit period is between 30 and 45 days. So it’s not just more money, it’s also timely payments, ”he says.

Shalini adds, “Getting a book through an editing process is long and expensive. At the end of the day, everyone is doing a business. Sometimes traditional publishing will choose a more profitable manuscript and might skip another good manuscript. This method is for those who don’t want to wait for their book to see the light of day. Foreseeing the future of self-publishing in India, Shalini says the self-publishing industry is set to grow, even if you remove the pandemic from the picture. “To a lesser extent, this gives people choice and creative freedom, and people want it, “she says. Now for a look at traditional publishing. Yogesh Sharma, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Bloomsbury India , explains the main difference between the two forms. “The traditional model is to find the best content to publish and partner with the author to do whatever is necessary to realize the true commercial potential of a book or book. ‘a manuscript. In the self-publishing model, you are on your own, even if the content or writing is of high quality. The services or efforts, which are acquired in traditional publishing houses, are billed at every stage of the process, even if the company or people The people you work with are not necessarily experts in the field, ”he explains.

We can’t talk about publishing without talking about Kanishka Gupta, a very prominent name in the agent space. Gupta, author, literary agent and consultant, is the founder of Writer’s Side, a very large and popular literary agency and consultant. Gupta remembers how traditional publishing was in its early days and the bureaucracy involved. “In 2002 or 2003, there was no culture of sending emails. We had to send a bound manuscript and they were mailed back to you. First-time writers hardly ever had a chance. Editing was an exclusive world, to which no one had access. At the time, I was a terrible writer, I wasn’t even a good editor. I just worked slowly to put this thing in place, and in 2008 I became an agent without really knowing the trade, ”he says. There were fewer publishing houses when Gupta started, but eventually more of them, like Bloomsbury, Simon & Schuster, etc. have entered. “I like to think that people like me have democratized publishing. If it’s a good book, it gets to the publisher and they make you an offer, ”he says.

Gupta has been around for almost 11 years and remembers how much more self-publishing got when Amish was rejected by everyone. “Even Ashwin Sanghi, who has become very successful, was rejected at first. There have also been international success stories, such as the Fifty shades of Grey writer E.L James. It gave people confidence, ”he says. However, he adds, even at the big publishers there is a separate section of self-publishing, called custom publishing, where they will take the money and publish your book under their brand. “Also, unless you’re on a platform as good as the authors of Manish Purohit Upfront, going for custom posting of an MNC is a safer bet. Purohit and these publishers perform quality checks, which not all self-publishing houses do. Another big issue is credibility. Critics, for example, don’t tend to take self-published books seriously, ”he says. Gupta says that as an agent he works with writers who have worked with major publishing houses, so he cannot recommend self-publishing. He wouldn’t publish himself either, as he feels it lacks credibility. “I might not recommend self-publishing, but now there is so much delay in regular publication, printing costs have gone up and presses are not running at 100% capacity. Obviously, these things won’t last forever, but I don’t know if people would be willing to wait 20 months to get their books, ”he adds.

And as a literary agent, how has his role evolved in the process? Literary agents do a lot, he tells me. “I do B2B, if someone is looking for a publisher or a collaboration, then I intervene. Now, because of this explosion in OTT and interest in audio and ebooks, we are able to sell audio rights. The biggest money generator is OTT. Suddenly everyone in Bollywood is interested in books. And that money is five times more than usual, ”he says. Sharma details why self-publishing is growing (he doesn’t deny it). “The self-publishing industry is growing because there are only a few well-respected traditional publishing houses, and it is difficult for them to sift through every proposal. Some publishing houses also follow a hybrid model where a manuscript is seen as good, but not seen as a good fit in the general scheme of things. The author then has the option of repurchasing copies for a fee, which covers the cost of publishing services, ”he informs. Grover sees more opportunities in self-publishing in the future. “If you think of publishing as an industry or if you look at the market from an author’s perspective, that has changed dramatically. The digital world has evolved and made the authoring process much easier. There will be more development on this front, ”he adds. So come home, write this book and be the author of your Instagram bio.

Read also: The interview with Pooja Ladha Surti

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