A new chapter in publishing

Many new authors are turning to self publishing as it helps them build brand value.

July 08, 2015 10:16 am | Updated April 01, 2016 12:16 pm IST - CHENNAI:

Photo: H. Vibhu

Photo: H. Vibhu

When G.V. Subba Rao decided to write a book, he came up with a detailed plan of action. He got enrolled on a creative writing course in the U.S., and chose self publishing, which would give him more control over his book than what traditional publishing houses would offer.

“I would rather publish my own book than have someone else dictate the amount of royalty I get. I also did not want to run after a number of publishing houses trying to get my manuscript published,” Mr. Rao said. His book, ‘No Murder Tonight’ – a murder mystery set in the city, was launched here recently.

Like Mr. Rao, there are a number of authors in the city who are looking to self publish. Naveen Valsakumar, co-founder of Notion Press, a company which helps authors publish, says self publishing is a way to help authors build their brand name. 

“Several big-name authors such as Chetan Bhagat and Amish Tripathi were rejected by a number of traditional publishing houses, so they decided to self publish. Now, they are being offered huge deals by the same publishers,” he said, adding that, earlier, self publishing was only seen as vanity publishing, but that is changing rapidly. 

The self-publishing industry itself is growing. On an average, Notion Press gets around 40 manuscripts a day. “The most important thing when it comes to self publishing is marketing. Unless the author markets aggressively, it is very difficult for first-timers to be recognised,” he said. 

Writing as a business takes some time to show a return on investment. Even with aggressive marketing, it can take around two or three months after the launch to sell 1,000 copies. “There are a number of different strategies we use, for example, No Murder Tonight has a viral short story campaign on Facebook, where people can submit short stories and have their friends vote for it,” he said. Now, they also have a Notion Press Academy to help first-time authors understand the publishing industry before they start writing.

It is important for authors to build and understand one’s audience before writing. Yaagneshwaran Ganesh, a marketing consultant who has published two books, says establishing one’s brand is very important. “I started out by establishing an online presence through Twitter and my blog,” he says. Both his books combined have sold 13,000 copies. 

The success rate of self-published authors, however, is minimal, experts say. Gautam Padmanabhan, chief executive officer, Westland, says while self publishing gives authors a chance to get books out there, book distribution is always a problem here. “Unlike in the U.S., where books like 50 Shades of Grey were discovered as self published e-books, in India, that kind of distribution and marketing has not caught on yet,” he said.

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